Question Week 1, WinXP PC locks up every time. Week 2, no problems, Week 3 locking up again. Help!

Muse

Lifer
Jul 11, 2001
33,184
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~2 weeks ago I turn on my mid-tower PC that's nowadays relegated solely for HTPC duties. Couldn't get it to get past sudden unexplained lockups. 1 week ago I turn it on again to see if I can fix the issue and there's no issue. I used the machine all weekend to record and watch (i.e. timeshift) all 6 NFL Wildcard Weekend games. Not a hint of a problem.

Today, i.e. one week after everything fine, I want to again watch NFL playoffs, and I can't get the machine to not lockup almost immediately like it did 2 weeks ago. No clue what's wrong. Sometimes Windows freezes before it's loaded. Sometimes it loads but a second or two after I open my HTPC's DVR application, complete lockup. Mouse cursor freezes, nothing to do but turn off or hit reset button.

There are 3 boot partitions on the machine, all Windows XP (I do this in case one installation goes bad for some reason, I can generally then boot to a different OS/apps partition in the interim). The HTPC application is MIT's MyHD PCI card and app. I have its data go to onboard 2TB WD HD but the machine boots off a 120GB HD, with it's 3 bootable partitions. Doesn't matter which partition I try to boot into, I get the same problems, not just on the customary E drive, IOW happens to C and D too.

I booted into Safe Mode, looked in Device Manager and everything appears OK, no obviously borky device.

What do you make of this? What can I try?

Machine specs:

GIGABYTE GA-EP45-UD3R LGA 775 Intel P45 ATX Intel Motherboard
Q8200 (2.33Ghz 45nm Core2Quad), copper core stock heatsink/fan
PNY GeForce GT 620 1GB DDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 Video Card VCGGT620XPB
2x2GB GSkill blue DDR2-667 RAM
EVGA SuperNOVA 550 G2 550W 80 Plus Gold Modular Power Supply
MIT MyHD-130 HDTV PCI + daughterboard
Hercules Game Theater XP (GTXP) PCI sound card + breakout box
120GB IDE HDD for OS/Apps
Western Digital 2TB Red 5400 SATA III HDD for secondary storage
Midtower case
2x 120mm fans
 
Last edited:

deustroop

Golden Member
Dec 12, 2010
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So booting in Safe Mode does not alleviate the freezes ? If that is the situation then try replacing the BIOS chip and upgrade to the latest bios.
 
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Muse

Lifer
Jul 11, 2001
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So booting in Safe Mode does not alleviate the freezes ? If that is the situation then try replacing the BIOS chip and upgrade to the latest bios.
Hmm... thanks. Sounds like a plan. I'm gonna try again booting in Safe Mode. Inside it today I did a restore to one week ago because one week ago I didn't see any issues. I then booted normal and got a freeze and gave up. I'll try Safe Mode again. If still a problem I'll see if I can find an appropriate BIOS chip for the mobo. I believe the latest BIOS is already on the machine. But I should check. I doubt there were any further BIOS releases after my last upgrade.

Got to see the games anyway using two different TCL Roku TVs and doing their DVR system, which is weak but useable if you are careful enough.
 

Muse

Lifer
Jul 11, 2001
33,184
5,083
126
So booting in Safe Mode does not alleviate the freezes ? If that is the situation then try replacing the BIOS chip and upgrade to the latest bios.
Do you think there's a chance clearing CMOS and checking the battery might help?

What makes me wonder is that it happened consistently one weekend, no hint of a problem the next weekend (didn't use the machine during the week) and the following weekend, again there were consistent lockups.
 

Muse

Lifer
Jul 11, 2001
33,184
5,083
126
So booting in Safe Mode does not alleviate the freezes ? If that is the situation then try replacing the BIOS chip and upgrade to the latest bios.
Found this BIOS chip, should be the one, plus they say it will have the latest BIOS pre-installed. It also says on the page it needs to be soldered to the board. I've done a fair amount of soldering but never to a motherboard. I'm wondering if it's easy or tough. Anyway, today I ordered a used motherboard, which I think is probably Asus, but it's an HP part number. I think it will work with my components. I'm wondering if there's a chance that the GPU is bad, or even the PSU.

HP Motherboard 536455-001

 

pcgeek11

Lifer
Jun 12, 2005
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Without special equipment the chance of you soldering in a BIOS Chip on the motherboard successfully is near zero.

Good luck on an ebay motherboard. It looks like the price was cheap and they claim to have a good return policy...
 
