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PC Shutting Down Randomly (Dell, Windows 7)


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#1 Phil Sandler

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Posted 25 March 2012 - 09:45 AM

I have a Windows 7 PC that is shutting down without warning, seemingly at random. Here are the symptoms and notes:

  • PC seemingly turns off completely. After taking off the cover it turns out the fans continue to run after this happens.
  • After this happens, the power button light turns and stays orange (it is white while running and dark while powered down). I can't restart the machine without unplugging it and plugging it back in.
  • No warning messages of any kind. When I have had overheated PCs in the past, I have usually seen a heat-related warning message.
  • Happened so far when browsing the internet, while idling, while booting, while running Windows Startup Repair.
  • Fans seems to work fine.
  • I ran a thermal test program on the box, and the highest readings I saw were GPU (68C) and "temp3" (62C). I have no idea what "temp3" represents.
  • No changes have been made to the PC recently (software or hardware), outside of a minor move (really just sliding it about 3 feet a few days ago).

Windows Startup repair did run successfully, and said it couldn't fix the problem. The last entry in the log said "Root cause found: unspecified changes to system configuration might have caused the problem". The error codes it listed on the summary screen included 6.1.7600.16385 and 661. The final entry on the summary screen said "NoRootCause". I'm not sure how much faith to put in this tool.

Edit: I should note that the startup repair tool seems to have come up because this problem occured a few times during startup. The computer does start up successfully and sometimes stays running for a while before it randomly shuts down.

I realize this may be hard to troubleshoot via a forum. I am looking for help in steps I can take to diagnose the problem (programs I can run, etc.). I am very computer literate, to the point of having built my own PCs in the past (but I am by no means an expert).

The PC is a Dell XPS 7100. It is not under warranty anymore. It's a little under 2 years old.

Thanks for any insight.

EDIT:
Additional notes from my replies (see posts below for context):

My keyboard is the Dell keyboard model SK-8115. I have been using it for years, even before I got this PC IIRC. I believe I have had it for 4 years or so.

I use a KVM to switch my keyboard, mouse and monitor from my laptop to my desktop. I just let my desktop run for a while with the KVM switched OFF of it and it still failed--should that rule out the keyboard being the problem? I also have spare keyboards I could use to test with.

The event viewer does not show anything.

Additional info: I used a program (Fan Speed?) to log the temperatures in my system. The log did not show any spikes in temperature before the last few failures, although I'm not 100% sure I am logging the right values.

I have also tried jiggling wires inside the PC and moving the PC around a bit while it is running to see if that would induce a failure (someone suggested this to someone having a similar problem). It didn't induce a failure.

A few more notes to add. I changed out the power cord, and plugged the cord into the wall directly instead of the power strip it was currently plugged into. This did not solve the problem.

I am also seeing a new symptom. Now when it shuts down, instead of simply turning off (with the fans still running), it seems that it is trying to restart. The fans turn on and off, and the computer starts making the noises it would normally make when trying to boot/post. The power light goes from orange to white and back to orange. It does this repeatedly until I pull the plug. It was not doing this previously.

Phil

Edited by Phil Sandler, 25 March 2012 - 01:15 PM.


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#2 spc3rd

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Posted 25 March 2012 - 10:11 AM

Hi Phil,

The issue you're mentioning sounds very similar to one I myself experienced some time back. Since you indicate you are very computer-literate, I will assume here that you've already checked your battery to confirm it is not the source of the problem. Here goes...

(1) - What type of keyboard are you using (brand/model) (2) - which type port does it connect to (PS2 or USB), and (3) - how long have you been using your current keyboard?

If you happen to have a spare keyboard on hand, can you try plugging it in and see if that makes any difference?

One last item...do your Event Viewer logs show any errors?

Regards,

Edited by spc3rd, 25 March 2012 - 10:43 AM.

spc3rd

Dell Optiplex 755 Desktop | Win 7 Pro, SP 1, 64-bit | Intel Core 2 Duo, 3.00 gHz CPU | 8 GB RAM | 400 GB Seagate SATA HDD | Outpost Security Suite Pro | MBAM Premium 2.0 | Spywareblaster | SAS (on-demand) | Blocklist Pro | IE 11 & FF w/ NoScript | Disconnect | Adblock Plus | Flagfox


#3 Phil Sandler

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Posted 25 March 2012 - 11:56 AM

The question about about the battery is interesting, and hadn't occured to me. However I don't have any problems with reset BIOS settings or the like. I am also able to get my computer running again in a short amount of time after the failures. Would the symptoms listed with this additional info still indicate a potential battery failure?

My keyboard is the Dell keyboard model SK-8115. I have been using it for years, even before I got this PC IIRC. I believe I have had it for 4 years or so.

I use a KVM to switch my keyboard, mouse and monitor from my laptop to my desktop. I just let my desktop run for a while with the KVM switched OFF of it and it still failed--should that rule out the keyboard being the problem? I also have spare keyboards I could use to test with.

The event viewer does not show anything.

Additional info: I used a program (Fan Speed?) to log the temperatures in my system. The log did not show any spikes in temperature before the last few failures, although I'm not 100% sure I am logging the right values.

I have also tried jiggling wires inside the PC and moving the PC around a bit while it is running to see if that would induce a failure (someone suggested this to someone having a similar problem). It didn't induce a failure.

Thanks,

Phil

#4 spc3rd

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Posted 25 March 2012 - 12:46 PM

Greetings again Phil,

I'll try and answer things in reverse order.

