Computer freezes randomly

Posted on 2012-08-18
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2012-08-22
Hi experts.

I'm hoping an experienced technician can provide me with some input to a problem a PC is experiencing.
The system is around 6 years old & is an xp SP3 system that consists of a 500gb drive, 2 gb RAM (2x1gb DDR400), GA-85661fxm-775 main board, Intel Pentium 4 CPU.

Daily it will work ok for a while & then become unresponsive. Mouse, keyboard disappear (both usb & PS2)  & the only way to bring it back is to force a restart. I can't be sure, but it seems to happen more frequently after being left idle for a while.

To date i have taken a backup image of the drive, scanned with malwarebytes, scanned with Spybot, scanned with Kaspersky online virus scanner, scanned for rootkits using Kaspersky scanner. Nothing has been detected. I've also cleaned up some of the junk detected by Glary utilities. Device manager shows no 'unknown' components & i can't see any errors in the event logs. The system is up to date with MS Updates.

I've tested the memory using memtest overnight with results showing as passed.
I've tested the Hard Drive using ultimate boot cd & a seagate tool & this also showed no errors.
I've removed all PCI Cards - same problem
I've taken the ram out leaving 1gb in single DIMM slots - same problem occurs.
CPU temp hovers around the 45-50 degree Celsius range when i look at it in the bios.

This leaves me with possible problem being PSU, CPU or motherboard where my level of expertise in troubleshooting is limited. Are there ways to test any of these components without physically replacing them?
I'm at the stage where it may be better to replace the system with a new one if the costs to repair & troubleshoot are likely to be similar.

If anyone could offer any advice i'd really appreciate it :)

Question by:cuadmin
LVL 100

Accepted Solution

John Hurst earned 1000 total points
ID: 38308670
Given all you have done, a rootkit malware problem could exist and they are deeply hidden. Normally you need to back up and re-install the system.

You could have an intermittent hardware problem. Your tests deny this, but it still could exist.

So at 6 years old and XP now essentially dead, My counsel would be to move on to newer things.

Unless you are committed to no start button and and that poor Metro system that comes with Windows 8, get a good Windows 7 Pro 64-bit system to replace your old one. Windows 8 will run on such a system if Microsoft improves it.

.... Thinkpads_User
LVL 93

Assisted Solution

nobus earned 500 total points
ID: 38308941
i believe 50°C is ok for a pentium 4, but to be sure, you can monitor the temps with speedfan : http://www.almico.com/speedfan.php      
regarding temps - i suggest to clean all fans and vents
it looks like you've eliminated all hardware problems, but maybe it's a software one - here some options :
does it happen when booted in safe mode also?
or when you do a clean boot?   http://support.microsoft.com/kb/310353

if it is recent, a system restore can help also

run sfc or a repair install :
http://www.updatexp.com/scannow-sfc.html                        SFC use in XP
http://www.michaelstevenstech.com/XPrepairinstall.htm            Repair install  XP
LVL 69

Assisted Solution

Callandor earned 500 total points
ID: 38311420
A Pentium4 system is pretty old and your problem may be power related - the capacitors go bad with age and the system becomes unreliable.  You can perform a visual inspection (www.badcaps.net), but they can go without any outward sign.  Bad capacitors can be in the power supply or motherboard, which makes it more difficult to isolate.

If you boot with a Knoppix CD and still get the problems, you have a hardware problem.

Author Closing Comment

ID: 38319093
Thanks everyone for the help.

As it turns out, i removed a PCI expansion card & removed one of the sticks of memory. Swapped the remaining one over & so far it's been running for 3 days without a freeze or reboot.

Not sure if it will last, but so far so good :)
LVL 100

Expert Comment

by:John Hurst
ID: 38319846
Thanks and thank you for the update. .... Thinkpads_User

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