Puzzling Problems -- Pulling Hair

Discussion in 'Windows Vista General Discussion' started by The Mighty Favog, Dec 8, 2007.

  1. So many things are going wrong, I'm not sure where's the best place to
    start asking for help. Bear with me:

    This past summer I built a new system:

    Motherboard: ASUS P5K DELUXE/WIFI-AP LGA 775 Intel P35 ATX
    Processor: Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 Kentsfield 2.4GHz 2 x 4MB L2 Cache
    LGA 775
    Memory: Crucial 2GB kit (1GBx2), Ballistix 240-pin DIMM, DDR2
    PC2-8500
    Video Card: SAPPHIRE 100210L Radeon HD 2600XT 256MB 128-bit GDDR4 PCI
    Express x16
    Power Supply: PC Power and Cooling ULTRA-QUIET PSU: SILENCER(R) 610
    EPS12V
    Video capture: ATI VisionTek TV Wonder PCI Express (added within the
    past month)
    Storage: Four 500 gigabyte hard drives -- three Western Digital and
    one Maxtor.

    I'm running a triple-boot configuration with these OSs in separate
    partitions on a single 500 gigabyte drive:

    C: WinXP
    D: Vista
    E: WinXP testbed (a small partition where I try out things before
    installing them on C:)

    Until recently everything's been working just great. Then two or
    three weeks ago I began to get an error message at WinXP shutdown.
    Something like "The instruction at 0x66903f88 the memory could not be
    written at 0x66903f88" along with a critical stop sound. Didn't
    happen all the time at shutdown, but pretty often. Then a few days
    ago I was online and I heard a "click" and the system rebooted. Right
    out of nowhere. Then, when XP loaded again, I saw this error:
    "Catalyst control center monitoring program has encountered a problem
    and needs to close." When I closed that window, I saw this message:
    "Catalyst control center host application has encountered a problem
    and needs to close."

    Weird. So I decided to try Vista, which I seldom do anymore since
    first playing with it, because XP is just easier to use and more of my
    software works with it. But when Vista loaded, my beautiful Dreamscene
    desktop waterfall appeared for a second and then the desktop went to
    black. And then I got an error message saying Windows Explorer had
    stopped working. Then another message saying Windows Explorer was
    restarting. Then another message saying it had stopped working. And
    on and on. I also got a message saying I had no ATI drivers. I also
    found the Aero scheme wasn't available to load.

    Weird. But I had a backup of the Vista partition, so I started Ghost
    from the WinXP testbed partition and tried to put a known working
    version of the Vista partition in place. Ghost failed. Now this was
    getting really strange. I'd done this before several times with no
    problems. So what was going on?

    I noticed that the Vista partition had lost its D: drive designation.
    So I used the drive manager to give the partition its D: back and I
    reformatted it. Then I tried loading the Ghost backup of the Vista
    partition and it worked. But when I ran Vista, it would load but all
    the previous problems reappeared.

    So I disconnected all four of my hard drives, took a perfectly good
    previously used 120 gigabyte IDE hard drive out of a drawer, and
    hooked it up. I partitioned it into two equal-size partitions and
    loaded Windows XP onto the first. It loaded OK -- there was one
    problem when it said it couldn't find a file on the WinXP disk, but
    then it seemed to find it after a few tries and went on. I fully
    updated WinXP online -- SP2 and everything. But it won't load
    Internet Explorer 7 no matter what I try. Seems to load fine, but
    then XP announces it failed to load.

    Then I installed Vista on the second partition. Big failure. It
    seems to have loaded properly, but when it tries to start all I ever
    see are the little horizontally moving green blocks. When they close
    and Vista says it's about to run for the first time, I hear a click
    and the system reboots. I am offered the opportunity to start it in
    safe mode, but even then, just when the Vista wallpaper is supposed to
    load, the system reboots.

    I've loaded the newest version of ATI's Catalyst Control Center into
    the new WinXP installation. When I started WinXP to type this
    message, I got the old "Catalyst control center monitoring program has
    encountered a problem and needs to close" and "Catalyst control center
    host application has encountered a problem and needs to close"
    messages. And this, mind you, is on a FRESH installation of WinXP on
    a different physical hard drive.

    I've removed the TV Wonder from the system. I've removed all four 500
    gigabyte hard drives from the system. And still it's flaky.

    So ... I'm guessing I have a hardware problem. The power supply?
    Memory? Or, what I think is the likely culprit, the Radeon video card
    itself?

    Ideas, anyone? I hate to go over to Best Buy to get a new video card,
    but I may just give it a shot. BTW, the first time I tried to type
    this message, the computer rebooted and I lost what I'd typed. Very
    annoying. Help, please.
     
    The Mighty Favog, Dec 8, 2007
    #1
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  2. The Mighty Favog

    Mr. Arnold Guest

    It seems as though you have equipment issues and you should follow that
    angle.
     
    Mr. Arnold, Dec 8, 2007
    #2
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  3. The Mighty Favog

    DanS Guest

    So I disconnected all four of my hard drives, took a perfectly good
    Big clue in the last sentence. I've seen this twice. There is a hardware
    issue. The first piece to look at is RAM. Both of the times this had
    happened it was a bad stick or RAM. One was Server 2K3 and the other was
    XP.

    Try removing the sticks one-at-a-time and restoring your known good Vista
    image to find the bad stick. Who knows what could have happened in the
    install phases of any OS with bad RAM.
     
    DanS, Dec 8, 2007
    #3
  4. Ideas, anyone? I hate to go over to Best Buy to get a new video card,
    Sounds like power to me. That's an often overlooked aspect of
    system building.
     
    the wharf rat, Dec 8, 2007
    #4
  5. Thanks to you, DanS, and to Mr. Arnold and the Wharf Rat. The problem
    is solved -- at least I think so. I am typing this from a
    newly-reinstalled Vista partition, which I was beginning to think would
    be impossible. My system seems to be working fine again. So how did I
    get to this point?

    I tried testing the memory with freeware Memtest 86, but it didn't do me
    any good -- it gave the same results no matter which memory stick I had
    installed, and I really couldn't figure out what it was saying to me
    about the memory. It may be a good program for experts, but it didn't
    seem user friendly to me. But while researching Memtest 86, I came
    across another memory test program called Docmemory. For me at least it
    was more user friendly. I removed one of my two 1-gig memory sticks and
    ran it and the stick passed all tests four times. It was starting on
    its fifth round of tests when I shut it down and switched memory sticks.
    This time it found about 10,000 errors in the first ten seconds. I
    didn't believe it, so I switched the sticks back and forth a few more
    times just to see. Sure enough, I had one bad stick. Well, they are
    1-gig sticks and both XP and Vista will run fine with 1-gig, so all
    seems OK for now. I am about to contact Crucial to see about returning
    the bad stick. Many thanks for your help. Who knows, I may be able to
    put everything back the way it was without spending any money. You
    people who can diagnose a problem like this from just my initial summary
    really amaze me.
     
    Bill Anderson, Dec 9, 2007
    #5
  6. The Mighty Favog

    DanS Guest

    Your welcome. Diagnosing problems from a _good_ description is no big
    deal when we all see the same problems over and over again.
     
    DanS, Dec 9, 2007
    #6
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