BSODs/Freezes/Hangs Trouble-shooting Starting Point.

By kirock
Apr 22, 2006
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  1. BSODs/Freezes/AutoRestarts Trouble-shooting Starting Point.

    BSODs, freezing and random reboots in WinXP can be caused by faulty hardware as often as software or driver conflicts these days. This post will try to highlight some of the common hardware problems, how to troubleshoot and possible solutions.


    Quick Word about Software Conflicts:
    With WinXP maturing as an OS and the assistance of WHQL, software developers are running into less and less conflicts with the XP OS in general. With that being said even mature 3rd party software goes thru revisions and in some cases a rush to market for competitive reasons and full compatibility testing was not carefully completed.

    System Restore:
    By default WinXP has system restore turned on, in most cases this is how you would leave it. XP will automatically create a system restore point for you when it detects a significant system event like a new program install. But this does not always happen when you update a currently residing application. It is strongly recommended you create your Restore Point before you install or update any application. To do this: Start/All Programs/Accessories/System Tools/System Restore/Create Restore Point.

    If you are suddenly experiencing BSOD’s/reboots/freezing the first question to ask yourself is , “What changed?” Did you install a new program or a revision to a program? At this point your best bet is to go back and uninstall what you just did.

    For a list of common WinXP BSOD Codes go here:
    http://www.geekstogo.com/forum/Windows-XP-Blue-Screen-of-Death-STOP-Codes-t43519.html
    These codes are important and can help to direct your attention to the problem. A common problem with reboots/BSODs is a harddrive error or the beginnings of a harddrive failure. Sometimes a virus infection can cause a weak or aging HDD to fail or become inconsistent. A virus after all is just a piece of code which tells the computer to perform some function, if this function is to write blocks and blocks of code to the HDD, a weak HDD may not be able to keep up.
    With that being said many HDD diagnostic programs, like Chkdsk or Fixdsk can put enough strain on a weak HDD to cause it's complete failure.


    Other Common Hardware issues causing BSODs:

    1) Failing or over taxed PSU: This is especially common after adding a new and fairly powerful graphics card or any new hardware actually.
    A newer CPU like an Athlon 64/FX and the P4/P-D series uses in excess of 100Watts from the 12Volt rail alone from the PSU. A good GFX card can use 50Watts or more from the 5Volt rail.

    Symptoms of an over taxed PSU are random BSODs, but especially under load like gaming or graphics editing or even watching a DVD.

    Go here to check your PSU requirements:
    PSUCalculator


    ALL PSU are rated by maximum watts and this is NOT what they were intended to operate at continuously. You must take 20-30% off this for a good Brand Name PSU and 30-40% for a generic crappy. Also what the above link calculated you should add another 20-30% for safe operating and expansion headroom.
    An Example calculation: Say the psucalculator gave you a wattage need of 250Watts. You buy a good Brand name Thermaltake. So you would buy a wattage of: 250X1.3= 325W minimum. Now add 30% for headroom and expansion (new stuff for the PC). 325X1.3=422.5, so you need 425W unit.
    See how easy it is to under rate your PSU? Look for a PSU with lots of amps on the 12Volt output. This is what runs the CPU, motors (HDD, DVD/CD/FF) and fans. An AMD64 series or a 3.0+GHZ P4 will use 10 amps off the 12Volt rail alone. Here is a nice little list of PSU specs:
    PSULIST


    2) Overheating CPU/GPU or RAM: Check your temps in BIOS under PC Health or in Windows software like Everest/Motherboard Monitor etc. Ensure all fans are running and clean. Especially the HSF on the CPU and GPU. Ensure you have good thermal contact and have used thermal paste on the CPU before installing a new HSF. All else fails, take the side of the case off and put a big table fan blowing on the whole PC.

    Temperature limits: AMD XP, Duron and Sempron (older core types) CPUs are around 85-90C. Athlon 64 it's a little lower at about 65C. FX series may go 5C higher. Newer Sempron cores (Paris/Palermo) 65-70C.

