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Computers cuts out!

THe problem has been occuring for about 2 weeks now and has got slightly worse so I need help!!!

I have a Gateway PC with an AMD Athlon, decent processor and running Windows ME

Recently, my computer just, in the middle of me doing something just cuts out - ie,  powers itself off. Sometimes, now it restarts itself only to do it again 4 mins later

Sound to me like overheating - but I'm certainly not any expert on hardware - could you let me know what the problem is,  what needs to be done and what it would cost me!!

Quite a few points up for grabs

1 Solution
Open you case and look at the fan on the cpu (approx. 3"x3" fan) and make sure it is turning when the pc is on.  If it is not, you need to get the Heatsink/Fan replaced.
get some monitoring software to check the temps.  Motherboard Monitor 5 is fine for that.
If it rises quickly above 70C or so, it's probably the issue.  Might need new heatsink/fan like Aeroflow.

sorry - cost for aeroflow or any equivalent is about 20 bucks.
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check  your bios if it has hardware monitoring of any kind , and see the cpu heat , also
you may see voltage meters in bios , may have a out of range voltage.

things that it could be

1. cpu heat
2. ram not seated or defective , remove 1
3. power supply bad.

i would first check to see if the cpu readings are ok
then check the ram . use a dos tool , to diagnose ram.
AMD's are known to run very hot, so you are probably hitting the shutdown temperature in your BIOS setting.  You should reseat the heatsink on the cpu, to make sure good contact is being made.  If this doesn't help, you may have to remove whatever is being used between the cpu and heatsink and replace it with a drop of Artic Silver thermal compund.  Check the BIOS setting to be sure that the shutdown temperature is not too low - an AMD can go to 85C.  Keep the area around the cpu clear of ribbon cables and other things that block airflow, so that the cpu can be cooled properly.
You can use the above freeware to check temperatures and voltages to help narrow your problem.
When you say that you are in the middle of something do you mean gaming or anything that could be pushing the video card to much? Have you installed any new hardware, or updated any drivers lately? If not then I think you should try swapping the power supply with a known working unit and see if that solves the problem. I also agree that overheating could be the most likely culprit, and Motherboard Monitor will not only help you to check your temperatures but your voltages too. Make sure to check the logs after the problem presents itself again.
The others have you on the right track.

Last night this happened at a friends house.  He wanted to show me a new title and his computer was acting super slow.  
He thought it was spyware or something.   He did the norton AV check and the spyware check and still slow.

I smelled hardware prob.  My friend is kind of a neat freak, lives in a 800,000 house thats so clean you can eat off the floors.
I think to myself could it be overheating from dust?   Naaa his house is soo clean it just could not be.

I poped the front panel off his Dell and OMG was it just jammed with dust.  It took me 15 minutes to figure out how to get the damn case apart.  Dell made this server case like a jig saw puzzle.   It had a secret sheet metal button on the bottom, plus had to pull a 12 inch hidden pin out the front of the case.   Argh!!!!

Anyway looks can be deceiving.  I guess all the dust in his house was inside his computer.  No harm done, aftter the cleaning its working great!

Spontaneous rebooting as we call it, can occur due to a variety of reasons my guess if its not the processor fan shutting down and causing a CPU problem is that its the powersupply. Could you try and swap with a good working powersupply??.
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