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Win98se restart without warning.

Posted on 2005-03-28
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Last Modified: 2013-12-29
DELL 233 160 Ram WIN98se.....All of a sudden in the past few days Windows will restart itself. Nothing special needs to be running or happening for this to occur.Help.Thanks.
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Question by:NewWIN98User
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13 Comments
 
LVL 28

Expert Comment

by:burrcm
ID: 13642635
Many possibilities. Start with  - check that the case fan and the cpu fan are spinning and the heatsink on the cpu is not clogged with dust. Best way to do this would be to remove the heatsink. At this point it is essential to replace the thermal compound between the heatsink and cpu. Arctic silver is best, but with a 233 the basic white stuff will be fine. Check also the heatsink / fan on the video card. Pull the video card, RAM etc, polish the contacts with a lint free cloth and reseat. Remember that RAM is static sensitive, so either wear a wrist strap or keep one hand in contact with the pc while handling the RAM.

Chris B
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LVL 29

Expert Comment

by:blue_zee
ID: 13645287

Video cards are also one of the main causes for random reboots.

1) Try updating the drivers;

2) Try taking it out, give it a cleanup and reinstall.

Zee
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LVL 38

Accepted Solution

by:
BillDL earned 400 total points
ID: 13646407
You might be confused by the advice about removing the heatsink/fan on your processor if yours is a Pentium II 233 MHz of the slot 1 type.  In that case, I would suggest that you leave it in place for now and just observe the fan(s) on the case that surrounds the processor.

IF the fans are clogged up with furry stuff, then buy a can of compressed air from a computer supplies company or electronic store, and blast the fluff out of the fans.  Try and hold them in one position with something like a cotton bud or plastic stick of some kind so that they don't scream around like a jet aircraft about to take off.  Don't start poking screwdrivers into the fans.

I regularly take my base units to a local engineers where they have a compressed airline that allows me to blast out the fluff from all the fans and inside the power supply unit without opening up the power supply which can store high voltages for a while after it is powered off.  The airline is one that removes condensation from the lines, so there is no risk of blasting oily water all over the motherboard, and you can also vary the pressure with the lever so as not to blast the varnish off the motherboard ;-)

If you know what you are doing, there's no harm in using the compressed airline method.  Unfortunately petrol filling stations here in the UK have now moved over to automatic tyre compressors where it only discharges air when over the valve of the type, or you could have used one of those as I have done.

Overheating is the enemy of computers but, if you have a failing power supply, then this could also be the problem.  There is a setting in most computers' CMOS Setup screens (BIOS) that affects what the computer does if it senses a power cut.  The factory setting on most is to "Restart", so even a tiny drop in power could make it think there has been a power cut.  Setting it to "Stay Off" might tell you if this is the cause.

Do you know how to boot into your CMOS Setup?
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by:_
ID: 13649818
>> not to blast the varnish off the motherboard <<    ROFL
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LVL 38

Expert Comment

by:BillDL
ID: 13649999
Yeah, those airlines can be powerful.  I heard a story about one eejit who had a cavity in his tooth that caught bits of food.  Instead of using a toothpick like most other sensible people, he decided on blowing the chomped bits of potato chips out using an airline.  He also blew his @ss clean off :-)
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LVL 13

Expert Comment

by:gonzal13
ID: 13656089
BillDLL

Those high pressure airlines are powerful to rip off wires etc. Also just a plain filter winn not remove the oil and WATER in the air stream. One would need to install a dessicant filter on the line. When compres air is released into the air the moisture in the compressed air is released.
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LVL 38

Expert Comment

by:BillDL
ID: 13658017
Yes, maybe I should retract that suggestion in case a member without relevant experience with compressed air visits an engineering factory with a very basic setup  (without the in-line filtering) and wrecks their computer.
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LVL 32

Expert Comment

by:_
ID: 13659168
>> without relevant experience <<   But that is the best way to learn.    ; D
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LVL 38

Expert Comment

by:BillDL
ID: 13660591
How to re-solder chips back onto the motherboard using a needle-point soldering iron?  :-)

NewWIN98User

Have you had a chance yet to look at the suggestions so far?
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Author Comment

by:NewWIN98User
ID: 13666112
I didnt want to post anything until I had completed all suggestions possible. I have cleaned dust and stuff before and there was never a big amount. I do not understand this statement "At this point it is essential to replace the thermal compound between the heatsink and cpu. Arctic silver is best, but with a 233 the basic white stuff will be fine."  Does that mean use like a "Lithium" based grease/ compund which is used between the parts in older autos when replacing the "module" on the distributor? I have not removed anything as suggested because I do not think I am qualified but as I said there was never a large amount of dust in any location.

