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This is a discussion on Random Computer Freezes within the Windows XP Support forums, part of the Tech Support Forum category. Hi there, I just joined the forum and hope I'd be able to get some help with a frustrating computer


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Old 10-30-2012, 10:51 PM   #1
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Hi there, I just joined the forum and hope I'd be able to get some help with a frustrating computer issue I've been having for awhile.

My situation:
I am having a freezing problem on my desktop which is running on Windows XP. While I am using the desktop, it would randomly freeze and nothing will respond. The whole screen just freezes in place and basically just becomes like a screenshot of what I was doing, mouse freezes in place as well and keyboard does not respond. There are no error screens or anything, the computer just freezes in place.

I would then have to force shutdown the computer because I wouldn't be able to click on anything or use any functions. The freezes don't occur at a specific time either, sometimes it will occur 5 minutes after turning on the computer, and sometimes it will happen after 2 hours of activity on the computer.

What I have noticed is that if there is no activity, as in when I just have the computer on OR if I have the computer on and programs open, but am not actively using them (ie. Have a game open, but not actively playing it), freezes typically do not occur even after long hours. The freezes usually occur when I am actively doing something on the computer. I don't think there is any specific program which triggers it because it has occurred when I was playing a game (Have the game on AND playing it), watching videos or simply browsing the web. However, the freezes do occur much more often when I am playing games. It rarely occurs when I'm simply browsing the web or watching videos or just generally doing anything that doesn't require much processing if that's the right word.

Solutions I have tried:
-Scanned for virus, didn't find any.
-Reformatted my computer. I did this just about two days ago. The freezes didn't go away. After reformatting I only installed the following: MS office, malwarebytes, avast antivirus, msn messenger, firefox, google chrome, and an online game.

Upon advice from others I have also tried:
-Doing a hard drive diagnosis: No errors were found.
-Checked the ram with memtest86+: Ran it past 7 passes and for about 8 hours. No errors were detected. (Will try to do this for 12 hours tomorrow to be more certain).
-Did a clean reboot. Unchecked all service and startup items, but the freezes continue to persist.
-I heard driver update my also play a role, but I don't know about any drivers other than the graphics driver because I'm not so familiar with computers, but that one is up to date. Is there any I should perhaps be aware of?

I would very much appreciate help with this because it is really frustrating when it freezes during an important time. I would like to provide more information if I can, but I am not sure what information would be relevant. Thank you.
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Old 10-31-2012, 01:19 AM   #2
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My System


Quote:
it would randomly freeze and nothing will respond.
A computer that freezes is usually caused by overheating or a failing Power Supply Unit.
Shut down the computer, open the side and clean out all dust and blow out all fans with a can of compressed air. Look at the label of the PSU and report the Make, Model # and Wattage. Start the computer and make sure all fans are spinning.
The next step would be a Clean Boot, but you have already done that.
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Old 10-31-2012, 09:51 PM   #3
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All of the above, and also post the voltages as reported in BIOS.
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Old 11-01-2012, 07:51 PM   #4
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Thanks for the reply. I was finally available to open up computer today. I don't really understand computers very well, so I just copied everything down from what I think is the PSU, I think I am right, here it is:

Bestec
Mode: ATX-300-12Z
INPUT: 100-127V~7A, 200-240V~4A
BSTATX-300-12Z CDR

OUPUT: +12v/ 19A, -12v/ 0.8A
300W Max +5v/30A+5v5VSB/2A
+3.3v/28A

+5V&+3.3v 180W Max 5V& +12V 288W Max

That's what the label says so I just copied it all down as unfortunately I have no idea what any of this means.

Also, sorry, but how would I go about checking voltages in BIOS? Is BIOS the same as Setup Menu? Thank you.
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Old 11-01-2012, 08:13 PM   #5
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Good job. Different BIOS's call themselves different things. Try Setup and see what happens. Just make sure not to make any changes, and do not "exit saving changes" and you'll be fine.

You might have to look around for a while, as the voltages can be pretty much anywhere, and some BIOS's don't even have them, so don't be surprised if you look through everything twice and find nothing.

