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Old 05-04-2007, 02:12 AM   #71
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Well.... crap.

I deleted the swap file like JP said. No help.

I then started checking RAM. I have (1)512MB and (1)256MB stick. Tested with the 512 by itself, then swapped it with the 256. Computer fired up, counted the right amount of RAM each time, and booted into Windows. It was slow, but worked both times. Then I put both sticks of RAM back in, turned the computer on, and it won't start Windows. Everything posts, it counts all the RAM, runs through its system checks, then goes to the screen where it asks you to start Windows normall, use "Last known good setting," or start in safe mode. Nothing works. No matter which option you select, it tries to start Windows, fails, then the computer completely restarts itself and comes back to the same screen. I didn't really listen to hear if the HD was spinning up or not, but I suspect it'* dead. This sucks.

Got any ideas? Anything else that may be the culprit?


EDIT: After doing a bit of Googling, I figured out that the problem may be a corrupt OS installation. I'll go home and put in my Windows CD, then try a repair or reinstallation of XP.
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Old 05-04-2007, 04:41 AM   #72
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Hmmmm

Have the 2 sticks always been in the computer, and other than capacity, are the specs the same? Stupid question, I know, but I have to ask.

Another reason I ask is motherboards can be VERY finicky about what memory combo'* you can use (One of the yung 'uns in here I'm sure can help out with this). I used to know about the different aspects of what could go with what, but about the time I turned 35, and they came out with yet another standard for RAM... I quit caring about being able to discuss it with any amount of expertise. It'* enough for me to be able to say I lived in the hellish days of standard, extended, and expanded ram. But I digress.

I will say that (IMO) 512 MB of ram is more than enough to use alone. Of course it all depends on many things I don't know about in your environment (what sort of apps you run, etc), but XP Pro should be fine with 512MB - I had 1GB in my pc (P4 1.4 Ghz)..... couldn't notice any appreciable difference when I needed to 'borrow' 512 out of it.

The way I would approach it is to just boot with the 512, and then find your next bottleneck. Take a look at the task manager performance screens, and see whats getting nailed - CPU, memory or disk.

Sorry if this is all stuff you know or have considered. It'* hard to know what level to go to when helping someone out over the net.
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Old 05-04-2007, 04:57 AM   #73
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Quote:
EDIT: After doing a bit of Googling, I figured out that the problem may be a corrupt OS installation. I'll go home and put in my Windows CD, then try a repair or reinstallation of XP.
I'd go with the reinstall from scratch. Sorry to keep beating that dead horse, but I've yet to see reinstalling windows over windows, or allowing it to do a "repair installation" cause anything but more problems. At best, things were exactly the same afterwords.

I can ship you an 80GB hard drive for the cost of shipping; you could reformat and reinstall on it, and then use your other drive for storage. The only caveat to that is - me personally, I prefer to use a brand new HD for my OS.

One other point I'm sure you know..... but I'll throw it out there anyway - I got into the habit long ago of having one hard drive for the OS and applications, and another for data. Not only is it better for performance (in most cases), but if you have to reformat and reinstall the OS.... it'* a much easier task. Also backups are a lot quicker, since you aren't backing up system files.

Anyway, good luck. If you want/need any 'live' help - PM me, glad to give ya my #.
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Old 05-04-2007, 06:18 PM   #74
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Thanks for the advice, JP. Those two sticks of RAM have been in there as a combo for the last 4 years, so they aren't causing the problem. I think the installation of Windows somehow became corrupt, or else there is a hard drive failure of some kind. I'll be heading out to buy a new HD for a primary drive, then see if I can salvage the old one to use as a backup.

Again, thanks for all the help.
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Old 05-04-2007, 07:43 PM   #75
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No prob, glad to offer any advice I can.

Good luck - I'm sure your PC will be back in fighting form in no time.
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Old 05-04-2007, 07:58 PM   #76
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Hmm, you said it "failed" when trying to start, did you get any kind of error message? Also, before doing anything, I would download a diagnostic HD program from the HD manufacturer'* website to determine whether or not it needs replacement. Its nice to know. See how that goes instead of going right at it with a new OS and then maybe having it fail halfway through or something.

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Originally Posted by wjcollier07
Well that SMART data looks ok...I'm definitely thinking memory now. Go along with john'* idea of remove one, test, repeat. might just be a dying memory module or just one of the chips is bad and the computer is trying to sort around it. do you ever get "memory cannot be read" error messages?

