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Windows 7: Inspiron 580: Random Reboots

03 Nov 2012   #1

Windows 7 SP1 x64 (various editions)
Inspiron 580: Random Reboots


So the title pretty much says it: quite randomly, the computer will freeze for a couple of seconds, and then reboot itself. The 'repair options' screen displays on the next startup. I always ignore it and continue to boot.

I have actually been working on this machine for months.

So I tried to fill out as much hardware info as possible in the registration form, so it should be viewable on my user account page. It's a Dell Inspiron 580 running Windows 7 Pro SP1 x64.

I have professional Avast AV and firewall software running on this machine, as well as Malwarebyte's pro scanner (for flash scans). I have been up this machine's a$$ inside and out looking for malware, locking down IE, the firewall, installing security updates, etc, and I am convinced this is not a virus of any kind. I even threw on an IP firewall, fired up Wireshark, and let it go for an hour looking for FTP/SMTP logins or other suspicious activity, but it was all quiet.

Next I went through updating drivers. I thought maybe Windows was using a Vista driver from a previous install, but then realized that this machine is still running the stock install of Windows 7. Anyways, can't hurt to try, right? The HD driver is old, but I can't seem to find a new one. Same goes for the optical drive. The sound card, video card, and ethernet card drivers all have been updated via the Dell website. I looked through Device Manager for IRQ conflicts and have found none. I used GPU-Z to monitor the video card load (it won't show me a temperature) and ran some benchmarks, and that wouldn't induce a freeze/reboot. Also, this machine gets used for WoW for hours at a time and does fine, so, although it really seems like a HW problem, I'm leaning towards the video card not being the culprit.

[Auto reboot on system failure is disabled, and the memory dump is enabled. Figured I should mention that at some point, I'd kill for a BSOD right now lol.]

I had run some live Linux distros from USB, thinking this could definitively tell me if it's a hardware or software issue. Despite that none of them ever crashed, I think running an x86 live *nix kernel from USB is changing way too many variables at once to be sure. SO! I decided to take it a step further (:

What I am working with now is a dual-boot configuration. I shrank the C drive 20 gigs and thus we now have a D drive, where I have a fresh install of Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 x64. I updated the sound, video, and NIC drivers on this install, installed a few hand-selected Windows critical security updates, and left it at that. This is all in the course of today, and I have not let it run for an extended period yet. I figure I will do that while I wait for replies here.

You may be thinking what I am thinking right now! It's the power supply! Yes I am suspicous of it myself, however I replaced that already (when the last one quit and wouldn't do anything) and now we have this going on (plus I don't own a multimeter). The power supply that's in it now is from another Dell machine with a bad video card, and was rated 50 watts higher than the Dell stock PSU that died.

I'm not too savvy with the Event Viewer, but just comparing timestamps, I can't seem to find anything that consistently precedes the Kernel-Power message that says:

"The system has rebooted without cleanly shutting down first. This error could be caused if the system stopped responding, crashed, or lost power unexpectedly."

I'd be happy to post any event logs or helpful information, just let me know what you need. Thanks for reading and helpin out!

Edit: The new Windows 7 Ultimate install made it about 20 minutes. Then did the same exact thing, freeze and reboot. Guess I should start hunting for a new PSU, eh? I ran Memtest86 and Windows Memory Diagnostics on the RAM, and it all came back clean.. I guess I still just don't understand why WoW could go for so long with no problems, but a few minutes in idle is too taxing on the PSU. Has me wondering if that's not it, and I don't wanna cost the PC owners any $ unneccessarily.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
03 Nov 2012   #2
Microsoft MVP


Work through the other steps for Troubleshooting Steps for Windows 7 starting with a Clean Boot, scanning the logs for clues and repeat errors, utilizing System Resources to find solutions, testing hardware thoroughly.

You may be under the impression that drivers are still handled like in XP when Win7 is driver-complete and decides for itself what drivers it wants. In Win8 the user doesn't even interact at all with the drivers, using advances made in Win7. So changing out a bunch of drivers rarely helps and often hurts.

