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XP regulary crashing, every hour or so

by brlarson / December 14, 2008 10:48 PM PST

Over the last 2 weeks my XP SP3 laptop has been crashing regularly. I will be working then get a black screen then the computer auto restarts. My computer is 5.5 years old but has not given me problems until a week or two ago. I did not change any hardware or software. I am ruining Norton AV corporate with all the updates. Spybot S&D & Malwarebites. two weeks ago when this started Norton found two trogen horses: skip66 and skip66(1) and removed them. On the next manual reboot it found them again. this went on for three days. Then it was fine. last night Mailwarebytes found two trogen horses and removed them but I am still getting the random crashes and auto reboots. it seems to be happening every 1-1.5 hours. What is wrong with my computer?
3/4 G ram
6 month old hard drive

I am fairly tech savvy but am stumped by this.
Please help!

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A Few Thoughts...
by Grif Thomas Forum moderator / December 15, 2008 4:01 AM PST

First, be SURE the problem isn't related to malware..Update and run Malwarebytes again..This time, from Safe Mode.. ONce that's done, download, install, update, then run a full system scan using the free SuperAntispwyare tool from below:

SUPERAntispyware Removal Tool

Run both tools repeatedly, in Safe Mode and "normal" Windows till nothing is found.

Next, remove the cover from your computer and use compressed air to blow out the dust from the processor, the heatsink, all vents, the power supply, and all fans. Heat can easily cause such issues.

While you're inside blowing out all the dust, check to make sure the motherboard capacitors are leaking or bulgine.. If that's the case, you'll need a new motherboard or new computer.

And to stop the automatic restarts, RIGHT click on "My Computer", choose "Properties", then select the "Advanced" tab, and the "Settings" button in the Startup and Recovery section.. UNCHECK the box that says: "Automatically restart" in the System Failure section.. Please NOTE: After unchecking the box mentioned, if a failure occurs, you'll see a blue screnn with various error messages.. The error should allow you to troubleshoot the issue better.

Hope this helps.


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by PcTestCard / December 15, 2008 11:40 PM PST

I believed that the virus and malware may caused the problem.

I would suggest you do the system data backup to other external drives.
Then repartition and reformat the hdd and reinstall the XP from the scratch again.

The CPU may not be related to this issue, oversea heated CPU will shut down the laptop instead of restart it.

Black screen and reboot may caused by the RAM or the OS.

Hope this helps!

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new data
by brlarson / December 16, 2008 12:14 AM PST

Since I posted this yesterday it has not crashed again. the only thing I did was to uncheck the auto restart and to put in a thumb drive to copy some data off. I also ran cc cleaner and fixed a bunch of stuff. then I did a full Malwarebytes scan in safe mode 3.5hours and it found nothing.
as to the suggestion to clean out the laptop, I have built a stand for the computer to sit on that blows filtered air on the laptop continuously. I also regularly (monthly) open it up and clean it out.

The option of backing up all the data then reloading XP is a possibility but I just did this back in May when I put in the new hard drive so I would be surprised that it went bad so fast, previously it was 3 years since I had reloaded xp. Why would it need it so soon? I am not a big fan of reloading all my software, in particular reloading Autocad student version is a big hassle, 2.5gigs of downloads, overnight install plus registration hassles.

Is it possible that putting the thumb drive in could have fixed it? I think that is the methoid I got the virus/ trogen to start with. My school's computers have a similar thing floating around and right after this started on my computer I saved my CAD file to the flash drive and did some work on the school's computers. That computer's Norton found the same trogens as my computer had on the flash drive and removed them. After that I would not use the flash drive, until yesterday.

How likely is it that the RAM is going bad? how could I check?

Thanks for the help!

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did it again
by brlarson / December 16, 2008 6:05 AM PST

it just did it again, I was working and then it just went to black screen, music stopped and it auto restarted. I have the auto restart unchecked in the advanced settings as per the suggestion but it is no different it is rebooting instantly after the crash no blue screen of death just going along then black screen - all noises stop - then the normal start up sounds. No error messages at start up. I have not changed anything in the past 24 hours and it was doing just fine, why did it work fine for a day then happen now? before the best I would get was 2 hours before a crash?

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Then I'll Suggest A Hardware Issue..
by Grif Thomas Forum moderator / December 16, 2008 7:55 AM PST
In reply to: did it again

To test the RAM, if you've got two sticks installed, remove one and run the machine with only one stick of RAM installed.. If the problem occurs, switch the sticks of RAM and see if that fixes the issue.

It could also be a faulty power supply.. It gets warmed up and glitches..

If you haven't already checked, please look at the Event Viewer to find any specific items that may tell you what occurred. (Control Panel/Administrative Tools/Event Viewer.

Hope this helps.


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by brlarson / December 16, 2008 9:22 AM PST

What should I look for in the Event Viewer? mine is chuck full of info things- 20+ on each start up.

