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  1. #1
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    Reboot during session

    Any ideas as to what could cause an 18-month-old XPSP1 system to occasionally shut down during normal operation for no apparent reason? I've looked at the obvious such as airflow, overheating and ensured the CPU fan is working, as well as giving the system a full spyware/adware/AV scan. I thought I had it fixed the other day, but I got a call this evening telling me it's up to it's old tricks again. I haven't checked the BIOS version so I'll include that in my next line of attack.

    Rough spec: XP2000+ running unclocked at around 62

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    Re: Reboot during session

    Nothing in the event log?
    Any pattern wrt time of day, programmes running?
    Chkdsk show up anything?

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    Re: Reboot during session

    Do you get a BSOD? If so, what is the error code? Could be memory failing. XP is pretty finicky about memory.

    Joe
    Joe

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    Re: Reboot during session

    Hi guys, thanks for the posts.

    No BSOD, it just shuts off. Sometimes it has rebooted for no reason at all, when it's just sitting idle. Other times it has refused to turn on first thing in the morning but would then run all day trouble-free once up and running.

    I'm suspecting the PSU, but of course it could be the memory. Whoever put this particular home-brew box together for my client didn't think sensibly and installed some cheap, generic rubbish instead of paying a bit extra for something reliable like Crucial. I'll take a look under the CPU heatsink just in case there's something missing there...

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    Re: Reboot during session

    The refusing to turn on would lead me to the power supply, not memory. And certainly, a failing PS can cause the system to reboot too. If your CPU temp is okay, I would leave the CPU alone for now, unless you are prepared to properly remount it just for kicks - I never reuse thermal paste so there's no peeking and putting it back option here (I figure if there is a "curing" period, then I don't want to use it again after it has cured).

    Actually, in reference to your concern about generic memory, in my experience, it has been just as reliable as the big boys, when used in its intended environment - that is, not overclocked, not exposed to ESD (static) and operating in an adequately cooled case. That said, if my clients want an office machine, I feel comfortable saving them a few dollars there - it still has a lifetime warranty. If I am building a serious game machine, I go for the top names.

    Power Supplies, however, are a different story. And if this home built PC has a power supply that was "thrown in" with a "pretty" case, then I would suspect it more. These PSs are often there just to make the sale, but are often under-powered, unstable, noisy (electronically and sonically), and have no overhead.

    An easy way to eliminate memory is if you have two or more sticks, pull one and run with that for a bit and see if you still have problems. Swap and try again and through process of elimination, verify good or bad.

    Another area to think about is your source power - your AC. I strongly encourage the use of an UPS to supply power to your PC. For just a little more than the price of a good surge protector/power strip, you can get an UPS. Besides the obvious advantage of power during power outages, an UPS also compensates for lags or drop outs - also known as brown outs. These periods, which occur every time the refrigerator or air conditioner kicks in, puts tremendous strain on the voltage regulation circuits of the power supply and the motherboard. An UPS is an investment and IMHO, anyone who invests a thousand or two in a computer, and does not use an UPS, is a fool. Period.
    Bill (AFE7Ret)
    Freedom is NOT Free!
    Heat is the bane of all electronics!

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  6. #6
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    Re: Reboot during session

    Thanks for that extensive reply, Bill.

    I'm going over tonight to swap out the existing PSU with a 400w one in a spare box at home. I can't tell you the VA figure but it's enough to power my 950 Duron with two sticks PC100, two HDDs, two optical drives, a tv tuner card, couple of fans etc. etc. Could be a long test though as the period between problems is sometimes as much as a week apart.

    As far as the memory goes, it's one stick of 512 MB. I'd love to swap that with another known good stick, but I just don't keep it as spares anymore. I've learned the hard way about having various sticks and capacities of RAM sitting around in case I need it - technology marches on, prices plummet and you realise you've spent all that money on something you will never use. That's why I love Crucial - within 24 hours, it's in my hand.

    Thanks again.

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    Re: Reboot during session

    I just noticed that the price for Belkin 350Vac UPSs havs droppped recently to $34 at CDW. That's about the same price of a quality power strip. We use the Belkins here at the office and the software & hardware works pretty well for us.

    Jim

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