New PC Problems

I have had an ongoing problem with a new PC i have purchased about six months ago. To begin with the PC would consistently loop on a reboot up to 6-7 times before loading the OS. I had the PSU, RAM & motherboard replaced at the time of the rpoblem and it seemed to fix the problem. 6 months later I now appear to have a different problem in that I get an error message when I first boot the PC saying that the windows/system32/config/system file had been rewritten and the only thing I can do is reboot. I noticed just before this happened that task manager was frequently saying that the CPU is trying to use more thn 100% resources or something similar. I have tried reformatting and reinstalling Windows XP 3 times and everytime it appears to be okay for a couple of days and than the same problem rears its ugly head! This is a extremely bare PC with only hardware drivers, anti-virus/firewall, windows updates and office installed. I have tried swapping the RAM & PSU but still no go. I think I have it down to CPU or motherboard but I would love a second opinion.
competitivecompAsked:
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Irwin SantosComputer Integration SpecialistCommented:
malware running..
Download and Install.
http://www.majorgeeks.com/HijackThis_d3155.html

Copy and paste your log to:
http://www.hijackthis.de/index.php?langselect=english
Click ANALYZE

Look for NASTIES and post your results here
-------------------
Download Ewido, http://www.ewido.net/en/download/, install, open program, check for updates, restart computer, press F8 before windows logo appears, select safe mode, open Ewido, run full system scan. let Ewido delete all it finds, if anything is called serious by Ewido, disable Norton's Goback, and run Ewido again.
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willcompCommented:
irwinpks is probably on the right track.  Guess is that you have a broadband Internet connection without a firewall (besides SP2 one) and no decent anti-spyware protection.

Try these 2 adware/spyware removal programs:

Spybot Search and Destroy - http://www.download.com/Spybot-Search-Destroy/3000-8022_4-10122137.html
Definitions update (if you can't connect to Internet) - http://www.safer-networking.org/en/download/index.html

Ad-Aware SE - http://www.download.com/3000-2144-10045910.html

Hijack This is an excellent identification tool and helps in manual removal.  The programs above are automated and user friendly.
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competitivecompAuthor Commented:
Hi Irwinpks,

I really don't think this is Malware related as the system had been wiped + formatted 3 times now and expereinced the same problems everytime. Surely this leads us down the hardware trail as opposed to software problems?
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willcompCommented:
Checked ewido and it looks promising (wasn't familar with it).  Same folks that gave us AVG.  Learn something new every day.
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Irwin SantosComputer Integration SpecialistCommented:
" first boot the PC saying that the windows/system32/config/system file had been rewritten"
My response was based on that.

ok.. how about this...

chkdsk /r
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competitivecompAuthor Commented:
I have Zone Alarm security suite running and updates are all up to date - There is definetly no bugs on the system as it is patched with all winodws updates and it had had good anti-virus firewall sine the moment it was born!
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competitivecompAuthor Commented:
I can't do the chkdsk/r till later tonight but I did do that the first time it happened and it said it found and fixed 2 errors but still the same problem on next reboot!
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r-kCommented:
" windows/system32/config/system"

I think that means the Registry is damaged. If you can rule out RAM then I would suspect the disk next.
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willcompCommented:
If you don't have an unprotected broadband connection, you may be correct.  But check for nasties first.

I'm assuming you just get a BSOD or a reboot (depending on reboot on error settings).  That's a corrupt System hive in the Registry.
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Irwin SantosComputer Integration SpecialistCommented:
"I have Zone Alarm security suite running and updates are all up to date - There is definetly no bugs on the system as it is patched with all winodws updates and it had had good anti-virus firewall sine the moment it was born!"

A double-check with another software doesn't hurt.  At this point, what do you want to do?  we can speculate, but if you don't apply any comments, then it would be hard to determine.
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competitivecompAuthor Commented:
I don't mind applying comments it is just that I am 99% sure this has nothing do with software or bugs. I am trying to see whether anyone has had similar problems that have been hardware related. I don't want to have to go and buy a new CPU or motherboard if that isn't the problem. i have scanned the PC with AVG and Microsoft Anti-Spyware in conjunction with Zone Alarm which also has a spyware removal function and there is no evidence of bugs. Lastly beofre it crashed the PC wouldn't let me save anything either whether it be photos, e-mails, wod docs etc. i think I will try new HDD next if no one has had similar issues with hardware causing these types of errors.
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Irwin SantosComputer Integration SpecialistCommented:
@competitivecomp.....it's a process of elimination....so get to work my friend :-)
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willcompCommented:
chkdsk cannot repair the registry.  You are somehow getting a corrupted registry hive.  Test hard disk thoroughly, could be a weak sector and registry keeps getting written to same area on disk.

