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Press F8 repeatedly while booting, don't hold down the key, and when the boot choices menu appears, choose
Disable automatic restart on system failure.
You may then get a blue screen message that will stay on the screen, rather than the computer restarting for no apparent reason.
If you get a blue screen message, tell us what the message says.
(we don't need the stuff in brackets after that)
Is a specific file name named ?
If so, tell us what it is.
If you are able to use Windows for at least a short time, pressing F8 while booting and selecting
Disable automatic restart on system failure
is a one shot thing.
To have Windows always do that....
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.
or - you may have a ram problem.
I'm assuming you have NOT changed which ram you have installed in the mboard since the computer last worked normally. If you HAVE changed which ram you have installed, that's another subject.
Almost always, when you have a problem with ram that was working fine previously, you ram has NOT gone BAD suddenly - it merely has a poor connection the ram slot(s).
See response 2 in this - try cleaning the contacts on the ram modules, and making sure the modules are properly seated:
For a generic desktop computer, see the mboard manual if you need to - how to remove or replace the ram is usually in that.
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 arespecified 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).
AFTER you have tried re-seating the ram and optionally cleaning the contacts on the ram modules......
test the ram with a ram diagnostics program
E.g. 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:
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).
- or - your mboard may have failing electrolytic capacitors.
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.:
or - your power supply may be failing.
Find the label on the power supply, and tell us what the maximum total output capacity in watts is.
If you have a video card in a mboard slot, tell us what it's make and model is.
It's video chipset is shown in Device Manager in Windows under Display adapters,
(RIGHT click on My Computer - Properties - Hardware .... - Device Manager. )
Tell us what that is.
and the specific model may be obvious when you examine the video card.
Failing power supplies are common and can cause your symptoms.
Check your PS.
See response 4 in this:
If it is failing, you can usually replace it with any decent standard sized standard ATX PS with the same capacity or greater.
Standard (PS/2) power supply size - 86mm high, 150mm wide, 140mm deep, or 3 3/8" h x 5 7/8" w x 5 1/2" d , or very close to that, though the depth can be more or less for some PSs.
Don't buy an el-cheapo PS.
See response 3 in this:
If you have a video card in a mboard slot, these days we are frequently hearing of people who have installed a video card tthat their power supply hasn't got at least the minimum wattage capacity capacity to support using that video card.
Your power supply must have at least the minumum capacity required to support a system with the graphics card you are using installed, or the max graphics card you might install in the future.
(Onboard video - video built into the mboard - IS NOT A CARD ! )
If that info is not in the ad for the video card, you can go to the video card maker's web site and look up the specs for the model - often under system requirements - the minimum PS wattage, and, more important, the minimum amperage the PS must supply at 12v is stated. If you don't find that, any card with the same video chipset including any letters after the model number has very similar minimum PS requirements. Some power supplies have two or more +12v ratings - in that case, add those ratings to determine the total +12v current capacity.
If you're a gamer.....
In most if not all cases, the max capacity rating of the PS is an intermittant rating. It's recommended that you do not load your PS to any more that 80% of that rating if you are going to be using something that puts a constant load on it, such as playing a recent game for hours on end. In that case, you multiply the min capacity stated for the system with the particular video chipset on the card by 1.25 to find the min. capacity of the PS you should get.