With regard to using the SpeedFan program...I could never get that particular program to display all the values it was supposed to on my machine, and discovered it managed to disrupt the Speccy program I had installed as well.
(I was able to resolve that problem by uninstalling SpeedFan and Speccy, then re-installing Speccy).

To reasonably rule out the keyboard as being the source of the problem, you would need to use one of the spare keyboards you have and plug it directly in to the desktop computer. If you have a keyboard that uses a PS2 (circular, pin-type connector),...that would be ideal. The reason I suggest using that specific type of plug is because the Microsoft Digital Media 3000 (Intellitype Pro) keyboard I used previously (the one which turned out to be defective), used a USB type connector plug. I'd seen some forum comments from others who had experienced issues when using a keyboard that plugs into a USB port.

Once I switched to using the keyboard with the PS2 type connector (Dell RT7D20 model keyboard), my problems were resolved. Another possibility is a keyboard can have a key which is stuck. A stuck key is not always so easy to detect as the key may only be slightly stuck, but it is enough to cause problems.

With the battery issue, I would suggest ruling that out as the source of the problem. There are two ways I know of to check that. One is to remove the battery and test it with a battery tester (most accurate method), the other would be to turn off your computer, unplug the power cord from the electrical outlet and let it sit for 12 - 24 hours, then reconnect the power cord & while rebooting, enter the BIOS to check the system clock and see if it displays the correct date & time. If the date/time are incorrect, that would indicate the battery should be replaced.

Everything I've mentioned is based on my own experiences. If the recommendations I've made don't resolve the issues, then we'll need someone else to provide their input. Let me know how things work out!

Best regards,

Edited by spc3rd, 25 March 2012 - 01:02 PM.

spc3rd

Dell Optiplex 755 Desktop | Win 7 Pro, SP 1, 64-bit | Intel Core 2 Duo, 3.00 gHz CPU | 8 GB RAM | 400 GB Seagate SATA HDD | Outpost Security Suite Pro | MBAM Premium 2.0 | Spywareblaster | SAS (on-demand) | Blocklist Pro | IE 11 & FF w/ NoScript | Disconnect | Adblock Plus | Flagfox


#5 Phil Sandler

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Posted 25 March 2012 - 01:13 PM

Hey spc3rd,

Thanks again for taking the time. I will try what you have suggested with the battery today/overnight. I am actually leaving for vacation tomorrow night (great time for my PC to fail), but will post back tomorrow if I can, or else when I get back next weekend.

A few more notes to add. I changed out the power cord, and plugged the cord into the wall directly instead of the power strip it was currently plugged into. This did not solve the problem.

I am also seeing a new symptom. Now when it shuts down, instead of simply turning off (with the fans still running), it seems that it is trying to restart. The fans turn on and off, and the computer starts making the noises it would normally make when trying to boot/post. The power light goes from orange to white and back to orange. It does this repeatedly until I pull the plug. It was not doing this previously.


Thanks again,

Phil

#6 spc3rd

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Posted 25 March 2012 - 01:43 PM

Hi Phil,

I'm not surprised the issue didn't resolve when you plugged the power cord into the wall outlet instead of the surge strip. There's no rush on posting back...enjoy your vacation!

The new symptom you mentioned is puzzling indeed. I'll do some checking around and see what I can come up with. I seem to recall reading something some time back which had to do with the computer's internal power adapter or some such thing. Hopefully, by the time you return from vacation, I will be able to locate the article I saw.

EDIT: I located some additional info Phil. The issue you are having could also be a problem with the PSU...or even malware. Have you by chance run any scans with your AV and an antimalware product to rule out a malware infection?

Have FUN!!!

Edited by spc3rd, 25 March 2012 - 01:55 PM.

spc3rd

Dell Optiplex 755 Desktop | Win 7 Pro, SP 1, 64-bit | Intel Core 2 Duo, 3.00 gHz CPU | 8 GB RAM | 400 GB Seagate SATA HDD | Outpost Security Suite Pro | MBAM Premium 2.0 | Spywareblaster | SAS (on-demand) | Blocklist Pro | IE 11 & FF w/ NoScript | Disconnect | Adblock Plus | Flagfox


#7 Phil Sandler

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Posted 25 March 2012 - 02:09 PM

The new symptom you mentioned is puzzling indeed. I'll do some checking around and see what I can come up with. I seem to recall reading something some time back which had to do with the computer's internal power adapter or some such thing. Hopefully, by the time you return from vacation, I will be able to locate the article I saw.


Odd, right? My suspicion is that it's a problem with the power supply. But whatever the problem, I don't understand why it would manifest itself in this way. Why would it fail to start unless it is unplugged and plugged back in?

Tried the new keyboard directly plugged in--no help there, but will try the battery test shortly.


Thanks,

Phil

#8 spc3rd

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Posted 25 March 2012 - 02:16 PM

I think it may well be the PSU or something related to the internal power. From the limited info I can find, such issues seem to present with a number of seemingly unrelated symptoms.

spc3rd

Dell Optiplex 755 Desktop | Win 7 Pro, SP 1, 64-bit | Intel Core 2 Duo, 3.00 gHz CPU | 8 GB RAM | 400 GB Seagate SATA HDD | Outpost Security Suite Pro | MBAM Premium 2.0 | Spywareblaster | SAS (on-demand) | Blocklist Pro | IE 11 & FF w/ NoScript | Disconnect | Adblock Plus | Flagfox





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