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Random Computer Freezing


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#1 ZapZap

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Posted 26 October 2012 - 01:24 AM

Hi there, I am having a freezing problem on my desktop which is running on Windows XP SP3. While I am using the desktop, it would randomly freeze and nothing will respond. The whole screen just freezes in place and basically just becomes like a screenshot of what I was doing. There are no error screens or anything, the computer just freezes in place. I would then have to force shutdown the computer because I wouldn't be able to click on anything or use any functions. The freezes don't occur at a specific time either, sometimes it will occur 5 minutes after turning on the computer, and sometimes it will happen after 2 hours of activity on the computer.

What I have noticed is that if there is no activity, as in when I just have the computer on OR if I have the computer on and programs open, but am not actively using them (ie. Have a game open, but not actively playing it), freezes do not occur even after long hours. The freezes only occur when I am actively doing something on the computer. I don't think there is any specific program which triggers it because it has occurred when I was playing a game (Have the game on AND playing it), watching videos or simply browsing the web.

Solutions I have tried:
-Scanned for virus, didn't find any.
-Reformatted my computer. I did this just about two days ago. The freezes didn't go away. After reformatting I only installed the following: MS office, malwarebytes, avast antivirus, msn messenger, firefox, google chrome, and an online game.

I would like to provide more information if I can, but I am not sure what information would be relevant. Thank you.

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#2 Allan

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Posted 26 October 2012 - 07:00 AM

1) Does the same thing happen in safe mode?

2) After reinstalling the OS did you update all drivers including the chipset driver (any yellow or red symbols in device manager)?

3) Let's check both ram and hd:

To check the ram, download memtest (http://memtest.org/). Burn it to a cd using a dedicated .iso burning utility (http://www.petri.co.il/how_to_write_iso_files_to_cd.htm), make sure the cd drive is at the top of the boot order in bios, then boot to the newly created cd and run the utility.


Hard Drive Diagnostics:
http://www.tacktech.com/display.cfm?ttid=287 (or http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=28744&hl=hard+drive+diagnostic)
Make sure, you select tool, which is appropriate for the brand of your hard drive.
Depending on the program, it'll create bootable floppy, or bootable CD.
If downloaded file is of .iso type, use ImgBurn: http://www.imgburn.com/ to burn .iso file to a CD (select "Write image file to disc" option), to make the CD bootable.
For Toshiba drives, see here: http://sdd.toshiba.com/main.aspx?Path=ServicesSupport/FujitsuDrivesUSandCanada/SoftwareUtilities#diagnostic

Edited by Allan, 26 October 2012 - 07:00 AM.


#3 ZapZap

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Posted 26 October 2012 - 02:14 PM

1) Does the same thing happen in safe mode?

2) After reinstalling the OS did you update all drivers including the chipset driver (any yellow or red symbols in device manager)?

3) Let's check both ram and hd:

To check the ram, download memtest (http://memtest.org/). Burn it to a cd using a dedicated .iso burning utility (http://www.petri.co.il/how_to_write_iso_files_to_cd.htm), make sure the cd drive is at the top of the boot order in bios, then boot to the newly created cd and run the utility.


Hard Drive Diagnostics:
http://www.tacktech.com/display.cfm?ttid=287 (or http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=28744&hl=hard+drive+diagnostic)
Make sure, you select tool, which is appropriate for the brand of your hard drive.
Depending on the program, it'll create bootable floppy, or bootable CD.
If downloaded file is of .iso type, use ImgBurn: http://www.imgburn.com/ to burn .iso file to a CD (select "Write image file to disc" option), to make the CD bootable.
For Toshiba drives, see here: http://sdd.toshiba.com/main.aspx?Path=ServicesSupport/FujitsuDrivesUSandCanada/SoftwareUtilities#diagnostic


Thanks for replying.

1) From what I've experienced so far, it hasn't occurred in safe mode, but I only ever stay in safe mode for about 5 minutes or so, so I'm not sure if that would be accurate.

2) There aren't any red or yellow symbols in device manager.

3) Would there be another option to check these? I don't think I have any CDs to burn .iso on. Also, for the hard drive one, I followed the link and downloaded Belarc advisor and everest because I didn't know the make and model of my hard drive, but I don't see where it tells me the information. I'm either looking at the wrong place or it's not showing up.

Thank you, appreciate the help.

#4 Artrooks

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Posted 26 October 2012 - 02:28 PM

How to determine your computer's hard drive(s):

  • Click "Start," type: devmgmt.msc in the "run" box then press <Enter>.
  • Click the (+) sign next to "Disk Drives" to identify your hard drive(s).
  • Please list the findings in your next post (example: "ST310005 28AS Sata Disk Device").

