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bbaumbergerFlag for United States of America

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Windows 7 SP1 Random System Crashes

My client’s Dell Inspiron 580 has been in service for about 10 months.  For the past several months, she has encountered random system crashes during normal use (web browsing, email, etc.).  The system is running Windows 7.  As of three weeks ago, I did a comprehensive review of the computer, installing updated BIOS and all current drivers.  The random crashes continued.  On March 2, 2011, I contacted Dell to diagnose the problem.  They ran the basic diagnostics, all of which passed, and concluded that it had to be an NTFS problem and we should simply reinstall, starting with their recovery CDs.  Naturally, I was less than thrilled about that option without having conclusive evidence that reinstallation would actually cure the random crash issue.

In view of the recent release of Windows 7 SP1, I decided to install it to see if it would stabilize the computer.  At the same time, I installed Norton 360 Premier Edition Version 5.  Other software includes MS Office 2003 (yes, it’s time to upgrade), Adobe Premiere and Photoshop Elements, iTunes, Google Earth, Picasa – overall, a very basic home configuration. Upon completion of the SP1 and Norton upgrades, I ran a CHKDSK that, as far as I know, did not uncover any hard drive problems.

Today, March 4, 2011, I started to exercise the computer by running a series of full Norton 360 scans.  The attached Word document is the summary from WhoCrashed.  As you will see, the system has crashed four times, all in a relatively short period.  Each crash occurred during a full Norton scan, yet there are some differences in Stop Codes.
I am interested in developing an accurate definition of the problem before plunging into major activity, such as reinstalling the software, replacing the hard drive, etc.  I will provide any additional technical information that will help with the diagnosis and am available for phone consultation.

As always, I will be appreciative of the guidance from Experts Exchange.
Avatar of optoma
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Start with downloading UBCD. Boot machine to UBCD and run MemTest for at least 3 passess
When you say crashed, did you get a BSOD or did it just stop responding as in the screen froze and became unusable?
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As I recall, each of the crashes referenced in the report included a BSOD.  Since then, I have experienced a few crashes without the BSOD - just a black screen, then reboot automatically.  Most recently, at 10:05 CST, while copying user files to an external backup drive, the computer crashed, no BSOD.  The Who Crashed report stated "MEMORY MANAGEMENT" and suggested the NTOSKRNL.EXE as being responsible.  
go with optoma's suggestion then report back mate. Of course you have checked the event log for suspicious issues around the crash time?
I would suggest downloading the windows debugging tools and analysing the minidumps created by the BSOD. Remember to add the symbol path when doing so.

That will give you the exact cause and will allow you to make a decision from there.

Hope this helps
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The computer is running Windows Home Premium 64 bit with SP 1.  8GB of original memory.  No hardware changed or added to orginal configuration.  
I know it's an off the shelf system but I had had problems with 8 GB of RAM in one of my machines and it went away when I pull out 4 GB, try that and see if it's memory ammount related.
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Bugchecks on the 4 dumps -
(2) 0x1a = memory management error
(1) 0x50 = invalid memory referenced
(1) 0x24 (0x1904fb,,,) = NTFS file system - usually points to HDD failure, but 0x1904fb excp1 usually = 0xc0000005 exception = memory access violation

N360 driver srtsp64.sys named as probable cause in one 0x1a BSOD.  I typically find 0xc0000005 exceptions in systems w/ 3rd party firewall installed.

RAM &/or HDD are definite contenders, but I would recommend you 1st remove N360 -

Vista SP2 should be installed by now.  N360 firewall likely responsible for missing Windows Updates, incl SP2.

See if BSODs persist.

Regards. . .

jcgriff2 MVP
Apologies... please disregard comments re: Vista SP2.
you mention frequent BSOD - but not the frequency in which they happen.
please note that fior testing intermittent problems, the test duration should at LEAST be 2x the frequency
that is why elimination process is used more often :  replace or disconnect devices, and note them on the elimination list : cd, and disk drives, ram, PCI cards, peripherals (even kbd and mouse) cpu..
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Just a quick note to acknowledge the fast response from so many people.  You've provided some excelelnt suggestions that I will act on during the next couple of days.  It's great to know that so many experts are ready to help with challenging problems.
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I ran extensive memory tests - no problems.  Ran CHKDSK /r - no problems.  Started to uninstall drivers to see if I could find the culprit.  Uninstalled Logitech webcam drivers, then ran a full Norton 360 scan to exercise the computer.  Part way into the scan, I got the pesky black screen and reboot.  So, the Logitech drivers were not the cause.  Next, I uninstalled the NVIDIA display drivers so the computer would run with the standard Windows VGA driver.  Ran FOUR full Norton 360 scans with NO CRASHES! So, my conclusion is that I need to locate a fresh set of NVIDIA drivers, install them and run some more Norton scans to confirm that the problem is solved.  Does my plan sound reasonable?  
I had a very similar issue and it was the NVidia card that had faulty memory due to (i believe) an overheated card.

Once you have the latest drivers, run a video performance test. If you have the same issue, try another graphics card. It could be that the card wont use too much of its memory if the drivers arent installed so you wont get the issue until you have drivers installed
install speedfan, to monitor temps :      
Yeah if its an older NVidia like the Alpha Dog, it may be too late to monitor the temp as the memory on mine was already fried but good idea for future relilience :)
Here's the latest status:
Ran numerous Norton 360 full scans without the NVIDIA drivers active.  No crashes.
Reinstalled NVIDIA drivers, ran multiple Norton 360 scans and experienced a crash. Conclusion - bad video card.
Replaced video card with an ATI HD5450 (third party Vison Tek).  
Ran two Norton 360 full scans.  System crashed on 2nd scan - Stop Code 1a.
System automatically reboots after crashing.  LEFT IT ON DISPLAYING THE WINDOWS SIGN-ON SCREEN.
System crashed while displaying the signon screen.  As I was writing this, the same thing occurred again.
Stop codes from the most recent crashes while displaying the signon screen: both 50 - Page Fault in Non-Paged Area

The latest Who Crashed file is attached to this comment,

To repeat, memory tests did not identify a memory problem and CHKDSK did not identify any issues.

So, your ideas are welcome.  I am contemplating a full reinstallatoin to "reset the shot clock."
Ok 2 more things to try, try the card (original) in a different PCI slot if you have one to test the slot. If that doesnt fix the issue, see if you can get your hands on another Mobo and test again
A key point that I did not mention early on is that this Dell computer is under the initial warranty for a few more months.  Changing the motherboard is a valuable suggestion, but should be done by Dell.  Any thoughts about convincing them that it is a motherboard issue?  Their intial recommendation was to reinstall the operating system, application software, etc. but I really do not think this is software related.
you can copy the contents of this thread to a txt file, and forward it to them
Sorry I did not realise you had a vendor box, yes its definitely up to them to fix especially if you have tried a re-install of the operating system
This is NOT an abandoned question.  I have been out of town for a couple of weeks and will not be able to address this issue until early April.  
Sorry for the delay, but finally got back to troubleshooting the issue.,  Called Dell and upon hearing the history, they agreed to replace the memory and the hard drive , something that occureed on 4/15/2011.  So far, the computer is working fine, but ithe critical test will be a month or so of usage by my client to confirm that the random black screeen issue is resolved. Let;'s consider the case closed.  Thanks to all for your assitance!