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Windows XP Pro freezes, no obvious cause

by fradleybox / January 3, 2006 1:19 AM PST

Basically, my machine will freeze eventually no matter what I do. If I play a game or run a lot of programs, it will happen inside of half an hour. If I even just leave it running a disk defragmenter or virus scan, it will usually freeze during the scan. However it will even freeze doing nothing at all if left on long enough. The freeze is the same every time: complete hard-lock, mouse won't move, keyboard won't respond, and the system time freezes. Before I go on to what I have tried, here are my specs:

CPU Intel pentium 4 3.0 GHx 800FBUS HT 1MB PRESCOTT
MBD Jetway PM9MS (VIAPM800, 2DDR, AGP 8x, SATA, 478)
CAS Raidmax Elite 208 BLACK mid-tower 350w, USB
MEM DDR 1024 MB 400 MHz PC2300 RAM (2 x 512)
VID nVidia 256MB GeForce FX 5700 8x TV DVI
SYS-D High Quality Stereo Sound Intergrated
SYS-D NIC Intergrated 10/100T Realtech LAN
2x Seagate 160GB Ultra ATA 100 hard drives

A brief side note before I continue...when I first got this box, it came with a bad stick of RAM and I couldn't get windows to install without crashing to a blue screen stop code error. That thread is here:

The reason I mention it is because I have reason to believe that bad ram may once again be causing some, if not all of my problems. On to what I've tried:

1. Virus Scan - I finally got a virus scan to complete, and it removed one possible trojan on my non-bootable drive. Removing it did not improve the problem.

2 Spyware Scan - Spyware Doctor and McAffee spyware killer found and removed tons of stuff and it improved overall performance, but did not solve the pronlem.

3 video driver - I've tried two different video drivers, 71.89 and the most recent one. 71.89 is needed to play Civilization 4 on Nvidia machines with a crash-to-desktop error, and thats why I had it. Updating did not help.

3.5 - video settings - I've tried altering page file settings and hardware accelleration to see if there's a video problem causing this, but nothing helped. I also ran dxdiag and direct x is working fine (v 9.0c)

4 driver updates: I updated drivers for my LAN and audio in case old drivers were causing a conflict, but it did not help.

5 disk defragment - the bootable drive was badly fragmented. after three freezes during defragmentation, I got one to complete, though it froze during the night after it was done. Runs better, but still freezes.

6 errant programs - I play a lot of games, and I use a lot of hacks and cheats and user-supplied files, like for the sims 2 nightlife. These games crash frequently, because, in my personal opinion, maxis can't program games for ****. Uninstalling my games and removing the downloaded files did not help.

7 is it a hacker? - I unplugged my LAN and left it running a virus scan. still froze. Items in my event viewer (specifically, something about overloaded incoming tcp/ip connections) led me to believe that my machine may have been hijacked for its resources and that it was causing it to freeze, but it did not help. I will post the event viewer log and the mcaffee firewall details of the most recent intrusion, because I do not understand these things very well.

8 - is it windows? Since windows is ****, one of the first things I always try is just reinstalling windows. My system crashed to a blue screen stop code exactly like those in the thread I posted above immediately upon entering windows install text mode setup. This is what led me to believe it may once again be bad ram. I have not yet tested all sticks to see if I have one bad one, but I booted it successfully with one stick and it still froze, so if the ram is bad, it's not bad enough to prevent the computer from booting up, so short of trying to reinstall windows four times to test each stick and slot, i'm not sure how to proceed...

9 - I know it's not overheating, my cpu temp is low.

10 motherboard bios - I'm using VA2 for the jetway pm9ms board, and there is an update, version A3. I can't find it on the jetway site, I found it somwhere else, and it mentions a fix for incompatiblity between the jetway board and DRAM...the kind of ram I use! However, I do not know how to safely update the bios. Also, if this has been the problem, aside from game-specific crashes, why haven't I had a problem before now?

my computer knowledge is very spotty, everything I do know is self-taught, so please bear with me if I don't understand a suggestion you make.

Anyway that's as far as I've gotten. HELP!

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Try the usual.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / January 3, 2006 1:32 AM PST

1. Remove the case cover. While many fixate on CPU temperature, other parts could be heat sensitive.

2. Reduce the power supply load. Your machine has a less than monster power supply and it's not 350 Watts. I won't delve deeply why this is so but will supply this link. notes 9 out or 21 didn't meet the labled specs.

