PC playing up.

Tony Williams
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PC playing up.

Post by Tony Williams » Wed Oct 28, 2015 4:07 pm

For some weeks now, my PC (running Windows 7) has been intermittently playing up in a variety of ways. The problem occurs when it is switched on. Maybe half the time it starts normally, but the rest of the time a range of different things can happen:

Sometimes I get a black screen except for the cursor which I can move around, but it can't do anything. So I have to switch off manually and start again.

Or I get a pop-up box saying that there were problems with Start-up and advising me to go into the automatic Start-up Repair mode.

Or I get a blue screen with lots of white text saying something about a "crash dump", which is usually followed by a black screen advising me to start in "Safe Mode".

Or I get the normal desktop but none of the icons functions.

Today I ran the gamut of the blue screen followed by an invitation to start in Safe Mode (which I ignored as usual). I was able to log on as usual and everything seems normal - except that on the internet, the "forward" and "return" buttons are disabled.

I always manage to get it operating eventually, on the basis of "if at first I don't succeed, try again". Curiously, the problems were more severe a few weeks ago and I thought the PC was on the way out, but it seems to have recovered somewhat.

Any helpful comments appreciated. Should I buy a new one (it's a few years old) or is this a known bug which can be sorted?

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Zep
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Re: PC playing up.

Post by Zep » Wed Oct 28, 2015 4:08 pm

Well, I'd say it's on the verge of a collapse. More specifically, I'd be looking at your hard disk to start with. Has it clocked up any errors? Check the system error logs. Do you need help with that sort of thing?

My suggested plan of action:
0. TAKE A FRIGGING BACKUP! NOW!! DO IT!!!
1. Do a Disk Check with repair, then Defrag. These should complete without error (and at least the PC will run slightly better) or else you have a disk problem - see about repairs or replacement.
2. TAKE ANOTHER FRIGGING BACKUP!
3. Test the memory. Rearrange the RAM in your PC. If it has two pieces, swap them. Work out a pattern if using 3 or more. Try with one piece only in the first slot, then the next and so on (yes, the PC will slow down but it will still work). See if the errors disappear, or turn up sooner or later, or no change (which is good - your RAM is fine if so).
4. TAKE ANOTHER ... yeah, you know what.
5. Reinstall Windows. Sometimes, just sometimes, it manages to corrupt bits and pieces of the OS on disk. This leads to assorted weird glitches and freezes, etc. Win7 has a repair function but you need to have planned for using that. You did do that when you bought/installed initially...yes? (No, me neither :))
6. And after you re-install...yep, you guessed it: Take a backup before you do anything else.


(Backup seems to be a lost art among PC people these days. I always tell my students that running a PC without backups is like hang-gliding without a parachute: You should fly only as high as you are prepared to fall...).

Tony Williams
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Re: PC playing up.

Post by Tony Williams » Wed Oct 28, 2015 4:09 pm

My knowledge of the inner workings of PCs is nil - I can use a limited range of functions (mainly Word, web-surfing and email, with sketchy knowledge of Powerpoint, Paint Shop and Front Page).

However, as a result of an early bad experience I am obsessive about backups. I immediately save every file I create or modify onto a USB stick and transfer it to my backup notebook computer on a regular basis, and also burn CDs of important files. The only files I have never found out how to transfer in a form which is actually usable are my emails (but I do keep a backed-up Word file up to date with all the email addresses of people I might want to contact). For everything else I'm well covered, so it wouldn't be a disaster if the desktop fell over - I'd plug my notebook into the web and carry on - it would just be a nuisance having to replace it.

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bindeweede
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Re: PC playing up.

Post by bindeweede » Wed Oct 28, 2015 4:09 pm

Tony, this is not going to be much help, but I had similar problems to those you describe with my less than 2 year old laptop, last July. Even re-installing Windows did not help. Luckily it was still under warranty, so back to John Lewis it went, and they did indeed replace the hard disk.

It might come down to you having to decide whether to spend whatever on diagnostics and repair of your PC, or spending some of your heard-earned on a new, probably more powerful machine. With a decent warranty.

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Zep
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Re: PC playing up.

Post by Zep » Wed Oct 28, 2015 4:10 pm

Start / All Programs / Accessories / System Tools / Disk Defragmenter

Tony Williams
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Re: PC playing up.

Post by Tony Williams » Wed Oct 28, 2015 4:10 pm

Zep wrote:Start / All Programs / Accessories / System Tools / Disk Defragmenter
Thanks for that, but having done that I instantly hit a snag: a pop-up box headed: "Disk Defragmenter was scheduled using another program." and "Disk Defragmenter currently using customised settings created by another program. Before you can modify the schedule, you must remove customised settings."

The only program I can think of which this might be referring to is Norton 360, which IIRC has a "clean-up" element to it. What next...?

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Re: PC playing up.

Post by Matt » Wed Oct 28, 2015 4:11 pm

Ah yes sounds like what's happened is it's broken.
What you need to do is to mend it.
;-)
More seriously. I'm afraid that it doesn't look like any typical problem. Could be malware I'd check using Panda Actrive Scan
http://www.pandasecurity.com/activescan ... ack=100588

Being online it's always up to date and my experience is it's one of the best in reacting to new threats. However you'll have to use something else to clean if it does find something as they charge for the cleaner and inputing credit card details on a compromised computer is an unnecessary risk.

