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Computer spontaneously dying with blue screen

Posted on 2016-10-11
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Last Modified: 2016-10-24
About half-a-dozen times over the past few months I have a workstation whose screen has flashed black and blue, then flashed up the blue screen of death with various dumps -- that went away after a while followed by the "Start Windows Normally" option screen, and after some period of time does come back up again. There seems to be no correlation with activity. I could be working on Word, or in a browser (firefox) or both. The system is an HP OEM Windows 7. I've scanned for malware with 3 different programs and nothing found.

Is this symptomatic of anything?
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Question by:jmarkfoley
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20 Comments
 
LVL 8

Assisted Solution

by:Leo
Leo earned 332 total points
ID: 41839306
Make sure 3 things...
1) BIOS is up to date
2)Applied the latest Windows Patches
3) Computer drivers are up to date..
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LVL 49

Expert Comment

by:dbrunton
ID: 41839315
>>  then flashed up the blue screen of death with various dumps

Those would help in diagnosing the problem.  You can check the Event Logs as well and see what they say.

First test is a memory test.  Download the UBCD  http://www.ultimatebootcd.com/download.html  Make the CD from the ISO (ask if you need a burner application or further instructions to make) and boot from the CD.  Run memtest and see what it finds.  Let it do two passes of your memory.
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LVL 19

Expert Comment

by:Montoya
ID: 41839323
there are many issues that could cause this, hardware issues, temperature issues, drivers, etc...

firs thing I would try is booting in safe mode. Work as long as you can and see if the problem comes up. If it works and doesnt blue screen, then you have to play the process of elimination game, and it's probably not hardware.

If you get a blue screen, then go through drivers and bios first, and try again.

That's where I would start...

you may also have logs you can check to determine what's wrong.
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LVL 96

Expert Comment

by:Lee W, MVP
ID: 41839352
Ignoring what the Blue Screen says doesn't help in resolving the problem.  Thee information presented in them and available in the minidump files can OFTEN (though not always) diagnose the problem.  Bad RAM is probably the most common hardware issue, but drivers are also often to blame.
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LVL 1

Author Comment

by:jmarkfoley
ID: 41839465
I will give the memory test a shot. That sounds reasonable. The Blue Screen doesn't stay up so difficult to get info from it. Anyway, this is a production workstation in an office environment so certain options, like running in safe mode, are not viable. The event can take a week or more to recur. The computer is auto-updated from Microsoft Update automatically, so I would think the patches and drivers as as up-to-date as I can make them. It is an HP, so it is possible there are "special" drivers.
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LVL 96

Expert Comment

by:Lee W, MVP
ID: 41839472
The Blue Screen doesn't stay up so difficult to get info from it.
Then disable automatic reboot.
Microsoft doesn't update MOST drivers.

And repeating:
Thee information .... available in the minidump files can OFTEN (though not always) diagnose the problem.

So analyze them!  There are several free viewers you can use including bluescreenview.
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LVL 49

Expert Comment

by:dbrunton
ID: 41839475
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Author Comment

by:jmarkfoley
ID: 41839498
Lee W, MVP:
Then disable automatic reboot.
How?
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LVL 96

Assisted Solution

by:Lee W, MVP
Lee W, MVP earned 332 total points
ID: 41839503
http://www.howtogeek.com/howto/windows-vista/help-troubleshoot-the-blue-screen-of-death-by-preventing-automatic-reboot/

System Control Panel, Advanced, Startup and Recovery options, under system failure, uncheck Automatically Restart.
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LVL 92

Assisted Solution

by:nobus
nobus earned 332 total points
ID: 41839512
you can also post the dmp here for analysis
find it in windows\minidumps
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Author Comment

by:jmarkfoley
ID: 41840770
This is very repeatable. I got an image of the blue screen (attached). Upon reboot there was an "Unexpected Shutdown" Message. An image of the contents of that are also attached. Latest minidump also attached.

Do these images tell you anything?  

I'm going to next try creating the memory test CD mentioned by dbrunton.
bluescreen.jpg
unexpectedShutdown.jpg
101216-24211-01.dmp
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LVL 49

Accepted Solution

by:
dbrunton earned 1004 total points
ID: 41840818
See http://support.amd.com/en-us/kb-articles/Pages/737-27116RadeonSeries-ATIKMDAGhasstoppedrespondingerrormessages.aspx for a list of possible causes of your problem.

Quite probably a graphics driver update may fix the problem or a Windows update.  I'd look for a graphics driver update first.

It's an AMD card so go here http://support.amd.com/en-us/download and look for the appropriate download.
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LVL 1

Author Comment

by:jmarkfoley
ID: 41840844
dbrunton: will take steps as you advised and post back. Meanwhile I did get the BlueScreenViewer. Attached is the view of the minidump. I don't know what I'm looking at, but a number of these entries are highlighted in red (pink).
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LVL 92

Expert Comment

by:nobus
ID: 41841395
what system is this? model plse, or mobo model
the dump indicates an ATI problem - so video card
it can be overheating; in a PC you could check if it's fan is running
and download the latest video driver for it
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LVL 1

Author Comment

by:jmarkfoley
ID: 41845683
The system is a DELL Inspirion 3847 Desktop, DELL A04 bios, DELL 088DT1 motherboard. The display adapter is a separate PCI card (no video on motherboard) ATI Radeon HD 4800 series.

On Friday (two days ago) I ran three of the memory tests on the ultimateboot CD recommended by dbrunton, plus the BIOS's own memory test -- no errors found. I did update the video driver. The user has not been back at his workstation since I did this so no feedback yet on whether it worked.
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LVL 92

Expert Comment

by:nobus
ID: 41845725
install speedfan, to monitor the temps  : http://www.almico.com/speedfan.php
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LVL 49

Expert Comment

by:dbrunton
ID: 41846370
So if the video driver was updated recently we'll just wait for the user to supply feedback.
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LVL 1

Author Comment

by:jmarkfoley
ID: 41850903
The computer has been working without problem this week, but I'd like to give it until the end of the week since the problem was intermittent. If all continues to work I'll consider this solved.

nobus: With the case lid off I observed that all fans were at least running. None dead.
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LVL 92

Expert Comment

by:nobus
ID: 41851518
ok - tx for feedback
keep us posted
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LVL 1

Author Closing Comment

by:jmarkfoley
ID: 41857430
Seems to be working. In the end it was updating the graphics driver that did the trick.
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