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Hardware or software causing unexpected shutdowns?


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#1 ValR

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Posted 26 April 2018 - 08:34 AM

Hi everyone. Sorry to be a nuisance. My Windows 7 Home Premium desktop PC has been functioning fine until recently, but now I'm experiencing sudden shutdowns. There's no BSOD, just a suddenly dead PC.

 

Restarting in Safe Mode is fine but nothing in the Event Logs helps because there's no opportunity for event reporting with a shutdown. Instead, all I see is "The previous system shutdown at such-and-such-a-time on such-and-such-a-date was unexpected". Well, uh, yeah. It sure was.

 

SFC reports 100% verification with no errors and, therefore, no fixes. Malwarebytes Premium reports no infection. The PC's hard disk health is good and has 4% fragmentation, which is OK with me. Its separate SSD, on which Windows is installed, is also working correctly. (I have two drives so as to keep Data separate from System.)

 

Computer shutdown occurs regardless of the program in use at the time. I could be browsing the 'Net with nothing else running and then: gone. Or using Microsoft Word, and then: gone. Or doing some editing in Photoshop. . . and then: gone. There's no warning of any problem anywhere. Computer re-start from Safe Mode is perfect as is shutting down or re-starting from Safe Mode. And then, when things seem to be back to normal, shutting down from fully loaded Windows, and opening fully loaded Windows, is no problem at all: boot-up time is 22 seconds; I can't grumble about that.

 

As for the PC during actual operation, it's quick, trouble-free and (hitherto) been utterly dependable, even if now 5 years old. Spec is: Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit SP1 / AMD FX-4100 / 8GB RAM / Asustek motherboard / 1279MB Nvidia GeForce GTX 570 / Crucial SSD 238GB / Western Digital 931GB HDD.

 

To sum up, then: there seems to be no identifiable problem here with Windows itself or the programs and apps on this computer. If anyone can think of any explanation for what's happening, or any advice as to what I should / could be doing diagnostically, that'd be appreciated: thanks!

 

 


Windows 7 Home Premium / custom build PC / AMD FX4100 Quad Core / AsusTek 200 MHz / 8GB RAM / Crucial SSD 256 / Western Digital 1000 / NVIDIA GeForce GTX 570


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#2 Platypus

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Posted 26 April 2018 - 08:54 AM

A difficult one. One thing that can cause the symptom is if there's electrical leakage on the soft power switch/wires. I had a system which randomly powered off, and the cause was a glob of hot melt glue behind the front panel power button. It was intended to help stop you from being able to press the button really hard and push it into the computer, but the melt glue had gone in where the wires entered the switch casing, and was contacting the copper wires. The glue had developed electrical leakage, and when all the glue was pulled off the back of the switch, the shutting off stopped.

To diagnose, if the switch connection from the front panel to the system mainboard has its own 2-wire connector, once the computer boots up, that little connector can be pulled off the pins. If the computer never randomly shuts off while the connector is not there, but it does when it's put back, it's getting a false indication that the front panel power button is being pressed and held to force shutdown.

If the connection is done in a block connector with several functions, that can be more awkward, but often the other connections are just the likes of indicator LEDs for power and drive access, so it doesn't matter if they're disconnected too.

If we can find out the model of the motherboard, we should be able to see which connector we're dealing with.

Edited by Platypus, 26 April 2018 - 08:55 AM.

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#3 ValR

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Posted 26 April 2018 - 09:13 AM

Hi Platypus: Sincere thanks for the oh-so fast response. I'm not much more than a computing novice so help of the kind you've offered is greatly welcome. As to the motherboard:

 

ASUStek M5A78L-M LX (AM3R2) / Version Rev X.0x / Chipset: AMD / Chipset modeel: 780G / Southbridge: AMD / Southbridge Model: SB700. 

 

System temperature is presently reported to be 37C (I've no idea if that's good, bad, or merely ugly.)


Windows 7 Home Premium / custom build PC / AMD FX4100 Quad Core / AsusTek 200 MHz / 8GB RAM / Crucial SSD 256 / Western Digital 1000 / NVIDIA GeForce GTX 570


#4 joseibarra

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Posted 26 April 2018 - 10:23 AM

No BSOD?  is that because you don't see one or because you know you have your system to generate crash dumps and are not getting any crash dumps?