Spinrite would be best tool if you have access to a copy.  Manufacturer's utilities are better than nothing.  Norton Disk Doctor is OK.  Some others may have additional tools that are available for download.

Another trick is to bypass weak sectors by partitioning the drive with a 2GB or so first partition left unformatted and XP installed on second partition.
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PCBONEZCommented:
I'm curious that as you supposedly formatted and reinstalled the OS at what point you went online to update your OS and spyware..
I've had a virus hit DURING updates..
If a hacker or hacking program has pegged your IP you may be getting hit several times a minute as soon as you have a connection.
.
And if you indeed did a fresh install then this file would not show up as rewritten because there would be no record on the drive of an older version.
.
Did you only do a restore?
.
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Mohammed HamadaSenior IT ConsultantCommented:
>>>>> the OS. I had the PSU, RAM & motherboard replaced at the time of the rpoblem...

You haven't replaced the VGA yet ????
I guess this is the main problem here, try to swap it with a used one... I also suggest that you try and check your HDD Cable, If you are on SATA, try to check if the cable is not scratched or being wrapped..
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competitivecompAuthor Commented:
Complete format each time PCBONEZ and also installed anti virus & anti spyware + Firewall via network before connecting to internet to get updates.

I have not replaced the VGA yet Moh10ly and I will check the Sata cable when I get home. Why you so sure its VGA card?
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Mohammed HamadaSenior IT ConsultantCommented:
Because you have replaced everything and formatted 3 times, so no more choices left ...!!!
But still not that sure, Might be something else that's why i suggested to check on your SATA cable.
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PCBONEZCommented:
This is a looloo but you might wanna read it...
Is Win2K but it's a case where a video card did exactly as you seem to be experiencing..
http://www.windowsitpro.com/Articles/Index.cfm?ArticleID=38841%26DisplayTab=Article
.
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PCBONEZCommented:
But this person didn't format ...

After reading all this again I think your drive is going south...
Not sure why.. But you keep getting corrupt files (or the drive can't find them).
Possibly a bad disk surface?
Boot record is corrupt?
Fault that causes head alignment to shift?

I would not just format but write zeros to the disk and start all the way back with new partitions.
Then format it and run scandisk or equivilent in surface check mode.

This will write zeros. (Is free, fits on a floppy.)
http://www.killdisk.com/
There are others around.

"Writting zeros" is basically what they used to call to "Low Level Format.
.
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David523Commented:
As willcomp and PCBONEZ have suggest this has a good chance of being a hard drive which is going bad.  Following the hardware replacement all the software attempts to resolve this issue a weak sector on the hard drive could create an intermittent issue as you have described.  Running diagnostics may or may not recognize a problem but monitoring the diagnostics running could help to identify a problem as it may sputter as it goes across.  I have run diagnostics on a hard drive with a suspected problem continuously for several days and finally the hard drive breaks.  Diagnostics aren't perfect and we adapt - overcome!  LOL

Hope this Helps!!!
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Irwin SantosComputer Integration SpecialistCommented:
@competitivecomp...comments have you applied so far?
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competitivecompAuthor Commented:
Thanks everyone for there posts I will try a new HDD tonight with a complete format reinstall of OS etc. I will than run the killdisk program against the suspect HDD.
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willcompCommented:
killdisk will completely wipe the drive but won't provide indication of weak sectors unless it has features I'm not aware of.  Spinrite is best tool for that job.  By a weak sector, mean one that formats but deteriorates with use.
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Irwin SantosComputer Integration SpecialistCommented:
hmmm....what happened to the systematic approach?
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PCBONEZCommented:
That went out on this one in favor of the smoking gun approach.
.
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competitivecompAuthor Commented:
AS I said in my previous posts I highly doubt this has anything do do with software which is why I am going to try a new HDD first. My network consists of 4 machines which I have never had a problem with bugs or viruses. The machine in question has been part of the same setup and I don't want to spend large amounts of time looking for software problems when I don't believe this is the issue. I apprecitae everyone comments but I woudl prefer to go down the hardware road first as the PC has been so inconsistent. thanks again and I will keep you posted on the success of the HDD?
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PCBONEZCommented:
@competitivecomp . My comment was in support of your chosen path.
A drive that's reformated 3 times and forgets what's on it two days later each time sounds like a smoking gun to me.
Particularly,,, when the Motherboard, RAM, and PSU have been replaced already. .
How more systematic can you be?????
.
There is a slight chance you have a boot sector virus but those are rare and writting zeros would kill it anyway.
.
Given what the drive seems to be doing Willcomp's suggested tool may be a better choice for this drive than the one I suggested but I've personally never used it.
.
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willcompCommented:
As you probably have gathered, I'm with PCBONEZ on this one.  Initial response (malware) was based on fact that I see so much of it and it can affect disk read/writes.

