troubleshooting Question

Unexpected Shutdowns and Trouble Booting Thereafter

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PotterjazzFlag for United States of America asked on
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I have a self-built computer with the following hardware:

Intel Core i5 750 2.66 G quad core processor
ASRock P55 Pro motherboard
GSkill Ripsaw 4GB RAM (two sticks = 8GB Ram)
VGA MSI NX8600GTS-T2D256E-OC (with a power cable that goes from a 6-pin male to a 4-pin female connector that attaches to one of the 4-pin males coming off the powersupply)
Enermax EG425P-VE SFMA 2.0 420W Powersupply
Western Digital 250GB SATA hard drive (WD2500AAKX) (boot drive) (Bottom position 3.5” Drive Bay)
Floppy disc (Middle position 3.5” Drive Bay)
Seagate Barracuda 120GB IDE (Top position 3.5” Drive Bay—data cable connected to IDE port but drive not powered…all other drives mentioned in this list are powered and visible from the Windows disc manager)
Seagate Barracuda 250 GB 6RY1EE99 (left position large drive bay)
Seagate Barracuda 1 TB 9vP1L2PG (middle position large drive bay)
Seagate (refurb’d) Barracuda 250GB 6RY39YR2 (right position large drive bay)
Light-On iHAS424 B Double-layer DVD burner (SATA)
LG WH12LS38 Blu-Ray Burner (SATA)

Description of events:
      Twice in the past week I have found my computer running, but with a black screen and the word “Grub” in the upper left hand corner. In each case, attempts to restart the computer resulted in a very slow process of stepping through the boot process that precedes Windows 7 loading. The delay comes after the splash screen, when the BIOS is self-checking the computer (where devices are discovered and listed on the screen). It particularly seemed to hang very long right after displaying the amount of RAM available), and it is right after the RAM is displayed that Grub appears, apparently. If I reboot again it often seems to just hang at the RAM display and I don’t know that if I waited long enough, the Grub would appear again. However, if I restart using CTRL-ALT-DEL several times, eventually the initial splash screen, BIOS self-check, RAM and Device listing goes at a more normal pace and is following by my multi-os Windows boot screen (Windows 7 Enterprise 64-bit and Vista 64-bit), which defaults to Windows 7 in 30 seconds, or when I hit the return, and Windows loads.

The machine seems to run fine once this has been accomplished, but apparently, something goes wrong and it experiences an unexpected shutdown (see attached event log snapshots showing the shutdown, along with application event logs showing some of the errors recorded during the successful booting of Windows once I get the system back up and running).  Since this has happened three times in three days, after the second time, I prepared to run some diagnostic tests. First I ran fdisk /r from the Windows 7 installation DVD (after going to the command prompt among the repair options). That produced a report of bad clusters in pagefile.sys, suggesting a shutdown during a write operation to that file. I then ran MemTest86 from a bootable disc and the RAM passed. I then, late last night, installed and initiated a Prime95 stress test of which is supposed to determine the health of the CPU, L1 and L2 caches, RAM CPU and Case cooling. I set the program to run from 11 pm to 8 a.m.  It ran continuously, and successfully (with no errors shown in the logs it records.....see attached file named "results.txt") until 6:18.4, which is approximately 1-2 minutes before the unexpected shutdown of the machine recorded in the Windows event logs (see attached snapshots of Windows Event logs).

After taking the computer apart, cleaning it, and moving the boot drive to a secure position in the 3.5” drive bay (it was formerly lying on the bottom of the Lian Li case toward the back), I rebooted the computer and it seemed to be working fine. I now suspect that the problem is that I have too many powered devices on a fairly limited powersupply. This could, I suppose, cause the system to suddenly turn off due to power fluctuations affecting the motherboard, but I wonder if the Grub problem could be a result of the sudden shutdown when the main drive is active. Perhaps it causes damage to the boot sector that somehow is overcome after several restarts? Since Grub is, I thought, associated with the Linux boot manager, I am confused by its appearance in this system, which has never had a Linux OS installed.

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