Bestec is common but low quality. 300 watts is low. Your PSU might only deliver 65% of 300 watts equals 195 watts, which is pretty puny.

How much hardware do you have installed? You might have more hardware than what a low-end 300 watt PSU can support.
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Old 11-01-2012, 09:05 PM   #6
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I've checked Setup, but there is nothing in there that relates to voltage unfortunately.

I'm not really sure how to check how much hardware I have installed, but I'll take a wild guess that it's the items listed under device manager? If so, I've taken a screenshot of them:




I've had this computer for about 6 years though and have not really installed any new hardware or anything over the years, other than a new mouse. The problems began occurring I believe around 6 months ago, but I've never had the time to fix it until now. Thank you.
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Old 11-01-2012, 10:07 PM   #7
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Sorry, I should have been clearer, but the screenshots tell the tale. You have one hard drive, 2 optical drives, a USB card reader and a dual-core Pentium D CPU. Also an average (power use-wise) video card.

Pentium D's use a lot of juice. Generate a lot of heat, too.

Download & install speedfan:
Download SpeedFan - Access temperature sensor in your computer
(make sure to avoid the slimeware options)
The software is clean, however the download options are scammy so pay attention to your mouse clicks and don't install anything if it feels wrong.

Speedfan doesn't work with all computers, but it does for most of them. It should report the temps and the voltages in graph form over a period of time. Run the test for about an hour, and see if you can run the CPU up past 50% (or even higher) and see what effect that has on the temperatures and the voltages.

Report results here.
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Old 11-01-2012, 10:18 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The_Janitor View Post
Sorry, I should have been clearer, but the screenshots tell the tale. You have one hard drive, 2 optical drives, a USB card reader and a dual-core Pentium D CPU. Also an average (power use-wise) video card.

Pentium D's use a lot of juice. Generate a lot of heat, too.

Download & install speedfan:
Download SpeedFan - Access temperature sensor in your computer
(make sure to avoid the slimeware options)
The software is clean, however the download options are scammy so pay attention to your mouse clicks and don't install anything if it feels wrong.

Speedfan doesn't work with all computers, but it does for most of them. It should report the temps and the voltages in graph form over a period of time. Run the test for about an hour, and see if you can run the CPU up past 50% (or even higher) and see what effect that has on the temperatures and the voltages.

Report results here.
Thank you. But just in case I don't post anything irrelevant, do I report Speedfan results in this way?:

Charts -> Check all the values (CPU, GPU, Ambient, etc) and then post a screenshot of it an hour later?

EDIT: You also stated to run the test, but I don't see a button for running a test anywhere, or does it test automatically once I open the program? Thanks.
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Old 11-01-2012, 11:25 PM   #9
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Sorry for the double post, but for some reason I can't edit my previous post again.

I wasn't able to take a screenshot because my sister had to sleep (The freezing comp is in her room). But I wrote down the temperatures in the beginning and after about an hour, it was pretty much the same, with some raising about 2-3C at times.

GPU: 65C
CPU: 0C
Ambient: 35C
Remote:59C
HD0: 39C
Temp1: 40C
Core: 65C
Ambient: 0C

I tried to get 50% CPU by opening a game, but the freeze occurred within 2 minutes and I had to force shutdown.

Now that I think about it, the freeze seems to be more likely to happen when the CPU usage is higher. Sometimes while browsing, I notice my CPU usage may go from like 10% to 40-50%, and then it feels like a freeze is coming and it may happen, though it sometimes escapes it. And in the case of the online game I use to test if the computer still freezes, every single time after I open the game and click around for a couple minutes, the freeze occurs 100% of the time, it use to work perfectly before this problem. I don't know if that adds to anything that may help the situation if I hadn't mentioned it already. Thanks guys.
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Old 11-01-2012, 11:45 PM   #10
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Hmm GPU looks hot. That video card isn't a high-performance hardware, so it shouldn't be running that hot under normal load, I don't think. Let's put that high on the list of suspects.