    Pentium 2/3 < 1.1GHz range from 70-85C, but most fall in around 75C.
    PIII Xeon 55-60C
    P4 (1.3-2.5GHz) 65-75C (core dependent)
    P-D 62-68C
    For more of a complete list go here:CPUTempLimits


    3) Bad or failing RAM: Remove, clean the copper fingers with an eraser and reseat the RAM. Run with one stick then the other. Run Memtest or Memtest86. Replace RAM.

    Indicators for points 1) and 2): Running 3D games cause BSOD/Freezes. If the crash occurs almost immediately then 1) is most likely. If the game runs several minutes then it can be either 2) or 1) and 2). If you are running a 3D game and your FPS really starts to drop this is a strong indicator of point 2). This happens as the CPU or GPU automatically throttles back to prevent complete overheating and self destruction.

    Indicators for point 3): Opening a new program or closing an active program. BSOD Stop code 02E.

    If you are experiencing auto restarts/reboots: check the Start-up and Recovery options and "turn off auto restart on error". This will allow you to see the BSOD and the Stop code and can help to trouble-shoot the problem.
    To do this: Right click on My Computer/Properties/Advanced tab/Startup and Recovery Settings in System Failure, uncheck Automatically Restart.
    If this is already unchecked and the PC still reboots automatically this is a strong indicator of a overworking PSU. If the "Power Good" signal falls below 5V the CPU will automatically reset. This is the same effect as if you pressed the reset button on the front panel.

    Minidumps: Often the only way to diagnose a BSOD problem is to analyze your minidumps. These are files Windows creates and saves to the hardware drive in the event of a system crash. Minidumps must be enabled on your PC first before Windows will generate these. To enable these:Right click on My Computer/Properties/Advanced tab/Startup and Recovery Settings. At the bottom in "Write debugging Information", scroll the window to Small memory dump (64K).

    Advanced Techniques:
    BSODs and Freezes are typical symptoms of an unstable OCed system. In order to correct for this it is practically mandatory for Ocers to increase the voltage on CPU, called Vcore, the RAM, called Vdimm and even the northbridge chipset.

    You might say, “ But I haven’t Oced my system so this doesn’t pertain to me.”
    My response or reasoning is this: The extra speed demanded of the CPU/RAM/Northbridge circuits in an Ocing attempt produces more heat in each of these components. This extra heat causes the internal semiconductor junction bandgap to shift to in energy and thus voltage. Without going into semiconductor transistor device theory, which is beyond the intended scope of this thread, suffice it to say the component (CPU, RAM etc) starts making “State” errors. These are 1’s and 0’s logic level errors. The binary logic that is the very “thing” that a PC is. By adding voltage to the Vcore or Vdimm we reinforce the junction bandgap voltage and 1 and 0 logic state errors are eliminated.

    How does this affect me when I don’t OC my computer? Time and heat (i.e. aging) has a slow and accumulated effect of degrading the junction bandgap energy level. This occurs because the actual “dopant” atoms used to create the semiconductor junction in the first place begin to diffuse away from the junction location and penetrate deeper into the semiconductor lattice. The diffusion rate is driven by heat energy. In other words age is wearing out the proper operation of the CPU or RAM or northbridge itself!

    To compensate for this we can increase the voltage on some of the key components in the PC, just like Ocers and create a stable system again.

    WARNING: By adding voltage to these components we are also adding heat. Add heat we increase the aging rate. We need to add more voltage. You can see where this is going!

    I recommend you add only the minimum voltage step available within your BIOS.
    Start with Vdimm first. Reboot and see how it goes. If this does not help then add a little to Vcore and finally if required add a little to the northbridge chipset.


    Hope this helps.

