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Troubleshooting sudden reboots/crashes

By DonNagual · 33 replies
Feb 16, 2006
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  1. Troubleshooting Sudden Reboots/crashes

    Seems there are a lot of posts on sudden reboots, so I thought I’d write up a troubleshooting post.

    If anyone has any feedback or changes to make, let me know.

    This is basically a “shotgun” approach, as sudden reboots and crashing can be caused by so many different things. Here are some of the basic things to try before posting and asking for help. If you have gone through all the below and you are still crashing, then make a new thread and be sure to include a detailed list of your computer’s specs, including:

    Ram Speed, size and #sticks:
    PSU (do not leave this out):

    Also include details of the crash. When does it typically happen? What EXACTLY happens?

    And a history as well. At one point, did your system work? Have you recently installed some new hardware/software?

    The main cause of system crashes is drivers. If you are ONLY able to boot up in safe mode, this is usually a sign that you have a driver issue.

    1. Before going any further, update the following:
    Video card drivers: www.nvidia.com or www.ati.com
    Motherboard chipset drivers: go to your motherboard maker’s website

    Also take a look at how outdated your bios is, and consider an update. If there have been 3 or 4 revisions since the one you have currently installed, it is probably best to update.

    2. Check your “Event Log”
    As said above, the main cause of system crashes is outdated/corrupt drivers installed. It can be tricky to find which driver it is that is causing the crashes. If you are able to boot your computer up, right click on “my computer”, “manage”, “event viewer”. Here you will find 3 categories and a list of each. Your system reports any errors it encounters here. You want to search in all three categories and look for any details with a red symbol by them. Yellow are also significant, but red ones are the ones to research first.

    To research them, the best way is to look inside the details provided. There is a link in there that tells you to “click for more details”. Do it. It’ll take you to the Microsoft site with some possible causes and solutions.

    If the crashes seem related to a particular piece of hardware in your system, that is your hint. Update the drivers for that hardware and see if that fixes you up. For example, if you are getting constant error reports for your internet connection, try updating your NIC (network interface card) drivers.

    Some other useful links in helping to figure out error codes:

    3. Auto reboot on error and reporting minidumps
    Windows XP is set by default to reboot your computer when it hits a critical error. For most users I suppose this is a good thing, as no one likes to see the BSOD (blue screen of death). But in this case, we actually WANT to see the BSOD because it contains some useful information in diagnosing the problem. In order to force your computer to show you the BSOD, need to tell it to stop auto restarting on critical errors.

    Right-click "My Computer", and then click "Properties".
    Click the "Advanced" tab.
    Under Startup and Recovery, click "Settings" to open the Startup and Recovery dialog box.
    Clear the "Automatically restart" check box, and click OK the necessary number of times.
    Restart your computer for the settings to take effect.

    If you are suffering from BSOD, please see this thread here by Howard:

    4. Power supply issues
    My personal favorite rant. People spend thousands on great parts for their computer, and then by a $30 power supply to power it all up. Cheap power supplies will crash your system, and these types of glitches are extremely hard to diagnose. They make your other parts act unstable, and it LOOKS like it is those other parts that are faulty. Or even worse, the cheap power supply actually does damage to other parts.

    If you suspect your power supply, you can download software to check your voltages on the various rails. One such program is “speedfan”. You can find it here: https://www.techspot.com/downloads/547-speedfan.html

    You want to check how many volts your PSU is putting out on the various “rails”. There is the 3.3v, the 5v and the 12v and the readings shouldn't deviate more than 5 or 6%. Note, this 5-6% rule only applies to the +3.3v, +5v and +12v rails (not the negative rails).

    Another common problem is people updating their computers with newer parts, but not updating their power supplies to match these changes. Newer graphics cards in particular need a lot more power on the 12v rails. You should be up in the 24-30 amp range if you are running the latest graphics cards. You can tell how many amps your PSU is putting out on each rail by looking at the sticker that is attached to it (inside your case).

