Computing Staff
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Computer Freezing When Idle

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I’ve got a dual boot system, with both W2000 Pro, SP whatever, and XP Pro, SP3. I’m using XP Pro all the time now. Last time I tried booting to 2000 it told me that so many things needed updating, so I just quit. I think I’ll eventually just delete the W2000 partition.

Anyway,,XP has been very stable, with no memorable “events”, since I figured setting the BIOS for “optimal” or “best performance” (I forget which one I chose) cleared up some freezing and unable to boot problems, over a year ago.

However, lately (in the past year) I’ve had a new addition, a PCI card for USB 2.0. It has 4 available ports to the outside and one inside the case. I’ve noticed that when I begin doing things with a thumb drive, using the interior port, or even the external ones, the system becomes unstable and won’t boot, won’t shut down, etc.

I got through that, and it seemed it was gone, but recently I did something with the internal USB port (on the card) that crashed the system again, and this time, it seems as if it isn’t done screwing with me. Now, whenever I go away from the computer for a length of time (haven’t fully defined exactly WHAT “length of time” yet, though it seems to happen after a relatively short period, say, 15 minutes or so), I come back to find it frozen where I left it. If it was re-booting (automatic Windows updates, for example), it froze in reboot, and I’m looking at a blank screen. If it froze where I left it, the cursor and keyboard are simply not responding, and Ctrl-Alt-Delete doesn’t work either, so in any case, I have to simply do a hard shut-down and start, or push the restart button, and it comes up ready to rock.

But it seems to freeze almost any time I leave it. Sometimes I’ll come back and turn on the monitor, and get no response from the mouse (black screen, or Windows XP screen).

I’ve disabled Power Management in BIOS, disabled any screen saving (“none”).

Well,,I was surprised that this time, I came back to the computer and it was responding. Nothing was left open. But last time I did the same thing, I found it locked up, cursor unresponsive.

I’m just scratching my head trying to decide what to do next.

Worst case, I’ll save a bunch of stuff on a spare HDD and re-boot to the XP disc and do a re-install, this time without the W2000 partition. (Though I have no idea whether the problem will still remain or not.)

I’m wondering about the CMOS battery. What is the lowest voltage it should read, in “SIW” without affecting the performance of the computer?

Anyway,,anyone out there got any ideas? Memory seems to check out okay.

Maybe I’ll unplug it, take it downstairs and blow out the dust, remove cards and connectors and re-connect everything, just to make sure it isn’t dust or connector corrosion related.

Oh,,I’m also hearing something new, like a “mosquito” quickly buzzing and then stopping, in the area of the hard drives, sometimes, when it’s accessing something I guess. It seems to be a new sound, though just yesterday I re-checked the two hard drives with a Seatools diagnostic ISO CD I made. Both drives passed the long test with no problems.

If I had a million bucks, I’d just buy some new hardware and build again, but I don’t, so I’m trying to make this circa 2000 computer last.

I’ve also tried diddling with BIOS defaults, for instance “F6” and “F7”, which, respectively, put the BIOS into “optimal” performance or “best” performance mode. This is what I did back when it was messing up before, and wouldn’t shut down or boot, and it worked that time. It’s been smooth sailing up ’til now, since then.

I think it worked that time because something about the memory timing was off, and the default setting worked to fix that.


edit: Just re-booted and it froze in the “windows is shutting down” screen.