PC locking up

  PaulCrane 13:55 24 Sep 04

I have a problem with my PC locking up on me. When it happens, there is no response from the mouse or keyboard at all and the only way to deal with it with the hardware reset button.

It has happened on different occasion with different things going on, there doesn't seem to be a common thread. Examples that spring to mind are capturing VHS video via the TV card, watching WM video and, most bizarrley, downloading with Getright. What has not caused lockups are gaming (inc things like Unreal2, Doom 3 and Painkiller) and video editing, both of which I would have thought would be fairly CPU intensive.

It was suggested to me that it might be high processor activity causing the CPU to get to hot and lock-up. I've tried to monitor CPU activity and last timer it happened the CPU was nowhere near at full capacity. Keeping the side panel off the case to aid cooling makes no difference. Motherboard Monitor shows the CPU temp steady at 46 or 47 degrees, which I don't think is unusual for an Athlon XP.

Over the last few months I've added a new hard drive (bringing it up to two), replaced the CD rewriter with a DVD rewriter and added a TV card. It's hard to see though how any one of them could be at fault, as there have definitely been occasions where this has occurred and none of them were being used.

Any thoughts?


Athlon XP 1900+
MSI Via KT7 something motherboard
Geforce 5600 Ultra
60MB Seagate harddrive
120MB Seagate Barracuda harddrive
16x DVD ROM drive
LG multiformat DVD rewriter
Ledtek Winfast TV card


  Diodorus Siculus 14:06 24 Sep 04

Check for all drivers - see if there are any updates available.

Have a look for spyware also: click here
SB click here
AdAware click here

Check also for a virus.

  Taw® 15:10 24 Sep 04

click here some useful advice as a start. I would refer to my own post on this thread and my cure was a BIOS update. The advice usually is update the BIOS as a last resort as mine was. Needless to say by updating my BIOS has meant it has not frozen since.

  PaulCrane 12:34 21 Oct 04

I'm pretty sure it's not a software problem. I've reformatted and reinstalled windows and it's still happening - if anything it's worse. Indeed, it even appeared to do it during the reinstallation and I had to start again. Sometimes it doesn't even seem to get as far as loading Windows (I don't even get as far as the loading screen) and sometimes it gets only part way there. Then it can happen at some unpredictable point later on. All the drivers are bang up to date.

The increasing frequency has enable me to see a bit of a pattern though:-

It tends to lock up without reaching Windows, or at least not fully, the fist time I boot up. Sometimes this might happen a few times but eventually it "gets going". This suggests to me something is warming up. Processor activity alone is not enough to lock it up - I rip a lot of CDs, which utilises the CPU 100% and this doesn't cause locking up (at least not often). Video (DivX or WMP) does seem to cause it to lock up a lot, so do games. It's not just the picture though - the sound is frozen as well (i.e., it the PC is making a sound at the time, it continues to generate that note until I restart). It gets nowhere now with video encoding (via Windows Movie Maker)

The first seems to me to support it being the PSU but the fact that video and games cause problems might suggest a graphics card problem. But would that cause the whole system to lock up (including sound) or just the picture. The fact that it happened under low load suggests to me it is not the CPU. But I'm no expert, not by a long way, so it's really just speculation.

Does this prompt any thoughts?

Re the BIOS update, and as an aside, I am curious about one thing (which often applies when people suggest updating things). If a system is working fine (for months or years) and then develops a problem like this, why is it that the BIOS that worked before suddenly doesn't work now and an update is needed? Not that I'm not prepared to try it if it really is the answer, I just find it odd. I always have, ever since I was first advised to update my graphics drivers (which were only a month or two old) to play a game that was years old.

I'm reluctant still do fiddle with the BIOS, if only because if it is not that and the PC locks up while I'm doing it, I'll probably end up with a completely useless motherboard.


  Caså 13:08 21 Oct 04

I agree about BIOS if nothing has changed...But several bits of hardware HAVE been changed,& thats where the BIOS update comes in.

  Taw® 19:07 22 Oct 04

As I said the BIOS update is usually the last resort. What Caså is exactly right as you change hardware and update drivers sometimes the BIOS just is not equiped for the changes and needs an upgrade. I whole heartedly agree to be reluctant in this matter. As you see by my link I had gone everyother Avenue and was faced with a machine that was intermittently freezing or at least upgrading the BIOS with all the risks that entails. For me it worked. As a ps and another avenue to consider my sons PC just this week was given problems similar to your second post, it turned out to be a new Mobe needed. good luck and dont forget to post back if you get a resolution.

  Dorsai 19:46 22 Oct 04

I am tending toward the possability of a PSU.

It's only a gut feeling, and coz of this, i can give litle in the way of supporting reasons. But I have learnt to trust my gut feelings.

Felling of adding more stuff, that takes more power. but the amount of power avaliable has not gone up.

  PaulCrane 10:04 27 Oct 04

Tried running memtest+ and windows memory diagnostic, both about 5 times.

Mesmtest+ freezes every time at exactly the same point (first pass, test 5, 1%). WMD freezes every time on test 4 - not at exactly the same point but always almost immediately after test 4 starts.

Sounds like a memory problem, do you think?

  Senile Syd 16:22 27 Oct 04

Many thanks. I've skimmed your thread and will read it more carefully this evening. Our symptoms are remarkably similar, but I haven't made any changes recently, apart from installing SP2.

My system freezes at precisely the same point in the Photoshop load-up procedure (although it freezes elsewhere too). In my own thread, I was given a link to a v.good unofficial Photoshop website, where I found a strong suggestion that deleting the PS Preferences file often cures all ills.

"Brilliant!" says I. "It has to be that!" But it wasn't. Frustrating innit?

I think my next move will be to get the covers off the CPU and give the innards a good shake.

I'll post here if I get lucky.

  Caså 19:08 27 Oct 04

Can you try a psu as per Dorsai?

  Philup 11:55 01 Nov 04

Since SP2 my Dell Inspiron 3700 (P111 550) with 192MB RAM is going slow (the keyboard) and/or frezing and/or shutting down and refusing to switch on without disconnecting he mains power lead. Incidentally Ihavea hugenew folder nWindows called 'Service Pack Files' all of which seem t be duplicates of files elsewwhee nthe (small) hard disk. Can I delete his whole folder? Might it have a beneficial effect?

I have been considering whether I've gotome incipient CPU failure - is that likely?

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