Help - system failures

By evanostrand
Nov 23, 2006
  1. here are my current system specs:

    • athlon xp 2500 cpu
    • 1 gig ram
    • ati radeon 9600xt
    • abit va-20 microatx mobo
    • antec 250-300 watt power supply (came with the aria case i use)
    • generic antec fan for case
    • maxtor diamond ata 160 gig hard drive
    • creative cd-r/dvd rom

    alrigth so i got most of these parts in july of 2005. i custom built it. was running great for a year when my cpu overheated in september of 2006. so i replace the cpu and notice that my pc is filthy inside. i clean it out as well as i can.

    recently, i have been getting lots of random lockups that can only be solved by restarting the computer. even then, sometimes it just locks up during startup; sometimes it doesnt even load explorer.exe properly when windows starts and i have to run 'explorer.exe' several times in a row as a task in task manager for it to load. usually i can only last about 5 minutes before it locks up. CPU temp is consistently between 50-55 celsius.

    i thought it might be a virus so i got nod32, adaware, and spybot and ran those. would lock up during running of those programs, but eventually i finished them and got rid of a couple of viruses/spyware.

    still, the computer did the same thing. so i turned off 'auto restart on system failure,' hoping to maybe get a bsod. reinstalled my bios drivers, ran chkdisk, and the HD had prolly 8-10 errors, but it fixed them. uninstalled my hauppauge wintv card and took it out completely. uninstalled a few programs i dont use anymore and ran disk defrag.

    i then read here about loading fail-safe defaults and i realized i hadn't tried that yet, so i did. now, my computer will not load windows. it gets through all the black screens and says windows was not loaded properly the last time; how wouldi like to load it. i have tried safe mode w/ and w/o networking, last known good, and normal startup, and it all does the same thing; the white line loads across the screen and then it stops completely. as i type this, i am running the maxtor bootable utility to see if it comes up with anything.

    is it the hard drive? is the power supply so dirty its causing stuff like this? the thing that sucks is that my HD warranty ran out just months before it went kaput, if the HD is the problem. i thought maxtor drives lasted a long time. anyways, i haven't backed up on CD in a little over a month; and i desperately need a few things off there before i reformat. am i stuck? diagnosing computer problems is so much harder than actually fixing them, heh.

    update: i finished the maxtor test scan thing on the bootable utility and it says

    'congratulations, your drive is certified error free.'
  2. DonNagual

    DonNagual TechSpot Ambassador Posts: 2,404

    Good job on the troubleshooting so far.

    I'd focus on the PSU. Do you by chance have a friend/family member who will let you use their computer for parts to use in troubleshooting? You need another PSU to test if you can fire up your system.

    Also, have a look at the capacitors on your motherboard. Are any of them swollen or leaking?
  3. evanostrand

    evanostrand TS Rookie Topic Starter

    okay; so i tried, instead of 'fail safe defaults,' reloading 'optimized defaults,' and now i can load windows up but i still have to run 'explorer.exe' as a task to get it to load; and it is still locking up.

    ya i can get one, im on my husbands computer; i could yank his out of his pc for a few minutes. his board is the one i had before i upgraded to the small pc i have now.

    i checked those capacitors and they look exactly like the good ones, but i noticed taht on some of them, their plastic covering goes straight into the mobo slightly; and on some of them there is a *tiny* bit of metal showing at the bottom. they are also very filthy as i haven't cleaned them, and didnt think to do that! could one of those two issues be the problem?

    since the maxtor utility came up clean and it was still doing the same thing after that, i am thinking it might be my motherboard after all. or a combination of things. if my computer stays up long enough, i will try to uninstall and reinstall all my drivers; maybe one of them is corrupted. i havent tried that yet.

    thank you very much for the suggestion(s). i don't care what i have to do short of buying a brand new computer, as long as i can isolate what the problem is. i will check/try anything if it works, and i am about at the end of my technical knowledge on this cause i dont really have the spare parts to switch in/out. i know how to put a computer together but fixing one can be a completely different matter imo.
  4. DonNagual

    DonNagual TechSpot Ambassador Posts: 2,404

    I'd go ahead and switch out your husband's PSU just to rule that out (as that would be an easy problem to fix).

    If that doesn't fix you up, can you post a pic of the capacitor that has you concerned?

    Since maxtor diagnosed your hard drive as having no problems, you can probably rule that out.

    I'd also suggest looking at your ram as a possibility. There is a program for testing the ram at run it for 6 or 7 passes (it takes a few hours)
  5. evanostrand

    evanostrand TS Rookie Topic Starter

    okay i will do that and post here the results and the pic. i have a webcam so i should be able to at least take a pic of it.

    also, not to throw another wrench in the mix but i loaded up windows this last time and decided to try backing up my outlook files and some of my personal/work documents from the task manager, and i actually managed to get all my outlook stuff into a PST, and burn a cd of all the things i needed to back up without my computer crashing. all from loading those programs through the run command in task manager. so my computer crashes if explorer.exe is up but not if it's not running.
  6. evanostrand

    evanostrand TS Rookie Topic Starter

    oh ya, and here's a pic i took:


    the little I type thing there is the space between the blue plastic cover surrounding the capacitor and the actual green board of the mobo. i tried to get in as close as i could; but sorry the quality is so bad - my cam cost me about 20 or 30 bucks :(
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