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Computer won't stop rebooting or freezing...

I have an old IBM desktop(PIII) that started randomly(very randomly..sometimes every 10 mins, sometimes every 45 mins) rebooting..no error, no nothing..just rebooted.  I took the computer apart and tried replacing the power supply.  I thought that this fixed it as it seemed to work for a couple of hours..I unplugged it for a couple of hours, plugged it back in, and now it would either freeze or reboot as soon as it gets into windows.  

Now here's the strange thing.  Using IBM's recovery console, I can reformat and reinstall Windows 98 fine.  I have done this twice now and it has not frozen or rebooted.  

I have tried replacing the memory and hard drive, but this does not help.  I haven't been able to replace the motherboard or CPU because it's such an old computer..can't find parts in the store.

I have everything unplugged from the motherboard except the hard drive.

Why would booting into windows cause a reboot or freeze if reformatting and installing windows doesn't?  I'm really at a loss here.

Please help.  I have been working on this the ENTIRE(!) day.  Any kind of help will be great.  I'm taking a break for the first time all day but I will definitely be checking this post later tonight.
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ejoech
Asked:
ejoech
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1 Solution
 
SteveG00000Commented:
There could be a few possibilities here, the CPU fan is not cooling the CPU fully and it is overheating therefore causing it to reboot or freeze, or maybe there could be an area on the hard drive that it is struggling to read but not fully dammaged yet, of could be a faulty area on the memory chip being accessed. There are possibly other things as well but I think that these would be the main areas for concern.
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ejoechAuthor Commented:
Steve,

I thought the same things.  I let the computer sit for an hour, opened the case, turned it on in an air conditioned room and it still froze.  This also wouldn't explain why it would freeze one minute, then reformat and reinstall windows perfectly the next minute.  

I tried different hard drives and they both don't work.  I also tried a different memory chip.  

I really don't know what to do here.
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mwnnjCommented:
Hi ejoech,
you can try to check out the memory ,though you have made tests ,with memtest86+:
www.memtest.org ,and the tests should be done for about 5~6 hours at min;
i like the suggestions of Steve ,so take the IBMs low level tool and check out the disk at a low level-if there are somekind of problems ,try to fix them doing a low-level format of your hardddrive:
http://www.hitachigst.com/hdd/support/download.htm
so here are the tools ,download the drive fitness test and check your harddrive-just make firstly the tests;
cosidering it's an old pc ,you could try to cleanup any kind of dust out on your cpu's heatsink and out of the case,it should work ,that you get better air-cooling;regarding the air-cooling:do you think you have the right air cooling in your case,see this:
http://www.xoxide.com/computer-cooling.html
http://www.atruereview.com/Articles/compcool.php
http://www.atruereview.com/Articles/compcool2.php  ;
so ,get an reference Operating System ,to see if there is really a problem with your hardware:
http://www.knopper.net/knoppix/index-en.html ->no worries ,this is a very easy to use linux distribution with splendid hardware recognision,so if Knoppix fails to work ,you have definitely problem with your hardware;
also check out if your case makes shortcuts with your motherboard-take it out of the case and place it on a thick cardboard and then do the tests once more time-perhaps this time it should work;
check out your motherboard for bad capacitors:
www.badcaps.net

Cheers!
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David523Commented:
A candidate for this issue are the capacitors as suggested by mwnnj.  Especially if this is a 6578/6579 or similar model.  I have seen IBM systems with bad capacitors run DOS and early Windows OS with no programs BUT move to a current Windows OS (2000, XP) and all sorts of issues arise.

Hope this Helps!!!
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FriarTukCommented:
did you add thermal paste between the cpu & heatsink

btw, as long as your system is an atx form factor, you can purchase any new motherboard & cpu combo to replace it with

P3 - http://www.pricewatch.com/cpu/
mobo/cpu combos - http://www.pricewatch.com/motherboard_combos/
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ejoechAuthor Commented:
Memtest is running right now.  20 minutes in, no errors yet.  
Have knoppix on CD ready to go.  Thanks for the tips.
I'm not so sure I have sufficient cooling, but it is the stock setup and with the behavior I'm getting, I don't think it's the cooling.  

It is the IBM 6578.  Based on your advice David, and this strange behavior(never seen this before, never had a capacitor problem), I think it is the capacitors.  Is it worth it to replace them, especially considering i have little to no electrical experience?  It doesn't make much sense to try to replace the motherboard as the case is proprietary to the motherboard..I would either have to find parts online or go local and just build a new computer.

If it is the capacitors, I'd like to just replace them or trash the computer.

Is there anyway to put the CPU under a heavy load out of Windows??  I'd like to make it hot enough to see if it freezes or reboots..
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mwnnjCommented:
>>If it is the capacitors, I'd like to just replace them<<,this should be very difficult,cuz there are many 'parts'/electronic elements on the motherboard around the capacitors,so even if you can find good technical support it will be also not easy-peasy;
if you can find a good substitute for your mobo ,this could probably solve the problems as best,or as you meant:
just build a brand new pc ,which meets the current PC standarts,as to me this should be the best resolution;
firstly try out all the suggestion and as you manage to isolate the problem ,then we can meet the best solution for you.

Good luck!

later  
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ejoechAuthor Commented:
Knoppix wouldn't load..something about the display drivers.

Anyway, I have decided that it's the capacitors and it needs a new motherboard..so I'm just going to trash/donate it.  Even if I'm wrong with my diagnosis, it's not worth all this trouble for such an old PC!  

Thanks for your help..will definitely help me in the future.
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David523Commented:
We share the "Little to no electrical experience" but might try the replacement of the capacitors with the appreciation that failure is a strong possibility.  :-(   At least if it does not work, nothing was really lost.  If the desire is to purchase a replacement I'd monitor the following for a deal:

 http://slickdeals.net/

Hope this Helps!!!
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mwnnjCommented:
OK,thanks for the points ,but do not try to give up so fast;
if there are furthur comments you can still post them here...
as to me i think the other contributors did also a great job,so splitting points decision could be more valuable.

Good luck!
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ejoechAuthor Commented:
Yes I wanted to give points to David as well..but i am still learning the ropes to experts-exchange.  My apologies!! If I can still do so, please tell me how.

I've spent 2 full days on this already..while i may buy a replacement mobo in the future - right now it's just not worth it for me.  
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mwnnjCommented:
No problem!
if you want to do this ask the page moderator,e.g. Callandor,or you can ask the community support too:
http://www.experts-exchange.com/help.jsp#hi17 -->quite similar to your problem,but just explain there that you want to do the right points split.
http://www.experts-exchange.com/help.jsp#hi19 -->how to split points.

Nice weekend!

cu
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