Okay, so my previous desktop PC (Windows 7) basically died on me about a year or two ago due to apparent hard drive failure. So, as a Christmas present, dad gave me his old Gateway desktop PC for me to use. It's a Windows Media Center Premium Edition XP heap of junk that he somehow installed Windows 7 on (though he didn't replace XP--a dual-boot PC I think this is?). It's an OLD computer, too. We've had it for who knows how long now.
So I use it for a while, everything's fine. Then problems start arising (about... 6+ months ago or so? I can't recall exactly). First, I start having issues with my display driver. While I'm watching videos (YouTube, anime streams, etc.), it would randomly decide to stop working. The audio continues fine, but the video freezes, then the screen flickers and shows the video screen turned green. A message saying the "display driver has stopped responding and has recovered" would show up. If I tried refreshing the page or continuing to watch other videos, BSOD. So I figured out to restart after it happens. It doesn't happen frequently; it'll last a little while--a few days at most--before doing it again. It's never at the same time, it's always randomized.
So I start hunting for advice/help/fixes. I try the official site for the brand (AMD, I believe) but the driver updates wouldn't work (I think it's because the original OS was XP and not Win7, maybe? I could be wrong). Then later, I find IOBit, with Driver Booster. I look up reviews and basically try my best to make sure it's not a scam or full of viruses. I trust CNET and such, so the reviews seemed promising. I tried out the free version for a while and the Driver Booster actually found and installed the display driver updates I needed. It worked for about a month or so without a hitch. Then randomly it started failing again. But Driver Booster (after doing another scan) showed that all drivers were healthy still. I uninstalled, thinking it was just a piece of crap like other stuff I might have tried.
So then jump to recent events. My microphone jack in the front of the tower decided to fail randomly, so I had to plug my headset into the back end ports. Luckily those work still.
A few days ago, I was on my computer, everything was running fine (the driver thing was being nice that day, I guess, not crashing). When I decided to go to bed, I shut down the computer as normal. The next day, I try starting it up and unlike usual, the fan accelerated MUCH longer after I pressed the power button, before the telltale beep sounded as if the computer was finally able to start up properly. But the monitor I was using wasn't registering that it had started up. So I naturally freak out thinking the computer's dying and I might lose all my crap. I have my dad check it out and he says it might be a hard drive about to fail. Again, I freak out a little bit with worry. I didn't want to lose ANOTHER computer and be blamed for taking bad care of it when I've done nothing wrong to it. So later, he gets an idea and helps me switch out that monitor with my old crappy Acer one (not widescreen or high quality like the other one). Surprisingly, it works and shows the computer boot menu and stuff.
I'm still really concerned about the startup thing, though. It's highly unusual for the fan to accelerate as long as it does before that beep and the computer finally starts up. I've also noticed that when I shut it down, it takes FOREVER. On that blue "shutting down" screen, the little rotating wheel will freeze after a little while, and then it takes a while longer before shutting off. And even manually restarting it (choosing 'restart' instead of shutdown, I mean) is a pain because while it eventually powers off for that brief moment before restarting itself and booting up, the fan runs for short little bursts as if TRYING to boot up, and after about 3-4 tries, there's a soft clicking/grinding noise as it keeps trying. After about 8-10 total tries, it finally works and boots up normally.
Also, when I try running a check-disk, it says "Disk C: needed to be checked for constancy, Type of file is NTSF, Cannot open volume for direct access due to a recent software package installation, please use system restore to a point prior to the software installation" and trying to system restore always ends up failing for some reason. I've tried restoring it to a few different points and it doesn't end up successful.
There's also a minor (I think?) issue with the display driver when it comes to that "rating" refresh/upgrade tool thing. I tried running it to see the new ratings for my computer and the screen kept going on and off repeatedly and the "display driver has stopped responding and has recovered" bubble notification kept coming up everytime. I doubt that's normal.
I want to try and find a free program to use to find out the health of my hard drive, but I'm not sold on many things because free usually means half-assed or scam.
I seriously am concerned that this is a hard drive issue. I've considered trying to clean the inside of the tower to see if it might help (I don't think it's been cleaned at all since we got it), but I'll have to try talking dad into it. And even then, I'm nervous about breaking/ruining something. And I can't ask to get it professionally looked at/fixed because--of course--money's an issue.
NOTE: I have tried looking up Gateway support on their website, but I think the computer's too old because the S/N isn't noticed by the system/site.
Edited by Softfang, 24 July 2014 - 08:36 AM.