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mikeymikec

Lifer
May 19, 2011
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chkdsk driveletter /f /v /r on all volumes then check eventvwr for results, check smart data, memtest86+ several passes on memory, prime95 max heat for at least half an hour, check event log for errors/warnings, try running the nvidia nalu demo on that graphics card for say half an hour, see if anything sticks.
 

deustroop

Golden Member
Dec 12, 2010
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Found this BIOS chip, should be the one, plus they say it will have the latest BIOS pre-installed. It also says on the page it needs to be soldered to the board. I've done a fair amount of soldering but never to a motherboard. I'm wondering if it's easy or tough. Anyway, today I ordered a used motherboard, which I think is probably Asus, but it's an HP part number. I think it will work with my components. I'm wondering if there's a chance that the GPU is bad, or even the PSU.

HP Motherboard 536455-001

Soldering ? That's unfortunate. I have a board of more recent vintage that exhibited the identical symptoms a few weeks ago, and finally froze just prior to POST. I swapped chips by just pushing in the new one, like yours with the latest bios and problem no more. The new board may do the trick.
 

Muse

Lifer
Jul 11, 2001
33,184
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Check HDD health. Check Event Viewer too. I suspect the HDD is dying. PSU is another possibility.
Yeah, I was thinking check that HDD. I could put it in an enclosure and plug it into this Win10 lappy and test it, scan it.

Now, like I said in the OP, there are 3 bootable partitions and none is able to function. Maybe the HDD's bad in a section that all 3 partitions need to function, is my thinking.

I can get in the Event Viewer in Safe Mode, I figure, and can have a peek at that. Don't know if EV would have info on the ~50% of the freezes that happen before Windows fully loads (the therm bar that swoops from left to right suddenly stops moving and I have to hit reset). Safe Mode, the 3 or so times I tried it didn't appear to have an issue).
 

Muse

Lifer
Jul 11, 2001
33,184
5,083
126
chkdsk driveletter /f /v /r on all volumes then check eventvwr for results, check smart data, memtest86+ several passes on memory, prime95 max heat for at least half an hour, check event log for errors/warnings, try running the nvidia nalu demo on that graphics card for say half an hour, see if anything sticks.
Well, can put HDD in enclosure and run chkdsk using this laptop, but right now can't on the problem machine unless I can do it in Safe Mode. Can I do that in Safe Mode?

I did run memtest 86+ on the HDD (it's a 120GB WD) a few days ago and zero errors after 5 passes.

Prime95 I have never used (is it to test HDD?).

Can check event log, like I said in last post but only in Safe Mode, and wonder if it would have info on the freezes that happen before Windows goes to the Desktop.

That Nvidia utility, can I run it in Safe Mode?
 

mikeymikec

Lifer
May 19, 2011
15,238
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Event viewer and prime95 will work in safe mode. Prime95 is a prime number finder that will give the CPU and supporting hardware a workout.

Memtest doesn't test the HDD, it tests the RAM. chkdsk is for the HDDs.

Nalu will only work in normal mode. If safe mode seems to work and the disks pass chkdsk without any scary warnings/errors, then I'd probably up my game from safe mode and steadily work towards normal mode in various ways, such as the low-graphics mode available on the F8 startup menu, msconfig allows you to create custom safe-ish-modes by temporarily losing third party startup processes and services. If you narrow it down to the system won't boot if the nvidia display driver is running then it's probably the graphics card.

About the HDDs - it might not be a case of a dependent partition for all three operating systems (which is unlikely if you set things up to avoid that scenario), it might be that one HDD is doing something squirrely that upsets the SATA driver. Admittedly I wouldn't have thought a straight data partition (as far as other OSs are concerned) should get queried by the running OS an awful lot though.

How old is this general setup? I'm guessing that because it's XP all the way that it's been set up like this for a long time. If so, has anything changed in the last few months? If you fire up Nirsoft's BlueScreenView, what kinds of crash codes does it show? I understand that you're mostly seeing a freezing issue.
 
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Muse

Lifer
Jul 11, 2001
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Yeah, I knew memtest is for RAM and chkdsk for storage. The RAM tests good (5 passes no errors). I figure next step is remove the 120GB WD HD, put in enclosure and plug into this Win10 laptop and run chkdsk on it.
 

Muse

Lifer
Jul 11, 2001
33,184
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Question: Successful booting in Safe Mode is no indication that the boot HD is OK?

Coming up in a few minutes are JPGs of the the screens of Event Viewer for the 7 or so errors when my last Normal boot attempt failed before completing Windows XP load.
 

mikeymikec

Lifer
May 19, 2011
15,238
5,384
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Question: Successful booting in Safe Mode is no indication that the boot HD is OK?

Coming up in a few minutes are JPGs of the the screens of Event Viewer for the 7 or so errors when my last Normal boot attempt failed before completing Windows XP load.
A hard drive can fail in enough weird and wonderful ways that I wouldn't consider a safe boot or normal boot to be evidence of very much at all. Obviously the drive isn't dead :)

Have you checked the SMART diagnostic data for each drive, say with CrystalDiskInfo? Posting screenshots of the results might help with spotting more subtle issues.
 

