Random freezes in Win XP even in safe mode

October 16, 2010 at 10:43:15
Specs: Windows XP, 2GHz Athlon XP, 1GB RAM
I have a PC where most of the hardware is several years old (1GB RAM, 2GHz AthlonXP CPU) and it is running Win XP SP2. The PC had been running perfectly until a few days ago. I was working on something and then the whole system froze. The mouse wouldn't move, no response to ctrl-alt-del, nothing. I also noticed that the HDD light on the case was stuck on though there didn't seem to be any HDD activity (at least I couldn't hear any). I didn't think much of it and hit the reset button.

The PC ran fine for another day or so and it happened again. The freezes then slowly got more and more frequent until now where I can't do anything productive on the PC anymore.

Here's a lot more details I've observed and things I've done to try and diagnose the problem:

- The freezes still seem to be fairly random in terms of when they occur
- The earliest the freeze ever occurs is on the WinXP login screen with no user interaction at all. It shows the login screen and immediately freezes. Sometimes you can just leave it sitting at the login screen and it will freeze 15 mins later.
- Sometimes it freezes after login but before the Windows taskbar is on-screen
- Sometimes it freezes after the taskbar and desktop are shown as startup apps are loading
- Sometimes everything runs normally for 30-60 minutes and then it freezes
- It freezes both when I am doing something and even simply sitting idle
- Sometimes it seems to freeze right when I try to load an app or something and other times it freezes when I'm just moving my mouse cursor across a webpage
- I have not been trying to do anything intensive with my PC lately (like games or other heavy apps), but that hasn't helped with the freezes

- I can't rule out a software issue, but I haven't installed or uninstalled anything major in the past week or so. The biggest thing I installed was the Python programming language. Definitely didn't install anything suspect (e.g. - pirated software downloaded off the web)

- Safe Mode is more stable, but still freezes
- The PC seems stable in Safe Mode at the login screen. I have left it at the Safe Mode login screen overnight with no issues
- At first I thought the PC never froze in Safe Mode, but now I've noticed that it does occasionally
- It has frozen in Safe Mode (again, randomly, not every time) when I have double clicked My Computer, opened a JPG, attempted to run a virus scan
- Freezing in Safe Mode definitely seems to be related to what I am doing and it never seems to freeze when the PC is idle. This was making me lean towards it being a hardware problem and perhaps some kind of overheat issue.

- No new hardware has been added to the PC in years other than a replacement hard drive after a hard drive failure a few months ago

- BIOS PC health status looks normal
- Checked immediately after a freeze
- CPU temperature looked normal
- PSU voltages were all fairly close to what they were supposed to be

- CPU is not overclocked

- The HDD light is ALWAYS stuck on when the freeze occurs

- One time I was paying close attention to the HDD light as Win XP started. I noticed that it was flashing normally and I heard the corresponding HDD activity. Then, I noticed the sound stopped, but the light stopped flashing and was stuck in the on position. I also noticed that when this happened I could still move my mouse for another 5 seconds or so before the whole system froze. This seemed like important information somehow, so I mention it here.

- I ran Western Digital's Data Lifeguard diagnostics on the HDD and it found no errors or problems at all

That's about it. If anybody has any tips on what to do about this I would greatly appreciate it. The next steps I'm going to try on my end are running Memtest86 to see if there's some bad RAM maybe, and to try running from a WinXP boot disk to eliminate the possibility of a software problem.

See More: Random freezes in Win XP even in safe mode

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October 16, 2010 at 11:19:39
I've had this problem before, its usually caused by virus or trojan. Best way to get rid of it is to do a fresh install of windows.

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October 16, 2010 at 11:46:58
'I've had this problem before, its usually caused by virus or trojan. Best way to get rid of it is to do a fresh install of windows.'

Just wondering if that person is qualified to answer questions? REformat and install is a LAST resort.

casimps1, You will have to do numerous scans for malware and viruses
Start with
2-Trojan Remover
3-Hitman pro
Remove all they find and see if your PC runs better...if not, there are more free progs to help in the cleanup ;-)

Some HELP in posting on Computing.net plus free progs and instructions Cheers

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October 16, 2010 at 11:50:29
Yep great response by "chillhotorcold", everyones an expert !!!!!!!!

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Related Solutions

October 16, 2010 at 14:24:44
Don't preclude the possibility of a hardware fault.

Check all internal connections. Clean edge connectors (particularly RAM) with a pencil eraser then pop the RAM/Cards in and out a few times to ensure there is no oxide on the sockets.

Ms Hulot's boat

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October 18, 2010 at 07:39:19
OK, here's the update:

I ran Memtest86 overnight and it never froze and no problems were found.

I used an old WinXP boot disk so that everything was running off of a CD instead of the hard drive. Then I did Chkdsk on the hard drive. It never froze and found no hard drive problems.

This pointed me back to it being a software problem, so next stop was to try and make it through a virus scan (since it always froze when I tried to scan in standard or safe mode Win XP)

I downloaded and burned an AVG anti-virus bootable rescue disk. It virus scanned my whole hard drive without freezing and found one virus in my Java cache. It identified it as some kind of downloader. I deleted that rebooted into standard WinXP from my hard drive about 2 hours ago and so far have had no problems. ~fingers crossed~

Web Promotion for the Poor and Destitute

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October 18, 2010 at 11:14:52
Thx for popping back - hope that is the fix.

Ms Hulot's boat

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