It's possible it's a driver issue. Some rely on supplied drivers, or Microsoft. Both are not current and prone to be wildly out of date. Many learn to find where the drivers are, but I start with the maker.

In closing, why is this not a warranty issue? The machine could be less than a year old. MAKE IT THEIR PROBLEM.


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thanks, I'll try...
by fradleybox / January 3, 2006 2:49 AM PST
In reply to: Try the usual.

I suppose I can disconnect the cd rom to reduce the power load but I don't know what else to unplug that would help. I don't know why a power distribution problem would be a problem now when it hadn't been before though.

"It's possible it's a driver issue. Some rely on supplied drivers, or Microsoft. Both are not current and prone to be wildly out of date. Many learn to find where the drivers are, but I start with the maker."

I have updated the drivers for everything I can think of except for the motherboard bios, because I don't know how to safely do that.

It's not a warranty issue because this was a build-it-yourself barebones box from a now defunct online store called No company, no support.

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Here's why.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / January 3, 2006 3:02 AM PST
In reply to: thanks, I'll try...

You wrote "I don't know why a power distribution problem would be a problem now when it hadn't been before though."

Let me state why and then give a link showing the issue.

Statement: Electrolytic capacitors degrade with age.
Link: (reading about life at items 6 and on.)

Since a new power supply will have more Watts available and less ripple, many will fall into the trap that I call "it worked before."

Hope this helps,


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what you say does make sense
by fradleybox / January 3, 2006 3:22 AM PST
In reply to: Here's why.

like bad ram, a power distribution problem is one of the few things that could manifest itself this way. freezes, stop code errors and all. I will try it tonight after I'm done shuffling my ram. It would even explain my gaming crashes, though I'm fairly confident they explain themselves without any help from a faulty power supply.

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Update - no luck
by fradleybox / January 3, 2006 10:25 PM PST

disconnecting the cd-rom did not prevent the crash, so unless that didn't lighten the power load enough, thats not it. I got a real windows error report this time though, and it sent successfully. I saved the knowledge base article and will post it tonight.

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something new
by fradleybox / January 4, 2006 3:13 AM PST
In reply to: Update - no luck

This is the text (and link) of the microsoft knowledge base article that the automatic windows error report pulled up yesterday.

This article was previously published under Q293078
You may receive one of the following Stop error messages:
This issue may occur if the display driver is caught in an infinite loop while it waits for the video hardware to become idle. This issue typically indicates a problem with the video hardware or that the display driver cannot program the hardware correctly.
To resolve this issue, obtain and install the most current driver for your video adapter, or replace your video card.
To work around this issue, follow these steps: 1. Click Start, click Control Panel, and then double-click Display.
2. On the Settings tab, click Advanced, and then click the Troubleshoot tab.
3. Move the Hardware Acceleration slider to None, and then click to clear the Enable Write Combining check box.
4. Click OK, and then click OK.

Note This procedure prevents the display driver from programming the hardware incorrectly, but you may lose some display functionality and performance. Although you can increase the hardware acceleration settings higher than None to regain functionality and performance, these settings increase the chance that the issue will occur again. For maximum stability, leave hardware acceleration off.

This Stop error message may also occur in video adapter drivers that do not represent a physical device. For example, this Stop error message may occur in the virtual video adapter driver that is used by Symantec PCAnywhere. If PCAnywhere is installed on a computer where this error message occurs, visit the Symantec Web site to determine if there are any available fixes for your version of PCAnywhere.

The third-party products that this article discusses are manufactured by companies that are independent of Microsoft. Microsoft makes no warranty, implied or otherwise, regarding the performance or reliability of these products.

After this happened, I followed the directions, turned off hardware accelleration and disable write combining. The error never recurred, but the machine still froze during a virus scan.

so, i just recently reinstalled the nvidia 81.98 official driver, so it isn't that. My card is one year old, there should be NOTHING wrong with it. If there is, nvidia is going to get an earful. The fan on it IS clogged with dust, so here's question one - can an overheating video card cause this error? I will clean it and test it tonight. I guess it could also be the agp slot...but why? how? I dont have another machine to test the card in, or another card to test in this machine. I could use the onboard video for awhile and see if it crashes, and if it does I know it's not the card or slot.

by the way, last night I tried your suggestion and disconnected my cd rom drive and I put the second ram stick back in (I was planning on trying memtest86 or simmtester) and it still crashed. Does this mean it is not a power supply problem?

could this still be bad ram?

could this still be some kind of intrusion? (will post event viewer and mcaffee firewall logs tonight)

could this still be my motherboard bios?

and, finally, could this just be some kind of software problem as suggested in the second half of the article, and if so, how do I identify and correct it?