    Cheers. :wave:
  2. kirock

    kirock Newcomer, in training Topic Starter Posts: 1,598

    Quick List:
    1) What changed?
    2) Is it software? Can you do a restore point?
    3) Hard drive failure? Check Stop codes.
    4) Power supply problems? Did you add some new hardware (a graphics card or DVD player)?
    5) RAM errors are also very common. Remove one. Remove the other (replacing the 1st stick of course).
    6) What are the temperatures of the CPU and GPU?

    Cheers.
  3. kirock

    kirock Newcomer, in training Topic Starter Posts: 1,598

    I just thought I'd put down a bit of a list of a few of the common hardware issues which often cause BSODs and freeze ups. I'm going to keep adding to it as I think of things and hopefully it will be of some help trouble-shooting BSOD.

    Cheers.
  4. kirock

    kirock Newcomer, in training Topic Starter Posts: 1,598

    Don't forget a new update to an old program!
  5. Badiani

    Badiani Newcomer, in training

    My computer keeps crashing

    I did notice this started after i installed the 2006 F-Secure internet security. Also everytime i do a full system scan it always crashes. I also emailed the F-secure help and they were of no use to me.
  6. kirock

    kirock Newcomer, in training Topic Starter Posts: 1,598

    A couple of things. What OS are you running? Have you tried uninstalling F-secure to see if the BSODs stop?

    If you are running WinXP then open the run command window, Start/run and type " sfc /scannow" (note the space after c). This will check your WinXP root system files. you will probably need the WinXP CD in to complete the scan.

    Cheers.
  7. skay

    skay Newcomer, in training Posts: 18

    Hmmmm....looks like Kirock was splitting up a bit back there. Could be he's experiencing some sort of a heat build-up problem, and, without going into too much theory, he might need to have his Vdimm & Vcore voltage upped. (*Grin*)

    But seriously folks (and those other than Kirock as well)...

    Thanks for this most informative thread. Lately I've been experiencing intermittent total freezes in W2K, and an inability to fully boot into Windows (The bootup progresses to the W2K screen with the blue progress bar, which is frozen in the middle, and won't do anything else, not even a BSOD, although sometimes I get a BSOD also, and sometimes it boots fine. It's like there's a short somewhere in the system or something. I thought I'd boiled it down to a bad IDE cable, but now I'm not sure.) I didn't add any hardware recently; I just have a feeling something's ready to blow, be it a hard drive, memory, PSU, etc. I think this system has about run its collective MTBF course. Now I'm trying to nurse it along, do the requisite responsible backups of all the key stuff, get all my OEM driver ducks in order, probably do a SysPrep and a pre-emptive Primary IDE driver "update" to the standard driver to avoid locking up during the migration process to the new mobo/CPU, etc., and hope for the best.

    In the event that that fails, I'll just plug myself into the nearest power strip and see if boosting my voltage helps. : - 0
  8. kirock

    kirock Newcomer, in training Topic Starter Posts: 1,598

    Hello,

    If you need any help with your system or having any questions post back here and I'll try to answer or get us the answer. Your symptoms are a classic HDD issue. Have you run chkdisk or scandisk?
    Hopefully my post helped a little. BTW I was getting no hits at all on it (still in fact, ur only the 2nd) so I bumped it up with a little conversation with myself. :cool:

    This thread appears to be a waste of my 1 hour effort to type it. Oh well.


    Cheers. :wave:
  9. skay

    skay Newcomer, in training Posts: 18

    Yep. Pending H/D failure was my guess as well. But also, since I've got an Asus A7V333 mobo, and I just saw something about a known voltage issue with that board, it might have something to do with that, I don't know. I know I've had some sort of problem with this system since day 1. I've already replaced several HD's over the past 4 years. I just think maybe it's time to start over with a new setup.

