Mom's computer has freezing/other Issues. Diagnostic advice please

By Route44 ยท 12 replies
Oct 31, 2010
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  1. Three years ago my mom needed a new computer. I wanted to build her one but my dad refused to go that route and so while doing research for them Staples had a nice bundled HP system that some of the people I knew quite well who worked at this particular store said it was a good system.

    This is what I remember about it: Asus motherboard, E4300 Intel dual core @1.8 GHz, 2 gigs of DDR memory, and Vista 32-bit.

    Well she has been having serious freezing issues and other things happening. Below is what she wrote me in that I'll put in blue:

    Before Staples:

    PC keep locking up. Would not turn off or respond to any commands. Had to pull power plug in and out to kick up it several times than PC would turn on and work but froze during operation.

    Took it five times to Staples. Each time a virus was found even though they ran a diagnostice test and removed virus. 5th time, Staples ran a day long diagnostic only to find that it proved that NORTON was the reason for freeze. Took too much room and wouldn't let computer work.

    Replaced Norton with Kaspersky.

    Staples said last time that the PC was probably having other failures and it doesn't pay to bring it back. They suggested a new computer

    After Staples:
    Works great [after doing some disc clean-up that she can't remember exactly what she had done :rolleyes: ]. But getting it turned on some times requires these steps.

    1. Won't start on first try. Moniter shuts down.

    2. After I turn it off than I hold the on button down for about 30 seconds, PC comes on. I put in password, get the screen for the safe mode or normal start.

    3. I click on safe mode, files are installed, than I put in pass word.

    4. Windows is LARGE. Have to restart then it comes back normal size after I type in pass word and everthing works GREAT.

    While I use the computer a lot, a couple of times it froze but has been working great but one never knows when it will freeze and even the mouse won't work and/or the keyboard. I had to pull the power plug to unfreeze it and it worked.

    My folks live 2 and half hours away in another state but come this Monday I have a meeting that will enable me to get to their house in 15 minutes which will give a whopping one and half hours to do as much diagnostic work as I can before I have to get on the road.

    Here is what I plan on doing:

    1. Test the power supply with a multimeter.

    2. Check Event Viewer and Run CheckDisk

    3. Because it is an HP the BIOS will only let me do certain things. I would want to do at least a S.M.A.R.T. test and memory but I believe I am blocked from doing so.

    4. Check the SATA cables/all cabels.

    [U]So Here is my question:[/U] Since I only have an hour and half for diagnostics what would you think is the most important things I should do and what would you suggest that I haven't listed?

  2. Jonathan King

    Jonathan King TS Rookie Posts: 128

    I would rank replacing the video card a pretty high priority, given the symptoms.

    Download this jcgriff2 .exe:

    You may have seen me ask for that a few times, in BSOD threads. What that does, is it collects the minidumps, event logs, Windows Error Reporting, some driver listings, an MSINFO32 file, and much more. It will save all this in a folder in Documents.

    By the way make sure the .exe is in the Documents folder before you run it. Take the output folder home with you, and we can look at it later.

    I also recommend you install TeamViewer, so you can work on software causes from the comfort of your couch, if need be.

    Run your own virus scan, who knows what the Geek Squad uses. I recommend Malwarebytes, but others have other preferences.

    What I didn't see in your mom's description was what happens when she tries to boot in Normal mode. Safe Mode doesn't actually install the files it displays, just for your own information. That's just what it has loaded.
  3. Route44

    Route44 TechSpot Ambassador Topic Starter Posts: 11,984   +72

    JK, thanks much. I'll try to do those ideas of yours. I wish I had more time like a whole day to do indepth work but time doesn't allow me.

    As for the video card I could be wrong but she might have onboard video; need to check that out.

    Thanks again.
  4. Archean

    Archean TechSpot Paladin Posts: 5,690   +96

    Sometimes, HDD issues may also result in freezing, so it is a good thing you planning to check that; however, I'd suggest that you should run complete diagnostic on this drive, you may need to give a 'brief' to your mom on how to run it as obviously you wouldn't have much time to do it yourself.

    Secondly, do ensure that PC is clean / dust free; and importantly .... don't forget to check PSU as well; as we all know most of the OEM PCs come with very crappy PSUs.
  5. Jonathan King

    Jonathan King TS Rookie Posts: 128

    It may not hurt either to create a USB or CD of Memtest86 and just running it for say 10-15 minutes. Often times, that's all it takes to show loads of errors.

    I haven't been around here long enough to get a feel for your tech knowledge, so I'm not trying to insult you by giving elementary advice. If you don't already know, Memtest should be run for several hours. I just use number of passes as a gauge, and in my guide, I just said 7.
  6. Archean

    Archean TechSpot Paladin Posts: 5,690   +96


    Route is very knowledgeable and experienced person; who happen to be active alot in BSOD and related sections, BTW welcome to TS (bit belated one) :)

    That out of the way, I think your advice is very sensible one, which needs his consideration.
  7. Jonathan King

    Jonathan King TS Rookie Posts: 128

    Thanks Archean. I didn't want to baby him, but then I also didn't want to give advice over his head!

    Please, don't take offense.

    Thanks for the welcome as well.
  8. B00kWyrm

    B00kWyrm TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,436   +37

    So... how'd it go today?
  9. Route44

    Route44 TechSpot Ambassador Topic Starter Posts: 11,984   +72

    Okay guys, you know how the old saying goes, "Even the best laid plans..." ? I actually had to do some running for my folks at Staples and I believe I should have skipped the HP diagnostics step because it limited my time.

    But here is the issue: I opened the side of the case and Sheloeb could have made the dust webs that were present. The heatsink was caked with dust. Luckily I had a partial can of canned air and my mom had a small can. I remember saying on two occasions, "There is no way they opened the case side and looked inside."

    I am really kicking myself because I didn't fully read Staples summary of all they said they did and this is the one that if I had known they were going to get blasted: Cleaning of dust build up. If I had read that I would have hauled that system straight to the manager.

    Five times my mom took it back to them and after the 5th time they said it was probably time to purchase a new PC.

    Guys, I am very angry (and no, I'm not going to hit anybody) at what they did. But I cleaned it out so I am not sure what recourse I have now. I do know the Staples crew near where I live very, very well and see what they say.

    And here is the thing: My mom told me that it is now running beautifully; it is faster in boot time and processing. No freezes in almost 24 hours,

    Harddrive passed both S.M.A.R.T. and Short Diagnostic Self Test. Memory and harddrive passed HP's tests.

    Comne Thanksgiving when I have more time I am going to do more indepth diagnostics including testing the Bestech psus which I don't trust.

    Thanks for the help and thanks for reading this.
  10. Jonathan King

    Jonathan King TS Rookie Posts: 128

    Glad to hear that you were able to find the problem, too bad you couldn't of had it out with the Staples guys.
  11. Route44

    Route44 TechSpot Ambassador Topic Starter Posts: 11,984   +72

    To not open the side panel not even once in five trips is inexcusible especially since they declare in writing that they cleaned out the dust build-up.

    Who knows if Norton was indeed the problem and though I'll take Kaspersky over Norton any day I'll never know if Norton was the real cause or if heat was the only true issue.
  12. Archean

    Archean TechSpot Paladin Posts: 5,690   +96

    Well dust along side 'excessive amount of humidity' can cause lots of issues. I have had issues with later, but that's another long story. Good to know everything worked out ok for your folks :) Regards
  13. B00kWyrm

    B00kWyrm TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,436   +37

    Good job! Just shows; it always pays to start at the start.
    I would have it out with them too! :mad: (with a rant!)
    Something about cheats really gets my Irish up. ;)

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