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"The fan on it IS clogged with dust,"
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / January 4, 2006 3:25 AM PST
In reply to: something new

Heat is bad. Why did you leave it dusty? Were you hoping it would fry so you could get a new card?


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well, I guess because I am an idiot.
by fradleybox / January 4, 2006 3:47 AM PST

I noticed the dust when I was shuffling my ram, so I had a lot of case opening and closing to do and meant to get around to it. I brushed away the biggest bits with my fingers and planned on looking for my canned air before I finished my last ram test so I could clean it before closing it back up and then never finished testing the ram. I assume canned air is safe to use to clean the fan. I may first try to do it manually just in case.

so, I take it an overheating video card could have easily caused this problem?

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One note about canned air.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / January 4, 2006 3:57 AM PST

Another owner thought it would be great fun to spin the fan as fast as possible with the canned air. The end result was either a dead fan or the circuit going to it.


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cleaned the fan - didn't help
by fradleybox / January 5, 2006 8:48 PM PST

The fan on my video card was indeed filthy, and though cleaning it made the computer run more quietly, it still freezes almost immediately during games and will freeze on its own after only a half hour of browsing the internet. Any other ideas? I'm planning on testing my RAM tonight using SIMMtester or memtest86. If the ram passes, I will probably try a bios update next. The newer bios version for my motherboard is NOT available on the US jetway site, I found it through google at

the description for the update reads: "Modify BIOS for DRAM compatibility issue.(FOR PM9MS)"

I don't know if it will help with my problem or not. I've never had a memory problem after the initial bad stick of ram this machine came with, so again I wonder why it would start giving me problems now. I also don't have any clue whether bad memory or a memory compatibility problem could cause the video card related error message I received. Any ideas?

I guess I could try bypassing the video card using the onboard video instead to test if it's causing the problem or not, but I just can't imagine how a card less than a year old could be actually broken.

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I have the exact same problem!!!
by MikeIke / January 16, 2006 3:49 PM PST

My computer is doing the same thing... It freezes for no apparent reason and a reboot is required. Mostly exprienced with Outlook, my problem has also occured using other programs like Internet Explorer and some video programs. I have even re-installed Windows XP Pro and the problem persists. No error messages or notices, the computer simply freezes and when it reboots it has no recollection of the incident. It could be a flaw in one or more of the more recent Windows Updates, but with an error message, how can they fix the problem?

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And you read this discussion, top to bottom?
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / January 16, 2006 10:08 PM PST

You note you have the same problem but didn't tell if you cleaned off the heatsinks. The original poster may have discovered the heatsink/fan issue too late and now may have to replace a few parts.


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And you read this discussion, top to bottom?
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / January 16, 2006 10:20 PM PST

You note you have the same problem but didn't tell if you cleaned off the heatsinks. The original poster may have discovered the heatsink/fan issue too late and now may have to replace a few parts.


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(NT) You need to eliminate the AGP slot, get a PCI graphics
by LouB2B / January 20, 2006 10:43 AM PST

Get a PCI graphics card and monitor your system. I have found bad AGP ports on client workstations including a Dell that was only installed for 1.5 years.

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I found a solution for freezing in my case
by Dinosauer / January 23, 2009 8:15 AM PST

I am using XP Media Center with an Epox m/B that worked well for 4 years and it started freezing up. Any USB plug in would do it also. I reinstalled XP using a new bigger hard drive and still it froze. I had used updated drivers etc. just like doing a new build. Then it settled down for a while so I installed an FM and Digital TV card and that really caused freeze up. I switched the FM/TV card's slot with my sound card and that helped long enough for me to look around. I went to System Information and then to System History and found a lot of references to my motherboard's drivers. I used this hint and updated to the very latest m/b drivers and everything works fine with no freeze ups now. System History can give you a hint and a direction. PCs are complicated with MUCH to remember. Hope this helps.

