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Author Topic: advice needed on h/w problem  (Read 1299 times)
mick12345678
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« on: April 13, 2010, 11:37:24 am »

My friend has a PC which started off as just XP. After a few years, it started locking up repeatedly - seemingly at random.

I reinstalled Windows & made it dual-boot with VL6 (LILO to the MBR), with VL there as a backup in case Windows ever got in a mess.

It worked fine for several months then started locking up again. So, I told her to start selecting VL instead (at the LILO boot menu). To my surprise, the lockups continued as before.

More and more, they seemed to occur at boot time, so I thought it must be a corrupt MBR. I rewrote the MBR several times, but that didn't fix it.

Finally, it got so bad that, a lot of the time,  a reboot didn't even bring up a LILO menu. So, I put a VL6 Light Live DVD in the DVD drive and got her to use that.

It STILL intermittently  locks up !

So
- its nothing to do with the MBR (VL Light doesn't need the MBR)
- its not the hard disk (I ran a test on this and its 100% clean )
- its not faulty DRAM (I ran extensive tests and no probs found at all)

so what could it be and how can I narrow it down further ?
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Daniel
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« Reply #1 on: April 13, 2010, 12:28:53 pm »

I suppose that if you've eliminated the MBR and the hard drive, it might be the BIOS. It's possible that a bios upgrade would fix it. Check and see how old the bios is.
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bigpaws
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« Reply #2 on: April 13, 2010, 05:32:51 pm »

From the information given, there are two things to investigate.

RAM (needs to reseated) or is bad. You could run memtest to check the RAM.

The other would be heat for the processor. Resetting the heatsink, if it is heat
would fix that.

Bigpaws
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nightflier
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Posts: 3942



« Reply #3 on: April 13, 2010, 05:51:18 pm »

As Bigpaws said, it could be heat related - loose or clogged heatsink or worn out fans. I have also seen these symptoms on old hardware that is starting to fail, be it be the motherboard, video card or other components. Not all computers last for decades. Sad
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GrannyGeek
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« Reply #4 on: April 13, 2010, 08:04:22 pm »

Could be the power supply. If another one is available, you could test by switching the power supplies and see if the problem goes away. If another isn't available, it might be worth it to get a cheap one for testing purposes.
--GrannyGeek
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mick12345678
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Posts: 140


« Reply #5 on: April 14, 2010, 05:45:24 am »

Thanks for all the replies   Grin

I did run extensive memory tests, so I think I can rule memory problems out.

I cleaned out the chassis of dust etc a while back and put some machine oil on the main fan axis so it now runs noiselessly.

I ran some cpu temperature tests a few days ago and nothing showed up as a problem.

I will look into a BIOS upgrade but I thought BIOS was only involved at bootup time. Some of the lockups have occurred at boot up but a lot of them are long after boot, so doesnt that rule out BIOS as a cause ?

Maybe I can find a utility to check the p/s as I dont have a spare. When the lockup occurs, the power is still on (or at least, the chassis LED's are on that indicate system power up).

I have got a spare video card - I could install that..

There was a power surge a year or so ago that burnt out the on-board LAN port. I had to install a separate LAN card to get going again. But if that had had a knock-on affect on the motherboard, surely the problem would be persistent not creeping/intermittent ?
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nightflier
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« Reply #6 on: April 14, 2010, 06:17:11 am »

Upgrading BIOS is something I only do if I need to, in order to support new hardware or features. In your case I doubt that it would be of any help.

Electrical equipment does wear over time. A power surge tends to accelerate this aging process so yes, you could be seeing delayed effects of the spike that took out the LAN port.
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mick12345678
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« Reply #7 on: April 14, 2010, 10:55:19 am »

fiddled about a bit more today, and then I noticed a smell and realised the fan on the power supply wasn't spinning  Roll Eyes. Looks like a p/s swap may do it - so the prize goes to Grannygeek  Grin
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w2ibc
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« Reply #8 on: April 14, 2010, 11:56:41 am »

fiddled about a bit more today, and then I noticed a smell and realised the fan on the power supply wasn't spinning  Roll Eyes. Looks like a p/s swap may do it - so the prize goes to Grannygeek  Grin

i know this is a bit off. but its also a good idea to clean out the tower about once a month. (ie getting all the dirt/dust/ect out of it) dirt/dust are fan killers. alot of people never think to clean the tower out. they just put it down hook it up and only worry about it when soemthing goes wrong.
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mick12345678
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« Reply #9 on: April 14, 2010, 01:51:08 pm »

I agree with that - there was a lot of dust in there when I cleaned it out a month or so ago.

The annoying thing is that the utility I was using to report on fan speeds wasn't reporting anything at all for this fan, so I didn't get a warning.
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retired1af
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« Reply #10 on: April 14, 2010, 07:35:34 pm »

I have yet to see any utility report on the PSU itself. Most concentrate on the CPU and GPU fans.
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nightflier
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« Reply #11 on: April 15, 2010, 03:20:36 am »

To enable speed monitoring and control by software, the fan needs to be connected to a 3-pin connector on the mobo. I have seen a few power supplies with a connector for that purpose, but it's rare.
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