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Thread: Freeze up

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    Freeze up

    My son's computer upon boot up will lock up more often than not. It will freeze even before it gets into loading Windows, sometimes at the log-in screen, sometimes later while working with it.

    Would the first thing to check be the memory (since it occures even before it gets into Windows) or does it sound like a MB problem?
    What's the best way to narrow it down?

    The PC is a 1gH system with 256 RAM running Windows XP.

    --KZ

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    Re: Freeze up

    What resources do you have? In my experience it's more likely to be a software problem than hardware. If you already have spare hardware then by all means check for a hardware problem. (I'd do it by swapping suspect hardware for known good hardware-or at least for different hardware under the assumption that you're unlikely to get several bad components in a row. But note that that's an assumption, not a guarantee.)

    If you don't have spare hardware then I'd check for software problems before buying anything. Maybe down to the point of reformat/reinstall. Only if that didn't work (make sure you have good drivers for the hardware) would I spend money on diagnosing possible hardware faults.

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    Re: Freeze up

    I was thinking NOT software since it sometimes freezes upon bootup before even loading anything (at POST). However, it will freeze right in the middle of a game, etc. too. But it's mainly upon bootup, both before and after POST.

    I really don't have other hardware to swap with, other than memory. I'll start by narrowing that down by taking that memory out and putting another SIMM in to see what happens.

    --KZ

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    Re: Freeze up

    Run a thorough chkdsk - it may pull up some problem on the hard disk.

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    Re: Freeze up

    I did a complete checkdisk twice. No problems there.

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    Re: Freeze up

    If the earliest it freezes is the login screen as your first message said then it's likely software. If it freezes during the POST as this message says then you're right that it's likely hardware. Note that there's software that loads, often invisibly, between the end of the POST & the appearance of the login screen.

    My favorite suspects, other than memory, are drives & video cards. Can you disconnect the other drives & boot reliably from a floppy? (Probably not into Windows, but at least to a command prompt.)

    Start by simplifying the system-disconnect everything except the video & floppy. If that works OK then start adding things back one at a time until the problem re-appears. If this is an intermittent problem as you seem to suggest then this will be particularly hard to track down. Good luck.

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    Re: Freeze up

    To eliminate (or prove) memory problems, try Microsoft's Memory Diagnostic (singular, not plural, for some reason!).

    John
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    Ita, esto, quidcumque...

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    Re: Freeze up

    Awesome. I'll give that a try.

    Thanks
    --KZ

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    Re: Freeze up

    I agree with John - this sounds like a memory problem to me - in addition to the Memory Diagnostic, if you have two or more memory sticks, you can pull one and swap it in and out and through process of elimination, isolate the bad stick. If this proceedure is used, do not touch the contact pins, be sure to remove the power cord from the power supply (turning off the PC does NOT remove all power from the motherboard!) and touch the chassis before, during, after, and all points in between (get the idea?) to ensure no static buildup in your body.

    While in there, make sure you remove the thermal blankets (AKA dust) from all fans, heatsinks, etc. Note this symptom is also indicative of heat related problems but since you note this sometimes happens at boot up, I am shying away from that UNLESS, the CPU fan is beginning to bind - it only takes a few seconds for a CPU to overheat. And make sure the drives' cables are secure.
    Bill (AFE7Ret)
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    Re: Freeze up

    I'd run through http://www.memtest86.com/ Memory test and then maybe a burn-in test with Sandra http://www.sisoftware.net/

    Also, open up the case, check to see if it's something as simple as a component not properly plugged in.

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    Re: Freeze up

    jhelfer, I performed both of those tests. All checked out good.

    Yesterday while booting, it froze after login, then I went into SafeMode(networking) and right after receiving the prompt to click on which login, it froze before I could even click on one, then it froze again on SafeMode. After several tries of this, it finally went in OK.

    Does this sound like hardware or software? Should I try a format and re-install?

    --Kz

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    Re: Freeze up

    <hr>Should I try a format and re-install? <hr>


    That's what I would do.

    Remove any non-essential hardware peripherals. Gather a disk full of the most trusted drivers for your necessary hardware. Wipe the disk clean, and reinstall from scratch. Try to limit yourself to setting up only the hardware and software you can't live without. Then use the machine a lot for a few days. If you still have issues, maybe you will have better luck getting to the bottom of them with a simplified setup full of "known quantities"

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    Re: Freeze up

    Thanks everyone for your imput. I'll be working on this during the long weekend and will report back.

    --KZ

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    Re: Freeze up

    I opened it up, but the memory stick I had was different than the one in that PC. I took it out, blew it out, then reseated it. I also took out the Zip drive and doublechecked all of the connections to make sure they were good and tight.

    I upgraded it to SP2 and rebooted 10 times and it all seemed to work OK so far. So not sure which one of those above worked. Maybe all of them.

    --KZ

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