1. SPS Accounts:
    Do you find yourself coming back time after time? Do you appreciate the ongoing hard work to keep this community focused and successful in its mission? Please consider supporting us by upgrading to an SPS Account. Besides the warm and fuzzy feeling that comes from supporting a good cause, you'll also get a significant number of ever-expanding perks and benefits on the site and the forums. Click here to find out more.
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
You are currently viewing Boards o' Magick as a guest, but you can register an account here. Registration is fast, easy and free. Once registered you will have access to search the forums, create and respond to threads, PM other members, upload screenshots and access many other features unavailable to guests.

BoM cultivates a friendly and welcoming atmosphere. We have been aiming for quality over quantity with our forums from their inception, and believe that this distinction is truly tangible and valued by our members. We'd love to have you join us today!

(If you have any problems with the registration process or your account login, please contact us. If you've forgotten your username or password, click here.)

Weird computer crash - where to begin

Discussion in 'Techno-Magic' started by SlickRCBD, Sep 4, 2018.

  1. SlickRCBD Gems: 23/31
    Latest gem: Black Opal


    Resourceful Veteran

    Joined:
    May 7, 2005
    Messages:
    1,640
    Media:
    16
    Likes Received:
    67
    Gender:
    Male
    My "good" computer has sort of died on me, and I'm not sure where to begin diagnosing it as it is weird. It gets progressively worse as I tried to diagnose things.

    Last night when I went to bed I turned the computer off and everything was fine. There was a severe thunderstorm with a lot of lightning while I slept, but the surge suppressor did not trip.

    This morning at first everything seemed fine for the first few minutes as I checked my e-mail, then I tried to follow a link to YouTube and the browser kept crashing as the video first came up. It looked like uBlock origin was the issue, but it got more and more unstable as I relaunched the browser, trying to get to the point where I could disable it.Then the computer abruptly rebooted without warning.
    When I tried to log in again, it was slow, and I got an error that I failed to write down, either about DirectX or Direct3D or something as it was logging in, and IE seemed to crash. Then the computer abruptly rebooted.

    I tired going into safe mode and found that there were no restore points (?!?) and I couldn't even find the option in the control panel to manually create one or the schedule for automatically make them. Then again, it abruptly rebooted while I was double-checking the built-in Windows 7 help. Reminds me of an old Apple II family computer if you held down the <OPEN APPLE> key and the <CONTROL> key while you press and release <RESET>. Many older Macs would do the same most of the time.

    At this point, I was out of time, so I shut the computer off and went to work.

    When I came home, the computer would prompt me for my choice of operating system (Vista Home Premium or Windows 7 Professional), but would appear to boot, then run Chkdsk. After chkdsk completes, it reboots and asks again.
    It won't boot, no matter if I select Windows 7 or Vista.

    The computer is a Gateway 4200 DX (UB001A) with two hard drives, the original 64-bit Vista Home Premium installed on the first, Windows 7 Professional (also 64-bit) installed on the other. It is set up to dual boot, as when Windows 7 first came out I still had to help some family members who still had Vista installed and it was easier to boot into that to help them blindly over the phone. Now I keep it for diagnostic reasons, if something corrupts the Windows 7 install, I can verify it is a software issue and not a hardware one by rebooting into the working OS (and if necessary retrieve files easy if I absolutely need something that can't wait until I fix the computer. Heck emergency OS, as Vista can still run Office just fine).

    Could a faulty power supply be causing those weird errors? I do recall an HP Slimeline that would overheat and power off abruptly because of a bad power supply, but I would have expected the computer to power off, not reboot if it was the power supply.

    Also the lack of restore points bothers me. It could be something completely unrelated, but I can't even get to that point at the moment.

    Oh, and thank you @Taluntain for having a forum that still works with this ancient copy of Firefox. Most of the forums I would normally post this sort of thing on require an updated browser that won't work on an old Windows 98SE/XP duel boot computer with only 512MB of RAM.

