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Multiple intermittent problems

By Hoshi_Reed
Jan 6, 2011
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  1. I'm not even sure where to start.

    Well, Gabriel the ArchAngel runs XP professional SP3 and is comprised of a 2 month old CPU, Motherboard, PSU and primary HDD. The RAM, DVD-RW, 56k dial-up modem, secondary HHD, monitor, PS/2 mouse and tower are from KITT and are 16 months old. The PS/2 keyboard is 8 years old as I prefer the USA layout over ABNT-II. The 4 parts are new because even though KITT was only 14 month old I had the CPU, PSU, and motherboard fail. I think they had failed so young because of my house power (and I had not cleaned the computer during the 12 month warranty as you have to break the warranty seal to clean inside and a few days before it died I had cleaned it - it was filthy - and forgot the thermal paste). My original power stabilizer had had the grounding prong removed to fit in the wall socket (house is not grounded electrically). So when I bought the new parts I upgraded the stabilizer to a electronic line protector that is specifically made for houses that aren't grounded. I also upgraded the HDD to replace two IDE drives that were 8 and 5 years old and I had heard noises once in a while for a month which I though was one of them failing (but in hind sight may have been the CPU or PSU fan making noise). I DO leave the computer on all night to download via my slow 56k dial-up modem and rarely reboot. Usually that only happens when the power goes out (once a month or twice a week depending on the time of year).

    Now after just 2 months I'm getting some weird things happening.

    After the first power outage - less then two weeks after I got the thing running - it wouldn't output to monitor. I had feared I had lost the monitor as well but a third attempt the monitor worked but the HDD's wouldn't register in POST. Waited more then 30 minutes and it booted fine. Tech said the PSU may have humidity problems and is common here which makes sense since I live 100 meters from the beach and Clark Kent, my original US bought Compaq, had similar problems for 4 years before he died, though he took his second monitor with him.

    Then the next power outage happened and after boot it would go from grey classic view (my setting) to the blue XP style. I didn't make much of it since I thought my settings may not have been saved (though the start menu classic setting remained) This happens 2 out of three times the power goes.

    The dial-up modem has been lost three times. I had to remove the card, boot, remove the driver, boot, shutdown/cool down, replace the card, boot, then reinstall the driver to get it back.

    At one point I noticed the secondary HHD was having problems. It would revert to PIO. At one point the mft was corrupted (both) and I used testdisk to recover the files and reformatted. Suspecting that it is failing (was damaged when KITT bought the farm) I have since used it for minimal storage and have not used it like normal (I will copy the video file to the main drive to watch it instead of access the file directly from the HDD for the entire hour or so)

    I noticed a couple lock ups but a reboot fixed them. There was also some freaky stuff going with the front audio output. I get "half" sound. Musical instruments and movie background noise worked but vocal/talking was very low. I could only hear it all if I set the balance to one side (L/R didn't matter) The mono sound came out both speakers/ears. And sometimes he won't turn off the monitor at the appropriate time if set in power options unless I change the wallpaper (I have energy saver disabled in BIOS)

    The past week however:
    I've had problems with no signal to monitor, no keyboard (lights blink), artifacts
    I opened it up, reseated the front audio wire which fixed my balance problem, noticed the south bridge is hot but it has a way smaller heatsink than the northbridge and installed newer intel graphic driver.
    I had artifacts one more time even after the driver install but the second reboot seems to have fixed things.

    A day later I had audio/video stutter and CPU seems normal (5% for mp3 and 15-20% for video). I uninstalled the graphic driver and reinstalled (the upgrade had been installed on top of the original/I had not uninstalled the original before installing it so I thought maybe there were driver remnants), I've uninstalled and reinstalled VLC, my codec pack with MPC, and sound problem was still there. At one point PC Wizard 2010 did detect only one RAM stick but closing the application and reopening detected both again. Over night it lost two hours but time updated like normal. I shut him down and let him cool down. When I restarted the keyboard problem came back (lights blink faintly and won't enter BIOS). Starts fine if tower is on it's side. but not if booted while upright. (I booted him while on his side and slowly righted him while on).

    The cool down seems to have fixed stutter problem though.

    So, what is wrong with Gabriel? Is the RAM failing too or is the new motherboard or PSU defective? (I'm working on saving up to rewire my room to ground the outlet properly and buy a proper NoBreak (power converter, stabilizer/surge protector with backup power) just in case)

    On a side note; I also noticed I've lost the capacity to boot in safe mode.
  2. Tmagic650

    Tmagic650 TS Ambassador Posts: 17,231   +234

    First, invest in a good battery backup line conditioning uninterruptible power supply (UPS). Second, each power outage can damage any part of a computer. Some of this damage is immediate, some causes damage over time. The motherboard's bios gets confused or corrupted. hard drive data and the operating system becomes corrupted...

    You may be in for another motherboard or power supply change in this case. You will continue to have these problems until you take action to protect the computer and to turn it off and unplug it when you are not using it, until you can get that UPS up and running

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