Where would I enter the "CMOS setup screen"?


No restarts since this post. I will wait a few more days then give the points to BillDL I guess.Thanks.
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LVL 38

Expert Comment

by:BillDL
ID: 13669037
You are quite right not to have dismantled anything without the pre-requisite experience, although you certainly sound technically-minded enough to have done so with screenshots or a manual to follow.

Thermal interface compound comes in quite a few different types, but the principle is NOT electrical conductivity.  In fact, that's the last thing you want.  It is basically a semi-solid compound you squeeze sparingly from a tube onto the area on the top of the processor chip that makes contact with the flat base of the heatsink.

The heatsink normally comprises a block of aluminium or other metal, and is built as a series of fins.  The fan is then affixed, usually by clips, onto this item, and either blows cooler air onto or sucks the hot air off the fins.  The type that blow air into the fins tend to blow fluff down into them along with the air, and this eventually obstructs free airflow and thermally insulates the fins which are intended to dissipate the heat.

The contact points of the finned block and the flat section on the top of the processor should not have any air gaps, or the heat transfer from processor to cooling fins is less efficient.  No mass-produced metal surface is perfect, so that tiny blob of heat sink paste that was squeezed onto either of the surfaces (people use their own preferred methods) is usually scraped across one (or sometimes both) suface(s) to create a thin layer that fills the perforations like wood grain-filling paste, and the mating surface is then applied to form a perfect seal.

The hard part is knowing how much stuff to apply in a blob, and the consequences of applying too much can be overflow onto capacitors and chips around the processor.  That can either cause them to overheat or (if the paste is vaguely conductive) can cause a short-out.

The only time you would really have to consider applying heatsink compound is where the heatsink block and fan has been dislodged or deliberately removed for some reason, and you would then clean off the old stuff with lighter gas or similar, and reseat it on new stuff.

Hopefully that explains what was being referred to, and also why you made the correct decision in the circumstances.

To explain about the CMOS screen.  The main chip on your motherboard is the BIOS chip which contains permanent instructions that basically tell your system what it can and cannot do.  Immediately the computer powers up, the instructions on this BIOS chip run a Power On Self Test (P.O.S.T.) routine.  This involves checking what devices are fitted to the computer.  There is another piece of memory, in the form of a chip which is usually part of another controller chip on the motherboard, which stores quite low-level settings through which the BIOS routine can set up these pieces of hardware to work with the system software.  It is referred to as the CMOS Chip (Complimentary Metal Oxide Semiconductor) and, unlike the BIOS chip which has the instructions permanently embedded in it, the CMOS chip needs a small trickle of power (from the coin-cell battery on the motherboard) to enable it to keep the settings on it in memory while the computer is powered down.  It lasts for a couple of years, because of the low power drain, but typical symptoms of it going flat are where your computer starts up and seems to have forgotten hardware settings, date, etc.

Some Windows hardware settings can be written to this CMOS chip directly, but most of them require that this be done long before the operating system even begins to load.  Settings like the hard drive type and layout, how much of the system memory is shared with an onboard graphics chip, the order in which the boot sequence looks at the drives to see if they are bootable, and so on are all stored in the CMOS chip, and can be changed from the CMOS Setup Screen.

Different BIOS manufacturers specify different keys that have to be pressed to boot into this screen.  Common ones are DEL, F1, F2, ESC, and other strange combinations.  You have to press and hold the correct key almost as soon as the machine powers up, and you would see a screen layout that requires navigation keys to move around inside.  These are always shown somewhere on the screen, but usually you use the arrow keys, the Enter Key to explore the options for a selected setting, and sometimes you can cycle through the options using the Page Up and page Down keys.  There will always be a key like F10 to "Exit and SAVE changes", while ESC usually cycles back to the start and allows you to exit and "DISCARD changes.  These will always be shown on screen.

Your best source of specific instructions will be in the manual that relates to that computer, and the decision would be yours as to whether you felt that this was too risky to do without previous experience.  Remember that a wrong setting can stop your computer from booting up at all, or showing any display that would allow you to get back into the CMOS Screen to change the bad setting.

The setting I was suggesting is a simple one with no such associated risks, and should be quite easy to find.  There is usually a POWER "menu" or tab on the screen, and that would be the ONLY setting to change and test out.

Hope this helps to explain the suggestion and expressions used a bit more fully.
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Author Comment

by:NewWIN98User
ID: 13704263
Um ? Ok thanks.
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LVL 38

Expert Comment

by:BillDL
ID: 13707975
Thank you, NewWIN98User
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