 

I would make an adjustment to capture a BSOD if there is one and then use something like Speccy to monitor your temps while the system is running.

 

Here's how to get started:

 

On your Desktop right click Computer, Properties, Advanced system settings and make it look like this:

 

 

There is no need to create the Minidump folder as Windows will create one if it needs to.

 

Then click OK enough times to close all the dialog boxes and restart your system for the changes to take effect.  After rebooting you can go back and check the settings again to be sure the adjustments "stick".

 

In your next reply you can supply more information that will reduce the number of question asking message cycles if you will do this:

 

Describe your antivirus/antimalware environment.

 

Can you make the system crash at will - if there is something in particular you do that makes the system crash like watching videos, listening to music, etc. tell us what that something is that causes the system to crash every time.

 

Click the Start button/orb in the lower-left corner of your screen. Or, press the Windows logo key on your keyboard.

 

In the box enter:

msinfo32

Select/click msinfo32.exe and the System Information dialog box will open.

Click on System Summary, click Edit, Select All (Ctrl-A), Copy (Ctrl-C) and then paste (Ctrl-V) the information back here in your next reply.

 

For video driver information, expand the Components, click Display, click Edit, Select All (Ctrl-A), Copy (Ctrl-C) and then paste (Ctrl-V) the information back here.

 

There will be some personal information (like System Name and User Name), and whatever appears to be private information to you, just delete it from the pasted information.

 

If you download the free version of Speccy you can see what your temperatures are and also monitor them while you are performing video intensive things that might cause a BSOD:

 

https://www.piriform.com/speccy

 

You can uninstall Speccy later if you don't like it.

 

When Speccy is running temperatures in green are good and temperatures in red would be bad (in this example everything is green=good and red=bad):

 

 

If you minimize Speccy to the system tray the average temperature will still be displayed next to the system clock so you can keep an eye on it and if it gets into the red, you have a thermal problem:

 


Edited by joseibarra, 27 April 2018 - 04:27 AM.

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#5 joseibarra

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Posted 26 April 2018 - 11:33 AM

If you are pretty sure that the system works fine in Safe Mode that can indicate that something (probably non Windows things) loading in a normal boot is the problem.

 

There are two things to consider:

Non Microsoft Services

Non Microsoft Startup programs

 

Before making any adjustments create a manual System Restore point so you have an easy way to undo any changes.

 

Using the msconfig program and a process of elimination (and perhaps several restarts) you can begin to eliminate the non Microsoft things from your configuration all at once, one at a time or in little groups until the problem goes away.  Then you can begin to enable things one at a time, it little groups until the problem comes back.  Eventually you narrow down the one Service or Startup item that when enabled bring the problem up.

 

Click the Start button/orb and in the box enter:

 

msconfig

 

On the Services tab check the box to Hide all Microsoft services and you may see some Services with check marks (enabled) and some without check marks (disabled).

 

Everything that is checked is a Service that starts in a Normal boot normally and could be a suspect.

 

You can make a list (good idea) and either uncheck all the non MS Services or uncheck a few at a time - the list will help you remember which ones are enabled so you can turn them back on later.

 

Switch to the Startup tab.

 

On the Startup tab you may see some startup items with check marks (enabled) and some without check marks (disabled).

 

Everything that is checked is a Startup item that starts in a Normal boot normally and could be a suspect.

 

You can disable the checked items one at at time restarting after each until the problem goes away and the last thing you disabled would be a suspect.

 

When you think you have it narrowed down go back and enable things again and retest to be sure you have the right culprit.


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#6 ValR

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Posted 26 April 2018 - 12:44 PM

Joseibarra: can't thank you enough for this advice, and your patience. (See my further reply, lower in this thread.) Yes, I have the free version of Speccy. I think it's great. However, when I minimize it, all I have is the icon of a pair of spectacles,no thermal info showing. Heigh ho.


If you download the free version of Speccy you can see what your temperatures are and also monitor them while you are performing video intensive things that might cause a BSOD:

 

https://www.piriform.com/speccy

 

You can uninstall Speccy later if you don't like it.