    It is also possible that your PSU doesn't have enough Watts for the updates you have made. You can calculate what your system actually needs here: http://www.extreme.outervision.com/index.jsp

    (While we are here, if you have recently installed a new graphics card, many require their own power supply connection. This step is often forgotten, so if you are having problems running games, this may be your cause).

    And a final note somewhat related: everyone should have a good surge protector. Well worth the investment!

    5. System temperatures
    Most motherboards today have a feature built in which will automatically shut down your computer if it is reaching dangerously high temperatures in order to prevent damaging any parts. There are 5 main parts that could be overheating


    Download and install speedfan: https://www.techspot.com/downloads/547-speedfan.html to monitor your temperatures.

    Your CPU and chipset temps shouldn’t be getting anywhere near the 65-70c mark when at full load. If your temp is at these levels when idle, you are running too hot.
    Your GPU temp will depend on the card, but they usually run a lot hotter than CPUs so don’t be alarmed if it is showing a reading of 70c.

    If you find that your system is in fact overheating, take a look at the fans. Are they caked in dust? Also check your case fans. Are they spinning? If all fans appear to be working, you may need to re-seat your CPU. Here is a well written article on how to do it: http://compreviews.about.com/od/tutorials/ss/DIYCPU.htm

    Graphics card overheats are fairly common. Usually the symptoms start with “artifacts” showing up on the screen, but sometimes it will actually shut down your system. To troubleshoot, you can run with your PCs case open, and position a house fan to blow directly on the graphics card and try gaming. If your crashes happen less frequently or stop completely, you have found the problem

    Here is a list showing what the critical temperature is for most CPUs. You don't want your CPU within 10c of these temps:

    6. Undo Recent Changes to your system
    Have you recently added any new software or hardware? You can always undo the system changes you have made, and tell your system to reset itself to a date where you knew everything works. Note: this will delete any new software/drivers you have installed after the date you choose to go back to.

    Log on to Windows as Administrator.
    Click Start, point to All Programs, point to Accessories, point to System Tools, and then click System Restore. System Restore starts.
    On the Welcome to System Restore page, click Restore my computer to an earlier time (if it is not already selected), and then click Next.
    On the Select a Restore Point page, click the most recent system checkpoint in the On this list, click a restore point list, and then click Next. A System Restore message may appear that lists configuration changes that System Restore will make. Click OK.
    On the Confirm Restore Point Selection page, click Next. System Restore restores the previous Windows XP configuration, and then restarts the computer.
    Log on to the computer as Administrator. The System Restore Restoration Complete page appears.
    Click OK.

    6. Faulty Ram / Dying ram

    Another one of the most common causes of random crashes and/or system instability is your ram. Ram can easily become damaged from system spikes, or simply from basic wear and tear. And with ram it is not only physical damage that causes problems, but also compatibility issues.

    Motherboards are very selective about what kinds of ram they work well with. And if you are working with more than one stick at a time (as many do), you run the risk of the different sticks of ram not working well with each other.

    When in doubt, a good starting place is to run your system with just one stick of ram for a while and see if your problems lessen.

    Visit your motherboard maker's website and make sure the ram you have is approved for your board, or at least meets the requirements for compatibility.

    You can test your ram using memtest: www.memtest.org
    download it and run it on your system from DOS. Let it run for 6 or 7 passes (takes a few hours).

    Other things to try based on Private Messages other users have sent me:
    -if you have an APG card you can up the aperture in bios (advanced/chipset)
    Mine was set at 64mb and I upped it to 128mb and I no longer get crashes etc (contributed by: A-thru-Z)


    (also a special thanks to Howard for his input) :D
  2. howard_hopkinso

    howard_hopkinso TS Rookie Posts: 24,177   +19

    What an excellent, and well written post DonNagual.

    Maybe one of the mods will make this a sticky. Lol. Seems like it`s already been done. Quite right too.