    I haven't opened it up yet, I'm tired tonight and it is supposed to storm again, I'm afraid with my luck we'll have a blackout while I've got it open and I'll have to put it back together with candlelight.
    P.S. if anyone with a more modern browser can find the specs on the power supply, let me know. I thought I had the spec sheet copied to this old computer, but I can't find it, and this old dinosaur uses PATA while the Gateway's hard drive uses SATA, so I can't even pull the hard drive out to get the spec sheet.
     
  2. Blackthorne TA

    Blackthorne TA Master in his Own Mind Staff Member ★ SPS Account Holder Adored Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!) Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2000
    Messages:
    10,224
    Media:
    40
    Likes Received:
    205
    Gender:
    Male
    A faulty power supply could easily cause the sudden reboot issue you described.
     
  3. henkie

    henkie Hammertime Resourceful Adored Veteran New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!)

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2006
    Messages:
    2,413
    Media:
    34
    Likes Received:
    132
    Gender:
    Male
    Can't really find anything on the power supply for that PC you mention. Maybe if you open the case, and post the specifics of the label on the power supply, we can google a bit for it. On the other hand, these pre-built cases often have some cheap no-name power supply, so if you want to keep running with this computer, any new PSU should be fine. Corsair and Seasonic have qualitatively good power supplies.

    Like BTA says, a faulty power supply could easily cause such instabilities. Although if the symptoms are this severe, one can only hope it hasn't damaged any of the other components at this point.
     
  4. SlickRCBD Gems: 23/31
    Latest gem: Black Opal


    Resourceful Veteran

    Joined:
    May 7, 2005
    Messages:
    1,640
    Media:
    16
    Likes Received:
    67
    Gender:
    Male
    Well, I replaced the 300 watt power supply (written in REALLY tiny print on the power supply itself) with a 400 watt one, but it still did the reboot thing. However, I was able to run Windows Memory Diagnostics, and it says "Hardware problems were detected. To identify and repair these problems, you will need to contact the computer manufacturer. "
    Very helpful, especially since I doubt this computer would still be supported by the manufacturer, and I know I'd have to pay for service.
    Looks like i have to bite the bullet and get a new computer, unless somebody else has a suggestion on diagnosing and repairing it?
    The only upgrades I did to what the computer came with was adding a second hard drive, replacing the DVD-ROM, and adding a second.
    It did come with both integrated video (ATI Radion 3200) and an ATI Radion 3450 video card included, and a fax/modem card. There are stickers over the 3200's ports, I just use the 3450 for dual VGA and DVI monitors.
    Oh, and making it dual-boot to Windows 7 Pro.

    **Edit: Oh, I forgot to mention that I tried re-seating the RAM before I even posted here.
    I'm stumped, this resetting makes it unusable, when it boots at all.
    However, it looks like the hard drives are intact, so I should have no trouble extracting data, save that most computers only have 2 3.5" bays.

    If anybody has any suggestions on what else to do to get the computer working, I'm open. I won't be able to work on it until Friday due to working 2 part-time jobs, but I'm going to rip out the new power supply and return it so I can get my $40 back and look into new computers. Looks like I have to get a low end machine, although that "Dell Gaming Desktop" at Best Buy for $900 and Sam's Club for $850 (working there part-time to make ends meet) looks really tempting. If I put the 2TB hard drive from the Gateway into that and one of the DVD-ROMs, I don't think I'd need any other upgrades.
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2018
  5. Blackthorne TA

    Blackthorne TA Master in his Own Mind Staff Member ★ SPS Account Holder Adored Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!) Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2000
    Messages:
    10,224
    Media:
    40
    Likes Received:
    205
    Gender:
    Male
    Does it only have one RAM stick in it? If it has more than one you could try booting with only one of them (one and then the other) to see if the instability goes away. If it does then you know you have a bad RAM stick.
     
  6. SlickRCBD Gems: 23/31
    Latest gem: Black Opal


    Resourceful Veteran

    Joined:
    May 7, 2005
    Messages:
    1,640
    Media:
    16
    Likes Received:
    67
    Gender:
    Male
    It has four DIMMs making 6gb.
    I could try booting with only 3gb of RAM. However, not until tonight. Work.
     