    As far as you having wasted your time...
    not as far as I'm concerned. Thanks again. I'll keep ya posted on the developments. I'm going to run Gibson's Spin-Rite utility for drives, and I know that'll take a while to complete -- especially since I've got 5 HD's in my system. LOL
  10. skay

    skay Newcomer, in training Posts: 18

    Wow. I forgot just how long the level 4 mode of Spin Rite takes. Got my head spinning. LOL. But no problems uncovered on the first HD. Now only 4 more to go........yeeeeeesh. It could take me a week of overnight Spin Riting to get the answers. I'll be baaaaahhhhhhhhkkkkkkk".
  11. kirock

    kirock Newcomer, in training Topic Starter Posts: 1,598

    I missed getting back to your last post. With that many HDD's I'm suspecting a PSU issue. What wattage do you have, amps on the 12V, 3.3 and 5volt rails?
    Can you read the voltages with Speedfan let's say?

    Cheers.
  12. skay

    skay Newcomer, in training Posts: 18

    It's an Antec True Power 430, and I went to that site that evaluates whether or not the PSU in your system is powerful enough. According to that site, it was within an okay range for what I've got. Aside from that, I'm not sure how to figure out the answers to your other questions; a lot of this is all pretty new to me. But from the general guidelines that I've read so far, any system that's been run 24/7 for at least 2 years is probably due for an upgrade, and this system's been running for over 4 years almost 24/7, albeit with some upgrades along the way. In fact, the PSU was upgraded a couple of years ago after a thunderstorm fried it.

    I've got my new system all primed and ready to buy over at Directron.com, with a similar one over at XPCGear.com. (I'm waiting to hear back from XPCGear as to whether or not they have some components that I selected at Directron.com. Once I hear back, I'll decide where to get the machine.) They're both +/- $1,200.00 for an Asus A8V, AMD X2 3800+, Thermaltake CL-P0200 (I don't overclock; just looking for something more quiet than the standard AMD fan), 2 320GB SATA HD's, 2GB Kingston dual channel ram, Antec 500 Neo PSU, BenQ DVD, Mistumi FDD, ATI 9600 Pro w/256MB, & XP Pro SP2. That oughta be a nice progression from this AMD 1800+. ;-)

    Now, I'm trying to verify the integrity of the remaining HD's so I can have some reasonable assurance as to which ones I can put into the new system. If they check out ok, I'm planning on adding a WD 250 and WD 200, bringing the total to just above 1TB of HD's spread out over 4 of them.
  13. kirock

    kirock Newcomer, in training Topic Starter Posts: 1,598

    Ok I was just checking, most people don't have a descent PSU and when you said you had 5 HDDs bells and whistles went off. But with that unit you should be ok. So I guess we are back to the HDD issue that we had originally suspected. Just a word of caution, sometimes these disk checking programs "work" the disk so hard looking for faults it causes a weaker/aging HDD to fail. Be careful not to kill a HDD with some really important data on it.

    Your new system sounds great btw.

    Cheers,
     
  14. skay

    skay Newcomer, in training Posts: 18

    Thanks for the feedback on the PSU. Thanks for the warning about HDD-checking programs. And thanks for the input on the new system. Any experience in dealing either with XPCGear or Directron?
  15. skay

    skay Newcomer, in training Posts: 18

    Kiroc -- 1 quick question regarding PSU's. While in the process of finalizing my order at Directron.com, I noticed they had other "freebies" (one per order allowed) aside from the free Power DVD 5, which is what I initially thought I'd nab. In addition to some arguably aesthetically challenged Super-Flower aluminum cases (modded/painted by CaseArts.com) there were also two SuperFlower PSU's -- a 450W 3 fan model (TTGI's TT-450SS), and a 520W 4 fan model (TTGI's TT-520SS), free with any purchase over $899.00. I was able to read a review of a 4 fan 450 Super Flower unit at Dev Hardware, and the reviewer raved about it.

