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Computer Problem Help

Page 8

Windows Problems

Problem: Computer runs then locks up. Im having trouble with my computer locking up. Its home built it 550 pentium 50x CD ROM 128MB. I can get on it and it will run fine for a while then it will start locking up.
Changed CPU that didn't help. Do you have anything I could try to solve the problem. Its starting to be a pain in the butt. It happens when I'm on or off the Internet. It is only about two mouths old since its been built. Any help would be great. I can't do hardly anything without it messing me up.

InfoHQ Answer. If you have DirectX loaded (load it if you don't) go into the C:\Program Files\DirectX directory using My Computer. Double click on the program DxDiag.exe. This program will tell you if your system peripherals and software drivers are working and allows you to test your video and sound card. If your peripherals don't work, you either have software driver problems or hardware conflicts.

Update all drivers for your peripherals by visiting your manufacturer’s web site and downloading the latest driver. If everything is OK there, go into the Windows Control Panel and choose the System Icon. Open all the subdirectories and look for yellow or red warnings. These mean you have a hardware conflict that needs to be resolved. If you have no problems so far, its time to dig into the BIOS settings.

Get your motherboard book out and turn your machine off. Restart your computer and press the Del key during startup to enter your BIOS. With your motherboard book in hand, review all your BIOS settings. When in doubt, choose the recommended default setting.

Next step is to rid yourself of duplicate devices. If you have had several mice, joysticks, sound cards, etc. you need to clean the unused devices off of your machine. Windows loves to access old devices. Unless you mark them as "Don't use in this hardware setting" in Control Panel/System/Devices they will come back and haunt you.

You can also try booting into Windows Safe Mode (hold down the F5 key when Windows begins booting from the DOS startup screen) and cleaning up old devices that appear in Control Panel/System/Devices.

It is also possible your computer is locking up because of low system resources. Click on My Computer and then click on Help in the menu bar and then choose About. This will show you the amount of resources you have free. You should have at least 20% of unused Windows resources. Close running programs if you do not. If your problem isn't resolved at this point then I would suspect a corrupt version of Windows.

You then have two choices; reload Windows into the same directory (which keeps all your Windows settings and programs intact) or a fresh reload of Windows (which means you format your hard drive). See our articles in the index below that discuss reloading Windows.

Problem - What is causing Windows 98 computer to lose drivers and to enter Safe Mode?
Pentium 100 MHz 48 meg ram 6 gig HD Windows 98. Was working OK till a normal shut down. On reboot it goes to window protection mode, either requiring resetting the video settings due to conflict?, or goes to illegal function and locks up, either way it shows an illegal function at so and so location and locks up.
Has been losing the video setting recently and coming up in window protection mode. Even lost the time and date setting yesterday. It appears to be increasing it's problems. No detectable battery on motherboard.
Two days ago it would call for a resetting the monitor settings and then be OK till a power outage or normal shut down. We normally leave the machine on 24 hours a day.
Question: Do we have EPROM problem, a CMOS problem, or a board problem or??????
Thanking you for your advice.

InfoHQ Answer. I suspect you have software problems due to Windows 98 becoming unstable. The failures you describe are typical of Windows errors. Microsoft even admits that Windows 98 crashes and average of once a day.

There are a few things you should do before we assume it is caused by Windows. The first thing you need to do is run an updated virus checker, so you can eliminate a virus as the cause. The second thing you need to do is run Windows Scandisk  (click on MyComputer and right click on your hard drive icon and then select properties, then select tools). The purpose of running Scandisk is to make sure that errors on your hard drive are not causing the crashes. Numerous hard drive errors are an indication that your hard drive is failing and should be replaced.

Once these two causes are eliminated, its time to look at problems caused by Windows. Over time, Windows can become corrupt as programs are added and deleted. It is not untypical that drivers are lost, especially if old drivers exist on the computer or new equipment has been recently added. Even running several  programs at one time can cause a computer to use up all its available RAM and crash. These crashes can also cause loss of video and other drivers.

So what are the remedies? There are two ways to address an unstable Windows installation: the easy way and the hard way.

The easy way is to reinstall Windows into the same directory it is currently installed in and hope it overwrites the corrupt files. You will lose none of your settings or software installations and it should only take about 30 minutes. One of the drawbacks of the easy way is that it causes Internet Explorer 5 to be uninstallable. This could prevent you from upgrading to new versions of Internet Explorer (note that there are cures for this, but we'll leave that for another time).

The hard way is to format your hard drive and reinstall Windows from scratch. You will have to reinstall all your software, drivers, Internet settings etc. (so write down any information you need to remember, like Internet access numbers, before you format your drive). This method could take many hours to complete, however you would not have any "garbage" remaining in your Windows directory. Many "purists" believe in the hard way as the only way to deal with an unstable Windows installation as it cleans up all the old drivers and files that could have caused the original problems.

I recommend you try the easy way. It only takes about 30 minutes and you're up and running again. I have reloaded Windows 98 over itself on the same machine at least 5 times and have cured similar corrupted/missing driver problems. Now as you might suspect, my machine probably crashes more than it should, but I load and unload so many programs on my systems that it is hardly worthwhile to do it the hard way.

One last thought in closing, power outages can cause software corruption due to surges and low power brown outs. While it is not the policy of many businesses to use uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) on desktop computers, anyone that is concerned with protecting their computer from data loss and physical damage should use an UPS.  While surge protectors can save your computer from catastrophic damage, they do not regulate the power entering the computer like an UPS does.


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