IE and Firefox keeps crashing

August 12, 2009 at 14:03:51
Specs: Windows XP SP3, AMD Phenom II X4 / 4GB RAM
On a fairly clean install, Firefox and Internet Explorer 7 keeps crashing. The event viewer does not list any obvious reasons to this behavior. I have tested the memory (both with memtest and by swapping memory slots as well as alternating dual and single channel). Booting up the computer in safe mode yielded the same result. There are no malicious softwares on the system that can cause this behavior either.
I am now empty in terms of troubleshooting methods, and since the reason why the crashes happens is unclear, I have no idea where to continue my quest of finding the reason.
Do you guys have any ideas to what to do next?

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August 12, 2009 at 16:01:31
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.

Windows can't always tell you what specifically is wrong. If it names a file, the name of the file is often a file affected by something else having gone wrong Windows can't specify.You could try searching the web with the exact error message or several words in a row in it - sometimes that helps you find what is really wrong. Note that Stop message codes are useful but usually the stuff in brackets listed after them is specific to your system and completely useless when searching the web so usually you don't use that.

With that said, if error messges name files starting with n, they may be nVidia files. If you have a nVidia main chipset or an nVidia video adapter, search the computer, or search the web, with the name of the file to see if the n... file is probably an nVidia file. If it is, it is well known nVidia usually does NOT fix problems with their main chipset or video drivers - in that case you may need to un-install them and try a newer or older version.

Note that software on CDs, especially for video, may have bugs - you could try un-installing that and loading the current newest, or a different, version you get on the web.

If you have ATI video, note that the display drivers version and the Catalyst version are matched to each other - the display drivers are version is updated more often than the Catalyst version. If you update the display drivers version, it's best to un-install the old ones first, and either make sure the Catalyst version already installed is listed on the ATI web site along with the drivers version, or un-install both the drivers and Catalyst then install the matched set of new display drivers and Catalyst, (e.g. the default all in one installation), otherwise, you may have problems.

It is common to un-intentionally damage IDE data cables, especially while removing them - the 80 wire ones are more likely to be damaged. What usually happens is the cable is ripped at either edge and the wires there are either damaged or severed, often right at a connector or under it's cable clamp there, where it's hard to see - if a wire is severed but it's ends are touching, the connection is intermittant, rather than being reliable.
Another common thing is for the data cable to be separated from the connector contacts a bit after you have removed a cable - there should be no gap between the data cable and the connector - if there is press the cable against the connector to eliminate the gap.
80 wire data cables are also easily damaged at either edge if the cable is sharply creased at a fold in the cable.

Try another data cable if in doubt.

Check your SATA data cables. The connector on each end should "latch" into the socket on the drive and on the mboard, or on the drive controller card - it should not move when you merely brush your hand against it near the socket - if it does, mere vibration can cause a poor connection of it - use another SATA data cable that does "latch", or tape the connector in place.
(There is a slight projection or bump on one side of the outside of the connector that "latches" it into the socket - it's easily broken off or damaged)

The same thing applies for the SATA power connection.

Check your hard drive with the manufacturer's diagnostics.
See the latter part of response 1 in this:

(thanks to Dan Penny for this link:)
Hard Drive Diagnostics Tools and Utilities

If you don't have a floppy drive, you can get a CD image diagnostic utility from most hard drive manufacturer's web sites, but obviously you would need to make a burned CD, preferably a CD-R for best compatibilty, on another computer if you need to.

If the hard drive itself tests okay, any data problems found can be fixed, one way or another.

Failing power supplies are common and can cause your symptoms.
Check your PS.
E.g. if the computer BLACK screens and reboots, that's probably NOT normal, and may be caused by a failing power supply.
See response 4 in this:

The cpu overheating can cause your problem.
If that's your case, the computer will probably work fine for a while after it has been booted after the computer and cpu have cooled to room temp, but when the cpu gets too hot the computer will randomly "mis-behave" , and most bioses will eventually shut off the system, and it won't boot again until the cpu has cooled below a certain temp.
You can find and check the current cpu temp in most biose Setups - it should bechecked after the comuter has had a chance to fully warm up - e.g. at least 15 minutes after booting.
The causes of that..........
- the cpu fan and heatsink have accumlated too much mung (lint, dust, etc.) and need to be cleaned. If the computer is in a room with wall to wall carpeting, especially if it's in a location closer to the floor, lint can accumalate inside the case quite rapidly. NEVER use a vacuum cleaner to clean up the mung, unless it's a special one designed for cleaning computers - they produce a tremendous amount of static electricity when running - unless you can rig it up to BLOW air at the computer without you touching anything connected to the vacuum to the case or mboard. Use canned air, or small artist's brushes, or if you have access to an air compresser, blow it off with that.
Don't use more case fans than you need - you'll just cause the mung to accumulate inside the case faster - e.g. the AMD supplied heat piped heatsink/fan works so well you really don't need any case fan at all, although your could have one for just in case the cpu fan and heatsink get clogged with mung.
- the cpu fan is failing - either it's spinning too slowly or has stopped spinning - in that case if it still spins it's common for the fan bearings to cause a squealing or rattling noise when you have started up the compter after it has been sitting for a while - several hours or overnight - . and has cooled to room temp
- overclocking settings that are heating up the cpu too much - e.g. increasing the core voltage usually does't increase performance significantly but it makes the cpu run hotter under any loads.
- an inadequate heatsink or heatsink fan combo. If you got yours along with the Phenom in an AMD boxed set, that combo is excellent, but if you didn't whatever you're using may not be adequate, especially if you have a higher wattage Phenom.

Install all essential Microsoft Updates for your IE version even if you don't want to use IE as your browser. (Automatic Update set to default settings does that automatically). When an IE version is installed a lot more files than just the files for the browser are installed - those other files are used by all sorts of other prgrams in Windows, including other internet browsers.

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August 12, 2009 at 16:38:28
Thanks for the extensive reply. However, the system does not restart or trigger a BSOD. Skype randomly crashes, and IE, and Firefox always crashes. Other than that, the computer runs just fine. So it is not something obvious, which makes this process so much harder.

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August 12, 2009 at 16:59:28
Are you like most people and most of the time you're on the web? Do you have problems when you're not on the web too?

What do you mean when you say it's crashing?
If you're merely losing your internet connection that's a whole different subject.

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August 13, 2009 at 10:37:14
This machine is mainly used for software development, either in Perl or VB.NET, but even so, living without Internet is not really an option.

When I say crashing, I mean crashing (as in the program stops responding and closes down). Firefox provides a crash/bug report once it crashed, but that does not do me any good.

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August 14, 2009 at 10:08:28
My Firefox is doing the same thing but just today, surprised I am able to type this, expecting it to close any second. Just Firefox having issues, no updates available atm, here's hoping!

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