I took out one of the original 256 meg ram cards- I will let you know if this solves the problem.

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In Event Viewer, Start With...
by Grif Thomas Forum moderator / December 16, 2008 11:17 AM PST
In reply to: events

...Open the Event Viewer, then click on the "Application" listings.. Scroll down through the listings looking for "Error" or "Warning" listings which occurred at the times of the shutdown problems. Generally, the "Error" listings will give you an idea of which program applications were faulting during the problem.

Hope this helps.


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errors I found
by brlarson / December 16, 2008 12:28 PM PST

Under the apps tap there are only two warnings, which are both Userenv 1517 errors
here is the description given for that error:

Windows saved user BENLARSONS\Benjamin Larson registry while an application or service was still using the registry during log off. The memory used by the user's registry has not been freed. The registry will be unloaded when it is no longer in use.

This is often caused by services running as a user account, try configuring the services to run in either the LocalService or NetworkService account.

What does that mean?

Looking at the system tab, right after it crashed at 2:02pm (the did it again crash from above) I have several errors: 7000, 7009, 10005 and a repeat of 10005. These are the only errors that are in there. Now it did crash several times in a row between 7:10 and 7:20pm, with no errors listed just info statements as the computer restarted.
After the 7:20 crash I did a hard shutdown (pulled the power and battery) and opened it up, blow out the dust, check the mother board for visual issues (non found), and took out a ram card, I have had no problems since but the sporatic nature makes it too early to tell if that worked.
What would make ram go bad? I thought it rarely had problems?
Thanks for the help!

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I think I will reinstall xp
by brlarson / December 17, 2008 3:18 AM PST
In reply to: errors I found

I tried taking out ram but that does not seemed to have worked. I am thinking of doing a reinstall, can I use an acronis true image to reload all my programs or will I need to manually back up everything and reinstall each program individually? does the image reload xp as well? because I made several right after my last reinstall and I could use them to save time.

Any suggestions that might make this easier? I have done it before the had long way but want a faster methoid.


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Different Ways To Reinstall Everything..
by Grif Thomas Forum moderator / December 17, 2008 5:15 AM PST

As to Acronis, use the Acronis instructions/manual to correctly create a mirror image of the hard drive and to correctly reinstall the image back to the computer.. The reinstall will copy back EVERYTHING to the drive when you reinstall.. It includes the operating system, programs, drivers, personal files, etc.

Hope this helps.


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system files
by brlarson / December 17, 2008 6:12 AM PST

as for the image files- are you sure that it gets all the system files, even those in the system partion that xp does not recognize? When I do my images I only do the C drive so would these other system files be missed?

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Only The Drive You Image Will Be There...But...
by Grif Thomas Forum moderator / December 17, 2008 6:48 AM PST
In reply to: system files

..if you have a separate partition/drive for your Recovery partition, why not use that.. It will install everything back to it's factory state.

If you install the Acronis image, it will only install the items you've identified.

Hope this helps.


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by brlarson / December 20, 2008 7:13 AM PST

I think the problem is gone, I have not reinstalled xp but I have not had an issue since noon on Wed. I think that by running both Malware, and Supper anti virus multiple times cleaned out the issue. I also clean out my temp file (C\docs\local files\ temp) which had over 8 Gigs of temp files which were made when the computer hung.

about the partition/drive thing, I do not have any others but I thought that Compaq installed the system and other mic files in an dos 4 or 5 partition so that xp will not find it. this way you have to use Compaq for help? Is this true or was I misinformed?

Thanks for the Help!

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Yes, HP/Compaq Generally Creates A Recovery Partition
by Grif Thomas Forum moderator / December 21, 2008 5:26 AM PST
In reply to: fixed

But the recovery partition is usually visible as a "D" drive or something similar.. Normally, it's "locked" so you can't view it but it's very possible that you already have one and it could be used to reinstall everything from scratch. On most newer HP/Compaq machines you can perform the recovery by pressing F11 immediately after startup. Or you can access the recovery options by clicking on Start-All Programs-HP Tools- HP PC System Recovery

Hope this helps.


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no other drives
by brlarson / December 21, 2008 5:30 AM PST

My laptop is 5.5 years old, and it does not have any other partitions or drives.

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Just a question
by Amos16 / December 22, 2008 2:25 AM PST

Hello - in case your problem has not been solved after all: did you disable system restore while running the malware remover program? If you did not, the malware will most likely still be there, in your restore portion and from there will reenter the active system. Also, have a look in the Event Viewer under "System" and see if there are entries there corresponding to the time of the unwanted restart. This should give you further clues. Hope this helps - Amos.

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No I did not
by brlarson / December 22, 2008 2:46 AM PST

No, I did not turn off system restore when i did my scans, though I have been running Malwarebytes every day with no new problems found in the last 4 days. Should I disable restore then re scan? I am not sure I want to loose the "good" restore points I have as I use the max space allowed and might have one back past these issues. I have not had an issue in over 4 days so i am thinking that the problem might be over.