    Regards Howard :) :)
  3. renegade

    renegade TS Rookie

    what to do

    this is my problem
    for som months i ve been having these simptoms:
    doing not much - but suddenly the monitor goes off , as well as the pc - except everything is runnin (i can tell that

    the pc is off by the stopping of my media player - no sound- but coolers are cooling). everything works-no cooler is

    stopped, no game played at the moment, just doing things. by that i can judge that it isnt overheating.
    i have to restart my pc everytime . i have reinstalled my windows - and after that error ,i get "sysytem restored after

    a bad error" on my desktop after all startup propgs satrtup.
    when i looked in my event viewer i noticed some errors
    system error (102) 1003 - right affter i restart my pc
    also i get :
    mrx smb - none 8003
    w3svc - none 113.
    one thing i noticed - i found out a way of causing this in purpose (although i get this sh** in the most different

    1) when i drag more the 5 -10 songs in my media playeer classic(k lite) -works everytime - i can even show it to m

    2) when i try to unpack a three - time packed archihe on my desktop (when i try to unpack it - unpack in folder - then

    unpack in folder - and when the last unpacks it goes black) and i noticed it is more likely to happen in this

    situations when some programs run- even 1-2 in the tray.

    or even when i try to pack some files 5-10 - it crashes - so when i try to pack my minidumps guess what happens =(

    one more thing - each time i hear how my hdd slows down - and when i restart i hear it speed up - don't know why -

    maybe it should

    my guess is that this whole problem has smth to do with my hardware - but i didnt check anything yet - what should i

    please help - all help is welcome- i am tired of it...
  4. DonNagual

    DonNagual TechSpot Ambassador Topic Starter Posts: 2,404

    Hello renegade,

    If you haven't already, please start a new thread on this. This thread is just a "read" thread, and any posts here should really only be about changes to be made to the original post (no new topics introduced).

    Thank you and Cheers!
  5. renegade

    renegade TS Rookie


    i have already done that - thank you for your answer - hope to get one on my thread too ;)
  6. debbie22

    debbie22 TS Rookie


    How do i know what video drivers i need? and Mother board information?
  7. howard_hopkinso

    howard_hopkinso TS Rookie Posts: 24,177   +19

    Download the free Everest programme from HERE.

    It`ll give you lots of info about your system. Including what video card you have etc.

    Regards Howard :)
  8. DonNagual

    DonNagual TechSpot Ambassador Topic Starter Posts: 2,404

    How to find your system's specs

    In order to know your system specs, we first have to separate your computer into one of two categories. Is it a "brand name" or is it a custom built computer.

    If your system is made by a company like Dell, Gateway, eMachines etc., then you need to go to the maker's website and find the drivers in their support pages.

    If your system is not a "brand name" computer, then there are a couple of ways to find your specs. You can check your hardware device manager click on "system" from inside your control panel, select the "hardware" tab then "device manager". All your hardware is listed here.

    Another way to get some more details on your system is to download some probing software like the one Howard posted above. CPU-z is another one of the more popular ones, and can be downloaded here: https://www.techspot.com/downloads/27-cpu-z.html
  9. greenflash

    greenflash TS Rookie Posts: 100

  10. kirock

    kirock TS Rookie Posts: 1,221

    Rubbish! WTF. I missed this great post and wrote something similar a few weeks back feeling the same need.
    Very nice job Don, I will add this to my sig links.

  11. Jazzyjack7

    Jazzyjack7 TS Rookie

    Windows Xp Monitor goes blank/crashes when playing game

    i have an emachine everything updated and when i play call of duty 2 and all my other games for a little while my monitor just goes blank. everything is still running i can tell cause i can here it but i have to reboot the computer. i have windows xp home edition. i want to fix this cause its been goin on for like a year and a half and its really annoying. i put a fan behind my monitor and it slows down the crashes for a little it longer. ive seen people with brand new montors with the same problems. can someone hlp me please.
  12. DonNagual

    DonNagual TechSpot Ambassador Topic Starter Posts: 2,404

    Please start a new thread for this, and I (we) would be glad to help out.

