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Unstable PC - CHKDSK is deleting my system files (running Windows XP Home)

I have a fairly new AMD X2 4000+ machine running Windows XP Home that seems fairly unstable. Sometimes it will lock up when I log in to Windows, and nothing but the mouse cursor works (can't even click on anything, and typing doesn't do anything).

When this happens, a reboot doesn't seem to fix the problem, however turning the power to the machine off for a minute seems to make it work again (learnt this trick deal with Dell PC's at work with faulty capacitors on the motherboard).

Anyway, about 3 times a CHKDSK has kicked off automatically during boot-up (not actually sure if it was straight after one of the occurrences described above) and fixed issues with file system indexes by deleting files, including a system file COMRes.dll (which is causing all sorts of annoyance - have logged a separate question on how to replace that). I've run a CHKDSK /r manually to do a thorough check of the hard disk but that didn't find any issues.

The key question is what could be causing CHKDSK to delete files? If it's likely to be a hard disk issue, then it would be great if someone could suggest a free diagnosis program I could run to find out more.

Thanks heaps in advance!
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Terry Woods
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Terry Woods
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5 Solutions
 
Shift-3Commented:
All of the major drive manufacturers have diagnostic software available for download on their websites.  Get the appropriate program for your drive, run the most thorough scan available, and note down any error codes.  These can be useful if you have to contact the manufacturer for a warranty replacement.
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kulvinder_10Commented:
I guess may be your HDD is bad,
Try to run MHDD utility it is freely available from internet in FDD or CD Format.

it is a very good utility for testing HDD, i am using it from last 2 years.

http://www.softpedia.com/get/System/Hard-Disk-Utils/MHDD.shtml

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nobusCommented:
i suggest to use the manufacturers diagnostic :  http://www.tacktech.com/display.cfm?ttid=287

As for the rest, i suggest to look into what is locking up your system - did you check the event viewer ?
you can diagnose also by disabling items at startup :
type msconfig in the run box, then :
-in startup tab, click diasable all
-in services tab, click hide MS services, then click disable all
reboot and test

or test by disconnecting devices
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c661jmbCommented:
Again, most problems such as yours tend to fall on BAD RAM.

Download memtest86 - http://www.memtest86.com/download.html

get that running and see what results you get. If a file is corrupted it may be because the system has not shut down correctly.

Given the other symptoms that you have described I would seriously consider this option.

Also check the CPU for any overheating due to bad fan, heatsink not seated correctly or even a bad PSU. If the PSU is a cheap one that came with the case then I would seriously recommend that you purchase a decent PSU.

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Terry WoodsIT GuruAuthor Commented:
Thanks for the suggestions everyone. HDD is a Seagate, so have run "Seatools" utility from the Seagate website, and it didn't find any problems.

Will try some of the other suggestions soon.
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Terry WoodsIT GuruAuthor Commented:
Sorry about the slow responses - have a young baby, so I don't get much spare time for this.

I've tried memtest86, and it found a whole heap of errors then froze up. I then tried Microsoft Memory Diagnostic, and ran through an extended test, which found no problems at all. I'm beginning to wonder if maybe it's a dodgy motherboard. I couldn't see any diagnostic tools on the Gigabyte website (the motherboard manufacturer) - just a firmware/driver check/update tool, which didn't really do much.

One thing that's most important to me at the moment - is there any way of viewing a log which could tell me which files chkdsk deleted?
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c661jmbCommented:
If memtest is giving you errors then believe me, that is your problem. The Microsoft Memory diagnostics is complete garbage.

I would trust memtest any time. As would most other experts on here I am sure.

One thing you could try.

Take the memory out of the PC, ensure that the sockets are clean. then carfully using a pencil erasor, clean the contacts of the ram modules. then refit.

Try memtest again and if it fails then you need to change the memory.

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nobusCommented:
test the modules 1 by 1 to know the bad one
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Terry WoodsIT GuruAuthor Commented:
I've asked the question about a chkdsk log as a separate question here:
http://www.experts-exchange.com/OS/Microsoft_Operating_Systems/Windows/XP/Q_23019482.html
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Terry WoodsIT GuruAuthor Commented:
Thanks all for your help!
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Terry WoodsIT GuruAuthor Commented:
Unfortunately (I think) none of the diagnostic tools came up with any hardware issues, so I'm still not really sure what the underlying cause of my issues is. When chkdsk deletes files, it appears to leave an entry from source "disk" in the event viewer, but with insufficient details to see which files were deleted.

My issues have gotten worse, and now the PC gives a "disk read error" upon boot up. Both memtest86 and MHDD still fail to find any issues with the RAM and HDD respectively, so maybe the data has become corrupted on the HDD through some other means. I will have to recover the data that I can (still have to find a tool for that), then reinstall Windows XP Home, then hope that the issues don't recur. Still have a few other things to try too though, like using an eraser on the RAM contacts. Strange (and annoying) that everything seems to pass diagnostic tests... it would be far easier if I could just replace a bit of hardware.
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