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Sporadic BSODs. Trying to ascertain wether it's a hardware or software problem.


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#1 techiebobcat21

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 12:00 AM

Hello all,

 

I'm an IT major at our local university and I'm trying to help a friend with his Vista (pretty sure it's a Home edition; it's definitely not Professional or Ultimate) computer. Unfortunately, I can honestly say we've never had a class to help us diagnose the often-cryptic BSOD errors. Anyways, the machine has been experiencing sporadic BSODs and general misbehavior (freezing, locking up, weird error messages, etc.). I plan on having him wipe the computer and either reinstall Vista or install Windows 7, but my question to whoever may know is this: considering the dump files I've included, can you ascertain wether there is also a hardware issue occurring? If so, I need to advise him on those as well, as the machine is aging (going on 6 years) and the benefits of simply getting a new computer may be better than trying to salvage an old one with hardware problems. However, if the problems are just software, then he might get a few more good years out of the machine, in my opinion. I've included an analysis by BlueScreenView and a system information file that might prove helpful. Here are the steps so far that I have taken in order to diagnose the issue:

 

  • Ran Memtest86+ ... the first pass completed with no errors. I didn't have time to let another pass through, but I plan on doing that later.
  • Ran WD Diagnostics on the HDD, no errors found with a quick scan
  • Ran HP built in diagnostics, all the hardware passed tests
  • I've previously run chkdsk with the /r and /f flags on this machine, although not this time.
  • I've run sfc /scannow before as well
  • I have run antimalware scans before. As expected, it did pick up some malware, but it was removed and the BSODs did not start occuring until months after that happened (it's been a long saga with this machine)

Hopefully the included BlueScreenView and system info files help you gain insight into the problem. Please let me know if there are any other tests, etc. you would like me to run. Basically, I'm just looking for advice: is it worth it to upgrade the machine to Windows 7 and will that solve the issues, or do the bluescreen errors indicate an underlying hardware problem? Again, I have to admit ignorance on this particular subject, so any and all help would be greatly appreciated!

 

Thanks!

Attached Files



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#2 Allan

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 07:52 AM

1) Memtest should be run for several hours - overnight would be good.

2) Miscellaneous and frequent bsod's, such as is the case here, can be hardware (again, run multiple scans of ram) or malware (please run full system scans with BOTH your installed anti virus app and with MalwareBytes).

3) I don't see any bsod's after December 16th. Why is that?



#3 techiebobcat21

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 03:14 PM

Allan,

 

I figured it would be beneficial to run Memtest longer than I had an opportunity to; I will definitely do that. Do you recommend any particular settings in the configuration section of Memtest? Usually I just let it run as is.

 

Yeah, I'm used to BSODs being pretty consistent, so the cornucopia of different kinds really has me wondering. I did run MalwareBytes back when he had the malware issue, but I'll definitely run it again to see if anything comes up. Currently, he's using Avast free edition. I'm not limiting my friend to it, but I like it better than Norton and McAfee. Do you recommend any particular protection for him as a non-technical user? We install Microsoft Security Essentials standard where I work, and it seems to be ok, but perhaps you know more than I about the merits of each antivirus program.

 

That is a good question. I was in such a rush to gather the details from his computer last night that I didn't even notice that the latest BSOD was Dec. 16th. According to my friend, he had a recent one in February, so that's something to look into as well, I would suppose. I'll try and see if I can dig out the newer BSOD dumps as well.

 

Thanks for your assistance so far! I will update this post when I have the results of the Memtest, MalwareBytes, and the newer BSODs. 



#4 Allan

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 03:48 PM

Are you saying you ran a scan with Mbam but not with an AV? If so, please run the scan with Avast, if that's what's currently installed on the system.



#5 techiebobcat21

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Posted 17 March 2013 - 03:11 PM

Sorry, let me clarify. I meant that I had previously run scans with both Avast and MalwareBytes (a few months ago). As I said, it's been kind of a long process with this computer trying to get it to work (I only see my friend once in a while). Either way though, I'll definitely run both of those again, to see if anything malicious crept in between then and now. I'll also let you know the results of the Memtest86+ and see if I can dig out the newer BSODs that occurred. I should have those by Tuesday morning. 



#6 techiebobcat21

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Posted 19 March 2013 - 11:29 AM

Ok, I decided that his Vista installation was a little too old/buggy, so I backed him up and installed Windows 7 (reformatted the drive and did a clean install, not an upgrade). Everything seemed fine until I left, but he called this morning to report that yet another bluescreen had happened. At least this is current so you can tell what's going on. I've included the BlueScreenView html report as an attachment. Please let me know if there's any additional information you require to analyze the BSOD. 

Attached Files


Edited by techiebobcat21, 19 March 2013 - 11:31 AM.


#7 Allan

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Posted 19 March 2013 - 12:15 PM

After installing W7 did you download and install all of the appropriate W7 drivers including the chipset driver and the Intel Graphics Driver? Look in Device Manager - any yellow or red symbols?

 

Note: If this is a laptop, obtain all drivers ONLY from the website of the laptop manufacturer



#8 techiebobcat21

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Posted 19 March 2013 - 12:21 PM

Well, the drivers all looked installed. I checked with Device Manager and there are no red or yellow problems even after showing hidden devices, refreshing the list and scanning for new hardware, and expanding all the collapsed sections. This is an HP desktop machine. I can try looking for the appropriate driver packages based on the computer's model on the HP website. So, the bluescreen error doesn't say anything specific about what's going wrong? I really just don't know how to interpret them.



#9 Allan

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Posted 19 March 2013 - 12:59 PM

No need to go to the HP website if it's a desktop. Yes, the bsod says the offending driver is the Intel Graphics Driver. You might want to look for an updated version.



#10 techiebobcat21

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Posted 19 March 2013 - 01:44 PM

Excellent, I'll look to make sure he has the proper driver for the Intel Graphics. From what I can see here, Windows Update has an updated file for the monitor as well as the Intel display driver (in addition to others). Do you think that it's ok to go with the Windows Update versions, or should I look directly for the updated Intel driver? Thanks so much for your assistance! I'm hoping this is the last problem we have to fix with this machine. 



#11 Allan

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Posted 19 March 2013 - 02:07 PM

No - you should NEVER allow Windows update to install drivers. You should only obtain them from the OEM websites.



#12 techiebobcat21

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Posted 19 March 2013 - 02:25 PM

Gotcha. I hope that will take care of my friend's problems. Thanks for your help!



#13 Allan

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Posted 19 March 2013 - 02:26 PM

You're welcome. Please keep us posted.



#14 techiebobcat21

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Posted 19 March 2013 - 02:27 PM

Will do!



#15 techiebobcat21

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Posted 30 March 2013 - 03:43 PM

Hello again. Sorry for the delay; school got busy. I tried getting drivers direct from HP, even installed HP Support Assistant which basically confirms that the right drivers for the system model are in place. Everything checks out. What's interesting is this: the Support Assistant claims that the HDD is faulty (Smart Check Issue). It's weird because I ran a hard drive scan previously but did not encounter any trouble with it then. Perhaps the tool I used was not thorough enough. Either way, my friend now reports complete and total shutdowns without BSODing (the power cuts instantly with no warning). To me, that smacks of a bad PSU, but I suppose it may be the hard drive to blame as well. What do you think? Could a bad hard drive cause an instantaneous shutdown like that, or would the PSU be involved as well?






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