Over the last several months, my father's Win95 (OSR2) system has been freezing up more and more frequently, with no recourse other than the reset button. (Prior to that, it had run for a year or so with no problems.) At first it happened only once or twice per day, and I suspected software, since he had recently installed McAfee Office. But after removing all traces of McAfee, the hangs continued. They seemed to be uncorrelated with whatever was running or being done on his system. They grew more frequent, up to 10-12 times per day. So a few days ago, I took it on myself to perform a clean installation of Win95.
While I was fiddling around in DOS, preparing to reformat his C: drive and so forth, the system hung again. I was able to reproduce the hang pretty reliably (although not every time), just by using the EDIT command on a simple .TXT file and pressing the Page Up/Down keys several times in quick succession. Now thinking it might be a problem with DOS itself, I booted his system into DOS using a startup disk created on my own Win95 OSR2 system (with no extraneous drivers or TSRs in memory). Alas, the hangs continued. So now I began to suspect hardware.
We have installed a new mouse and keyboard, and I've deinstalled all add-in cards except his video card. This has relieved the symptoms, but I have still gotten his system to hang by editing a simple text file (and at least once by just leaving the system idle at the C: prompt). The remaining hardware is:
- Amptron PII-2000 motherboard with an AMI BIOS
- Pentium II 266MHz CPU
- 64MB SDRAM memory
- Diamond FireGL Pro 1000 AGP video card
- two hard drives: a 5.7GB Maxtor drive and a 6.4 Western Digital drive
- a Digital Research 40x CD-ROM
- an Acer 4x4x32 CD-RW drive (removing this drive didn't seem to help)
By process of elimination, it seems as though the problem must be something on the motherboard (e.g., the IDE controller), the CPU itself, or memory. How can I troubleshoot these components, or do we just have to spend the money to replace them on a trial and error basis?