Muse

Lifer
Jul 11, 2001
33,184
5,083
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I can run crystaldiskinfo in safe mode?

Turns out my external enclosure only supports SATA HDDs. Don't know if I have an enclosure that will support IDE HDDs, which the boot drive is. I have a second midtower system that I had issues with, don't know what they are. Forgotten and don't know if I have documentation, which would be digital in my data. I'm trying to get the system running, could plug the questionable boot drive into it as a secondary drive to test with whatever, including crystaldiskinfo, that utility linked above or just chkdsk.

The Event Viewer info I referred to in recent post appears to not be helpful, nothing interesting happened for EV in the recent lockups. Maybe I can dig down to lockups that happened after Windows did boot, I suppose there might be error messages for those boots from last week.
 

deustroop

Golden Member
Dec 12, 2010
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chkdsk runs in safe mode. To run chkdsk and fix errors, select Safe Mode with Command Prompt and type in “chkdsk c:/f” Replace “c” with the drive letter you would like to fix.

-can you operate this disk in safe mode ? If so it is not likely a disk problem since safe mode uninstalls software.


Have you run chkdsk from the other machine you say is available ? Result ?

Do the three partitions have identical OSs for boot purposes ?

There are no shared boot files unless there is a pooled drive. Each partition is treated by the operating system as if it were a completely separate disk drive.

What can can affect all three ? Most likely hardware.
 

Muse

Lifer
Jul 11, 2001
33,184
5,083
126
I detect no problems at all when in Safe Mode, which makes me suspect the 120GB lDE 3 partitioned boot drive isn't the issue. Yes, all 3 partitions run WinXP installs. It boots right now to E automatically but C and D are selectable if I'm quick during the boot process. I'm getting lockups no matter which I select.

I just managed to get the other machine booted... 1st time I've turned it on in years! I have a KVM switch installed so I can use the same mouse and keyboard, monitor too with either machine. I had to do some internet searching to find out the switch sequence, I'd forgotten. For this KVM it's hit the scroll lock key twice. The machine is running Windows 2000 Professional !!! A memtest86+ disk was in the optical drive, had to remove that first. Got strange errors on the screen after escaping out of memtest, hit reset and then the machine appeared to boot into Windows 2000 without issue.

Aha! Hardware! So, I suspect maybe the video card? I may have another I can try...
 

mikeymikec

Lifer
May 19, 2011
15,238
5,384
136
I can run crystaldiskinfo in safe mode?

Turns out my external enclosure only supports SATA HDDs. Don't know if I have an enclosure that will support IDE HDDs, which the boot drive is. I have a second midtower system that I had issues with, don't know what they are. Forgotten and don't know if I have documentation, which would be digital in my data. I'm trying to get the system running, could plug the questionable boot drive into it as a secondary drive to test with whatever, including crystaldiskinfo, that utility linked above or just chkdsk.

The Event Viewer info I referred to in recent post appears to not be helpful, nothing interesting happened for EV in the recent lockups. Maybe I can dig down to lockups that happened after Windows did boot, I suppose there might be error messages for those boots from last week.
I don't think CDI installs a driver to do its thing, so you should be fine. I haven't dabbled in safe mode in ages because its function is horrendously neutered in =>Win8.

You can run the chkdsk command I mentioned from the command prompt in safe mode.

Event Viewer: What about in general, any notable warnings/errors?
 

Muse

Lifer
Jul 11, 2001
33,184
5,083
126
I just started the problem machine and it appears to have booted normally! Now, last times it's done that I opened my HDTV DVR app and got an immediate lockup each time, more than once, probably around 3 instances. I haven't tried to open it yet. I accessed my network drive (NAS), took a look in File Explorer, I went to check for errors on the boot drive and it wanted me to reboot to do it and I decided not to. I looked in Event Viewer and am seeing nothing except one error, stating that Windows was unable to access update, which may just be Microsoft's abandoning support, don't know, but no matter, I don't care about that. I just want to use the machine for HTPC duty. I have been opening a browser to go to www.titantv.com for OTA programming scheduling, but was advised to not even do that... "what happens if Titantv gets hacked?"

I guess the next step is to see if my DVR program works. I half expect an immediate crash but won't be surprised if I don't get one. It's just who knows??? Like I said, a couple weeks ago the machine acted very very well for two days of intense HTPC DVR activity, i.e. better than normal. I think that lockups in the DVR app are just part of using it, everybody got them. There are probably rather few people still using my HTPC PCI cards (I have two, the original and the upgrade).
 

Muse

Lifer
Jul 11, 2001
33,184
5,083
126
So, I open my DVR app and it doesn't crash! It starts doing it's automatic timeshift. Nice. Then I decide to open Firefox, and the home page is TitanTV and while it's loading (it always opens slow on the machine) the machine locks up! Reset. Windows boots "normally." I'm now going to go into Event Viewer and see if I can find anything about the crash.
 
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