SpinRite has been around since DOS days.  It is still the best hard disk diagnostic and maintenance tool I've seen.  Can take hours to run though.  PCBONEZ, recommend you get your hands on a copy and give it a try.

Still may not be the hard disk, but it sure appears to be the culprit at this point.
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Irwin SantosComputer Integration SpecialistCommented:
@willcomp....[cough] "Ahem!"  ;-)
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Mohammed HamadaSenior IT ConsultantCommented:
Well competitivecomp, I guess you are right, as it'll never be that you format 3 times and then you'll have the same malware or virus...!!!

But you should make sure that every built-in piece of your hardware in the motherboard is disabled such as if you have a built-in sound or USB... etc

This will make it easier to you to have a fewer options than replacing each with newr ones...

Good luck
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mysticaldanCommented:
Try reformatting the system with FAT32 instead of NTFS or vice versa than the file system you currently have. Is there any chace that a rogue program on other networked PC's might be causing this problem? Try unhooking your system from the network and then see if the problem persists. If its something on your system the problem will reoccur. However if its from the network then it wont.

Also try and not install SP2 if you are doing that.Since you have pinned it down to the hardware there is no harm in letting it be standalone for a few days and se what happens. Normally 100% CPU usage can also come if you were part of a huge ping flood or something similar. Maybe going off the network for a few days will clear this line of thought. Also is your system BIOS updated and system drivers current? Maybe its a memory leak due to a faulty program. Try uninstalling the firewall and antivirus and see if the problem reoccurs. I have seen enought problems caused byt these programs itself than anything else so give it a shot.

Dan
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aba3000Commented:
What is the specs of your computer? What power supply you have? I hope that you have a good power supply and is not crossing the power threshold.

f you have crash dump files (they are localized in c:\windows\minidump), upload them here http://ezshare.de/ and send to us the link, to help checking your problem.

Check your memory with memtest 86+ http://www.memtest.org/  - direct link to burn the iso image http://www.memtest.org/download/1.65/memtest86+-1.65.iso.zip. Extract and burn opening the image in softwares like Nero (don't just move the file) using Open -> Image or just Open comand. Let the test run for a cycle or more, i suggest one hour or more if you can do.

You can test the psu using Prime95 (http://mersenne.org/gimps/p95v2414.exe). My suggestion is run the software in safe mode (press F8 before loading Windows XP).  After open the program, go to Options -> Torture Test - In Place Large FFTs. Let the program run for 2 or 3 hours, or more if you wish. If the program encounter a error, they will stop.

Hard disks can be checked with the program of manufacturer.
Seagate: http://www.seagate.com/support/seatools/
Maxtor: http://www.maxtor.com/portal/site/Maxtor/menuitem.3c67e325e0a6b1f6294198b091346068/?channelpath=/en_us/Support/Software%20Downloads/Top%20Downloads&downloadID=113
Samsung: http://www.samsung.com/Products/HardDiskDrive/utilities/hutil.htm
Western Digital: http://support.wdc.com/download/index.asp?cxml=n&pid=999&swid=3

Or you can download UBCD, a bootable cd that contain several utilities, between them hard disk tests/manager.
http://www.ultimatebootcd.com/download.html

In task manager, what program is using all resources? This happen in safe mode?
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David523Commented:
:-)
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Mohammed HamadaSenior IT ConsultantCommented:
Split ?
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Irwin SantosComputer Integration SpecialistCommented:
split..just for the effort.
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