Random crash - how to debug

  johnnybaz 16:30 16 Aug 04


My home PC - a 1500 athlon running Windows XP home - has developed a habit of randomly locking for no reason. The whole machine locks - no error message, like a processor crash. The processor temperature looks OK (around 41 degrees C) so unless it is a memory failure, it must be a software conflict.

My problem is - how do I debug this kind of problem ? Any thoughts would be appreciated


  hugh-265156 18:13 16 Aug 04

how much installed memory does your computer have? if your low on memory things may be slow and appear to hang if windows is swapping to disk. give it a while and see what happens. xp is usualy quite good at recovering from crashes. if you dont have much ram install some more. 512mb is a nice ammount.

what are you doing at the time when the computer locks up? playing games, using a particular program etc or is it just random?

when this happens try pressing 'CTRL+ALT+DEL' and see if task manager pops up. if it does then click on the 'applications tab' and see if anything is listed as 'not responding' if so click it and then click 'end task' maybe.

as above if you can get into task manager but nothing is listed as not responding maybe try clicking the 'processes' tab and look at what process is using all the cpu time here, may be the culprit, may not be but its worth a having a look anyway.

also take a look in event viewer 'start/control panel/administrative tools/event viewer' click the 'application' and 'system' tabs here and look for errors marked with a red x. click on them for more info and maybe a fix if its a known problem. note the dates and times of any hangs you have had and see if anything is listed here for that date and time.

check windows update and make sure windows is fully up to date click here

may help a bit.

  johnnybaz 18:37 16 Aug 04

Thanks for the quick response.

I have 512M and rarely do anything too intensive like game playing. When it locks, it really locks and no CTRL-ALT-DEL or similar will work. It will also not recover in a tolerable amount of time - if I am playing music, the music sticks as well and loops like a stuck record :-(

Had a quick look in event viewer but couldn't find anything useful. Need to double check my times as there is a USB error in there that has happened at a few points close to the crash, but it looks pretty innocuous. I'll check further though.

Thanks for the recommendations !

  hugh-265156 00:45 17 Aug 04

has this problem only started to happen recently? have you tried a system restore to a date you know all was well maybe?

thats all i can think of trying sorry.

  johnnybaz 22:39 17 Aug 04

Haven't yet tried a restore, but have noticed that about 60% of the time, I get a CMOS error on reboot following the crash.

This led me to think battery, but would I not get an error more frequently if that were the case ?

  hugh-265156 02:54 18 Aug 04

what does the 'CMOS error' say exactly on screen please?

I'm not sure. CMOS or bios errors are usually nothing to do with windows so i would think its a hardware problem or set up config problem maybe.

do you get any beeps at start up? what make of bios do you have? award,ami,phoenix etc and have you made any changes recently?

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