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Computer freezing Windows XP but works in safe mode perfectly

By computerworld ยท 16 replies
Dec 28, 2010
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  1. SO this is the deal, my computer keeps freezing on me and i don't know why. For the last couple of weeks it would just randomly freeze on start up, sometimes i wouldn't even be able to get to the desktop before i had to hit the restart button. i wouldn't be able to click on anything. first thing that i thought was a virus/spyware/trojan/worm, but i ran a scan on my computer AND showed that I had no viruses or anything on the system. I reinstalled windows xp (although when reinstalling windows sometimes i would have to start over because it would freeze in the middle of installation...what causes that??), and there is nothing else on my computer but the same problem keeps happening, on start up it will just freeze, sometimes not even getting to the desktop, once it gets to the desktop, i can move the moust and use the keyboard but everytime i try to go into the desktop properties or my computer it keeps freezing, BUT THEN I CAN RUN MY COMPUTER SMOOTHLY ON SAFE MODE SO WHAT SHALL I DO??????? PLEASE HELP

  2. gbhall

    gbhall TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,419   +77

    Could be a faulty video card. In safe mode the card is driven by Windows default drivers. In normal mode the installed drivers for the card are used. Check the m/f site for a later driver.

    Actually, it would be easier to help if you would specify the OS, SP level and hardware details. Would like a lot more history as well - how old is the PC, have there been any problems previously, have you added any recent new hardware or accessories to it, have you looked at the event log for errors, tested the memory, run chhkdsk /r on the HDD?
  3. computerworld

    computerworld TS Rookie Topic Starter

    My computer is windows xp with service pack 3 computer is quite old but was working fine couple of months ago it is packard bell but i do not know the model number, i have not added any new hardware at all since i have got the pc which was like about 3-4 years ago i have had no problems on it i have ran a chkdsk -r it said it has found one or two erros which have been fixed but then restarted the computer and started to freeze.

    And that is it so what shall i do now. Please help me...
  4. gwailo247

    gwailo247 TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,007   +18

    The video drivers is a good suggestion. There are obviously drivers that get loaded in regular windows that don't get loaded in safe mode which may be causing the problem.

    You may also want to install a heat monitoring program, like Core Temp, and enable its logging, and see if heat has any part to play in your computer. And if you haven't lately, open up the case and vacuum out the dust. Reason I mention this is that when I got into my friend's computer to upgrade RAM, he admitted he never cleaned the case, and it looked like Pig-Pen's liar in there. If dust finally reached a point where the heat cannot leave the case, it could cause your system to crash.

    You may also be able to find the model number somewhere on or inside the case, that would allow you to find the specs on the hardware.

    If something happened all of a sudden, and you're getting problems since that point, it could be an issue of hardware failure. But it depends if you have onboard video, a video card, etc, so getting your specs will be pretty important.
  5. gbhall

    gbhall TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,419   +77

    Apparently, Packard Bell have been bought by someone else, and support is effectively abandoned. Reliability is also suspect.

    You could try looking at the system events log. settings/control panel/administrative tools/event viewer. In there, look at the system log, checking for red x's. Hopefully, this can point you to the failing component.

    As you claim it works faultlessly in safe mode, it tends to point to corruption in the OS somewhere, and the video driver is slightly more likely. You could download the latest version and reinstall it.

    There are a number of things you can do in safe mode, but I would start by simply dis-assembling the PC, Starting by cleaning out all the dust. The next thing is going one item after another, remove the connector and replace it a few times (cleaning the connections in other words - everything connected to the motherboard). Make sure all the fans run. You need to do the memory in the same way. Be careful not to touch any metal on the connectors (static electricity).

    If cleaning and re-seating does nothing, then find the tests for memory e.g. memtest86 http://www.memtest86.com/ and for the hard drive. Belarc advisor http://www.belarc.com/free_download.html will tell you a great deal about your PC, such as listing the hardware so you can get the disc drive tests for your hard drive and run those too.

    Next you strip down the PC to the bare minimum - only the hard drive should be left connected (sometimes a CD drive can fail giving symptoms like you see).

    If you can test like this and come up with nothing, you may be looking at a re-install-in-place (check that out with google), which you should only do after a very full backup. You can also only do it with a full retail XP at SP3 level - know anybody with that?

    Good luck, you might need it.
  6. computerworld

    computerworld TS Rookie Topic Starter

    I have vacumed out all the dust and updated my vidio card driver and their is still problems with the freezing so wat shall i do know??? Please help...


  7. gwailo247

    gwailo247 TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,007   +18

    The issue still may be heat.

    This is how you enable logging in coretemp.

    Then you will need to go to the directory where you installed it, and look at the log files. If they show a buildup of CPU temperatures up to a critical level before shut down, then you know your problem likely is heat related, and then we can try to figure out a solution in that direction. You can attach the files to your post.

    I would also go through gbhall's checklist above, its all great advice on troubleshooting a computer. The key is to be patient and eliminate the possible culprits one by one.