For what it'* worth a "memory cannot be read" error message (i.e. access violation) is typically indicative of a software programming error (i.e. trying to dereference a null or invalid pointer). Could be brought on by hardware (i.e. problem reading a memory mapped device), but also could be a function of crappy software (heaven knows what is running on your box at this point).
i know that its usually a software thing, and thats basically what i was going for was any kind of software corruption that might be happening more than a bad module. just to clear that up :P
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Old 05-04-2007, 09:11 PM   #77
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If your pc is that old, I'd take a long hard look at the electrolytic capacitors on your motherbd. They should all have nice flat tops and no goop at the base. Buldged tops or goop would be sign of faling caps.

Also, do not rely on the boot up memory test. Get / download memtest86
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Old 05-05-2007, 04:08 PM   #78
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pop - yeah, I agree. I posted a link on how to do that a few posts up... it'* one of the first things I'd check to save throwing more $$ at it.

Also - highly recc pulling the fan off the heatsink, and the heatsink off the cpu. Clean everything thouroughly, and get all of the old thermal compund off (I use alcohol and qtips... very gently). Then reapply some grease (sparingly - google cpu/thermal grease for details... the amount to use varies depending on you CPU). Then put it all back together. A can of compressed air is essential - if your video card has a fan, clean it out with the air, as well as giving the entire MOBO a good dusting. Pull and reseat all cards.
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Old 05-05-2007, 11:35 PM   #79
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OS reinstall is a good idea... will help you isolate a corrupt OS. Obviously if the newly installed OS goes south, you know the problem is elsewhere.

As far as the drive failing is concerned, again, I don't think that is your problem. That'* not to say that the drive cable or onboard IDE controller on the motherboard isn't failing (though anyone can tell you that the true core logic for an IDE drive is on the device and not so much on the motherboard IDE controller)
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Old 05-07-2007, 12:05 AM   #80
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Alright here'* the long, frustrating update. Please read, as I need all the advice I can get:


I spent most of last night with a buddy swapping all kinds of parts from his PC over to mine for testing. We started thinking power supply, because the computer would boot up Windows and be running (slowly and with choppy mouse at times), then all the sudden flash the BSoD and restart itself. We threw in his power supply, but the symptoms persisted. So my power supply is fine.

Then we installed his hard drive as a slave to mine in order to copy files over from my drive so I could format mine. We would start copying files, then the BSoD would flash and the machine would restart just like before. We were trying to see if there was a specific spot in the process where the restart would take place, but it seemed completely random. Totally independent of the files being copied. Seemed to rule out a corrupted sector of the hard drive. So we set mine as the slave and his as the master and tried to copy that way, but the machine would still flash the BSoD and restart itself. We couldn't read the text on the BSoD because it flashed too fast. So we tried completely disconnecting my hard drive and running from his HD only. It seemed to run fine for a while, but eventually flashed the BSoD and restarted itself just like before.

Then we started thinking maybe it was the video card, due to the choppiness of the mouse cursor at times. We took out my GeForce 4 4800 and threw in another AGP video card, which seemed to work well for a little while. We thought maybe we had isolated the problem, and the system in general seemed more stable, but again I got the BSoD while trying to copy files over from my hard drive.

On a whim, we even swapped my Athlon XP 2200+ with his XP 2400+, but still have the same problems. Windows will start, run fine for a while, then flash the BSoD and restart anytime you tax the system a little bit. It doesn't matter what you're doing; running a benchmark program, copying files to another hard drive, watching a streaming internet video... it just restarts at completely random times. There is absolutely no pattern or regularity, and there is no forewarning of when it may happen.

I even removed every PCI device one by one and tried to run the machine, but nothing helps. Remember, when this first happened my internet stopped working, I restarted the computer to try to get the internet back up, and during shutdown the Windows XP soundbyte was really distorted. Upon starting up again, the machine just sat at the Windows XP splash screen for 5x longer than normal. And now all these problems.

I think, I'm finally starting to believe it'* the motherboard. I just read all your recent comments for the first time, so I'll check the capacitors and see how they look. I feel like we tried everything with this computer and cannot isolate the problem. Is there anything else I should try before switching to another motherboard?

Sorry this is so long....
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