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  1. #1
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    troubleshooting constant crashes (XP Professional sp1)

    Hi everyone... I've encountered a problem that has become critical on my home computer. I think there is more than one issue present so I was hoping your expertise could help me separate cause from effect. And help me determine the ORDER in which I should address the issues.

    symptoms: 1- computer reboots whenever it feels like it, to the point that yesterday it rebooted about 15 times during the night and froze once. upon restart, which takes an inordinate amount of time, the famous, "your system has recovered from a serious error, do you want to send a report to microsoft" The report contains a minidump file. The brilliant online crash analysis says a device driver is the culprit but it can't tell what, who, or how..

    2- IE forget which version (5.5???) seems to be possessed. At random, my mouse goes wacky, the start menu opens and closes and the possessed mouse opens programs or the control panel. The mouse dances around the screen, windows flash, it stops when it feels like it... This all happens very rapidly... In the very mildest of attacks, a window i'm typing in might lose focus and minimize all by itself, but usually it's the severe form.

    3-miscellaneous issues - system is exceptionally slow... the cpu is literally moaning and groaning and clicking inside. I am not lacking in hard drive space have about 6 gigs remaining, and running about 128 meg of ram
    History: I have always had a problem with the original cd rom that came with the puter... it worked properly only for a short time. OCCASSIONALLY my computer would freeze and the error msg from microsoft would be about a device driver... I ASSUMED it was the cd rom drive. Solution, I don't use the drive and purchased a cd-rw drive to work from. fine. Over time the freezing has increased and now it's rebooting itself all the time. For about two years I've barely taxed the system resources and the marked increase in crashes SEEM to be related to the use of multimedia devices and applications. I have Speakers, Webcam, Keyboard, Mouse, Cable modem, Monitor, Microphone and all in one scanner, printer, fax HP jetsuite device plugged into the unit. Applications that tend to run are yahoo messenger, RealPlayer, a java based chat that I visit, visualstudio and visual c++ and IE. I also have this adware that helps set off the IE problem and can't get rid of it (gator/GAIN popup adds which no blocker can cure)

    One crash lead me to a knowledge base article that told me to change the hardware accelertion setting to none, which I did, and to uncheck some box (enable writing something or other). That seemed to help. The article further stated that my video (graphics) or sound card could be malfunctioning. Fine.

    Yesterday, I uninstalled yahooIM, dowloaded directx9, dowloaded the drivers for the cam, then reinstalled yahoo. *and put the hardware exceleration to none*. I rebooted in between all these processes and it seemed to stabilize it alittle. If necessary I think I can handle reinstalling the operating system, but i think that the conflict is with my system and a device or driver. As an aside... with yahoo, I tend to use the cam and mic at the same time with it's conferencing feature this is a deadly combination. Also, I can't run Realplayer and listen to a cd when I have yahoo running or the cam.

    Any suggestions are appreciated.

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    Re: troubleshooting constant crashes (XP Professional sp1)

    Hi Jenn,
    There are any number of problems that could cause this. First, how old is the PC? Could it still be under warranty? Second, Is the XP fully patched? Have you run Windows update recently? Third, Do you have Ad-aware and Spybot S&D installed and up-to-date? Have you run them recently? Fourth, Do you have up-to-date anti0virus software? Fifth, Are you running a firewall? Sixth, Are you running with default or modified swap file settings? Seventh, hardware could be a problem also. Did you mean to say that the PC only have 128 MB RAM? That is way too little for XP. Most people would recommend 512 MB these days although you can get by with 256 MB if you don't do too much. Your RAM could be failiing also. You could have a key stick on the keyboard. You could be having power problems.

    I suggest that first you get AdAware and Spybot installed and run. Then get all the software fully patched. Then try to make things as simple as possible. Just run on application at a time. See which one causes the problem. If you can get some RAM from a friend or relative try replacing yours.

    Joe
    Joe

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    Re: troubleshooting constant crashes (XP Professional sp1)

    Jenn,
    In addition to the excellent suggestions that Joe posted:
    1. The mouse. If it's a regular "ball" type serial mouse. Have you taken the bottom off and thoroughly cleaned the crud that accumulates on the rollers ( not just the ball ) It's amazing how much fuzz finds it's way there and is the best case for an optical mouse changeover.
    2.If you want to get rid of some of the reboots, go to control panel>system>advanced, startup and recovery options.
    uncheck automatically restart and write an event to system log. Change write debug info size to "none.
    3.Right click My Computer, click properties>hardware> device manager. Look for any devices that have a yellow flag on their listing, which will indicate a problem with that device. If you see any you will probably have a good indication of a bad device driver for that device.
    4.Get MORE memory. 128 just doesn't hack it.
    5. Have you defragged your HD lately? Cleared your temporary internet files out?

    More if needed. <img src=/S/dizzy.gif border=0 alt=dizzy width=15 height=15>
    BOB
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    Long ago, there was a time when men cursed and beat on the ground with sticks. It was called witchcraft.
    Today it is called golf!

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    Re: troubleshooting constant crashes (XP Professional sp1)

    Thank you both, this is where i stand now...

    I ran the adaware... it found 716 objects LOL... i removed them... - I ran spybot, it found 71 items and i removed them - I also ran the HackThis and it found nothing unusual. After removal and restart, the system was much more stable and the speed had picked up. I had one shut down of IE and two reboots using YIM. At least this is progress. I ran the info on my puter and the stats are like this: 128 MB RAM, 999 megahertz intel celeron processor... computer is about 3 years old... however it was not off the shelf, we've built it. I haven't upgraded the memory in a while. The mouse, i clean regularly cause i noticed they stop wheeling correctly. I delete cookies and temp files and clear history regularly. No devices had a flag in the device manager. I tested the system, by turning on the YIM, running the camera, running a voice connection and IE. Bingo... that made it lurch and reboot itself... So, at this point i think getting more memory will definitely help and I need to eliminate that as a possible cause. If I still have problems after installing the memory, I will repost.

    Thank you so much for the suggestions. Your assistance is much appreciated.

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