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Computer Restarting Itself but Works Fine at the Computer Shop (grrr).    :)

Posted on 2007-03-20
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Last Modified: 2008-03-17
I built a new computer 2 weeks ago (new motherobard, CPU, Memory, Video Card, Case).  Everything worked great for the first day.  I laid the desktop on its side to remove the feet of the case so it would fit into my desk.  When I went to turn the computer back on it refused to power on.  I took it to a local computer shop and they quickly identified the problem as a dead power supply.  They put in a nice new 650w power supply and they hooked it up at the shop to a LCD, Keyboard and Mouse and everything worked fine.  I took it home last night and again everything worked fine.  Since it was in the shop for a week there were some new AVG virus definitions and Microsoft updates that it wanted to download which I did.  After restarting the computer because of the updates, within about 5 minutes the computer rebooted automatically and it wouldn't get past the BIOS.  I restarted the computer several times and it wouldn't get past the BIOS.  I couldn't even hit the "Del" key on the keyboard to go into the BIOS, it just seems frozen.  I tried hooking up a wired keyboard and it still wouldn't let me get into the BIOS and it still wouldn't load (I have a MS keyboard/mouse).  I went to get some dinner and came back to the computer and when I turned it on it loaded just fine.  Within about 5-10 minutes I would get a blue screen of death telling me that there was an error with system32.sys or something like that (not sure...didn't write it down).  Then after it errors out it won't get past the BIOS.  After you let it sit you can get into the BIOS and it is seeing all of my drives, the CPU, memory and then it loads windows just fine (for about 5 mins) and then restarts automatically.  I enabled the memory check within the BIOS and it checked out just fine.  So after a long night of trying to figure out what was causing it I turned it on this morning after being off all night.  I turned it on and within about 5 minutes it didn't blue screen, it just restarted and wouldn't get past the BIOS.  

So I took it to the same computer shop today to ask their help and they said it was OS related and when we booted it up at the shop it never restarted on its own (after about 10 minutes) and of course everything worked just fine.  He said my registry might be corrupt or that my mouse/keyboard might be faulty even though I tried 2 keyboards (one wired and one wireless).  In the shop he also noticed that the hard drive kept spinning (even after 10 minutes) when we weren't doing anything requiring retrieving any files which puzzled him and he said I should do a XP repair.  I am going to of course take it back home tonight to see what it does and only hook up VGA, keyboard and mouse and see if I am still having problems.  I haven't yet tried booting into Safe mode to see if I still have an issue but what puzzles me is why I can't get past the BIOS after it restarts itself and I can't even get into the BIOS until I let it sit turned off.  The BIOS isn't giving me any error codes other than just a single normal short beep that I have always heard when it first powers on after about 10 seconds.  The case has a hard drive and CPU temperature reading which the computer store setup which is ready 34/35c for the CPU and 31 for the hard drive and the computer shop said it is definitely running cool and isn't over heating.  The computer shop is saying that the hardware seems fine but I wanted to get a second oppinion.

Does anyone have any advice or can you advise on how I can further troubleshoot this?  Thank you!
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Question by:xcusmwah
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KCTS earned 75 total points
ID: 18758039
Run a memory test using a diagnostic like memtest on the Ultimate boot CD http://www.ultimatebootcd.com/download.html. intermittent memory errors can cause this sort of thing.
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by:PUNKY
ID: 18758055
I would take the board out of the case, place on cardboard and install minimum hardware (video, memory, hard drive) and do the test.
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by:Mark
ID: 18758715
Barring a problem with the memory, The constant spinning of the hard drive and the possibility of a corruption in the system32 file could be an indication of the hard drive having problems. There are hard drive diagnostics on the UBCD that KCTS linked to earlier. If your not sure of the manufacturer just use the Hitachi Fitness test.
If that is clear of problems , then XP may be corrupted,
Try starting up with a knoppix cd. This will eliminate the hard drive as it only loads to memory. It will run a linux distribution that is independant of XP from the cd.
http://www.knopper.net/knoppix/index-en.html
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by:willcomp
ID: 18758760
What you are experiencing is typical of a heat related issue (component overheating).  Another possibility is a faulty capacitor.  The tell-tale behavior is that it will boot when cool but not at operating temperature.

It is most likely not an OS problem if you cannot enter BIOS setup.  To assist in troubleshooting, disconnect hard disk and boot from a bootable CD (UBCD recommended by KCTS would be good) and allow to run.  If you use UBCD, run memory and CPU tests.  Another good boot CD is Knoppix.

Reason for disconnecting hard disk is to remove it from equation.  You may have a faulty or overheating hard disk.
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by:willcomp
ID: 18758773
Sparkmaker -- sorry about the overlap.  Customer came in while I was preparing response or I would have reversed our roles :)
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by:Mark
ID: 18758791
Of course, no problem willcomp. Customers always come first.
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by:f-king
ID: 18762678
Hi
Wonder if its not power related.
Have you had any power spikes lately or power shortages?
Try a different power cable or outlet in a different room and see what happens.
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by:nobus
ID: 18762712
if it works at the shop, and not at home, i suspect an environment issue; check the AC rails if they are stable, and also if you have a good grounding.
Strong Emitters and fields can cause havoc too
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by:DanCh99
ID: 18763752
various powerstrips can smooth out the current from the wall that may help.  

Using a bootable CD like Knoppix or Bart PE would rule out a software issue, or you could leave it at the BIOS screen for several hours to see if it's heat related (although the system will not be fully stressed by this).  

Oh, and the CPU is seated properly, yes?  Just wondering why it started after you moved the case...

