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View Full Version : Help! Before I throw my PC out of the window!



Matt
01-09-2009, 12:07 PM
I have no idea what is causing these issues, they are all really random, but the last day or so my PC is doing the following seemingly unrelated odd things:

- When I go to my computer, none of the drive icons show up, just a blank window, but if I click on one of the column names, they appear

- Every now and again, items copied to the desktop don't show up until I refresh

- In Skype 4.0 Beta, in the Options window, if I click on any of the buttons on the left hand side (to browse through the different categories) they simply don't work! Tried uninstalling and re-loading it, still bust

- Again in Skype, the little pencil icon that tells you someone is writing no longer animates

- In the Vista start menu, if I type the name of a program and hit enter when it's highlighted, it doesn't run, yet browsing to it and clicking it works fine (not all programs do this)

- My PC when cold, either won't boot (just sits on the Vista progress bar and needs a reset to kick in) or takes AGES

These are small things, but they are all driving me absolutely fking nuts! Does any of this make any sense to anyone?

Thanks in advance for any help.

My PC specs are in my sig.

Cheers
Matt

Mitja
01-09-2009, 12:14 PM
I can't help you, strange behavior... Throw it out of the window, you have my permission.
Virus?

Castius
01-09-2009, 12:20 PM
If you have a spare video card try swapping it out.

Matt
01-09-2009, 12:33 PM
Found the issue (at least with the odd software behaviour).

I was trialling this AV software:

http://www.agnitum.com/

Because it's 64 Bit ready, turns out it was causing all sorts of issues, so I would avoid this particular software in my experience.

I still have a question regarding the cold booting though, can a cold PC take a while to start up? (The weather in the UK is VERY cold at the moment you see).

ted
01-09-2009, 12:54 PM
- My PC when cold, either won't boot (just sits on the Vista progress bar and needs a reset to kick in) or takes AGES
Matt

A couple weeks ago my computer suddenly took forever to boot. I mean over an hour. Even then it took about a minute for any click or enter to take place.
For some strange reason the BIOS got some settings messed up. My computer guys finally figured it out and re-set the BIOS.

Not saying it's related, but maybe there is something going around that can cause this???

Best of luck. It really bites when odd things like this pop up.

Matt
01-09-2009, 01:12 PM
Could it be the first signs of drive failure? I've ran a check disk on it and it returned no errors.

kremesch73
01-09-2009, 01:24 PM
I had a timing issue in my bios that was conflicting with my RAM. It was set wrong for some reason. Caused the same problem. Have no idea how it happened though, unless the battery for my Bios is going. Maybe check the settings in your Bios to ensure they're set properly.

mattclary
01-09-2009, 01:34 PM
Found the issue (at least with the odd software behaviour).

I was trialling this AV software:

http://www.agnitum.com/

Because it's 64 Bit ready, turns out it was causing all sorts of issues, so I would avoid this particular software in my experience.

I still have a question regarding the cold booting though, can a cold PC take a while to start up? (The weather in the UK is VERY cold at the moment you see).

Avast works well on XP64.

Matt
01-09-2009, 01:36 PM
Will take a look at that, because it does seem like the drive just isn't kicking in correctly, it does _eventually_ boot, just takes ages, or if I hit reset then it boots fine (usually, have had it take a few before it boots)

Matt
01-09-2009, 01:38 PM
Avast works well on XP64.

No firewall on that is there?

Glendalough
01-09-2009, 01:39 PM
...
I still have a question regarding the cold booting though, can a cold PC take a while to start up? (The weather in the UK is VERY cold at the moment you see).

I have definitely had experiences with the computer starting up slowly, not properly, in a cold house in Ireland a few years ago, with high humidity as well. It was around 50 F.

zapper1998
01-09-2009, 01:40 PM
Can you do a restore to a previous day..week..month...??

paulhart
01-09-2009, 02:05 PM
I just helped out a friend, who'se system starting acting funny, after installing Skype. For many people, they have Skype, in collaboration with a video-cam (LogicTech). Both of these install in memory at boot, slowing down the start-up, as Skype "connects" and the video-cam initializes itself, all taking way too much time in my estimation, but my friend wants it on his system, despite the slow load. Having said this, his Icons got way large during the load, then, at the end of the boot, the ATI Control Panel kicks in, and resets the resolution to the intended size, all of which takes time. It was acting a bit quirky, besides slow, until I downloaded an updated video display driver. These are often a quiet culprit in systems, in that "everything" has to to through this bottle-neck, for you to see it. Make sure that your video drivers are updated periodically, makes a noticeable difference on many systems. Run Spybot, just in case, but do the video drivers first.
Paul

JCG
01-09-2009, 02:06 PM
We had a couple of computers where a chip was actually broken on the motherboard and would prevent the computer from starting up. However, when heat caused the materials to expand, they made contact again and worked normally. It's very rare so it can be left as a last possibility.

