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Windows XP dies in an instant, logged out of home page, power to pc ok = ??

computer cutoff Monday around 8:30 am and was fine the rest of that day and Tuesday. Then Wed. it cutoff two times in a 30 minute span, late afternoon.
When I say cutoff, I'm not sure what is happening. Monday I heard a clicking sound in my tower before my monitor went blank. I thought surge protector and looked that way. It was on. I looked back at lights for the modem, pc, and monitor and all were on.
I had to manually turn the pc off and reboot. Once I did, I noticed I was not logged into my home page, so it seems like something is shutting down Windows XP and also logging me out of some sites. I've never had a virus do this and have had several viruses and malware attacks but nothing like this. Monday the inside temp. was about 40 degrees. It's been that way for 8 years and never any shutdown. Someone said, hard drives can act up with temp. variations and especially under 41 degrees. I've lost a couple mother boards. I've lost one hard drive (well the system would not boot to let me get data off the hard drive). I've got this pc in the shop and so far they have not found anything. Yesterday when it cutoff, or immediately stopped Windows XP, I immediately looked at my monitor and pc lights. I'm not losing power to my computer for an instant. Maybe something else. It's so cold on bootup, a noise in my system sounding like the summer time fan that comes on. So far we have two opinions. One is that the hard drive has a condensation problem due to 40 degree temperature parts, turning on and heating up. The guy in the shop says he has never seen a hard drive go like that.
Any ideas?
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nickg5
Asked:
nickg5
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3 Solutions
 
Neil RussellTechnical Development LeadCommented:
Clicking sound in tower normally says hard drive. Hard drive faults can present in many ways, including systems just freezing on you.
 
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Mike_CarrollCommented:
Hard drives can do mad things groans, whines, whistles, rattles, clunks and clicks... the can also cause trouble intermittently. Test with a decent drive diagnostics program like Hitachi DFT http://www.hitachigst.com/hdd/support/download.htm

Check that the cooling fan(s) are working properly and run diagnostics on the processor.

My money is on the hard drive though.
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nickg5Author Commented:
would cooling fans be an issue here in the winter? My place is not very cool in the summer and my cooling fans stay on alot.
A sound, like my coooling fans, is heard each of the last few mornings because outside it has been 20 degrees and inside about 40 degrees but the sound goes away quickly, same sound as my cooling fans during summer.

If it is the hard drive and the fact that is boots up, does that allow the data to be moved to a new hard drive? How long does it take to transfer data? What if it cuts off in the middle of a transfer?
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Mike_CarrollCommented:
An overheating processor also does mad things... so don't rule it out just yet.

Yep, when it boots start moving the data to a new drive. I can't give you an accurate estimate on recovery time... depends on the machine and what software you user to do the transfer. If it cuts off in the middle of a transfer, you pull the power, let it cool down and go again the minute you power it up again, with the same destination drive.

In general, I find that the cooler you can keep the drive, the better your chances of recovering the data. Practically speaking, there's a lot more involved but I generally go by experience.

Run the DFT and see what it comes back with.
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nickg5Author Commented:
ok, the shop has the pc, I'll have to get it back to run DFT or suggest it to them.
I'm inheriting a Vista machine and though my other one is only 26 months old, it might not be worth fixing, I've never bought a hard drive. It would be a good 2nd computer.
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nobusCommented:
it can be a Power supply failure , mostly caused by bad capacitors.
look for swollen or leaking ones
google your mobo model and PS model for bad capacitors
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nickg5Author Commented:
it's in the shop for free diagnosis.
3 days and no word. They claim a 5 day turnaround time.
I need to the data so I hope the hard drive is fine.
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nickg5Author Commented:
my previous pc that had to be trashed in Nov. 2007 was told to me to have a bad capacitor and not worth a fix. So, the current computer in the shop is only 2 years and 2 months old. Ho hum, another mother board issue?
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nobusCommented:
it's impossible to tell like that; nearly anything can be the cause.
you can google your motherboard model, and PS to check if it is known for trouble
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nickg5Author Commented:
The shop with free diagnosis has had the pc since last Thursday. They let it run all the time. It never cut off. They said there are no bad capacitors or issues with the computer. Slightly disappointed, as it might cut off on me again and again and......
They suggested a $40 battery backup instead of a surge protector, from Office Depot. Plug the pc into the battery backup and that into the wall directly. Then, if it cuts off again, it can be traced to the computer and not a power surge etc. that might not have been noticed with dimming of over head lights, etc.
They said if after trying a battery backup and it cuts off again...then "back to war".
The head tech said he ran a server in 15 degree weather and had no issues.

I do not have a floppy drive now for data backup, and I do not know how to backup using a disc, having not burned a disc in years so maybe I should learn. It's my Outlook Express contents and all the files which I store on my desktop. Other than that, nothing would be lost with a dead hard drive.
All programs were free ones, AVG, Malwarebytes, Combofix, 3-4 different media players, etc.
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nickg5Author Commented:
http://www.hitachigst.com/hdd/support/download.htm

I'll try the above myself since the pc was in the shop when it was suggested
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nobusCommented:
i suggest using usb flash sticks; they are relativekly cheap, and in sizes of more than  16 GB.
much easier, and trustworthy than floppies
AND reusable, like floppies.
another solution is an USB disk drive (larger, - and costs more)
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nobusCommented:
but on your problem : if it does not do it at the shop, your PS "can" be a candidate still -  but also, as they said, your AC supply -  worth checking it out
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