 

When Speccy is running temperatures in green are good and temperatures in red would be bad (in this example everything is green=good and red=bad):

 

attachicon.gif3.jpg

 

If you minimize Speccy to the system tray the average temperature will still be displayed next to the system clock so you can keep an eye on it and if it gets into the red, you have a thermal problem:

 

attachicon.gif4.jpg


Windows 7 Home Premium / custom build PC / AMD FX4100 Quad Core / AsusTek 200 MHz / 8GB RAM / Crucial SSD 256 / Western Digital 1000 / NVIDIA GeForce GTX 570


#7 ValR

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Posted 26 April 2018 - 12:48 PM

Joseibarra: things seem to be deteriorating fast here. Including me. I had to go out, briefly, so left this PC switched on but doing nothing. On my return, it had already shut down. I ignored Safe Mode this time for startup and simply booted up normally. I got BP's notification of your help so came here and started reading your kind posts. . . and the computer shut down on me. It had been up for no more than 4 minutes. I'm not sure how long it's going to last out this time. I am, however, going to work through your advice. . . if it lets me. Apologies for belated response. And if I vanish completely, it'll be -- sadly -- because this PC has, in effect, vanished completely.

 

If you are pretty sure that the system works fine in Safe Mode that can indicate that something (probably non Windows things) loading in a normal boot is the problem.

 

There are two things to consider:

Non Microsoft Services

Non Microsoft Startup programs

 


Windows 7 Home Premium / custom build PC / AMD FX4100 Quad Core / AsusTek 200 MHz / 8GB RAM / Crucial SSD 256 / Western Digital 1000 / NVIDIA GeForce GTX 570


#8 ranchhand_

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Posted 26 April 2018 - 04:08 PM

Test your power switch; I am just reiterating what Platypus already posted in post #2.

Power up; open the side of your case.

Trace the cable running from the front panel power switch back to where it plugs into the mainboard.

Pull the cable plug off at the mainboard, revealing two tiny wire contacts. Now run your computer normally, and if the shutdowns stop you have found the problem....a bad power switch. If that switch starts to short, it sends a power-down signal back to the mainboard and the unit shuts down.

If the computer now is crashing so badly that it won't run long enough, just do the same as above with it shut down. After pulling the cable plug off the socket, take a screwdriver and cross those two tiny contacts and the computer will power up.

Here is a picture I copied that shows the plug and contacts. Click on the picture to enlarge.

Attached File  Front Power Switch.png   414.05KB   0 downloads


Edited by ranchhand_, 26 April 2018 - 04:31 PM.

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#9 Papakid

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Posted 26 April 2018 - 06:43 PM

That's a great suggestion, ranchhand_--I have a similar problem with my own machine so will try that, altho I think the cause for me is something else.  ValR, I hope you aren't afraid to open up your case and deal with such hardware issues.  I know it seems daunting, but most of it isn't so bad once you dive in.  Another likely cause of your problem is a bad power supply unit (PSU), so after you follow ranchhand_'s instructions, while you have your computer case open, write down the make and model number of your PSU and post it back here and we will help you go thru getting it replaced if necessary.  If you aren't sure what to look for, your PSU is where your power chord plugs into the computer--inside your computer case it looks like a box with a fan or two on it and a massive amount of wires coming out of it---should look something like this:  https://goo.gl/images/7sP3SL

 

SleepyDude asked you about your PSU in the thread you posted in Feb. but you didn't go into that with him so that is why I think you might be worried about dealing with this.  But if it is getting as bad as you say, it makes a PSU issue more likely and we can save you some money by helping you do it yourself instead of taking it to a repair shop.  If it makes you feel better to have someone else do it, see if you can find a friend or relative that can help you out.

 

Here's hoping it's a power switch problem and I look forward to your posting back with results of how that went.  Don't worry too much about the PSU right now if your PC calms down some.  Follow the instructions already posted and we will deal with the PSU later.

 

 


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#10 ValR

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Posted 27 April 2018 - 03:48 AM

Joseibarra: Back again, and sorry to be such a nuisance on here!

 

I couldn't progress any further with remedial / investigative work last night because I had an urgent family-related document to finish, so I sat here hoping against hope the computer would remain powered up. It did. It worked perfectly for more than 2 hours, after which time I shut it down as normal.