    As it says in the original post:
  13. Rage_3K_Moiz

    Rage_3K_Moiz Sith Lord Posts: 5,443   +36

    Excellent and superb post DonNagual. I will keep it in my signature from now on. BTW, how would an OS affect BSODs etc. in any way, unless they're betas of course?
  14. DonNagual

    DonNagual TechSpot Ambassador Topic Starter Posts: 2,404

    Thanks Rage.

    I ask people to include their OS when they post for help simply so we know what system they have when helping to diagnose.
  15. Tedster

    Tedster Techspot old timer..... Posts: 6,000   +15

  16. Laminat

    Laminat TS Rookie

    I just joined the Techspot forum today to obtain more info on how to deal with sudden crashes in Windows XP. This guide was really helpful and I will certainly try your tips before I proceed and post a new crash dump thread.

    Keep up the good work! :)
  17. Sparx

    Sparx TS Rookie

    Yeah! I have to agree with Laminat, joined yesterday and also haveing problems with sudden crashes in Xp home. I have to compliment DonNagual, that info was very helpful. Gonna look into some of those things.

  18. dead750

    dead750 TS Rookie

    I have speed fan running and everything seems normal except AUX which is running at 122C, I have no idea what this is... I'm getting a blue screen and I have the system dump, should I post this in a new thread?
  19. wwilson

    wwilson TS Rookie

    Just joined Techspot forum today. I am having intermittent crashes in Windws Vista. Problem started about two weeks ago and occurs almost every other day. I have run Microsoft's debugging tool on the lastest system memory.dmp file. The debuglog.txt file states:

    Driver_Power_State_Failue (9f)
    A driver is causing an inconsistent power state
    Image_Name: sbp2port.sys

    There is a lot more information in the debuglog. How do I find out which driver is causing the problem?
  20. Hijacked007

    Hijacked007 TS Rookie Posts: 21

    BSOD My Experience

    It is really the dust, heat, and new software that causes the blue screens according from what I have experienced.

    It is usually new software that does it because it sometimes crashes when I install new software.

    Another BSOD culprit is the particles/particulates attacking my tower case on a platform that is one inch up from the floor. Reason being is it is much colder on the tile floor than it is on the desk. Cooler is better for the high-heat hardware.

    Unfortunately there is a lot of dust blowing around on the floor in addition to the cold air on the floor level.

    When I do feel diligent and not being normally lazy, I use a large, square house fan and direct it into my square towercase. That helps to quickly blow away all the dust, lint, and hair that normally roam around the floor.
  21. Spleenharvester

    Spleenharvester TS Enthusiast Posts: 47

    Don't forget sometimes there are dead RAM slots on the mobo...
  22. cranwo

    cranwo TS Rookie Posts: 18

    Well Done on a brilliant thread, helped me out no end however When I installed my New INTERNAL HDD and reinstalled the OS, when I plug in the Ethernet Cable or Wireless Dongle my PC Keeps running but screen goes blank and therefore will not let me onto the Internet. Hey Ho methinks its a new PC that I need.
    Many Thanks for the info though I found it extremely useful
  23. jbrillo1126

    jbrillo1126 TS Rookie

    I'm out of ideas

    Ive been getting random BSOD for about 4 months and no matter what I do I cant solve this problem. Ive even gone so far as to format the hard drive and do a clean install. Within two days the BSOD started popping up and it usually does it when the system is idle. I've looked at all the forums including this one and called all my tech savvy computer friends and still have nothing to show for it. These are all the dump files I have. These have all happened within a five day period. Please HELP me. I know my spelling sucks.

    Attached Files:

  24. Rage_3K_Moiz

    Rage_3K_Moiz Sith Lord Posts: 5,443   +36

    All your minidumps point to ntoskrnl.exe, which is the Microsoft Boot Kernel. Try a System Restore or repairing Windows and see if it works. Else, your MBR is corrupt and you'll need to write a new one to the disk. IMO, backup the data to an external HDD and format the drive. Then install Windows again. But only do this if a System Restore or a Repair doesn't work.
  25. jbrillo1126

    jbrillo1126 TS Rookie

    I've already done all that. This install isn't even a week old yet and im getting the same errors as before i re-installed windows.

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