    Since you reinstalled Windows the problem is probably not an infection, but either that the drivers in your system are messed up, or one of your pieces of hardware is failing. I'm mainly looking to eliminate heat as a problem. Once that is eliminated, as it can affect all your components, then we can try to narrow it down to a specific component.

    When you got inside, were you able to find any more information on the computer? Also, maybe you can post some info on CPU, motherboard, etc. You can get that info from several different programs on windows, or you can get CPUz for more information on CPU, mobo and RAM. I'd also like to know if your graphics card is onboard or a card. When you were in the computer, does your video cable plug into a discrete card, or into the motherboard?
  8. computerworld

    computerworld TS Rookie Topic Starter

    When i tried to install core temp it would not work in safe mode but everything installed correctly and then the progema was about to start and this error message came up and said :
    this intel processer is not supported. This program will not continue.

    so what shall i do on about that error message...

    If you have a look at this attachment it may help you analiys some of the info for this computer just have a look to see if you can find somethingout of this i hope this attachment helps you alot to analys this computer.

    Please helpme fix this problem

    thank you

    Attached Files:

  9. gwailo247

    gwailo247 TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,007   +18

    Well, your computer is pretty old, based on the specs. It really could just be age. My 10 year old computer starts showing artifacts and crashes occasionally for no reason.

    Disconnect the sound card, and then see if the computer will boot in normal mode.

    There are also other heat monitoring programs out there, see if they support PIIIs.

    Since you had some errors in the installation, try reinstalling Windows again. You can also try to download a Linux install, like Ubuntu, and try loading that up onto your computer, see if that runs better.

    But you really should start considering upgrading at some point. Computers only last so long before they wear out.
  10. computerworld

    computerworld TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Is linux or ubunto free of charge

    is it like a new operations system or waht i need to know these details please if oyu can give them thank you
  11. gwailo247

    gwailo247 TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,007   +18

    yeah, its a free OS that you can either install or just run from the CD.


    Its a different OS, but it works very similar to Windows, once you figure out a few tricks here and there. If you boot from CD, you can see if it recognizes your hardware or not.
  12. computerworld

    computerworld TS Rookie Topic Starter

    I burned the software to the disk and then i restarted the system and it came up and then it said :
    failed to initialise graphics card

    so now what shall i do by the way i like the operating system and i like is their any other operating system which is free something like that or what shall i do now???

    Please help me...


  13. gwailo247

    gwailo247 TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,007   +18

    So it looks like its the graphics card. You might be able to pick up a cheap card to replace it on e-bay or something, and see if that works. Until then run it in safe mode.

    Your computer is pretty old, if its been in continuous use since its been manufactured, then its probably reached the end of its useful life. If your computer was brand new then it could be something could be fixed, but when you're dealing with old hardware age is just as likely for the reason that its failing as anything.
  14. computerworld

    computerworld TS Rookie Topic Starter

    this is the error message which i get
    graphics initialization failed error setting up gfxboot

    by the way if i buy any graphics card or what shall i do
  15. gbhall

    gbhall TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,419   +77

    Well, finding a video card PLUS the correct XP drivers would not be easy. eBay might just reveal a Packard bell replacement. Until you can discover the exact model of your PC and find out it's original specification, you won't get far.

    You need to know whether the card you need would be one of various types, which fit in different slots - namely ISA, EISA, PCI or AGP. If you aleady have a video card and it's not a motherboard chip doing the video, then find an identical card. A P3 processor could have an early AGP, which is your best bet, but they came in x1 x2 x4 and x8 versions - you see the problems?

    Computer boot sales will certainly get you something at little cost, but you're going to need to know exactly what you are looking for.
  16. gwailo247

    gwailo247 TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,007   +18

    If you can't find the model number, you can maybe take a few photos of your motherboard and post them, or at least of your video card, should be able to figure out which type you have. I'm guessing AGP at best.
  17. gbhall

    gbhall TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,419   +77

    Have a look at the connectors for the monitor. Are they on a lttle riser off the motherboard, or on the end of a plugged-in card?

    In the first case, you have motherboard graphics, and you can get a suitable video card of whatever type you have vacant slot to put it in. AGP would be best, which is a dark brown slot as seen in these pictures http://www.ertyu.org/steven_nikkel/agpcompatibility.html

    Here is a pci slot http://www.kids-online.net/learn/click/details/pci2.html

    Having got a suitable card, you plug it in, start up, enter the bios and disable the on-board video chip. Finally install the appropriate XP drivers, which XP will probably prompt you for.

    In the second case, where you already have a card, start in safe mode and uninstall the existing driver (unless an identical card, of course). The screen might go black immediately, but usually not, and you just shut down, remove the existing card and put the new one in, then on restart Windows will take you through the process of installing the new driver.

    Even if the drivers are not available with the card, XP is often capable of finding a suitable driver for you, although the most advanced features of the card will not then be available.

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