Screen goes blank and computer frozen at random times

September 18, 2012 at 17:00:52
Specs: Windows 7, AMD Turion 2.4GHz/4GB RAM
A few days ago I downloaded and installed the game Minecraft for my son. After successful install, when I first opened the game my laptop screen went blank and no other response from it (well not actually blank, but vertical black and white lines). I had to press and hold the power button to shut it down, and then tried to turn it back on. The fan and keyboard lights came on, but no response from the display, except the backlight. Not even the bios splash screen. I shut it back down and let it sit for a little while and tried to boot again and this time was successful just as if nothing had happened. Everything seemed to be fine except it was now running a little sluggish. I proceeded to uninstall the game and ran a full scan with Malware Bites Anti-Malware, which found nothing. I then figured it was just some type of glitch or overheat and played around with it for a little bit and everything was working fine. I then walked away from it, only to come back 15 or so minutes later to see I had the same blank screen and frozen problem as described before. I shut it down as I did before and tried to restart, but this time it restarted just fine (as opposed to the last time where I couldn’t even get the bios “flash screen”), I only booted into safe mode this time. Again, everything seemed fine while in safe mode, so I took a break and went to have dinner only to come back to another blank screen, remembering this was while it was still in safe mode. I rebooted again into normal mode and ran system restore to the day before I installed the game. After the restore I played around with it more, tested the screen saver, played some videos, etc and it seemed fine, except for still the sluggishness. I walked away for a little bit only for once again to see it happened again; blank screen and un-responsive.

It has happened a dozen more times intermittently since then and seems to have no rhyme or reason to what causes this problem. Sometimes the screen goes completely blank, other times it has those vertical black and white lines, sometimes it restarts just fine while others I can’t even get the bios screen/pre-boot info to display, and others I get the bios to display, but stays blank afterwards. Whenever I cannot get it to boot right away, I just let it sit for 5 minutes and try again and it always boots fine then.

These are the possible solutions I have already tried, but still having the problem afterwards:
Complete virus and malware scan finding nothing
System restore to the day prior to the first event
Latest update of display driver
Clean booted by un-checking everything except anti-virus in msconfig.exe
Checked the event viewer for relevant errors, but nothing significant
Used compressed air to clean any dust from computer fans + propped up laptop to get better air circulation under it
Connected to an external monitor, but same problem occurs while connected

Now, by mere chance there is one event that I found that can trigger the problem, otherwise it seems completely random. If I try to update my Windows Experience/System Rating (in computer properties), it will instantly “crash” (don’t confuse the term crash with the” blue screen of death”, I am not getting that!). I have also noticed that it will only “crash” when under AC power. I let it sit on battery power until it died and not once during that time did it crash. I recharged it and let it run on battery till about 50% then plugged it in and about 15 minutes later it “crashed” again. It also seems to “crash” only when the computer is idle for a little bit (with the exception of one time when it happened while writing this).

Any suggestions? It is really getting annoying… I think it’s fixed or it’s not showing symptoms then I’ll walk away to come back to it frozen. I find it a little too coincidental that the problem started just as the graphics loaded when I first started that game mentioned in the beginning.


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#1
September 18, 2012 at 17:30:19

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#2
September 19, 2012 at 04:31:23
Sadly, yes :( .
I understand that torrents often carry viruses, and I'm not saying this is not a virus problem, however all scans came back clean, the computer is otherwise running jsut fine and lastly is it even possible for a virus to affect wether the bios screen displays or not?

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#3
September 19, 2012 at 05:10:12
So the question is: "Is this an infection that is very good at hiding, or is this something else and just a coincidence?"
You must check out both possibilities equally until you are sure.
If you do not have a current one, make a back up to an external source.
Install HWMonitor or similar to check your internal temperatures. Report results.
Check your installed programs list to see if there is anything there you need to uninstall. Google and list anything suspect.
Run msconfig and go to Start Tab. See if there is anything there that should not be and uncheck it. In fact you can uncheck all except Microsoft and your antivirus program. Apply and restart the machine.
Install Process Explorer from Microsoft and run it to see if there is anything there that is apparent that is showing unusual activity. Process Explorer will show you more about the processes running than Task Manager. Google and list anything that is suspect.
Restart in Safe Mode with Networking, update and run Malwarebytes and then your antivirus program, removing anything they find. Running them in Safe Mode often helps them find some of the more elusive malware.
While in Safe mode, Update your drivers in case any have been corrupted.
Restart Normal and report findings.

You have to be a little bit crazy to keep you from going insane.


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#4
September 21, 2012 at 05:33:20
Sorry for the delay... So I am about 95% sure this is a hardware problem now. As stated in an earlier post, whenever it 'crashes" I have to wait like 5-10 minutes with it completely off before I can reboot. Otherwisethe screen will just go blank randomly during the boot process and most of the time before or just after the bios "flash screen". The time I have to wait to reboot is getting longer and longer as the problem continues. So last night while I was unable to reboot, I swapped the HD with a blank spare that I had and tried to power up. Knowing there was no OS to boot into I tried to just get into the bios settings, but a few seconds after boot, the screen went blank just as before with the regular HD. I tried several different times both with the blank Hd and no HD at all, and but each time randomly from 2 to 20 seconds after pressing the power button, the screen went blank. I got fed up, out the regular HD back in and went to bed.

I woke up this morning and powered up and everything is working fine today. The 5% that is making me think that this is NOT a hardware problem is that like right now, it is working just fine. If I am running on battery power, it wil never crash like it has been. Also, if I am plugged in and disable the screen saver it will also NOT crash. And there is the third thing where if I try to update my Windows Experience score in computer properties, it will instantly crash. Oh, and also plugged in or not, if I am activly using it it wont crash, it is only while it is at idle is when it crashes.

So, this brings on two questions now. If it is hardware, then what piece of hardware is it, and being that this is a laptop, is there any way of fixing it or replacing it? Second, if it still is a virus, is there any way a virus can "hide" in the bios or ram, since the problem continued without the HD even installed (meaniing maybe the virus causes the crash, and then it lingers somewhere else for those 15 minutes while its powered off)?

After I hit send on this I am trying one experiment... Since it is currently working right now I am going to power down and try the blank HD again and see if I can get into bios settings or not. My guess is that I will be able to right now. What are anyones thoughts on this right now?


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#5
September 21, 2012 at 18:27:55
Ok another update which is really making me confused now. I basically cannot even get into bios settings. Technically I can get into them, but randomly soon after I will have the same blank screen appear and have to shut down. i have to let it sit for like 20 minutes now after each "blank screen freeze" but afterwards i can always boot into windows just fine. Through trial and error I did notice something interesting now...

In the task manager I noticed a svchost process that was taking up 133,000k+ memory (at the top of the list when sorted by usage). I don’t recall ever seeing that before. I located the services related to that particular svchost and one by one stopped them and waited to see if it would crash. It was after disabling the "Desktop Window Manager Session Manager" (which I found out is the service for the Aero theme) when I noticed it stopped crashing. Probably unrelated, but it was the superfetch service that was taking up the majority of the memory that svchost was using.

Like stated in previous posts, every time I tried updating my System Rating it would crash, but then I noticed that at the point where it always crashed, that it was saying (I dont recall the exact phrase but) something like "Testing Direct 3D Aero ‘something’" , then the screen would go blank. I find it a little coincidental that it instantly crashes when testing the Aero ability and does not crash whenever the aero theme is disabled. Of course I have no Idea how this would be related to me not being able to get into bios settings without it crashing though.

I’m completely confused as to what to conclude the problem as now. Any additional input would be greatly appreciated Thank you


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