Regards,
Brooks



 


#5 ZapZap

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Posted 26 October 2012 - 02:37 PM

How to determine your computer's hard drive(s):

  • Click "Start," type: devmgmt.msc in the "run" box then press <Enter>.
  • Click the (+) sign next to "Disk Drives" to identify your hard drive(s).
  • Please list the findings in your next post (example: "ST310005 28AS Sata Disk Device").


Thank you.

Under disk drives is the following:
-Generic USB CF Reader USB Device
-Generic USB MS Reader USB Device
-Generic USB SD Reader USB Device
-Generic USB SM Reader USB Device
-WDC WD3200JS-60PDB0

#6 Artrooks

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Posted 26 October 2012 - 02:49 PM

Would there be another option to check these? I don't think I have any CDs to burn .iso on.


Your hard drive is a Western Digital (WDC WD3200JS-60PDB0). While I prefer the Western Digital Dos CD, you can try the Windows version:

Run Western Digital Lifeguard Diagnostic for Windows:

Follow this link, arrow down, and click the "Download" button to download "WinDlg_124.zip."

Quick reference: Data Lifeguard Diagnostic for Windows

  • Extract WinDlg_124.zip and double click Windlg.exe to start the portable program.
    • Alternatively, you may install the program to your hard drive by running setup.exe.
  • Click the checkbox to accept the license agreement, then click Next.
  • Your drive(s) should be listed.
  • Double click on the drive to test. Run both Quick and Extended tests.
  • A Fail is either test should make you suspect a failing hard drive.

Regards,
Brooks



 


#7 ZapZap

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Posted 26 October 2012 - 04:44 PM

Would there be another option to check these? I don't think I have any CDs to burn .iso on.


Your hard drive is a Western Digital (WDC WD3200JS-60PDB0). While I prefer the Western Digital Dos CD, you can try the Windows version:

Run Western Digital Lifeguard Diagnostic for Windows:

Follow this link, arrow down, and click the "Download" button to download "WinDlg_124.zip."

Quick reference: Data Lifeguard Diagnostic for Windows

  • Extract WinDlg_124.zip and double click Windlg.exe to start the portable program.
    • Alternatively, you may install the program to your hard drive by running setup.exe.
  • Click the checkbox to accept the license agreement, then click Next.
  • Your drive(s) should be listed.
  • Double click on the drive to test. Run both Quick and Extended tests.
  • A Fail is either test should make you suspect a failing hard drive.


Okay, I've just finished running both the quick and extended tests and both have passed.

#8 Artrooks

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Posted 26 October 2012 - 06:57 PM

If your XP computer is capable of booting from a USB Flash drive, you can run Memtest86+ to test your memory:

A bad RAM (Random Access Memory) module can cause unwanted computer behavior such as freezing and BSOD.

  • Download Pre-compiled EXE file for USB key (Win XP, Vista, Win 7), unzip file, plug in USB Flash drive, and run "Memtest86+ USB Installer.exe." Set computer to boot from USB drive first.
  • Boot the computer with Memtest86+ flash drive.
  • The program will auto start. Allow it to run through at least 7 "passes" for minimal confidence; 12-24 hours for moderate-maximum confidence or until it registers any errors.
  • The test can be stopped as soon as an error is reported (in red). Press the ESC key to reboot.
  • In case of errors, isolate the problem module should you have more than one memory chip, by testing one chip at a time, in the slot closest to the CPU. Take precautions to avoid static electricity when handling sensative electronic components.
  • If a memory chip tests bad, then retest that chip in a different memory slot.
  • Remember, any errors can mean a bad memory stick or bad memory slot on the motherboard.


If you can't boot from USB, then I can post instructions to create a bootable CD.

Regards,
Brooks



 


#9 ZapZap

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Posted 26 October 2012 - 10:25 PM

The program will auto start. Allow it to run through at least 7 "passes" for minimal confidence; 12-24 hours for moderate-maximum confidence or until it registers any errors.


Thank you, the usb boot works for me and I am able to run the program. However, I don't really understand this part. What do you mean by running through at least 7 passes? Do you mean the part where it states the percentage of pass? Or are you referring to the pass column which is next to the error column? And then after that you state 12-24 hours for better confidence. What do you mean by hours? Sorry, I'm not too familiar with computers.

EDIT: Nevermind, I think I understand what you meant by 7 passes now. But was the 12-24 hours a typo, did you mean 12-24 passes or am I suppose to run the program for that many hours?

Edited by ZapZap, 26 October 2012 - 11:59 PM.


