Computer crashing

  Liza 01:52 14 Jul 05

My sister has a Gateway computer bought some 7 years ago. It’s Intel, 64mb ram and 13 gb space. The OS is 98 SE. She only uses the computer for emails and occasionally to surf the Net. When not on the Net she writes letters, mainly personal. The problem occurs after booting up, not on the Internet. While she is working on something from the desktop, the computer hangs or crashes. It used to be occasionally but now once too often. It started some time in April of this year so she thought it could be anti virus for she failed to renew her membership of MacAlfie. However she sorted this out in June and had the software renewed. Instead of the problem disappearing it has gotten even worse. I had her check by right clicking on My Computer and clicking properties but there was nothing I could find there. The Alt/Ctrl/del was not doing anything not bringing up the pop up close program dialog box so scandisk was not going through.. Had her reinstall windows. This cured the scandisk and close programs trouble. Scandisk could not find any problem with hard drive. She tells me her son has had a full screen picture of his daughter displayed on the screen. This has been there for a long time. Could it be the cause of the crashes, but why now. Can someone help please. Thanks, Liza

  Gongoozler 07:02 14 Jul 05

Hi Liza. My initial thoughts on this one are that either the computer is overheating or the hard drive is getting full of accumulated debris. When the computer crashes can it be restarted immediately or does it need to be left a while. You say that there is 13G space, is this the total hard drive capacity, or is this the available space on a larger drive - if it is, what is the total drive capacity. The computer is 7 years old, has Windows been reinstalled in this time and do you feel up to reformatting and reinstalling Windows?

  keith-236785 09:52 14 Jul 05

after 7 years of use, there will be a build up of dust in the system, i think its time for a little spring cleaning (a bit late for spring but......)

unplug the pc, remove the case side/top and take a look, you will be suprised how much dust is in there.

PCWorld sell a small battery powered vac for this purpose for £12.99 but you might find one cheaper elsewhere

check that the processor fan is working ok (you will need to plug in and switch on for this)

the memory chips and the proc heatsink and the graphic card heatsink all collect dust like magnets so carefully suck up the dust and make sure any fans spin freely

  keith-236785 10:12 14 Jul 05

sorry posted before saying, Static electric in your body can kill some computer parts dead, if you are going to remove/replace anything then you need to earth yourself before putting your hand inside the pc. (touching your house radiator should help) or you could invest in an anti-static wrist strap (i bought one and used it once), with care you wont need one but if you are new to going in a pc, it might be wise to get one.

  Micro-Man 10:32 14 Jul 05

I tend to 'blow out' all of the dust in my pc with a conventional vac cleaner, where the hose can fit on the exhaust of the cleaner. However it is VERY important to wedge a screwdriver or similar, in any of the fans when you blast them, as they have permanent magnet motors and so can generate enough of a voltage to destroy their electronics when cleaned this way.

  Micro-Man 10:33 14 Jul 05

Also make sure the PC is unplugged from the mains first!!!!!

  Liza 14:52 16 Jul 05

Hello Gongoozler

Thanks. When the computer crashes it starts immediately but sometimes, she now tells me, on safe mode. She also says she once started the computer with the startup disk. I asked if she did this because windows could not start. Her reply was she used it thinking it would solve the problem! However she says startup said there were new files or programs installed. Could she see these files, I asked, on windows explorer her reply was she didn’t check. Probably I think one of those programs or files is not okay.

13gb is the hard drive capacity. Windows has not been reinstalled in the last 7 years. She lives in Cambridgeshire and I in London so am getting all this info by phone.


  Liza 14:53 16 Jul 05

Hello Paperman27

Thank you. Yes it does look like her computer needs cleaning. I’ll pay her a visit.


  Liza 14:55 16 Jul 05

Hello Micro-Man

Thanks for your tip.


  Gongoozler 21:21 16 Jul 05

If the computer restarts immediately then overheating is unlikely to be the problem. It takes a time to heat up, so it will also take a time to cool down. I think it is more likely to be a corrupt file. Although we could probably eventually fathom out which file or program is corrupted, a 7 year old Windows 98 installation would in any case benefit from a reformat and clean reinstallation. If you feel you could tackle that and if you have all the installation disks for programs and drivers than I think that would be the easiest solution.

  Liza 23:41 16 Jul 05

Hello Gongoozler

Yes, it could be a corrupt file. I will arrange to visit my sister soon to have a look at her computer personally. She has all of the disks necessary to reinstall windows. She has been backing up her work so hopefully she will not lose any of her work. Thank you for your help.


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