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Windows 7: Startup failures and random crashes

19 Jun 2015   #1

Windows 7 Ultimate
Startup failures and random crashes

I've been having an issue for a while now, and living with it, but I think it's time to deal with it.

My computer currently does one of two things - I shall describe those 2 things here, so when I later describe when it happens, you'll know what I mean:
  • 'Crash': The computer simply instantly turns off. This is not a shutdown or hibernate, but a sudden thing.
  • 'Hang': The computer will freeze, and be unresponsive to mouse movements. The image on-screen is frozen, but not in any other way affected (no distortions, graphics errors, etc...)

OK, so when I start up my PC, it can take many attempts before I'm able to load up windows. Most of the time it will crash (see above), but occasionally will hang. A crash can happen before the windows logo appears, as it is 'forming', when it is 'pulsing', or at the black screen after it has gone. The moment I see the mouse pointer on screen, I know it will start up fine, and I'll get the login screen. If it hangs, this only happens when the logo is at the 'pulsing' stage.

Currently about 10-15% of startups are successful. If it fails, then I restart the computer, and select "Start Windows Normally" from the menu.

A Startup Repair has been tried, but it could not repair anything.

Once it's started up, the computer is generally OK for about 24 hours, sometimes more.

It will usually 'crash' overnight - I get up in the morning to find it turned off. Very occasionally, it will 'hang' when I'm using it.

I suspect an OS reinstall will probably cure it, but I've reserved my Windows 10 copy using the app that appeared on my taskbar - what happens to that? Will I 'lose my place in line'? Should I just hold out till Windows 10 is released, then install that?

Hoping someone here can help diagnose the issue, so that I can get it fixed.

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My System SpecsSystem Spec
19 Jun 2015   #2

Windows 7 Ultimate x64 SP1

Hey, try:

Load defaults in BIOS
Download HWInfo and keep an eye on temps (start in sensor-mode)
Run in cmd: sfc /scannow
Check health of your HDDs - Partition Wizard free Disk Surface test - start with OS drive
Update all drivers applicable
Clean re-install NVidia drivers
Graphic Card Driver Clean Installation (Belongs to MistUnleashed):
1.Run the Guru3D Display Driver Removal Tool: Display Driver Uninstaller Download version Display Driver Uninstaller Download version
2.Download CCleaner here (CCleaner - Download) and run both the Cleaner and the Registry Cleaner to remove left-over keys.
3.Go into C:\Program Files & C:\Program Files (x86) & C:\ProgramData and delete any leftover Nvidia files.
4.Disable automatic driver installation:
5.Restart Computer.
6.After restart go to: Drivers - Download NVIDIA Drivers and install the latest Nvidia Package (Including the 3D Vision Drivers - Install it all). Drivers - Download NVIDIA Drivers
7.Re-enable the automatic driver installation:
8.Run CCleaner again (as instructed in Step 2).
9.Restart Computer.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
19 Jun 2015   #3

Windows 7 Ultimate

Thanks for the advice - I've not yet done all these steps, but have started, and I'm doing them in the order given above.

HWInfo is a bit meaningless to me, as I have no idea what the correct temps should be. Sorry the screenshot is huge, I've put it in a detail tag, so you can read the rest of the post without wearing out your mouse scrollwheel:

Running the sfc scan, told me there were corrupt files somewhere:

Attached is the log file, although again, it's all a bit meaningless to me. The log is huge (56,240 lines), and I don't really know what I should be looking for in there. Searching the text for the keywords corrupt, damaged and broken just returned no results.

It's interesting that you suggest re-installing nVidia drivers, as the GTX280 was a relatively recent purchase (from eBay for 40, at the end of Nov 2014), and although I think I had these problems before I installed it, I'm sure it got worse afterwards.

OK, Disk surface test next, then nVidia drivers clean re-install.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

19 Jun 2015   #4

Windows 7 Ultimate x64 SP1

The SFC corruption warning is from KB3022345, which was replaced by KB3068708 (supposed to fix it). It shows as repaired though. Can you rescan with SFC /scannow? In anyway, you don't have to worry about it.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
28 Jun 2015   #5

Windows 7 Ultimate

I discovered the cause of these problems, and it wasn't a Windows 7 issue in the end, although it got worse before it could get better.

I started getting a 'disk corruption' warning for drive D: on windows startup. I have a feeling I may have used drive D: for some virtual memory, to share the load with drive C:. but it was mostly used for software installs to keep the OS drive clear. Windows would start, but refuse to read drive D: at all. Using Partition Magic though, I could see Drive D: fine (and drive E:, it's secondary partition), and could read the files on there, even if partition magic has no way to open them. I did a full surface test in partition magic, and it returned no errors.

My brother bought me a new 120Gb SSD, so that I could just reinstall Windows, and hopefully cure the problem. On opening the case, he remarked "$#!*, bro! Your motherboard is f#%&^*d". On taking a look, he pointed out that many of the capacitors on the board were quite swollen, to the point that almost half of them had begun to leak black gunk from the top.

On attempting to turn it back on following the installation of the new SSD, it loaded from the Windows DVD, showed the screen with the progress bar fine, then got to the windows logo, and just switched off again. This was booting purely from a windows DVD, with both old internal hard-drives removed. This was definitely looking like a motherboard issue at this point.

My brother picked up his phone, and within 5 minutes, had found 2 friends with 'old' motherboards (still with RAM in them), so rode off on his bike, and returned a couple hours later with both of them. A "Gigabyte GA-P35-DS3L" and an "Asus M3N72-T Deluxe", each with 6Gb of RAM - we had no idea what the processor was on each, although the Asus motherboard had an Intel sticker on the CPU fan.

The Asus Motherboard had all sorts of copper CPU cooling tubes all over it, and on-board HDMI output, so appeared to be the better of the two (PC was dead, no easy way to check the specs for both), but the 'front panel' pin connections looked very different, so we decided to go with the Gigabyte board. We got 8Gb of Corsair XMS2 RAM from the two boards and put them into this one, then hit our next issue - my case was too small for the motherboard. It fit my old Asus M2N68-LA motherboard, and the original one before it (in a Hewlett Packard 'Budget' range PC).

So, some brute force was used to pop 6 rivets in the bottom of the case, then some metal-bending to move the base out of the way, and the new motherboard will fit fine. I will get a new case at some point, but here's a pic of how it looks now:

It felt good to finally run it back on. It booted to the Windows DVD, and installing Windows on the SSD was a breeze, not the usual 1 hour hassle I was expecting. My Windows Experience Index rating has jumped from 4.3 to 6.6, so I'm very happy. Now I have to re-install all the other stuff I had on there...

I also discovered that the processor in this board was an Intel Core2 Duo.

Huge thanks to @GokAy for his help on this - I thought I'd reply with this post to let you know what the issue actually was, in case you come across another person with a similar issue. Maybe "check the capacitors on your motherboard for swelling and/or black gunk on top" should be added to the standard checklist

Now marking this as 'Solution Found'.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 Startup failures and random crashes

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