In hard drives, it's not so much the heat but a defective motor can take longer to spin up to full speed.

Boot up tapping F8 and go to safe mode. If it goes to safe mode quickly but takes ages to go to normal mode, the problem is either a corrupt driver or a startup program. You can use MSconfig to disable the startup programs and non-MS services and then reinstall the drivers.

If it's slow booting to safe mode but can boot quickly to the Vista bootable DVD, even when cold, it's probably either software or hard drive. You can boot to the DVD with the hard drive disconnected, since defective HDDs can slow down other bootable devices that try to detect/enumerate drives.

If that it the case and chkdsk /r was coming out with 0 bytes in bad sectors, you may want to run sfc /scannow or reinstall Windows before getting a new hard drive.

If it's also very slow booting the bootable DVD, it has nothing to do with software or the hard drive.

If your motherboard has visible POST codes, you can check how far it's booting before it gets stuck to see what component is most likely causing it. Otherwise, elimination may be the easiest way to narrow it down. Trying one memory stick at a time (if the motherboard allows), removing or disabling the sound card, enabling the onboard video, if available, and removing the VC...

MMI
01-09-2009, 02:30 PM
Have seen this before on both a PC and a Mac. In both instances, it appears that the cold environment was causing the RAM memory chip metallic contacts to contract within the card slot base and lose electrical continuity. This prevented a good electrical path to the RAM and would prevent the PC/Mac to complete boot up until warming component temps caused those 200 or so metallic contacts on each RAM card to expand and "make". It was maddening!!!
Turn off the computer, ground yourself to the metal chassis to discharge any static, carefully remove the RAM cards and then re-seat a couple of times for each card. This procedure will "clean" the contacts of any buildup and re-establish circuit continuity. It's an easy cure and may be your solution.

SonicChuck
01-09-2009, 02:37 PM
Have seen this before on both a PC and a Mac. In both instances, it appears that the cold environment was causing the RAM memory chip metallic contacts to contract within the card slot base and lose electrical continuity. This prevented a good electrical path to the RAM and would prevent the PC/Mac to complete boot up until warming component temps caused those 200 or so metallic contacts on each RAM card to expand and "make". It was maddening!!!
Turn off the computer, ground yourself to the metal chassis to discharge any static, carefully remove the RAM cards and then re-seat a couple of times for each card. This procedure will "clean" the contacts of any buildup and re-establish circuit continuity. It's an easy cure and may be your solution.


lol wow, thats really interesting.

paulhart
01-09-2009, 03:03 PM
We usually don't think about it, but every time we start up a system, the initial voltage charge, has to "jump" micro gaps between connections and corrosion inevitably does build up, temperature can affect this also. So, go to RadioShack or Fry's, get some electrical spray contact cleaner, pull each component apart, clean the contacts, with the spray and a non-lint material, then put it back together. And..., Yes, this can make a difference, as annoying as it may seem. I had some RAM chips in an old system that "returned from the dead" with this treatment. I was told by a technician, that poorly seated chips can "work themselves out" of their sockets enough to cause intermittent problems, again, with temperature being another variable in the micro-world of the space between things.... Curiouser and curiouser, cried Alice. ;>)
Paul

Matt
01-09-2009, 04:26 PM
All good advice, thanks guys!

Wolvy_UK
01-09-2009, 07:18 PM
I had a slow hard drive problem a while ago while copying some files from a DVD onto the PC while trying to edit video at the same time.

My hard drive went from dma 6 to dma 2 and copying a full DVD to it went from about 10 minutes to at least 30 minutes. The DVD drive slowed down as well. I remember the PC took a long time to boot up too. I fixed it by uninstaling the drives from the systems properties tab in windows and swapped the SATA hard drive cables around so Windows would auto detect them on startup.

