Freeze up in Vista, locks up when idle

My desktop has had problems freezing up when idle (Screen just freezes as it is, and doesn't respond to Ctrl-Alt-Del).  I have tried to figure out why many times, and sometimes I think I have figured it out, but then it happens again.  Now it is doing it after just a few moments of being idle, or perhaps idleness isn't even playing a factor anymore, I don't know.  Is there some utility out there that can run in background that logs what is going on, so that when I freeze up, I can reboot and then go look at a log that will tell me what was causing the freeze-up?  
DanielEllisAsked:
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rindiConnect With a Mentor Commented:
Check the CPU isn't overheating, clean out dust and make sure the fans are running. I'd also remove the heatsink from the CPU,clean it's and the CPU's surface very thoroughly, then apply a very small amount of thermal transfer paste and firmly reattach the heatsink.

Test the RAM using memtest96+ and also test the disks using the manufacturer's utility, both of which you'll find on the UBCD.

http://ultimatebootcd.com

If all that doesn't help, check your system for malware. Apart from using your normal AV software, also run adaware, spybot S&D and superantispyware.

http://lavasoft.com/
http://www.safer-networking.org/en/download/
http://www.superantispyware.com/
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lauchangkwangCommented:
(Go to Start >  Setting > Control Panel) or (Start > Control Panel) .... Click on Administrator Tools > Event Viewver ...... Try to search back the error causes your PC freezing, then you might able to get some clue what causing of this .......  
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DanielEllisAuthor Commented:
Ok, time for an update.  Thanks rindi for starting me right at the basics.  Those links are great links to diagnostic tools.  RAM checks out good.  Hard drives check out fine too.  I didn't pull the CPU yet, but I did pull the side cover off the case and verified that all the fans were working.  Not really very much dust, since I do suck/blow it out regularly.  But, the funny thing is, every since I have had the side cover off, I have not frozen up.  With the added air flow that can get in there with the cover off, I'm thinking that the CPU is able to stay just cool enough now.  Does that make sense to you?  So now I am going to take off the heat shield and clean everything good like you said, re-goop the heatsink onto the CPU, and see if I can stay unfrozen with the cover on.  I'll let you know.   If my repeated freeze-ups end up being caused by the CPU overheating, have I potentially permanently compromised the stability of my CPU?
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rindiCommented:
It does look like overheating. Whether you have permanently compromised the CPU through regular overheating depends on the age of it and the technology used. Today's models have overtemp shutdown features builtin, which will protect the CPU. Older ones didn't have that builtin and can be permanently damaged,
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DanielEllisAuthor Commented:
I bought this Pentium 4 new in September of 2005.  Is that new enough?
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rindiCommented:
Should be. Pentium 4 is new enough.
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lauchangkwangCommented:
Agree .... should be overheating issue ...... make sure tha circulation inside the PC is correct ..... Don't put a fan behind your CPU and just blow it to your CPU, it (the fan) will just blow back the hot air back to your CPU, thus the fan design inside the CPU to blow out the hot air is useless / not 100% functioning as what is needs at all .....
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dbaldwin2008Commented:
I dont feel as though its an overheating issue. I too think the PC is new enough that it would shut down when it begins to over heat. P4 most certainly has this feature after many lawsuits.

I strongly feel it is your power settings in the control panel you can go to display and check you power setting, I would turn these seetings off completly and also it would be wise to turn off your screen saver as this may be causing the problem as well.
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DanielEllisAuthor Commented:
I'm going to accept rindi's original solution.  I have not frozen up at all since I cleaned up and reinstalled the heat sink on the CPU.  Thanks for for suggestions dbaldwin2008, but I was suspicious of that too at first, so I did just what you said a long time ago, and it didn't make any difference, so I ruled that out as the cause.  Thanks everyone for your input!   Now I will post my next question on why my Ring Central phone answering console can't get past my firewall.
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DanielEllisAuthor Commented:
Thanks again rindi.  Those diagnostic app links were an added bonus for me!  Quick response too.  I really appreciate it.
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rindiCommented:
Your welcome
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