Also, fyi I'm going to interpret the CPU 0 temp as being a bug with speedfan, and also that the "Core" is the CPU (even though it's a dual-core, which leaves us with a bit of a question).

65 is really hot under almost all circumstances except for perhaps pentium D's as they run hot but even still if that temp was at idle 65 C is still WAY too hot, IMO. CPU at 50% or better, yeah I'd not get too fidgety with a temp that high on a Pentium D, but at idle, that's just too gosh-darn hot.

Overheating causes data corruption with can then cause freezing and all manner of other problems.

It's late and I gotta hit the rack. My eyeballs are scratchy. But you seem motivated so I'll leave you with some homework to do until I get back tomorrow a.m.

Still would like voltages from Speedfan, although it will not display on some motherboards. Also would like a more reliable indicator of temp, and here is your homework.

Research either the system model number or the motherboard model number, and see if there exists a utility published by the manufacturer that will give you the temps and (hopefully) maybe even the voltages. Speedfan is a "one size fits all" software and it's hit or miss, but some manufacturer's make a model-specfic utility that will read the chipsets/sensors/diodes etc... with high accuracy because the software is made by the motherboard manufacturer. It may not exist, but it might. Google words like "utility" "temperature" "sensor" "<motherboard model #>", etc...
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Old 11-02-2012, 12:09 PM   #11
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Sorry, I completely forgot about the voltages part. It is as followed:

+5V: 5.03V
VCPU: 1.26V
VCC: 3.33V
+5V: 5.00V
+12V: 11.86V
+3.3V: 3.35V
VBat: 0.00V

The numbers remained the same from a minute after opening the computer to an hour later.

I wasn't able to find any specific temperature utilities though.

Thank you.
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Old 11-02-2012, 01:19 PM   #12
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Quote:
Bestec300W.........Max+12V: 11.86V
Your +12V line is a little low it should be 12V or above. But it also is in the margin of error. I think your PSU is under powered for your setup. It may be starting to fail.
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Old 11-02-2012, 03:43 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spunk.funk View Post
Your +12V line is a little low it should be 12V or above. But it also is in the margin of error. I think your PSU is under powered for your setup. It may be starting to fail.
Sorry if this is a stupid question, but would that mean I should replace my PSU? If so, would it be very expensive as I'm a bit tight on funds right now. I'm thinking of calling some computer repair places because I probably won't know how to replace one myself, but it would help if there's a price range so I know I'm not getting scammed for more. Thank you.
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Old 11-02-2012, 06:38 PM   #14
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I wouldn't replace the PSU just yet. We haven't seen anything bad enough to condemn it. If the 12 volt rail had been (for example) 11.3 volts, then yeah we'd be telling you to spend money. But not yet.

Your PSU is marginal, and is on the list of possible suspects, but the heat is (IMO) more likely at this point. So I would recommend that you remove the CPU fan, clean whatever gook might be on it using denatured, 90% alcohol and Q-tip swabs, and replace the old gook with a good thermal compound like Arctic Silver 5. There are other good compounds, just don't use the white, silicon-based gook.

Is that 65C CPU temperature at idle? What happens to that temp when the CPU usage ramps up? Do you hear the CPU fan running high when the CPU is idle? If not, does it (the fan) get faster as the CPU use increases?

The CPU fan may be bad, or the heat sink it sits on could be so clogged with gook (cat hair, etc...) that it no longer cools the CPU. Do you have a cat? Does anyone in the house smoke? A pentium D is pretty old; how long has it been since anyone cleaned the CPU fan and heat sink.

Also, take a look at the video card/GPU. Does it have a fan? Does the fan spin? Is it dirty?
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Old 11-02-2012, 08:25 PM   #15
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I've just called a computer tech to take a look and he also stated that it may have something to do with high temperatures. He took my desktop and says he'll clean up the fans and everything by tomorrow, so hopefully it'll solve the problem.

Thank you so much guys for all the help during this time, though I wasn't able to personally solve it, I learned a huge amount (Checking temperature, clean boots, memtests, etc), and I think this will help me the next time I have any computer problems (hopefully not!).
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