I don't know if that's your problem, but it's definitely worth checking what DMA mode your hard drive is in.

shrox
01-09-2009, 07:29 PM
I did that once. I had an old laptop. I booted it and tossed it out a fourth floor window. Stupid thing closed on the way down, bounced around, and did not die. A second drop out the window and it had that satisfying smash. I would recommend it.

Tom Wood
01-09-2009, 08:44 PM
I use a really ancient 650Ghz Dell as my internet machine. It had a whopping 256MB of RAM until I just upgraded it to the Max of 768MB of PC100 bought off of eBay. It's a new machine! Windows XP and Outlook and Firefox will actually run all at once now! So I'd get rid of all that RAM you have and cripple those processors if you want REAL performance! :thumbsup:

Cageman
01-09-2009, 10:19 PM
(The weather in the UK is VERY cold at the moment you see).

Hehe... maybe you could play with some overclocking then? :)

shrox
01-09-2009, 10:31 PM
It would be a manual job to check every plugin connection, but isn't there some conducting paste or spray available? That would fill the gaps before expansion.

Von Polygon
01-10-2009, 06:24 PM
I suspect your slow boot issue is not caused by hardware.
You say it gets stuck at progress bar.
Have you got multiple hard drives or partitions?
Sometimes, if you add or change them round, boot loader remembers partition order one way, but registry defines it differently. Just about at "progress bar" / "welcome screen" system starts to ask the registry for the location of startup files. If registry values differ from the boot loader ones Windows gets confused and just loops you the progress bar or just displays the welcome screen without the login box to let you in. There is a way to force Windows to rebuild partition order in the registry. I can look at my old bookmarks for a link describing how to that if it helps.

Matt
01-12-2009, 03:20 AM
I suspect your slow boot issue is not caused by hardware.
You say it gets stuck at progress bar.
Have you got multiple hard drives or partitions?
Sometimes, if you add or change them round, boot loader remembers partition order one way, but registry defines it differently. Just about at "progress bar" / "welcome screen" system starts to ask the registry for the location of startup files. If registry values differ from the boot loader ones Windows gets confused and just loops you the progress bar or just displays the welcome screen without the login box to let you in. There is a way to force Windows to rebuild partition order in the registry. I can look at my old bookmarks for a link describing how to that if it helps.

Yes, I have four hard drives, so that sounds like it could be the problem actually!

bobakabob
01-13-2009, 04:32 PM
I had similar problems with my PC taking an eternity to boot up... after swapping out a suspected faulty graphic card and reconfiguring the bios the culprit turned out to be the motherboard :(

paulhart
01-13-2009, 05:08 PM
I often make modest changes to my hardware, but have learned from experience that my "local guys" are often a best choice when I get stuck, 'cause....(drum roll) they do it for a living....DUH? I often bump into the limits of my knowledge, and really want to spend my time animating, not mucking around with my hardware, so... in addition to my previous comments, I recently bumped into a "no" boot question with a friends system, with the finding that one of the peripherals plugged into the USB port, or the port? was the problem. Apparently, on POST, not only does the system check things like "keyboard" but the USB connections also, and if one is suspect, it will hang the POST. At some point I bump into my own ignorance and have my local guys fix it, and get back to animating. They have built my last four(4) systems, with consistently good results.
Paul

jaf
01-13-2009, 06:54 PM
This is what I would try. The Sysinternals suite, which is connected to Microsoft (I wasn't sure how to word that) has a nice utility called Autoruns. I would run this utility and try disabling "suspect" procceses. Of course this will be quite time consuming on a slow booting machince, but you can save a Autoruns setup file, which I would recommend before starting. Sysinternals URL:
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/0e18b180-9b7a-4c49-8120-c47c5a693683.aspx

Also, you could try unplugging USB devices, as mentioned in this thread.

I'm not sure how Sysinternals Suite runs under Vista, since I'm using winXP x64. There was also a utility called Bootvis which would give a graphical representation of your bootup.

And finally, believe it or not, Microsoft actually has a pretty good tech support (or I was lucky!) I spent over a year trying to get Windows Update to work in the custom mode. Automatic updates worked fine, but I wanted to do this manually ever since the auto updates decided I needed a "new" ATI graphics driver, which was not really new.

Anyway, the Microsoft people took me through a real thorough troubleshooting procedure over a couple weeks and solved the problem.

Good luck!