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XP Lock Ups - Thoughts on my Diagnosis Process

by rayzak / December 2, 2009 9:45 PM PST

Last night my Home Theater PC started acting up, and here is what I'm going to do about it. Let me know what you think.

Windows boots and works fine for a while. Then the software I'm using at the time stops responding and everything freezes, but the mouse curser can still be moved and the drive read light is solid. This also happens in Safe Mode and when I reboot into the pre-Windows scan disc.

This tells me it's a hardware issue. I plan on removing all but my c:\ system drive, all but one stick of ram, use a different video card, and use an external enclosure to scan all the discs on a different computer.

If I eliminate discs, ram, and video as a problem, that leaves the motherboard/cpu. I will then try to install windows on some random drive I have laying around to see if the lock up still happens. By then I would like to think that everything has been tested and the problem will be corrected.

Anybody see any problems with my logic? Any steps I've missed or any suggestions I should try before I start this day long endeavor?

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When you say it freezes
by Steven Haninger / December 3, 2009 2:00 AM PST

how do you "un-freeze" it? Do you need to do a hard reset? You said the HD activity LED stay on solid. This means it's trying to access the disk but maybe it cannot. If this were my machine, I'd try to rule out a power issue. If any disk spins down suddenly on your system and Windows loses track of it, you can get a freeze of the screen because programs are still running and being held in memory. Nothing can change if the disk cannot be accessed. I've seen this to occur with a simple power disconnection due to the female pins in the hard drives molex connector not making good contact. These are split pins and tend to spread. Try powering down, removing the PS connection to all HDs and pinching the female ends together just a bit with thin needle nose pliers. I'd suggest another method using a pin extractor but most folks don't have these. That's what I use.

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Thanks and more info
by rayzak / December 3, 2009 3:47 AM PST

That's a great idea! I will be checking the connectors tonight. Week connections could explain the random nature of the problem.

About my HF light. Right before the crashes started, I did notice that my HD was being constantly accessed, and there was nothing among the processes I could kill to relieve the problem. This constant accessing also continues in Safe Mode, and no viruses or spyware were found when scanning with spybot and AVG Free.

When the light stays solid and the system in hung, the HDs stop grinding. I've never had HDs do this before, and I can only assume the issues are related.

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PS
by rayzak / December 3, 2009 3:53 AM PST
In reply to: Thanks and more info

And BTW, when it locks up I must do a hard reset.

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