Temporary Blackout of Processor and Screen

lancer3 used Ask the Experts™
My older computer will, when I am working with it, make a pronounced snap coming from the processor and the screen will go black and the processor seems to stop.

Then the screen comes right back on and the computer starts to re-boot.  
The messages are about the illegal shutdown and about scan disk and losing data etc.

It almost seems to me to be cut-out switch or a short circut that corrects itself.

It does it when she is on the net and she says sometimes when she is not using the web

Any help or suggestions would be very much appreciated as my granddaughter uses this computer and loses her homework etc.

It does it when she is on the net and she says sometimes when she is not using the web
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It did it once when I was using it.
When you say "SNAP",  are you sure this is not your monitor clicking off?  I have had experiences where randomly the computer will reboot for no reason.

I solved this by reloading the OS


Have you checked, by opening the case,  to see that the processor fan is still running?  Your processor may be over heating and causing the PC to power down.

two quick suggestion to think about.

Heat, make sure all cooling fans are running

Power supply could be starting to go bad
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If I reload the O/S do I need to uninstall the present O/S

It has windows 95 on it.
You have two options when reinstalling an operating system

1. To reload the operating system preserving the existing data, however many of your applications will still need to be installed

2.  A total format, which will erase the entire system, then reinstall

When it is possible, most people recommend a complete format and reinstall of the operating system, #2 .  This clears away any old files that may have been left behind from applications installed years ago.  However, you will need to backup any personal files (Word Documents, spreadsheets, pictures, music, etc) that you wish to keep.  You can place these files on a floppy disk, another hard drive(if the system has 2 drives), a blank cd, or another networked computer.

I am however, still interested in this snap that you hear.  If you manually shut down the computer, do you hear this same noise?

or is this noise only something that occurs at the same time the computer reboots?


The noise sounds more like a spark and you do not hear anything like it when you shut down.

The snap happens at the same time the monitor goes blank and then the processor starts to reboot.

Really odd.
Since it sounds like an electrical spark, I would say that it may be a power supply issue.  Power Supplies can be purchased for $20-$30 and are easy to install.  That is the only piece of a computer that I can imagine doing that.

Do you notice any type to electrical burn smell?

Unless something is severely shorted out on the Motherboard which is causing the noise, I would say power supply

Older computers like that pose an issue when repairing because you do not want to put too much $ into them.  There are some cheap computers on the market right now that you can pickup for around $399 or so that would be 100x faster than your current one.  Emachine provides users who do not want to spend a lot of money a base machine.  Most of their prices Run from around 399 to 799.  Thought not considered "top of the line", is still much faster than your current machine.

But, you may want to try the power supply yourself and see how it goes.  On your older machine I would say a 250W power supply is all you need and you should be in business.  If that does not solve your problem, I wouldnt sink anymore money into the machine, as anything else to repair (such as motherboard) will probably run about $75 or higher.  I would also check the return policy where you purchse the power supply to make sure you can return it, if it does not solve your problem


I agree, the most likely cause of your problem is the power supply. When a power supply gets older, the amount of power it generates decreases. There will come a moment when it doesn't create enough power to keep the system running. The system is then asking more thn the power supply can give which results in an overload, and in most cases a sudden shutdown (or burnout).

It can also be because the power supplu isn't cooled adequately, but this is less likely.

Here's an article on power supplies (performance, quality & cost): http://www.tomshardware.com/howto/02q4/021021/index.html

Power supply

Also remove the case, ground yourself to the power supply, and blow out any dust bunnies in the PC. Pay special attention to the power supply fan and the little cooling fan on the processor (if there is one). An older PC may not have a processor fan.
Like the others said, it could be overheating or failing components, most likely the power supply. If you are comfortable doing it, remove and reseat the processor, all expansion cards such as video, and each of the power cords leading from the power supply to the various components. The snap you hear may be from a loose power connection to the motherboard or some other component.

Some power supplies are easy and inexpensive to replace, but some are a real pain. Take a look at the leads going to the case power switch and see if that is hard to disconnect. If it is easy to get to, the rest of it will be easy. Like someone said, don't spend a lot of time and money on an old system near the end of its useful life.


Thanks to everyone.

Next week I am going to take the case off and follow the instructions I have received from all of you.

I will see what happens and get back to you regarding the problem and the points.

Again many thanks.

good luck! hope the solution comes

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