    http://www.devhardware.com/c/a/Power-Supply-Units/Super-Flower-PSU/1/

    And based on an update to his original review said he actually kept on using it even though he had a new Antec PSU right there on the shelf. By choosing the free Super Flower PSU, it would completely cut the cost of the Antec Neo ($89.00). As long as it's as good as the reviewer at Dev Hardware said, I might be willing to give it a shot. I haven't finalized the order yet. The one thing I know I'll need to do is get two adapters for the two Sata HDDs, but the reviewer said that wasn't really a big deal. Any thoughts would be appreciated.
  16. kirock

    kirock Newcomer, in training Topic Starter Posts: 1,598

    Yeah I've heard of it, never used one before. Looking at the 450ss and the 520ss, I'd recommend the 450. It has 28Amps on the 12V, the 520 only has 20A. It's the 12V rail that's most important, it runs the cpu, motors, fans. With your 5HDD set-up you need all the amps you can get. Also the AMD64 3800+ will use about 10amps alone from the 12V rail.

    Overall the Super Flower PSU are getting a growing good rep in the industry, but the word's still out on durability. But hey it's free and seems to have the specs you need, go for it.

    Cheers.
  17. skay

    skay Newcomer, in training Posts: 18

    Thanks again for your quick response. But I am confused as far as reading the specs. Below is a cut/paste from the description, and it looks like the 28Amps figure is from the 3.3V rail, and they seem the same to me. (I must be missing something big time here).

    Specs: Specifications:: Model No: TTGI TT-450SS (450W). AC Input: 100~120Vac/200~240Vac, 10/6A, 60/50Hz. DC Output: +3.3V~28.0A, +5V~42.0A, +12V~18.0A. +5Vsb~3.0A, -5V~0.5A, -12V~0.8a). MAX OUTPUT POWER: 450W. Cooling: Air convention by +12V DC fan. 10 IDE connectors, 2 floppy connectors, +12V power connector, Aux power connector. Dimension: 6"(W) x 6.25"(L) x 3.5"(H)".

    Specs: Model: TT-520SS (520W). One 8-cm fan in the traditional location of the rear of the power supply. One 8-cm fan in the front of the power supply. Two 4-cm fans facing down toward the CPU when the power supply is mounted. Aluminum Housing, Available in several beautiful, strong, anodized colors: Black, Blue, Silver, Red & Champagne. Model: TT-520SS, Output: +5V: 45A. +12V: 18A. +3.3V: 28A. -5V: 0.5A. -12V: 0.8A +5VSB: 3A. Connectors: 10 x IDE connectors, 2 x floppy connectors, +12V power connector, Aux power connector. Dimension: 6"(W) x 6.25"(L) x 3.5"(H)".


    The other unit I'm considering is the Enermax EG495P-SFMA20 (485W). It's $76.00 and not in any way included in the special deal, but I don't think it's an exaggeration to say it'd be like taking out an insurance policy on the PSU, at least from what I've read.

    (Speaking of PSU's and reviews, I found a great link the other day to a very detailed forum review/post of PSUs but for the life of me I have not been able to find it again. I thought I got there from one of the stickies here, but haven't been able to find it again. If you know what I'm referring to, and have the link, I'd appreciate it very much. Thanks again.)
  18. kirock

    kirock Newcomer, in training Topic Starter Posts: 1,598

    Hmm, apparently the review I read at ExtremeOC was quoting the wrong specs. You are correct they both show 18A on the 12Volt rail. Now I have to retrack my recommendation to pick it up for free.

    I stick to my recommendation of looking for a PSU with as mainy amps on the 12V rail as you can afford and a minimum of 430W. This way you'll have lots of head room for expansion and lots of life in the PSU years to come.

    Here's a cool little list I just found:
    http://pages.sbcglobal.net/adunlap/psudatasheet.html

    Sorry for that screw up.

    cheers.
  19. skay

    skay Newcomer, in training Posts: 18

    N/P. And speaking of screw-ups, I didn't get notified that you'd replied to my previous post; that's how come I'm late in responding. I decided to go with the Antec Smartpower 500 (the 500 is apparently much more potent than the 450 listed in the link you posted. Output: +3.3V@32.0A*; +5V@35A*; +12V1@17A*; +12V2@19A: -12V@0.3A; +5VSB@2.0A.); the specs seem to be solid on all counts, especially 36A combined on the 2 12V rails.