 

The power-off / shutdowns seem, therefore, to be erratic, unpredictable, and not demonstrably related (yet) to any programs or apps running in Windows at the time.

 

This morning, before coming here, I compared my System Startup & recovery settings to your own; thank you for being so kind as to provide those really helpful screenshots.

 

There were several differences between your Window 7 settings and my Windows 7 settings:

 

Time to display OS list, mine: 30 seconds checked, yours, 0 unchecked; time to display recovery options, mine: 30 seconds unchecked, yours, 0 unchecked;

 

System failure: mine: automatically restart, checked; yours unchecked;

 

Write debugging information: mine, write to kernel memory dump; yours, write to small memory dump (128Kb)

 

I've no idea if there's any significance in the difference between the settings, but I do note that although my settings had the "automatically restart after failure" option checked, that was meaningless because this computer hasn't been suffering recoverable Windows OS failures but unrecoverable computer power failures. My "automatically restart" was therefore. . . impossible.

 

I've now changed all my settings to match those of yours, albeit there is only one size option for the small memory dump, and that's double the size of yours. Here are comparative screenshots of my settings before, yours, and now mine matching yours.

 

I've only just landed back here after doing  this to find the super posts from Ranchhand and Papakid so I'll respond to them ASAP before doing anything else.

 

Oh, re your reference to thermal behaviour: yup, I left Speccy running during my 2hour work session last night and everything remained condition green: CPU, motherboard, graphics and both drives. So perhaps the possibility of over-heating somewhere in the system can be ruled out?

 

Big thanks again!

 

Attached File  Jose startup and recovery.JPG   156.48KB   0 downloads

Attached File  My system startup screen.JPG   109.14KB   0 downloads

Attached File  My system startup REVISED match Jose.JPG   112.82KB   0 downloads

 

 


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#11 ValR

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Posted 27 April 2018 - 04:06 AM

Papakid and Ranch hand: Have only just read your posts, so apologies: I was busy altering my settings in response to josei's advice earlier before coming back to this thread. Yes, I did greatly appreciate platypus's thoughtfulness and yes, too, you're absolutely right,Papakid: the thought of actually opening up my computer does, er. . . terrify me. But, but, but. . . no point in asking on here for help and taking not a scrap of notice of it, so I'll go ahead in a little while from now and set about dismantling the thing.( I need to attend to a backlog of emails from yesterday first.)

 

Ranch hand: thanks for going to the trouble of taking a pic of the computer interior. I've saved it and am now emailing it, and a pdf of this thread, to my tablet, so that I've everything on-screen when I launch into the opening up of this computer.

 

PS: just a thought, something I've not mentioned before but perhaps should have done. . . This computer has four fans in a large Zalman case. Or it may even be six, I'm really not sure. At boot-up, one of the fans has started to make a loud whirring noise (well, I think it's one of the fans. I've no idea if it's more than that.) The whirring noise has been intermittent and after a couple of minutes from boot-up, the noise level has progressively dropped away to nothing at all and everything runs silently again.

 

I may well have been stupid not to mention this but it never occurred to me that a noisy fan might possibly have something to do with unexpected power shutdowns . . . Doh. (The fan whirred again last night on normal boot-up, but quietened down to no sound at all, and the computer then performed perfectly for 2 hours, as noted before, without any indication of over-heating, and without any power shutdown.)

 

Thank you both again.  


Windows 7 Home Premium / custom build PC / AMD FX4100 Quad Core / AsusTek 200 MHz / 8GB RAM / Crucial SSD 256 / Western Digital 1000 / NVIDIA GeForce GTX 570


#12 joseibarra

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Posted 27 April 2018 - 04:49 AM

I adjusted my screenshot (another old copy/paste) a bit as if the timeouts are set to zero it can be easy to miss the Windows of opportunity to press F8 to get into the Advanced Boot Options menu.

 

It is nice to have automatically restart UNchecked so if you do get a BSOD the error message and clues will stay on your screen so you can see them.

 

With Speccy temps, green is good.

 

If a system is having a thermal (heat) related event the motherboard/CPU will shut down immediately to prevent permanent damage and in those cases there will be no BSOD, no events written, etc. since there is no time to do so.

 

Those adjustments are safe to make and leave in place for the duration.

