How to make my computer more stable?

Discussion in 'Computers' started by KyleK, Dec 2, 2005.

  1. KyleK

    KyleK Second Unit

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    A few months back I built my first PC and I am very happy with the results (see this thread). However, I have been having a few stability issues that I was hoping to fix. Every once in a while I will get a "windows did not start properly" with options for safe mode and a 30 second countdown. If I leave it like this it can potentially go into a cycle of not starting Windows. Also I have come into the room to find the screen completely black and the computer unresponsive. Finally almost everytime I try to play a large video (over 300 MB) Windows Explorer will give me a "Data Execution Prevention" message and crash, but the video will play just fine in the media player.

    My hardware:
    Antec Sonata II 450 Watt case & power
    Emprex 16x DVD dual layer burner
    Hitachi 250 GB 7200 RPM Serial ATA hard drive
    ATI All-in-Wonder X 600 Pro 265 DDR PCI Express
    LanPartyUT DFI nF4 Ultra-D mother board
    AMD Athlon 64 Processon 3000+ 939 Socket
    1 GB Corsair matched memory pair

    Sorry for the length, but is there any way to address these issues?

    Thanks,
    Kyle[​IMG]

    P.S. I recall reading a review on newegg.com for my mother board that suggested flashing my BIOS. Could this help?
     
  2. DanielM

    DanielM Stunt Coordinator

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    check your sata cables they dont like to be bent...
     
  3. Mike_J_Potter

    Mike_J_Potter Second Unit

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    I just built up a system with the same board. Are you running the ram at stock speed and timings or are you overclocking? Eitherway did you run memtest86 before installing windows to make sure the pc was stable? (You can get to it in the genie section of the Bios) From what I have read is these boards are very finicky about ram. This sounds allot to me like ram problems. I would goto dfi-street.com and search around or ask about it there. They have a bunch of great FAQS, and a few DFI employees post there and allot of other experts too they should be able to resolve it.
     
  4. Kimmo Jaskari

    Kimmo Jaskari Screenwriter

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    Also double- and possibly triple-check that all your cooling gear works properly, is connected properly and is seated on the stuff you want to cool properly.

    Some CPU coolers for instance can be tricky to install and sometimes aren't seated properly to cool the CPU (this is true mostly for more esoteric coolers and/or coolers designed as universal mounts...)

    I've also had the stock heatsink on my graphics card come unseated on one side so it was only partially in contact with the GPU, leading to lots of instability problems.
     
  5. Mike_J_Potter

    Mike_J_Potter Second Unit

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    Also check to see if the video card is hitting Northbridge fan. I had mine stopped once since I using a 7800GT with a big arctic cooling heatsink on it. If its too close you can also move the video card to the lower PCI express slot, you just need to move the jumpers also to set the board to SLI, even though its disabled on this board. You won't get any performance decrease either. I did this and it helped allot, not only giving the Northbridge fan plenty of air but also moving the Hot Overclocked video card away from the cpu.
     
  6. Robert_Gaither

    Robert_Gaither Screenwriter

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    Is your hard drive partioned and do you have the OS on one partition and everything else on the other (most people put everything on an unpartioned hard drive and it seems to degrade over time in my experience)? Is your system on a UPS and is it rated high enough for your power supply (some while correcting voltage sags might not be enough for what you're running)?
     
  7. KyleK

    KyleK Second Unit

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    Hey guys, my last post got lost in the software switchback and I didn't realize it till now. Anyway, I guess I am a bit of a computer hardware novice so hopefully I don't get too confused [​IMG].

    -I'm not overclocking, so I wasn't really thinking cooling would be the problem. I'm pretty sure my CPU fan/heatsink is in there properly, but I will take a peek to make sure. Right now for cooling I have the CPU fan, the graphics card fan and the 120mm fan that came in the case running on the high setting. Should I install another fan somewhere in the box?

    -I didn't run memtest86, I wasn't even aware of it. Is it something I could run even after installing Windows?

    -I didn't partition my hard drive, although I realize that is something I probably should have done. Is there any possible way to do this now without screwing everything up?

    -I don't think any of my cables are overly bent, although I will check.

    Hope this helps narrow it down!

    Thanks,
    Kyle
     
  8. Kimmo Jaskari

    Kimmo Jaskari Screenwriter

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    As long as the fans are running (verify this visually when running the computer with an open case) and the heatsinks are properly fastened (wiggle them a bit, gently, to make sure they are fastened) the problem probably isn't heat related.
     
  9. StevenFC

    StevenFC Second Unit

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    Boy, beats me.

    Data Execution Prevention is a memory dealie that helps to protect against viruses or some such thing. So I guess you could have a virus. You might try replacing your boot files with fresh copies, or maybe take a look at your sysedit files and look for anything that looks mysterious.

    My best guess is hardware. You might have to try the ol' known working component thingy if it's a piece of bad hardware.

    Good luck.
     
  10. Chris Bardon

    Chris Bardon Cinematographer

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    This is a strange one. Some good suggestions so far, but there are a couple of other things you can try:

    Start from a clean boot, without starting anything you don't absolutely need. Check what's running in the task manager (processes view), and google anything that you don't recognize to make sure that there isn't something running that you don't want to have there. I've "fixed" more computers for people that were just cluttered up with crap that ended up on there over time.

    Of course, it's also possible that it's a hardware problem, in which case it'd probably help to make sure that everyting is running at the right temperature and such. Find a CPU monitoring app and check the processor temperature to see if it's overheating.

    Also, is there anything showing up in the windows event log when these crashes happen? If you can trace it to a specific process that throws the exception, then you might be able to remove/replace that process.

    Of course, the ultimate solution is a complete format/reinstall, but that takes time and effort. I'd probably try to avoid this one if you don't absolutely have to do it.
     
  11. Robert_Gaither

    Robert_Gaither Screenwriter

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    I can second this part and then add spybots s&d to keep random things from over-writting the registry.
     
  12. KyleK

    KyleK Second Unit

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    Well today I started her up and I got an unusual blue screen of death which identified the problem as "MACHINE_CHECK_EXCEPTION." Does this mean anything? That I can fix? [​IMG]

    How can I do a "known working component thingy"? Sounds like a good thing to try, whatever it is.

    I will definitely use the task manager to get rid of uneeded processes, good idea Chris.

    Thanks for the advice guys!

    Kyle

    P.S. I run Spybot and AdAware on a regular basis, if that helps.
     
  13. StevenFC

    StevenFC Second Unit

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    It just means to swap out your hardware one piece at a time. If it solves your problem then you know which component is responsible. Of course you need some spare parts lying around--something that not everyone has. It can be a pain in the butt to do. It would be the last thing I'd try.
     
  14. Rommel_L

    Rommel_L Second Unit

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    Kyle,

    Congrats on your first build.[​IMG]

    I believe your mobo can run on just one stick so try that. If you didn't hang or have a BSOD, turn the computer off, try the other stick and reboot. If the computer boots up fine like the last time, both of your RAM sticks are fine and you might have issues with the mobo... (ouch!)

    If you ever get the pc running, do these things...

    Go to Start -> All Programs -> Startup. If there is something in here, delete it.

    Go to Start -> Run. Type msconfig and hit Enter. Go to the the Startup tab. List what you have in here.

    Some additional questions...
    Do you remember putting thermal grease between the heatsink and mobo according to the instructions at the Arctic Silver website? Sorry, gotta ask...
    Is your Windows up to date?
    What antivirus / antispyware programs are you using?
    Are the drivers for your mobo, videocard, cpu and dvd burner up to date?
    Do you have the latest BIOS version for your mobo? Check your mobo's website...

    Rommel
     

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