Assuming panda comes up clear of anything but cookies, if I were you I'd then run a disk check to see if the hard disk has a whole lot of errors on it. Probably best not to run a defrag before doing a disk check as shuffling data around on a disk with bad sectors will lead to data loss. Running checkdisk will mean that bad sectors are discovered and marked so they they don't get used. I can't imagine that a fragmented harddisk could cause the sort of errors you describe but what the hey run a defrag if you like.

After that I'd try running windows setup and choosing to do a repair.

If that doesn't work a complete reinstall of windows would be in order though that would require reinstalling all you applications too.

You might find that you don't have the windows disks. Manufacturers seem curiously stingy with install media these days and offfer their own system recovery solutions.

As for backing up your emails this depends on your email client. If you used Outlook for example all your messages, contacts and calendar will all be stored in one file called a pst file.

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Re: PC playing up.

Post by Matt » Wed Oct 28, 2015 4:12 pm

Tony Williams wrote:
Zep wrote:Start / All Programs / Accessories / System Tools / Disk Defragmenter
Thanks for that, but having done that I instantly hit a snag: a pop-up box headed: "Disk Defragmenter was scheduled using another program." and "Disk Defragmenter currently using customised settings created by another program. Before you can modify the schedule, you must remove customised settings."

The only program I can think of which this might be referring to is Norton 360, which IIRC has a "clean-up" element to it. What next...?
Norton is notoriously shit these days. Remove it. Add a free virus checker like AVG or Avast. I use comodo. Find who installed Norton on your PC and punch them on the nose.

Also don't run a defrag until you tried some of the other options above, specifically a disk check. Use Nortons disk checker if you really must but the built in one is just fine.

Usually the windows disk checker will not be able to work on the boot disk whilst the PC is running. So it will schedule a check to happen when you restart windows. That'll be what the first message you mention will be intended for. Though it's just as likely that Norton is triggering the message in their ham fisted attempt to replace a perfectly adequate tool.

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Re: PC playing up.

Post by Tony Williams » Wed Oct 28, 2015 4:13 pm

Thanks Matt, but whereabouts is "disk check"? The System Tools folder has a "Disk Cleanup" next to the defrag, is that it?

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Asthmatic Camel
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Re: PC playing up.

Post by Asthmatic Camel » Wed Oct 28, 2015 4:14 pm

Checkdisk details Here.

It does sound like a hard drive problem but if you need to reinstall windows 7 and don't have a disk, it's possible to download a copy. You should have a valid registration key stuck to your machine somewhere. Linky. (Just make sure you download the currently installed version or the key won't work.)

Hope this helps and good luck!

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Re: PC playing up.

Post by Tony Williams » Wed Oct 28, 2015 4:15 pm

hanks gentlemen, I've done the disk check but all seems OK...

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Zep
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Re: PC playing up.

Post by Zep » Wed Oct 28, 2015 4:16 pm

As above, now you need to check (1) RAM errors, and (2) Windows disk image situation, i.e. a Windows Repair.

Also, you should be able to get a Windows 7 (re)install disk from your original vendor if you don't have one. If he didn't give it to you then he has nicked it. It may have been an OEM version, or specific to the manufacturer or PC model. But it should have been in the carton somewhere when you bought your new PC.

PERSONAL COMMENT: Used to use it years ago but I despise Nortons now. It used to be acceptable performance, even a useful product suite. But lately it has become nothing more than a large excrescence that is awful to scrape off the sole of your PC's shoe. It has been stuck in the PC-included packets because that's about the only way Nortons can shift the product. There are plenty of good alternatives that are free/economy-priced, even for corporate use. I use AVG antivirus myself for personal use, with good results so far. (http://free.grisoft.com - just take care: it will install an added toolbar by default (Ask?) - pain in the bum ... unless you really want it). Plus other security tools at the network level plus anti-spamware.

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Asthmatic Camel
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Re: PC playing up.

Post by Asthmatic Camel » Wed Oct 28, 2015 4:16 pm

Tony, if it does turn out to be a memory problem, Crucial have a free scanner available that will advise you about compatible replacements. I've dealt with them several times and they're reliable and reasonable on price.

And I agree with zep about Norton; it's horrible!

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Re: PC playing up.

Post by Croydon13013 » Wed Oct 28, 2015 4:17 pm

My grievance with Norton is not that it was rubbish but that they ripped me off. Many years ago, purchased a PC that had Norton on it, 3 month free trial. Then paid for a one year subscription when the 3 months was up. 6 months later it said that my year would be up in 30 days and counted down and then stopped working. All attempts to contact them to complain were completely ignored. So they still owe me 5 months of internet security. Norton stole from me.

I've tried Titanium, abandoned after one year because renewing is too complicated. They keep adding things that you haven't agreed to purchase and you have to go back, delete, and then put your details in all over again. Titanium behave like dodgy scam artists and I don't want crooks looking after my security.

I couldn't get AVG to download and work. Might try it again some time.
thIS sIGnaTure iS an

Matt
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Re: PC playing up.

Post by Matt » Wed Oct 28, 2015 4:18 pm

So if you're malware free and your disk is free from errors then I'd usually be moving onto reinstalling windows about now. But memory scanning isn't a bad idea. Many systems will allow you to boot to a diagnostic mode which includes a memory scan. Failing that you could try something like the ultimate boot CD which has a variety of diagnostic tools on it including some good memory scanners.

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