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Desktop Unstable & Reboots On Its Own


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#1 Nettio

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Posted 03 January 2007 - 11:43 PM

My desktop PC (P4, 2.8ghz w 512mb DDR - WinXP Home) has become very unstable during the past week to ten days. The video display flickers continuously, blacks out, goes off & on, and the machine occasionally reboots itself. This is while running in "Normal" mode. It runs O.K. in safe mode (which I am in at present). Currently the machine has been running in "safe" mode for about 14 hours with no problems. In normal mode, it will not run for more than a few minutes.

I have not been able to reproduce an exact sequence of "bad" actions from the PC consecutively. I don't think it does it exactly the same each time. In fact, sometimes when it reboots, it will reboot a second time before bringing up the logon screen. When the machine goes into "screensaver" or "monitor off", it will usually not come out of it.

I don't know if IE ver. 7 has anything to do with this problem but the problems did begin shortly after IE 7 was installed. I have two other machines running on this same wireless network and have no problems with either of them. Both of those has IE 6 and are running WinXP Pro.

This problem at first seemed similar the issue I had a few years back with this same machine. Then I had a "Sasser Worm" invasion (some 400+ installations finally brought the machine down). Before I found a means to rid myself of Sasser, I reformatted and reinstalled the OS & all my software. Recently ( Sept. 2006) I had a malware infection and thought I might have something like that again but have not been able to discern that (I've run both Ad-Aware SE and SpyBot several times each, cleared everything even slightly suspect from the machine to no avail).

One message I received while investigating this indicated that my video driver needed to be replaced (nVidia) so I downloaded and installed ver. 71.89 which did not help (I had ver. 81.94 already which by its label would seem to be newer, but it's date is much older). When that didn't work, I rolled the driver back to 8.1.8.5 (date 10/10/2005 - card is GEForce FX5200).

This morning I performed an Emergency Recovery from my OEM disks but that also did not help. I'm not sure though that I did that correctly. I thought all my software would need to be reinstalled after that was done but none needed to be reinstalled.

Please let me know if you can help with this.

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#2 resp

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Posted 04 January 2007 - 12:03 AM

my first thought is video related .. With the flickering monitor and unable to come out of screensaver mode etc...however, that owuldn't explain the restarts

what kind of anti virus/ malware programs do you keep on yoru computer? and are they up to date? if they'r enot or you don't have any of them, you may be experiencing a virus

It could go eitehr way

if you have an AV run a scan in safemode

if you don't try running Kaspersky

its a free online scan that is really thorough and will find anything wrong with your system, Or virtually..

Just click accept, ANd since you're running the latest version of IE you'll have a few yellow boxes appear at the top asking to install activex controls and such, right click on that and allow, you should be brought back to the terms of use or whatever it is, click accept again click next, ANd scan "My computer"

If nothing shows on AV scans, Or kaspersky, or malware, Then you know its a hardware problem
and can be dealt with as such by ruling out the trigger,

Edited by resp, 04 January 2007 - 12:04 AM.


#3 _Peter_

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Posted 04 January 2007 - 01:22 AM

Hi Nettio,

If you're computer is running fine in safe mode then something that gets loaded up in normal mode is causing you problems. Maybe it's a startup program or possibly a device. One way to find out what's causing the problem is to use msconfig to disable some stuff like startup programs, services, and drivers. If you don't have any problems running the computer in normal mode after disabling these things, you enable each item you disabled in msconfig one at a time, and restart the computer after you enable each item until the problem occurs again. The last item you enabled before the problem started happening again is the item that's causing the problem. For detailed instructions about what you have to disable and how you disable it, read this article carefully:

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/310353/en-us.

#4 Nettio

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Posted 05 January 2007 - 06:17 PM

Thanks for your help - I need more.
After I got the messages from "resp" and "_Peter_", I tried the suggestions of both.

I had forgotten to state in my initial post that I had Norton and had run it twice before going on to trying Ads-Aware and SpyBot.

So this time around, I tried Kaspersky (the web based, free version). It found a number of entries that Norton had not identified. That didn't help though. I ran Kaspersky a second time and came up with nothing additional.

Then I tried the "clean boot" process that _Peter_ advised. I did it several times until I was convinced I was doing it correctly. It also did not help.

I does seem to me though that he is probably correct. That is since the machine runs O.K. in safe mode but not in normal mode, that it must be something that loads up rather a hardware issue. Of course - I'm very much a novice in this area and certainly don't know all about it.

Can you offer me any additional advice?