    Also, I'd read a review at Tom's that said the Neo got loud at times under heavy load. So with the redux in cost between the Smartpower and the Neo, and going with a Sapphire Atlantis 128mb 9600, vs the PowerColor 256mb version, I was able to get 2 Maxtor-10 250GB IDE HDD's, and 1 WD 320GB SATA HDD, upping the total storage by 180GB, while still keep the total just around $1,200.00 at Directron.com. (They took a long time to get back to me at XPC Gear, so I'm going with Directron.com.) Given some of the prices I've seen for other systems, I think this is gonna be one k/a system for the price. Thanks again for all your help and for the PSU link.

    BTW - I finally backtracked and found the site that had all the recommended PSU's -- it was at extreme overclockers.

    http://forums.extremeoverclocking.com/showthread.php?t=136602
  20. kirock

    kirock Newcomer, in training Topic Starter Posts: 1,598

    That PSU sounds like a very good choice, 36A on the 12V is excellent and you will have no probs in the power depart for as long as you own your rig. That's peace of mind.

    "I read at ExtremeOC", that was my pathetic shorthand for the same site you linked just last. Yeah they're a good site for hardware reviews. Tom's and ExtremeOC are the 2 sites I go to.

    Cheers and let me know how it goes with the new build. (are you building this yourself?)
  21. skay

    skay Newcomer, in training Posts: 18

    I'm not going to build this one; I'm going to let them build it for the $39. It's worth it to me to get the warranty and know it'll get done right. However, I've been getting some parts from ebay to rebuild my current rig. I have an MSI Neo2 Platinum 939 mobo (that came with a Zalman 7000 cooler) and Matrox Parhelia vid card so far. The 430 TruePower will probably suffice since I'm not going to have as many HDD's; it'll be more of a backup thing, probably not even connected to the Internet, so I won't really even need to deal with all the A/V stuff. Just a nice, clean, fast setup. I might even go with an AMD 64 non-X2 chip. (That way I can use the Zalman fan; unfortunately, it's not rated for an X-2 chip. And the stock OEM fan on my AMD 1800+ is annoyingly noisy, so that in itself would be a major improvement upgrading to the Neo2 (from Asus A7V333), the AMD 64, and the Zalman 7000). When it comes to those mods, I'll DEFINITELY be back for some advice/handholding! ;)

    UPDATE (5/14/06): I just got a new/retail AMD Opteron 146 CAB2E 0607 GPMW for the mobo, so I guess now I'll need to learn a lot more about OC'ing. :)
  22. furax

    furax Newcomer, in training

    Bsod!! Help!

    Hey people.. i have this problem since a year or two.. whenever i play wow i get this bsod within 1 or 2 minutes of logging in (its not just wow, nay 3d game i play, either it crashes, or i get a bsod!).. ive done everything in my power to stop it.. windows upgrades.. ati catalyst upgrades.. also the oldest driver i could find (i have an ati radeon x1650 pro 512mb).. i even changed my agp card (before this i had ati radeon 9600xt 256mb).. motherboard.. memory sticks.. and power supply.. but i still seem to get no results... i am attaching a couple of my last minidumps in a zip file along with screenshots of my dxdiag.. if anyone could help me out on this one.. it would be really appreciated..
    thnx!

    P.S. I have changed the screenshot format to monochrome.. to reduce its size.. so it can fit into the 100kb limit....

    .. Heres a link to my minidump.. techspot.com/vb/attachment.php?attachmentid=32568&d=1210583759

    i cant currently post any links.. so you can plzz add the http and www stuff to get the link... thnx once again!
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