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Windows 7: Total system crashes -- possibly hardware (south bridge) related?

01 Mar 2012   #1

Win 7 64bit
Total system crashes -- possibly hardware (south bridge) related?

Hi guys, I need a little help diagnosing a weird problem. It began when I noticed that my mouse and keyboard weren't being recognized by the BIOS during bootup -- but, oddly enough, they were recognized and worked fine once Windows booted. I tried a couple of things, ended up reflashing the BIOS, but no dice. Finally I figured out that I happened to have both the KB and mouse plugged into USB3.0 slots in the back of the computer. When I plugged them into normal USB slots, they were recognized fine by the BIOS.

Now, I'm having random crashes. I came to my computer a couple of days ago and it had apparently crashed and rebooted, telling me something along the lines of "please insert valid boot media." I was terrified that my hard drive fried, so I tried rebooting again, and this time it worked perfectly. And ran for a couple of hours before I got a frozen screen for a couple of minutes (it looked like a standard "firefox locked up" situation), followed by this screen popping up: for a couple of seconds before the computer crashed and rebooted again.

So far, I've reflashed the BIOS and run Windows' simple boot-disk "repair errors" diagnostic. Neither helped. I'm leaning towards this having something to do with a bad southbridge, but I didn't want to run out and buy a new mobo until I know it's the problem. As far as I know, it could be a bad video card, I've had weird pieces of hardware cause weird problems in the past. Is there any advice any of you can give for how to go about figuring this out?

My System SpecsSystem Spec

02 Mar 2012   #2

Windows 7 Home Premium 64 Bit

Please follow the to provide us with the crash reports so we can give accurate troubleshooting steps.

A windows system process was terminated unexpectedly. Possible causes are hard disk errors... System file corruption... Viruses... Lack of Windows updates... Drivers...

Begin with the following steps:
My System SpecsSystem Spec
02 Mar 2012   #3

Win 7 64bit

Thanks for the tips. I'm not overclocking anything. Disk Check and sfc/ scannow didn't report any errors. Attached is the data dump from that program in the link you posted. I doubt it's a virus, I haven't had any sketchy behavior and I have MSE running all the time. No new hardware or software installed recently, or any drivers.

Thanks for your help!
My System SpecsSystem Spec

02 Mar 2012   #4

Windows 7 Home Premium 64 Bit

Unfortunately no .dmp files were created. Make sure your setup is as in Dump Files - Configure Windows to Create on BSOD OPTION ONE part 6.

Please remove Daemon Tools, as it uses a driver called dtsoftbus01.sys that is known to cause BSODs.

I prefer TotalMounter as my CD/DVD virtualization software as it allows me to burn images to a virtual CD/DVD if I just want an ISO file instead of a disc, and it is free.

Many use MagicISO - Convert BIN to ISO, Create, Edit, Burn, Extract ISO file, ISO/BIN converter/extractor/editor as well, which is also free.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
04 Mar 2012   #5

Win 7 64bit

I changed the setting to "small memory dump" and waited for the next crash. I then reran Windows_NT6_BSOD_v3.03_jcgriff2_.exe and looked at the files created..... still, no .dmp files were in the directory. I also couldn't find the subdirectory "minidump" that the dump option seemed to say it was going to create... does this mean that a dump file is simply not being created? What appears on the screen looks like a BSOD, but it's only displayed for maybe a half-second before the computer reboots.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
04 Mar 2012   #6

Windows 7 Home Premium 64 Bit

Odd that it is unable to generate the .dmp file. I am wondering if there is a memory problem at work here. Run the boot version of Memtest86+ paying close attention to Parts 2 and 3 of the tutorial. Also, in case Memtest86+ misses anything and comes up with no errors, run the extended version of the Windows Memory Diagnostics Tool for at least five passes. These you may want to run overnight since they take a long time to complete (run them an hour before bed each of the next two nights and check before going to sleep that they are still running).

If you swap any memory components, follow these steps for ESD safety:
  1. Shut down and turn off your computer.
  2. Unplug all power supplies to the computer (AC Power then battery for laptops, AC power for desktops)
  3. Hold down the power button for 30 seconds to close the circuit and ensure all power drains from components.
  4. Make sure you are grounded by using proper grounding techniques, i.e. work on an anti-static workbench, anti-static desk, or an anti-static pad. Hold something metallic while touching it to the anti-static surface, or use an anti-static wristband to attach to the anti-static material while working.
Once these steps have been followed, it is safe to remove and replace components within your computer.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
04 Mar 2012   #7

Windows 7 Pro. 64/SP-1

Please fill in your completely fill in your System Specs, it will help us help you.
Please insert a valid boot media could mean that the proper boot was missed. Other wise it's telling that it didn't find the hard drive with Window 7 is installed in. For testing I would shut down computer properly and uninstall (unhook connections) all hard drives except the one Windows 7 is on. USB 3.0 is backwards comparable to USB 2.0. Unplug every thing from the computer except the mouse and keyboard. I would use USB 2.0 at this time. If this works you can change the boot order to CD first and Windows 7 hard drive second. This will allow you to boot and repair from CD if need be or remove the CD and boot from the Windows hard drive. On a couple of motherboard I have had sometimes the boot order doesn't take set for a couple of times and I don't know why. Why a motherboard bios will forget it's boot order in the first place is beyond me.
Refresh bois, does that mean you installed the same bios you have been using.
What all this does if it works is a good starting platform to do many test.
Don't forget your specs.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
04 Mar 2012   #8

Win 7 64bit

My specs are:

Proc: i5 2500K (non overclocked)
Mobo: ASRock P67 extreme4
RAM: 8GB DDR3 1600 Corsair
GPU: nVidia GTX570
PSU: Corsair HX 750
Boot Disk: Crucial M4 64GB SATA III SSD
Other hard drive: HITACHI 1.5TB

I'll run the tests you advised, though it will be a couple of days before I get a chance. Thanks for all the help.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
05 Mar 2012   #9

Windows 7 Pro. 64/SP-1

Thank you for filling out your specs, now we can see them on every post of yours.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
08 Mar 2012   #10

Win 7 64bit
More Info

All right. I feel like I'm closer to an answer and my initial suspicions were correct.

I ran memtest86+ and it found no errors. I have yet to run the Windows memory scan, but I will tonight. Interestingly -- the computer was able to stay booted on the memtest CD for over an hour without crashing. The crashes in Windows, I've found, occur precisely one hour from the boot-up time. (I used a stopwatch.) Upon rebooting the computer from the memtest run, it failed to see the OS on the hard drive. I had to turn the computer off and start cold in order for the BIOS to pick it up.

I unplugged every non-essential thing including my second hard drive, and booted into Safe Mode with limited options. Again, system freeze after 60 minutes.

My hypothesis: especially given that no .dmp files are created when this happens, and that staying booted off the Memtest CD for hours was no problem. it looks to me like whenever some clock internal to the motherboard hits the "hour" mark, I lose the ability to communicate with my hard drive. Rebooting doesn't reset this clock, only turning the computer fully off and on again.

I'm not sure if that's in keeping with how a motherboard functions, but I'm unsure how the problem could be anything else at this point. Might it be possible to repair, or do I likely need to tear this sucker apart, get a new mobo, and rebuild it?
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 Total system crashes -- possibly hardware (south bridge) related?

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