Can you tell if I did the "recovery" correctly (see initial post)?

Can I just re-install XP?

Should I again re-format the drive?

I do need to get this thing fixed. Although I have two other XP machine here at home, and one 98SE machine, almost all my work (data, applications, etc) are on this machine.

I appreciate anything you can offer.

Thanks,
Nettio

#5 resp

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Posted 05 January 2007 - 07:46 PM

IF you're going to reinstall windows, You're going to want to format, Before you do that though I would recommend you take the drive out of hte useless computer and put it as a slave to a different computer and extract as much if not all of your work that you can, So that you don't lose a lot of said stuff and reinstalling wont' cause much pain

If you can get into windows, PEr say, and get into task manager really quick quick enough to see wha'ts taking up your memory, then Id do it
if its a startup process causing all this ID want to see first hand what exaclty is taking what piece of memory, just press ctrl alt del as soon as windows loads in and go to processes quickly and see what's happening

If you see, as an example xxx.exe takes up 400k of memeory then you knwo the culprit, However if everything is normal Id assume its not something in startup

however to be 100% sure, Are you able to access the internet on that machine, long enough to possibly do a hijackthis log? if so ID recommend it, as it'll find stuff that maybe your task manager doesn't and it may help solve this problem

#6 usasma

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Posted 07 January 2007 - 08:05 AM

You've basically got 2 options here:
1) Troubleshoot the booting programs to find what's causing this, or
2) Format and reinstall

The format and reinstall will go fairly quickly - but it doesn't take into account the cause of this problem. So you're basically starting over fresh. This may "solve" the problem, and it may not recur - or it may. The format and reinstall process is a PITA (to me) - but you can overcome it the next time by imaging your drive (so that you can restore the image without having to reinstall everything.

To troubleshoot the process, I'd activate boot-logging (in the same menu that you get to Safe Mode). Then run it for at least 2 reboots - one into Safe Mode and one into the Clean Boot (verify that you still have problems there).

Then, since you'll have a boot log of a Safe Mode boot and a boot log of a boot that contains the problem - a simple comparison of the 2 will show you what additional programs are loaded. This is most easily done by copying each to an Excel (or OpenOffice) spreadsheet and viewing the differences side-by-side.

Then check the "differences" with Google search to find out what each is. Then either disable them or remove them from your system - or remove and then reinstall the latest version from the manufacturer's website. If you encounter Windows files that may be the problem, fix them last - as the fix is more difficult (in general) - also, this presumes that you have SP2 and all of your Windows Updates.
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#7 Nettio

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Posted 14 January 2007 - 10:37 PM

Thanks Usasma,

I've tried all the malware and virus detector's advised to no avail. Finally, I discovered that I can make using the machine somewhat better by turning hardware acceleration down (the system will allow it to go down to the third notch only (midway). That allows it to run tolerably in "normal" mode but does not completely eliminate the problem.

Today, I did the boot log comparisons you advised. I found that there are 77 processes/drivers loaded during a "Clean" boot that are not loaded during "Safe" boot so it looks like I have my work cut out for me. There are a total of 136 processes/drivers loaded during the "Clean" boot.

You advised that I should leave "... Windows files that may be the problem, fix them last - ...".

Can you advise on how to determine which files are "Windows" files?

Thanks Again,
Nettio

#8 resp

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Posted 15 January 2007 - 12:20 AM

Although i am not familair wtih boot logging or anything if you can get the directory of the files then its simply a matter of looking for those with the windows folder or the system32 folder,

If it doesnt' come with a directory you may have to do the manual file by file search by utilizing google and a number of other engines that can search for exe startup files etc... I do have a few that you can search startup programs on to see if they're legit or not, if you wish

#9 usasma

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Posted 15 January 2007 - 12:54 AM

Search for the files on your hard drive. When you find them, right click on them and select "Properties", then click on the Version tab. If it says Microsoft as the Company - then it's likely that it's a system file.

You've probably got a list of them - rather than post it here, you could PM me the list. I'll annotate the one's that I know and that should cut the job down a bit.
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- John  (my website: http://www.carrona.org/ )**If you need a more detailed explanation, please ask for it. I have the Knack. **  If I haven't replied in 48 hours, please send me a message. My eye problems have recently increased and I'm having difficult reading posts. (23 Nov 2017)FYI - I am completely blind in the right eye and ~30% blind in the left eye.<p>If the eye problems get worse suddenly, I may not be able to respond.If that's the case and help is needed, please PM a staff member for assistance.




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