Can hardware cause a boot loop?

October 31, 2010 at 09:10:00
Specs: XP SP2, N/A
Working on a machine, Windows XP SP2. Windows is stuck in a boot loop. Same problem when using Knoppix live CD. Therefore, I'm assuming that this is a hardware problem. Added more RAM to the machine about 2 months ago, everything working fine until now. My question is, could the RAM cause the system to reboot, or is it more likely a power issue? Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

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October 31, 2010 at 09:16:50
Check each stick of memory with MemTest:

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October 31, 2010 at 09:49:59
uncheck automatically restart and then post the exact error that comes up when it bluescreens, that will surely help.

Some HELP in posting on plus free progs and instructions Cheers

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October 31, 2010 at 12:05:28
I did get a 0x00000024 stop error sometime after doing a system restore in Safe Mode.

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October 31, 2010 at 12:14:33
Thanks, as that helped...check here:
Always try to post errors if they come up, it sure speeds up the process ;-) and elimenates guesswork.

Some HELP in posting on plus free progs and instructions Cheers

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October 31, 2010 at 12:19:54
"uncheck automatically restart and then post the exact error that comes up when it bluescreens, that will surely help."

Win XP is set by default to automatically reboot when it encounters an unrecoverable error.

To have XP possibly display an error message you can investigate instead of the computer rebooting:

1. Click Start, and then right-click My Computer.
2. Click Properties.
3. Click the Advanced tab, and then click Settings under Startup and Recovery.
4. Under System failure, click on the small box beside Automatically restart to remove the checkmark.
5. Click OK, and then click OK.

If you then get an error message, look at all of it's details.

Sometimes you either can't get Windows to work properly long enough for you to be able to do that.

In that case,
- remove any bootable disks you have in optical drives
- press F8 repeatedly while booting, don't hold down the key, and select
Disable automatic restart on system failure.
Windows will then attempt to boot normally, and you may then get a message on a blue screen sooner or later, instead of it auto restarting. .
- that only disables automatic restart when you boot using F8 and select that. You must disable it under Startup and Recovery if you want Windows to always do that.

What we need to be informed of on a blue screen ....

any STOP 0x000000xx message (the stuff in brackets after that is usually useless to us)

A problem file may be named, often at the end of the text - tell us what that is.

There may be a link to more info, or similar - if so, click on the link to see if a file is named.

If you don't get a message, or if you still get the boot loop.......

- Contrary to popular belief, it is extremely rare for ram that was working fine previously to suddenly go "BAD".
However, it's common for the ram to develop a poor connection in it's slot(s) over time.

See response 2 in this - try cleaning the contacts on the ram modules, and making sure the modules are properly seated:

For a laptop, or netbook, you must remove both its main battery and AC adapter before you do that.

If you do a ram test, do that AFTER having tried cleaning the contacts and making sure the ram is seated properly - otherwise any errors found may be FALSE.

Memtest86 has bugs that can produce FALSE errors in some of it's tests if your mboard has an AMD cpu. Version 3.5 has bugs that prevents testing when you have more than 4gb of ram installed - use version 3.4 or lower if more than 4gb is installed.

If you want to try a memory diagnostic utility that takes a lot less time to run a full pass than memtest86 does, this one is pretty good - Microsoft's
Windows Memory Diagnostic:
Windows Memory Diagnostic is limited to testing only the first 4 gigabytes (GB) of RAM.
It can be toggled (press T) to do a standard or a more comprehensive set of tests - use the default 6 test one first - if it passes one pass of that, use the latter one. A few of the tests in the latter set are intentionally slower.
If you don't have a floppy drive, see the Quick Start Information at that Microsoft link for how to make a bootable CD of the Windows Memory Diagnostic (you need Windiag.iso - you don't necessarily need to use the program they mention to add it to the CD).

- if this is a desktop computer.......

Some mboards develop this problem - electrolytic capacitors were installed on them that were not properly made, and they fail eventually - the mboard manufacturer didn't know they were improperly made at the time the mboard was made.

Open up your case and examine the mboard to see if you have bad capacitors, and/or other findable signs of mboard damage .

This was the original bad capacitor problem - has some example pictures.
History of why the exploding capacitors and which mboard makers were affected:

What to look for, mboard symptoms, example pictures:
Home page that site
- what the problem is caused by
- he says there are STILL bad capacitors on more recent mboards.

Pictures of blown capacitors, other components, power supplies, Athlon cpu's, etc.:

- faulty or inadequate power supplies can also cause boot looping, and they can also have bad capacitors.
Inadequate = there are lots of people these days who have installed a video card in a slot on a desktop computer that has a video chipset that requires a higher minumum power supply capacity than the existing power supply has. The video card may work anyway at first, but eventually the power supply is damaged from being constantly overloaded.

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October 31, 2010 at 12:38:17
Look at more than one article about STOP: 0x00000024

Test the ram with a bootable program to make sure your not getting ram errors.
If you get errors, try cleaning it's contacts and testing it again.

