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Welcome to the Landmark Web, your guide to the issues surrounding personal computing and effective use of your own PC. We've made many resources available here: from broad-based news and views about the computing industry to specific technical support for you and your computer. So dig in and learn more about your computer and the Internet with Landmark as your guide.

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My system is locking up!

Finding the cause of a lock up can be difficult and frustrating. Try to determine if it is caused by a software problem, a hardware problem, or something external to your machine. If possible, make just one change at a time until you discover the cause.

  • Software:
    • Application specific -- Is the machine only locking up under one application?
    • Viruses, worms, and spyware: Is the computer fully disinfected?
    • Operating system patches: Make sure Windows is up to date. Microsoft's Windows Update site
    • Latest drivers for video and IDE devices: You can get these from the Windows Update site. Note: Do not update the nVidia video driver! Reinstall from your original driver disk instead.
    • Look for temporary files and delete them. Do NOT do this while applications are running. You will generally find them in C:\Windows\temp and C:\temp. Empty the Recycle Bin while you're at it! Run Scandisk and Defrag. Possibly file allocation problems or fragmented files are breaking your system.
  • Firmware:
    • Advanced CMOS settings: make sure CMOS timing values are set to "default". Improper settings can cause havoc. Note: Do not change CMOS settings if you don't know what you're doing!
    • Upgrade the BIOS revision to a newer one. Please read all the steps before doing this procedure. Note: The time to read the manual is before you flash the BIOS!
  • Hardware:
    • Check all the jumper settings on the mainboard if you've been playing around in there. Pay special attention to jumper settings for the CPU, bus settings, voltages, and L2 cache settings.
    • L2 cache may be bad. Disable the cache by removing it if possible and changing the jumper settings -- or, as a minimum, disable the cache in the BIOS settings.
    • New or incompatible devices such as video cards, SCSI cards, etc. could be conflicting. Remove all devices except the bare minimum, then add them back in one at a time.
    • Cooling fans: Some systems have as many as eight fans! Pay particular attention to the CPU fan and the fan(s) inside the power supply. They should be running quietly and swiftly. If anything feels burning hot, shut the system down until you can replace the failed fan! Note: The video board may have a small fan on board. If this fails, video may stop updating, causing a general lockup.
    • Power supply: A failing power supply can bring the system to its knees.
    • Core memory modules: timing may be off. Slow down memory timing in CMOS.
  • External causes
    • Poor or fluctuating power from the AC outlet. You may need an Uninterruptible Power Supply that can smooth and filter line current changes. See Surges, Spikes, and Noise on the old Landmark Web site.

system-lockup.shtml     |     Updated Wednesday, November 8, 2006
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