As for the event viewer , that was one of the first suggestions, I looked but there were no errors just a bunch of info statements as the system started back up. I do not think that there was enough time for the system to log errors as the first sign of trouble was a blank screen and the Compaq splash screen of the reboot. the shut down was about as fast as when I yank the battery and power cords to do a "hard reboot". I saw the splash screen as the music I was playing faded out.

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If The Scans Didn't Find Anything In Four Days..
by Grif Thomas Forum moderator / December 22, 2008 1:18 PM PST
In reply to: No I did not

..then disabling System Restore won't really serve any purpose in your case.. At this point, since you have no recovery partition, you have few options except to reinstall everything as we discussed earlier. Still, as I mentioned earlier, it still appears like a hardware issue to me but your cheapest and easiest first troubleshooting step will be to reinstall the system back to it's original state..

After doing such, if the computer still continues to freeze, etc., then you'll want to move on to possible replacement of the power supply or motherboard. At 5.5 years old, either one could be on its last legs.

Hope this helps.


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it could be hardware related
by brlarson / December 22, 2008 11:35 PM PST

It has not had an issue in 5 days now and had been running all the time (a few manual restarts) without issues. I added a new stick of Ram yesterday bring my system up to 1GB and that has speed things up.
I do have the back up images of this system that I can use to do a system restore if needed but the problem has not reappeared since last Wednesday.

As for the power supply, in August the cord coming out of the supply (DC side) shorted after years of repeated flexing. So I took it apart and learned how to sodder. I fixed the connection on heat shrunk the wires back together. I also used the thermal grease to seal the brink back up, and it has been working fine since. Also since it is a laptop if the power supply stopped the battery would take over and I would see the switch on the indicator lights, which has not happened.

The other thing that I have is that another family member also purchased the same laptop at the same time but is no longer using it and gave it to me. I am currently using it to run my weather station but could start using parts from it if needed. that is how I determined in March/ May of this year that my hard drive was dieing, I swapped the drives and ran both but the one hard drive still was acting up. I do have the disassembly instructions for my computer and have used them before to replace the CPU fan which required taking it apart down to the mother board. So I am familiar with taking this laptop apart.

What if anything should I swap out if the problem reappears? I prefer to change only one variable at a time as to keep the experiment's results clear. Why did this issue come up suddenly and then disappear? could a trogen horse & virus have caused this? Would the scanning programs you suggested have fixed it? why did it come back one day after using these programs but not since? I am confused because of the randomness of the problem. I think it is gone, but since I can not point to something that fixed it I am not sure.

any thoughts?
Thanks for all the help!

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Yes, To Most Of Those Questions..
by Grif Thomas Forum moderator / December 23, 2008 3:21 AM PST

Malware could have caused some of the issues including extra memory/resource issues on the computer.. Scanning for and removing the problems could reduce those same issues.. IF the old hardware is being stressed to it's cracking point, reducing that stress could reduce the recurrence of the problem...but it may not have eliminated it entirely..

The age of your computer indicates the possibility of heat damage, especially on a laptop.. The mere fact that it's lasted this long is amazing.. As to replacement of parts, all things are interrelated. The laptop motherboard frequently suffers from age and heat damage.. It would be a good thing to pursue, especially where the processor, motherboard, and heatsink make contact.. Maybe the thermal compound/grease is decaying and although it's not easily done, after 5 years of use, reapplication might be a good step.. Other suggestions have already been given.

Hope this helps.


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old hardware
by brlarson / December 23, 2008 5:33 AM PST

I have not had any extra memory issues, I just added more Ram because I needed more anyway. Would these issues be symptomatic of a video card that is stressed/ worn out?

I would not think that heat would be an issue. For the past 4 years I have had this computer on a stand that has fan (100CFM muffin fan) constantly blowing air under the laptop. when I take it mobile I use a laptop cooling pad- less effective but still better than nothing. When I changed out the CPU fan 3 years ago, I put new thermal grease on. I also did it 1.5 years ago. BTY the grease I used was a high end one since my Dad works with the stuff.

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Our Experience Here With Laptops..
by Grif Thomas Forum moderator / December 23, 2008 6:12 AM PST
In reply to: old hardware

If they last longer than two or three years, you're doing well.. And a processor can yank loose from the motherboard/grease/heatsink the first time you accidentally set it down hard..

And even a five year old desktop will have heat issues.. Laptops are always worse even if you've religiously used a fan.. (By the way, check your computer's internal heat sometime, with and without the fan.. There's a slight difference, but not much..)

It's now your turn to troubleshoot your issues.. Only YOUR tests will tell you where the problem lies. My suggestions are all guess-work.. I'm not there. Keep up the good work.

Hope this helps.


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