#10 Artrooks

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Posted 27 October 2012 - 04:57 AM

7 full passes for minimal confidence that the memory is good, 12 hours for moderate confidence, and 24 hours for maximum confidence.

Regards,
Brooks



 


#11 ZapZap

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Posted 27 October 2012 - 02:51 PM

Thank you, I will get the results back in a couple of days as unfortunately my sister and I both need the computers for work and cannot run for program for so long in the next couple of days. Hopefully by Monday or Tuesday I will be able to.

#12 ZapZap

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Posted 29 October 2012 - 04:53 PM

Ok, I did the memtest and got past the 7 passes. I was only able to get about 8 hours in though because the computer was needed. There wasn't any errors at the point though. Is there anything else I could do in the meanwhile? I should be able to get 12 hours in though on Wednesday. Thank you.

#13 Artrooks

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Posted 30 October 2012 - 11:31 AM

Hello,

It appears that the hard drive and memory may not be an issue.

As Allan previously said, after reinstalling the OS make sure that you update all drivers including the chipset driver.

From what I've experienced so far, it hasn't occurred in safe mode, but I only ever stay in safe mode for about 5 minutes or so, so I'm not sure if that would be accurate.


You could try this:
To rule out whether software or a third party driver is causing the freezing, please try a clean boot. This is a time consuming procedure for sure, but a good way to attempt to isolate the problem.

  • Arrow down to the More Information section.
  • Click on the plus (+) sign next to Step 1, then follow those directions.
  • Reboot the computer.
  • Use the computer in a way that would previously produce a "freeze." (Beware that anti-virus software may not be active)
  • If NO freezes, proceed to Step 2.
  • Keep adding services until a freeze occurs. If no freezes, then start adding start-up items.
  • The goal is to isolate the offending service or startup program.

Regards,
Brooks



 


#14 ZapZap

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Posted 30 October 2012 - 04:51 PM

Hello,

It appears that the hard drive and memory may not be an issue.

As Allan previously said, after reinstalling the OS make sure that you update all drivers including the chipset driver.

From what I've experienced so far, it hasn't occurred in safe mode, but I only ever stay in safe mode for about 5 minutes or so, so I'm not sure if that would be accurate.


You could try this:
To rule out whether software or a third party driver is causing the freezing, please try a clean boot. This is a time consuming procedure for sure, but a good way to attempt to isolate the problem.

  • Arrow down to the More Information section.
  • Click on the plus (+) sign next to Step 1, then follow those directions.
  • Reboot the computer.
  • Use the computer in a way that would previously produce a "freeze." (Beware that anti-virus software may not be active)
  • If NO freezes, proceed to Step 2.
  • Keep adding services until a freeze occurs. If no freezes, then start adding start-up items.
  • The goal is to isolate the offending service or startup program.


Thank you. I followed the guide but could not fix the problem. I've hide the microsoft services and the proceeded to uncheck all boxes in the service and startup list. Initially, I checked half the boxes, but the freezes continued, then I unchecked half and eventually had them all unchecked. After unchecking them and restarting the computer, I tested for freezing and the freezes did not go away. I have noticed that although freezes can occur during any activity, it rarely occurred when I'm simply browsing the web or watching videos or just generally doing anything that doesn't require much processing if that's the right word. It occurs the most when I am running an online game which I use to be able to run perfectly with any freezes. I've been testing the freezes with this game and within 5-10 minutes of playing it, the freeze happens. Is there anything else I can do?

*I am currently attempting to see if my drivers need updating to check if that helps. EDIT: I think my drivers are updated already, is there a way to check chipset driver, I'm not actually sure what that is. My graphics driver is updated though. What other drivers do I need to check?

EDIT: I don't know if this has anything to do with anything, but I'll just put it out there in case. While unchecking boxes, in the Startup section, there is 2 ctfmon items. I unchecked both of them and restarted the computer and after restarting, there is only one ctfmon item. After restarting again, there is two ctfmon again and one of them is checked even though I unchecked everything.

Edited by ZapZap, 30 October 2012 - 05:10 PM.


#15 Artrooks

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 04:00 PM

Looking for driver updates is best done at the website of your OEM computer manufacturer (HP, DELL, etc), or website of the manufacturer of your hardware (motherboard, video card, etc.). Most, but not all of the OEM or motherboard sites, list drivers, either original install or updates and they frequently include a chipset driver.

You could monitor internal temperatures with the free HWMonitor. See how they are at startup and after playing game for 10 minutes. Are any on the high side?

ctfmon is not critical for most systems. See What is CTFMon.exe and why is it running.

Regards,
Brooks



 





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