  7. SlickRCBD Gems: 23/31
    Latest gem: Black Opal


    Resourceful Veteran

    Joined:
    May 7, 2005
    Messages:
    1,640
    Media:
    16
    Likes Received:
    67
    Gender:
    Male
    Looks like it was the DIMMs after all. Naturally one of the 2gb ones. It has 2 2gb DIMMs and 2 1GB DIMMS. According to the manual they need to be paired, so I can't figure out which one or both needs to be replaced. They both look fine to visual inspection.
    So I got the computer to boot with 2gb of RAM and it hasn't reset yet. Windows 7 64-bit professional with 2gb. Think that's enough to research where to buy some 2gb 667mhz DDR2 chips cheap with Firefox or Chrome? The two closest local Best Buys does not carry them.
    If not, any suggestions on what browser to install on a Dell Optiplex GX110 with 512mb of RAM and a 1ghz processor running either Windows 98SE or Windows XP for that purpose?
    Firefox 20-something (think 24) got way too slow on that computer, and Firefox 3.6 is too outdated to use the latest SSL's half the websites including Best Buy is using.
     
  8. Blackthorne TA

    Blackthorne TA Master in his Own Mind Staff Member ★ SPS Account Holder Adored Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!) Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2000
    Messages:
    10,224
    Media:
    40
    Likes Received:
    205
    Gender:
    Male
    Here's a set of 4 2GB PC2-5300 (667MHz) DIMMS for $25 at Amazon. You can replace all 4 of them and get 8GB.
     
  9. SlickRCBD Gems: 23/31
    Latest gem: Black Opal


    Resourceful Veteran

    Joined:
    May 7, 2005
    Messages:
    1,640
    Media:
    16
    Likes Received:
    67
    Gender:
    Male
    I'm always wary of Dell hardware, they sometimes use proprietary stuff, though mostly on the power supplies. Come to think of it, I think it was Apple back in the late '90s that had the proprietary memory on my old PowerMac 6500/300 that I was conflating it with, while Dell used the power supplies. I feel dumb. I'm usually at work where we have a spare part cabinet, not sourcing them myself.
    I had ignored anything that said Dell for that reason. Stupid, stupid, stupid. I'm also frustrated as this computer is too old to properly browse the internet, when it once was super-fast compared to the PowerMac 6500/300 it replaced.
    The DIMMs say [G or Q]DDR2-667 2gb 128MX8 1.8V EP. Definitely 240-pin, so it should work.
     
  10. SlickRCBD Gems: 23/31
    Latest gem: Black Opal


    Resourceful Veteran

    Joined:
    May 7, 2005
    Messages:
    1,640
    Media:
    16
    Likes Received:
    67
    Gender:
    Male
    Update. The DIMMs arrived this evening. I pulled out the 1gb DIMMs and snapped the 2gb ones into place.
    The computer failed to go into POST.
    I re-seat the DIMMs (has happened to me a few times at work at my old job with other systems). Still won't go into post.
    I get suspicious, so I pull out the DIMMs from Bank 2. Computer boots.
    Put the new DIMMs back into bank 2. Computer won't even go into POST, let alone boot.
    Put the old 1GB DIMMs into bank 2. Computer boots.:bang:
    :mad: Conclusion: One or 2 of the new DIMMs are defective. :flaming:
    By which point it was quarter to midnight. I could do more testing to figure out which DIMM, but I'm going to bed.
    I'll worry about testing tomorrow.
    Maybe only one 2gb DIMM from the old pair that failed and the new ones that just arrived are bad and I don't have to wait however long it takes for them to exchange it under warranty.
     
Sorcerer's Place is an independent project run entirely by fans and for fans. Maintaining Sorcerer's Place and a stable environment for all our hosted sites requires a substantial amount of time and money on a regular basis, so please consider supporting us to keep the site up & running smoothly. Thank you!