NTKERN problem when booting

This computer is an established machine (working fine for about 1 1/2 years) that has developed a problem, recently.  When booting, I receive the following error:

While initializing device NTKERN
Windows Protection Error.  You need to restart your computer.

I performed a memory test and everything seemed okay.  Should I still suspect a memory problem and not trust the test?  The system specs are:

Pentium 4 process (1.6 GHz)
256 MHz PC-133 SDRAM
20 GB Hard Drive (15.8 GB Free)
Windows 98 SE

If more information is required, please let me know...

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Luc FrankenEMEA Server EngineerCommented:
Hi dharvell,

Have you tried replacing the memmory?

Also, try booting from your windows cd-rom and do a repair installation.
Are you sure this is win98? because the file NTKERN is for winNT/2K/XP as far as I know, did you do anything just before this happened?


dharvellAuthor Commented:

Thanks for the response...

It seems to be a pretty common opinion that NTKERN is the actual NT Kernel... actually, the file is a VXD existing in Windows 95/98/ME (I'm not sure about NT/2000/XP).  NTKERN.VXD resides at C:\windows\system\VMM32\NTKERN.VXD (where C: is the windows installation drive and WINDOWS is the installation folder).

But, at any rate, nothing has changed on this computer for awhile... it just seems to be pretty sudden (which makes me wonder about the memory).  

I will go ahead and try to repair the installation with fingers crossed.  
Thanks for the advice, it's appreciated!
Luc FrankenEMEA Server EngineerCommented:
You're welcome, just tell me if it helps.....

I didn't know about the NTKERN inside win95/98/ME I'll learn something every day.
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dharvellAuthor Commented:
LucF -

Tried the Windows repair... didn't work.  Good suggestion, though.  It's looking a lot like the memory, but I'd hate to spend $63 for a replacement and find that this doesn't solve the problem, either. :)  Anything else you can think of that I should try?
Luc FrankenEMEA Server EngineerCommented:
Do you have a friend wich memmory you can borrow just for testing this?
Luc FrankenEMEA Server EngineerCommented:
Luc FrankenEMEA Server EngineerCommented:
If I read that kb article, I really think you're memmory is bad, just try it.

You can get 256MB for only $31.=
or 512MB for only $42.=
http://www.pricewatch.com/menus/m33.htm (where do you live, I might be able to point you to a site in your country)

dharvellAuthor Commented:
Thanks for the links... I did read that Microsoft KB write up which really solidified my thinking about the memory.  I live in the US (Michigan).  I got my price from crucial.com, since this type of computer (Compaq EVO) seems to be pretty picky about the exact type of memory it takes.  I'm looking for 256MB, PC-133, non-parity, CL=2.  Thanks again...we'll eventually get this problem solved (assuming my boss approves the memory replacement).
Luc FrankenEMEA Server EngineerCommented:
>this type of computer (Compaq EVO) seems to be pretty picky about the exact type of memory it takes.
Yes, Compaqs are very difficult when it comes to memmory. You might want to try to find some kingston memmory and compare the prices => www.kingston.com
Luc FrankenEMEA Server EngineerCommented:
I live in the Netherlands, so it'll be difficult for me to fed-ex you some memmory ;-)
Glen A.IT Project ManagerCommented:
Did you test your RAM yet?  Although software testers are definitive about it being bad, (meaning they sometimes 'pass' on bad modules) if they do test bad, then you know for sure.  Here's some links:

DocMemory PC RAM Diagnostic Software



Also -  I know the system has limited functionality in safe mode, but can you run any applications there without crashes?  Or does it still stop in safe mode?
dharvellAuthor Commented:

Thanks for the links... I'll try these testers.  I've tested the machine using PassMark's Burn In Test and everything passed, fine.  

As for Safe Mode, the computer seems to boot in Safe Mode and operate.  Funny thing, once it boots to Safe Mode, I can then restart the computer and use it without error in normal mode.  In the Microsoft KB write up, this too points to bad memory.  But, I will try the testers and see what comes of them.  Thanks!
dharvellAuthor Commented:

Tested the memory with the links you provided... memory tests good in all tests.  Any other suggestions or ideas that I should look at?

Glen A.IT Project ManagerCommented:
Well like I said, the fact that they passed doesn't mean they're good, but it's another step in the troubleshooting process.

In a way, you hope it fails when you run these tests, that way you KNOW what the problem is.  Unfortunately, when it passes you're still looking for the root cause...

Do you have other memory (from a friends system or something) that you can use to determine for sure if that's the problem?

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dharvellAuthor Commented:
I might have some memory laying around I could test... the only problem I can see with that is the fact that Compaq EVO systems seem really picky about the type of memory you put into them.  I attempted to upgrade with a "unbranded" memory stick and the thing wouldn't even boot! :)  I'll give it a run, though...
Luc FrankenEMEA Server EngineerCommented:
If you don't have any Compaq memmory I suggest you really look around where you can get the best price for it.
Glen A.IT Project ManagerCommented:
Your best bet if you need to purchase is to get it from crucial or kingston. Both companies make modules I know work for your evo.
Luc FrankenEMEA Server EngineerCommented:
AB those companies are allready listed in this treat. dharvell, if you post the exact model number we should be able to point you to the right pages (you allready saw the crucial page)
dharvellAuthor Commented:
Yeah... I do business with Crucial all the time (whether in my system building or here at work when replacing/upgrading)... Crucial has a very nice configurator that has become my best friend. :)

For the record, I attempted a module replace with a Compaq Deskpro (the modules happened to work together).  Sure enough, when I replaced the module in question and let the system sit for awhile, it booted fine.  I retested this to be sure.  It booted fine, again.  I put the module in question back in and let it sit... error.  Looks like I have me some faulty memory.

Thanks to both of you for your input...
dharvellAuthor Commented:
Since you both were of considerable help, I split the points... thanks again.
Luc FrankenEMEA Server EngineerCommented:
Glad to help ;-)
Glen A.IT Project ManagerCommented:
Glen A.IT Project ManagerCommented:
I think with these points that as of tomorrow (when everything is updated) I officially become the second certified expert in 'Desktops', after crazyOne.  Finally got those 50,000 points necessary, lol.
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