Avast has lost favor here and is rarely recommended any longer. I would replace it with Microsoft Security Essentials

If you are saying that you have the original Vista Dell preinstall, which was upgraded via the inferior Upgrade install to Win7, then you badly need to get a perfect baseline Clean Reinstall - Factory OEM Windows 7 following the Best Practices we've developed helping with countless thousands here. Then you'll be able to rule out software and can focus with certaintly on hardware.

Just to make sure you have the cleanest slate, I would first run Diskpart Clean Command from the booted installer's Command Line to clear the boot sector of possibly bad code which may be interfering. Access Command box by pressing Shift + F10 at first screen once you've booted into installer.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
03 Nov 2012   #3

Windows 7 SP1 x64 (various editions)

Well, theres a Windows 7 sticker on the front of this machine, but the install date is only mid 2011. So, while it's not the original install, it wasn't a Vista-7 Upgrade method install. It's quite probable that it was the side-by-side method install however, changing versions from Home to Pro probably, which is pretty much the same as Upgrade, isn't it, with the old root dir copied to Windows.old? Either way, I was indeed confused about how Windows 7 handles drivers. Ty.

I had gone with Avast because of such bad reputation of AVG + Win7, and was looking for something that had AV + a firewall. It seems like antivirus is inherently problematic..? But for this case, Avast is out, as it wasnt installed on the fresh Win 7 Ultimate partition, which crashed as well.

I scanned the MBR with Kaspersky's bootkit scanner via the Ultimate install, and i believe that during the install of Ultimate via Pro, the setup rewrote the nt loader, as it said it detected/fixed a corrupt bootloader.

If I had a backup medium and this were my machine, I would definitely go to town on this hard drive first. Sadly, I think the PC owners are not so willing to lose so much data, and would rather use the computer as is. Thanks for the tips though!
My System SpecsSystem Spec

03 Nov 2012   #4
Microsoft MVP


You referred to WIn7 possibly using a Vista driver from a previous install so I thought you'd had Vista on there.

Avast has begun to follow the course of AVG which bloated up years ago and never came back down to earth, hence is recommended by no one. I'd use MSE which nearly all of us recommend.

The data should be backed up at all times anyway. If an external or another internal HD isn't available, Skydrive offers 7gb free web storage with each WIndows Live ID which can even Sync Any Folder to Your SkyDrive Account | PCWorld
My System SpecsSystem Spec
05 Nov 2012   #5

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 Ult x64 - SP1/ Windows 8 Pro x64

I've just found the problem with my old and usually reliable Inspiron 530, it was the power supply. I had some re-boots and a few various blue screens, ran all the OS and hardware tests with no joy, on the last crash I opened the case and the PSU was very hot, so out it came. Put in a spare (new) Corsair 650w and no more problems.
Are you sure the Dell PSU you put in was good?
If it came from a system that was having issues, it just might have been PSU related.
They're not known for having quality PSUs, BestTec?

How long did you run memtest86+?
7 full passes is the minimum.

Can you download CPUZ and post a snip of the CPU, Mainboard, Memory, and SPD tabs.
For posting the information , enter 'Snipping tool' in the Start button > Search box, hit enter. Select the area you want to post and save to a convenient place.
How to Post a Screenshot in Seven Forums

I'll assume you already checked all the internal connections, power and data.

Use Real Temp , to check the CPU temps when at idle, under load and/or testing.
Let us know the minimum and maximum temps you get.

D/L and run Seagate SeaTools – Short Drive Self Test and Long Drive Self Test

After all those tests, run a stress test.
If you want to stress the system you can run OCCT.
OCCT stability checking tool
Run the CPU:OCCT test for at least 30 minutes, be sure to monitor your CPU and GPU temps.
Set the time before you start.
When its done, pass or fail, it will make some graphs. Post these here as they are useful for analyses.

I've been running Avast on a couple of my machines for a 'few' years with no problems.
(Sshhh, don't tell Greg )

You can post the BSoD info files, even if no BSoD crashes it will have other info I can look through.
Blue Screen of Death (BSOD) Posting Instructions
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 Inspiron 580: Random Reboots

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