The last option is that the bad PSU also took out the mobo (and possibly CPU too)
hth, Danny
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Author Comment

by:xcusmwah
ID: 18768214
****Update*****
Hi everyone, thanks for the great tips.  Last night the same even happened where I was checking some of my favorite web sites and after approximately 15 minutes the computer suddenly restarted and wouldn't get past the BIOS.  I was able to run the ultimate boot CD as recommended by KCTS (nice little app...thx).  I ran the memory test as he/she recommended and so far have found that one stick of memory is producing errors.  The test seems to take a while to run so I left it running this morning so we'll see what I get later tonight when I am home.  I left it running for about 15-20 minutes and it was about 70% complete without any errors but I wanted it to get through the whole test before trying to boot it back up with a hard drive.  If the memory test goes well with the 512MB stick I'll see if I still get the sudden reboots any longer (wish me luck).  The interesting thing here is that with the ultimate boot CD I am not seeing the sudden restarts which is a very good thing but let me try to run some more tests for you tonight.  

Since I am still troubleshooting exactly what may be causing the sudden reboots let me ask this:  besides memory would a damaged CPU or motherboard from the power supply going out cause this sort of behavior?  I could understand memory but if a CPU or motherboard get a spike of current would it just "fry" the components or do you think memory is the culprit in this instance?  If I still get the reboot issue tonight I'll try Knoppix as well and see what it produces.  Also, as far as power strips and wiring...I did try another outlet and cord but the same result occured.  Thanks again everyone, fantastic advise.
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by:willcomp
willcomp earned 50 total points
ID: 18768375
After testing memory, boot from a Knoppix CD with hard disk disconnected and see if system is stable.  You can surf the net using Firefox provided you connect via a NIC.

I'd suspect either memory or hard disk rather than motherboard given behavior.  Symptoms point more toward hard disk.
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by:xcusmwah
ID: 18768773
Update, just got home and the one stick of memory doesn't have any errors so I am using it to get into XP.  The system rebooted almost 10 minutes into my session but surprisingly it let me get right back to XP.  Each time it recovers it says Windows recovered from a serious error.  Below are the two versions I have received so far today.  Not sure if there is any way to decipher this.  Will try Knoppix without hard drive connected next.  Thanks Willcomp.

BCCode : 10000050     BCP1 : 891282F4     BCP2 : 00000000     BCP3 : BF80185E
BCP4 : 00000000     OSVer : 5_1_2600     SP : 2_0     Product : 768_1    

BCCode : 1000000a     BCP1 : FFFFFFB0     BCP2 : 0000001C     BCP3 : 00000001
BCP4 : 80501461     OSVer : 5_1_2600     SP : 2_0     Product : 768_1  
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by:nobus
ID: 18769661
check the power you need here :
http://extreme.outervision.com/psucalculator.jsp
or try anothe rpower supply
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by:xcusmwah
ID: 18772070
Update -
I did the Hitachi hard drive advanced test and it passed.  I was not able to run Knoppix.  I could get Knoppix to start but after about 2-3 minutes I got to a point where my monitor just said "Out of Range" and wouldn't display anything.  I have a really good video card and my LCD's maximum resolution is 1280x1024 so I'm not sure what resolution it is trying to default me to but it appears it is beyond what my LCD can display and I'm not sure how to resolve that.  The power supply is 650w and all I have connected is a dual core CPU, video card, 10,000 RPM hard drive and CD-ROM.  After taking out the stick of memory that had errors the computer is retarting much less frequently.  Last night it was rebooting after about 2 hours which is a big improvement from every 10-15 minutes.  Since I am having troubles with Knoppix, would booting into XP safe mode help at all?  I can stay in the BIOS as long as I want and it doesn't restart the computer so perhaps at this point is is XP related.  This morning I also found the option to disable Windows from rebooting on error so not sure if that will help.  Getting a little closer at least...
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by:willcomp
ID: 18773212
Until Windows loads, you are only using the lower 640K (or less) of RAM.  Any faulty memory above 640K will not cause problems until an OS loads that utilizes all the memory available.

So, maybe it's XP, maybe it's memory, or maybe someting entirely different.

"I can't even get into the BIOS until I let it sit turned off" --> is that still the case?
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by:xcusmwah
ID: 18773598
HI willcomp - thanks.  I can now get past the BIOS after the computer automatically restarts each time without any delay.  In other words, from a cold or warm boot I can breeze right past the BIOS screen without it freezing like it was.  I am going to return the memory this weekend and we'll also see if 2 new sticks resolves this problem permanently even though the one stick didn't report any errors via the ultimate boot cd memory test.

If anyone has any ideas on how I can get Knoppix to not make my resolution go beyond my LCD's maximum that would be great too.  Thank you
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by:jimilica
ID: 18821882
My opinion is that you have problems with the power supply or the power in your house (or in the room). If you say that in the shop works fine. Try moving it in a different room and see if it does the same. How many consumers do you have connected on  in your room?
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by:cwteoh
ID: 18822285
I have the same problem at home as well, I did not fix it, but I tried to aviod it happened again. Here's my style.
1) Reduce any additional full time loading device (HDDs,Fans,USB devices) attached into the CPU.
2) You can not operate any high resolution graphic application software like playing 3D games, watch DVD.

 Your problem might be insufficient power supply to your CPU. Try to get a external PSU regulator to stable the incoming power and change the hi loading power supply.
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Author Comment

by:xcusmwah
ID: 18832205
Hi everyone, FYI...turns out it was memory.  I put a new stick of memory in and everything has been stable for about a week now.  Thank you!
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