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by wildfire0530 / January 25, 2006 8:55 PM PST

Where is your tower setting? It has to be six'' off the floor.

As far as canned air. We use it & it works great on the keyboard!

Sometimes I'll take the vacuumn to the back of the tower, but of course never inside of it. It is amazing the amount of dust the fan can actually draw in to it.

You mentioned you had the cover off right. Then make sure you didn't knock one of the boards just a little loose. Make sure all connections are tight.

Hope it fixes up for you soon. I had the freeze problem from time to time & took off a bunch of downloads. No problems now.

Becareful & always run your Ad aware & Anti Virus' at least daily depending on how much you are on.

I reccomend two one paid & one free program. Reason is there is no way that any one virus program can protect you from all virus'

I know this for a fact! Norton (my paid) didn't pick up the Back Door Virus & (Free) AVG did.

Mac Afee (paid one at the time) didn't pick up a virus that Norton (free trial)did. BUT only have one enabled at a time.

Watch those downloads they'll kill yah!

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Same thing!
by tru5tworthy / January 26, 2006 9:33 PM PST
In reply to: Hi

I have been having this system freeze problem during any AntiVirus or AntiSpyware scan, even tried a remote scan from the Trend website and the same thing happened. It even froze once just searching through the registry!

It started happening almost as soon as I upgraded my NAVPro2003 AV software to NAV2006. I thought it may be a problem with some "citric" P2P software I had, so removed it, and also removed a few strange downloads. I also removed all my AntiSpyware (Spybot, MSAS, AdAware, SpywareBlaster).

It worked for a while, so I reintroduced the previous piece of "fruity" file-sharing, and almost immediately the problem reoccured.

I re-un-installed the most Wirey of Limes, and tried to clean the registry of all offending files.

System froze again during virus scan. I began thinking it was related to the files that the scan would freeze on, so set about removing those.

Still didn't work - the first couple of programs I removed were unessential, then it started freezing on scans of system files - thought it best to not remove these.

My Windows Security Centre was also not working properly (I think it had been Hijacked)

I uninstalled both versions of NAV and installed AVGfree7. The first scan it did, it froze on some Java2SE stuff it was scanning. I removed all of these and run the scan again. It picked up and quarantined two trojans - one backdoor and one dialer.

After removing these virii and files, my secuirty centre was once again back up and running, and I thought I was home free. Alas, no...

I am still having the problem, and it seems it is starting to freeze without there being any scan running now. I have installed and uninstalled MicrosoftAntiSpyware, which never worked properly on my system for some reason. I have reinstalled AdAware, which, when it works, reports nothing - though this doesnt mean there isnt anything!

I have also recently upgraded the RAM to a 1GB PNY stick. In conjunction with the existing 256MB, should this run OK (the 256MBstick is DDR266, the new 1GB DDR400) - I guess this could be part of the problem, though I had the problem before upgrading the RAM.

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Random freezes, me too!
by Hanshake / January 19, 2009 4:37 PM PST

My machine freezes too with no error message. It won't respond to Ctrl-Alt-Del on the keyboard nor mouse clicks and movements.
Seem to notice it only happens when I use 2 hard disks (1 SATA containing the OS, 1 IDE containing Vista, but I get freezes either way, booting XP or Vista) and it's stable if I run on only 1 HD.
It's got nothing to do with heat problems either because if I run on Safemode there is no incident.
I guess I'm going to have to reinstall XP, but how come the newly reinstalled Vista behaves similarly? I just hate to reinstall all my apps again.
I'm thinking it's the newly installed nVidia 9600 which requires additional power. Then again how come there is no freezing during Safemode sessions? And how come no freezing with one 1 HD in use? Do I now turn to BIOS settings? Gasp. The BIOS manual was poorly written and doesn't do me good.

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Just checking.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / January 20, 2009 12:23 AM PST

Did you read this discussion from top to bottom? If so you find a cause and cure for the issue under discussion.

If this does not apply to you consider making a new post since this discussion is not about your issue.

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by Hanshake / January 20, 2009 12:52 AM PST
In reply to: Just checking.

Maybe I was desperate.
Seems I have found the solution. Something like this has got to be BIOS related. So I found in another thread a suggestion to load fail safe default which I obviously done before and noticed it may have caused the auto sleep of HD for 15min hence the perception of freezing.
I am now running both HD. Hope this helps somebody with similar issues.

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