 

How sure are you that the system never has a problem running in Safe Mode - or have you not run in Safe Mode long enough to make that determination (that is okay).

 

If you are going to pursue the other ideas of pulling the power switch plug/connector from the motherboard instead of some generic image you can look in the manual for your motherboard and it shows you where to look:

 

Click to see your motherboard manual

 

The other guys can double check me on this idea to be sure it looks right:

 

 


Edited by joseibarra, 27 April 2018 - 04:55 AM.

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#13 Platypus

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Posted 27 April 2018 - 04:59 AM

have you not run in Safe Mode long enough to make that determination


That was what I took ValR's post to imply.

In that case, using the system for some time in Safe Mode would be useful comparison, if the problem is a hardware fault such as mentioned (PSU, power switching) it should occur similarly in Safe Mode.
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#14 ranchhand_

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Posted 27 April 2018 - 07:08 AM

Correct...that is the power plug. I have seen several of those go bad and start shorting out. And they do it erratically,  there is no pattern to it.


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#15 ValR

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Posted 27 April 2018 - 10:35 AM

Ah-ha!! Platypus, Joseibarra, Papakid and Ranch Hand: you guys just nailed it. Seriously. 

 

What happened was, I shut down this morning to take the Zalman case to bits but then couldn't for the life of me find any screws or catches. Obviously they're there, though not obvious to me. So I re-connected and powered up the computer again, this time to go in search of the Zalman user manual which I must have somewhere on file. Before doing so, however, I happened to check this thread and found the latest posts referencing the running in Safe Mode for an extended period.

 

What a brilliant idea -- and no, sorry, I haven't  done that already. Maybe been in Safe Mode for, say, 30 minutes while I ploughed through Events messages, but no more than that.  I therefore immediately exited from Windows and shut down, then started up again in Safe Mode. And left the computer in Safe mode. And everything was fine. . .

 

. . . Until I came back a little while back after being in town doing some shopping and discovered . . . the computer had shut itself down. In Safe Mode.

 

Have to say, a complete power shutdown in Safe Mode when no programs were running really does, to me, seem to answer the original question I posed: am I facing a hardware or software related problem?

 

This clever idea of everyone here to see what happens in an extended run in Safe Mode seems to me a superb diagnostic.

 

Upshot of all this is that I've just booked the computer into our local repair guy. He's been in business quite a while, comes highly recommended, and doesn't charge the earth. I explained to him what's been happening and he's going to (a) look at the power button & wiring and associated, um, stuff;  (B) check out the PSU and if necessary, replace  (3) check out the faulty fan's bearings and if necessary, replace, and generally have a look through my system to see if it's performing at optimum and then benchmark everything (or something.) I know it would've been nice to do the work myself but now that we're into the issue of fans and bearings and maybe failing / faulty PSUs and their replacements, it's going to be better if I hand over now to someone who does this kind of a work for a living: horses for courses.

 

Can I just extend my real, sincere thanks to all you guys who came to the rescue here?

 

The advice collectively given has been constructive and comprehensive, and because of that, has equipped me with sufficient knowledge to be able to talk to Local Computer Guy with the kind of confidence I simply would not have had without your help.

 

Despite the old adage, ignorance is not, absolutely not, bliss. You're all experienced enough to be confident enough in what you do, and perhaps -- just perhaps! -- you've forgotten that feeling of. . . vulnerability that must course through all novices and newbies who not only do not know what to do. . . but do not know what to say, nor how to say it.

 

Because of your help, there's no such feeling of vulnerability for me. I have an insight into computing hardware I never had before.  As for this computer going off for a repair and wash 'n brush-up (as it were) well, it is indeed now 5 years old and has been used constantly and intensively throughout that time, everything from office-type work to video editing and production -- so I'm thinking, I've probably not done too badly to go that long before needing to spend a little bit of money on it.

 

Many, many thanks again then, everyone. Please award yourselves a BGB (Big Gold Badge) or a, er, virtual pint -- from me. I'd have been lost without you. :thumbup2:  :thumbup2:   :thumbup2: 


Windows 7 Home Premium / custom build PC / AMD FX4100 Quad Core / AsusTek 200 MHz / 8GB RAM / Crucial SSD 256 / Western Digital 1000 / NVIDIA GeForce GTX 570





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