Once the ram tests okay, test the hard drive with bootable hard drive manufacturer's diagnostics . Do the long or extended test.
E.g. Seagate's SeaTools will test any brand of hard drive, but it can only attempt to fix fewer than 100 bad sectors (by zero filling it which wipes all data) if the drive is Seagate or Maxtor. (The bootable versions of SeaTools casn't detect drives in external enclosures - use the Windows version for that.).
Other programs often can only test and attempt to fix a drive if the program is provided by the same brand as at least one of the drives.
There is no such program for Toshiba drives.

If the hard drive tests fine, then proceed to fix the problem causing the STOP error.

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November 3, 2010 at 06:49:07
Just a heads up to let you guys know that I fixed the problem. Switched out the RAM sticks and everything working as it should. Thanks for the help guys!

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November 3, 2010 at 08:07:51
There is probably nothing wrong with the ram you took out, unless you damaged it by something you did yourself.

It is extremely rare for ram that was working fine previously to spontaneously go "BAD", and even if it did, it's even more unlikely more than one ram module would go "BAD" at the same time. (There's a small possiblity new ram could be bad, but in that case, it's extremely likely you will have problems with it right after you have first installed it
When you get ram errors for ram that worked fine previously (have you ever tested it before ?) , assuming you haven't damaged it by something dumb you did yourself (such as unplugging or plugging in the ram without removing the AC power to the power supply) , the problem is almost always caused by a poor connection in the ram slots, or, the ram was not 100% compatible with using it with your mboard in the first place, in which case it would have produced ram errors when you first installed it, if you had tested it then.

Not all ram that you think should work with your mboard is 100% compatible with being used in it.
The part number of whatever modules you use should be in a list of modules (be listed as compatible) when you use your brand name system or desktop mboard model number to look that up.

A poor connection of the ram in it's slots is a common problem and can usually be easily fixed by removing the ram, wiping off it's contacts, and installing it again, and making sure that it is seated properly. You should always do that BEFORE you test the ram. If you didn't do that, then wipe off the contacts, re-seat it, and try the ram tests again. Rarely, you may need to also blow out the ram slots, and/or wipe the contacts in the ram slots in order for you to get no errors.

A common thing these days is people trying to use a mix of ram modules that different voltages are specified for, which is a common situation for 800mhz and faster ram. All the installed ram should be specified to use the same voltage, otherwise the ram that is specified to use a higher voltage is likely to not work 100% properly.

Some ram manufacturer's modules do not strictly adhere to the JEDEC standards that most mboards bioses use to determine ram settings.
In that case, the ram settings in the bios Setup that the bios has automatically chosen may not be correct.
Check the ram settings in your bios - the ram voltage, and the ram timing numbers - those should be the same as for the specs for the modules themselves. Often the ram voltage and timing numbers are printed on the label on the modules.

If the voltage setting or timings settings in the bios are different from the specs for the ram, change them in the bios. The timing numbers must be as close as you can get to the same, or slower timings (higher numbers = slower) - you won't notice the difference the slower settings make.

If you have a mix of different modules
- don't mix ram that different voltages are specified for - the bios will force the ram to use the lowest voltage, if "by spd" or similar is used (default settings) - ram that a higher voltage is specified for is more likely to not work properly in that situation.
- the bios settings must be those for the slowest timing settings of all the modules, or slower (higher numbers = slower).

If your ram passes a ram test, it's working fine, even if you can't determine whether it's listed for your mboard or system model anywhere.

NOTE that memtest86 has bugs that can produce FALSE errors in some of it's tests, if your mboard is using an AMD cpu.
Particularly, it produces FALSE errors in test 5, and in some case, infinite errors in one test ( the diagnostics get to that point and will go no further.)

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November 3, 2010 at 16:15:26
When I said "switched" out the RAM, I mean I just had to swap them; apparently they were inserted (by someone else) into the wrong slots when they were installed. I didn't have to buy new RAM, just swap them around. What I don't get is how they worked just fine for a while and then all of a sudden caused a problem. .

When I got the system today, I first made sure that the modules were seated properly as is. Powered up the system and still no response as the monitor went into sleep mode and I couldn't do a thing. So, I unplugged the tower, removed the case and just swapped the modules around. Powered up the system and Windows booted normally. Weird.

Sorry, I guess I worded my post the wrong way. I'll be sure to be more clear next time so you guys don't have to post lengthy answers.

Thanks again.

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November 4, 2010 at 08:41:08
".......apparently they were inserted (by someone else) into the wrong slots when they were installed."

That doesn't jive with what you said in your first post....

"Added more RAM to the machine about 2 months ago, everything working fine until now."

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November 5, 2010 at 18:50:51
The person who owns the computer added the RAM. I guess I should have made that more clear as well.

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November 6, 2010 at 07:26:48
It is preferred by those of us who frequently answer on this site for whoever started the subject to supply a reasonable amount of info that they think may be related to their problem, and the more of that they provide in the initial post the better, but this statement ....

"Added more RAM to the machine about 2 months ago, everything working fine until now."

leads me to believe that it is a lot more likely the problem was caused by a poor connection of the ram in it's slots, rather than

"....they were inserted (by someone else) into the wrong slots when they were installed."

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