View Full Version : Random restarting and blue screen of death- what piece of hardware is causing it?

26-01-2012, 11:15 AM
Hi there,

For the last few months I have been having problems with my custom built PC randomly restarting itself - sometimes with a BSOD, other times without one. Sometimes the display will show a random pattern of dark grey clours - almost like you get with a cracked LCD screen for about half a second, and then it will restart itself.

As far as I can tell, the crashes appear to be random - sometimes during games, others just browsing the net. They do appear to all happen within 4 hours of a fresh restart of windows.

I tried all the usual software fixes - things like antivirus scans, disk checks, cpu tests etc - including clean reinstalls of windows (at least twice now). Then I tried replacing the motherboard as it appeared to have faulty onboard sound. Then the same PC crashed again with the new motherboard!

I was told by a mate that SATA requires a pretty hefty power supply, so I just replaced the stock 320w with an Antec 620w one. But alas, it has crashed and restarted a couple of times now.

Before the new supply was installed, sometimes after crashing the PC would beep a few times - therefore indicating a hardware failure(?) and refuse to restart easily until removal of MB battery to reset bios. Haven't had this problem since replacing the PS, but it's still early.

I'm pretty much out of ideas. Checked and double checked everything is plugged in tight. Havent mucked around much with the bios (adjusting power supply etc) as I don't know much about that kind of stuff. I'm thinking the next step is to replace the graphics card?

IS there a way to narrow down diagnostics a bit in order to find out what hardware is causing the problem?


Specs are below:

Latest drivers for pretty much everything.
Disk check returning no errors.
CPU test returning no errors.

WIn 7 64bit SP1 - all updates installed.

From SPeccy - Temps included - don't think anything is overheating?

Operating System
MS Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit SP1
AMD Athlon II X2 255 29 C
Regor 45nm Technology
4.00 GB Single-Channel DDR3 @ 669MHz (9-9-9-24)
ASUSTeK Computer INC. M4A88TD-M EVO (AM3) 39 C
VX2233wm-3 (1920x1080@59Hz)
DELL IN1920 (1366x768@60Hz)
ATI Radeon HD 5450 (ASUStek Computer Inc) 60 C
Hard Drives
488GB Western Digital WDC WD5000AVDS-63U7B0 ATA Device (SATA) 37 C
Optical Drives
ATAPI iHAS324 B ATA Device
Realtek High Definition Audio


SO, Any ideas? Muchly appreciated guys.



Speedy Gonzales
26-01-2012, 12:30 PM
Get bluescreenview, install then run it. (http://www.nirsoft.net/utils/blue_screen_view.html) What does it say is the cause?

26-01-2012, 01:53 PM
PC randomly restarting itself - sometimes with a BSOD, other times without one. Sometimes the display will show a random pattern of dark grey clours

You need to make a note of the STOP error.

Then I tried replacing the motherboard as it appeared to have faulty onboard sound.

Extreme!! What made you think it had a sound problem, even if it did, that wouldn't crash it like that.

I just replaced the stock 320w with an Antec 620w one.

Yep, seriously underpowered PSU before, this one is fine.

26-01-2012, 08:33 PM
Thanks for your help folks. Will see if I can get more info on the BSOD tomorow.

As for the motherboard - I think that was a separate issue. The audio was playing up (can't remember exactly what it was doing.) I found out that, if I disabled all the audio services under Win 7 it stopped the crashes. Or at least it did for about 2 months before they came back. Strange eh? Ascent went ahead and replaced it with a newer model so I presume they found an error with it.

Thanks for your comments about the PSU. Yes. When in doubt, check the PC User A-list. haha. Saves trawling through specs.

27-01-2012, 10:35 AM
So, the verdict from Blue Screen Viewer is:

Dump File : 011312-43118-01.dmp
Crash Time : 1/13/2012 10:00:54 AM
Bug Check Code : 0x0000003b
Parameter 1 : 00000000`c0000005
Parameter 2 : fffff800`02fb747c
Parameter 3 : fffff880`0773ce20
Parameter 4 : 00000000`00000000
Caused By Driver : Unknown_Module_fffffa80`049698e0
Caused By Address : Unknown_Module_fffffa80`049698e0+9bfc70
File Description :
Product Name :
Company :
File Version :
Processor : x64
Crash Address : ntoskrnl.exe+705c0
Stack Address 1 :
Stack Address 2 :
Stack Address 3 :
Computer Name :
Full Path : C:\Windows\Minidump\011312-43118-01.dmp
Processors Count : 2
Major Version : 15
Minor Version : 7600
Dump File Size : 275,816

This is a shot of the latest test.

BTW, I have posted this on other tech forums and someone suggested I run HDtune. It is showing that my HDD has errors - however, I suspect that these are simply bad sectors due to windows not shutting down properly due to repeat crashes. I noticed this a while back and was about to send the drive in for replacement, but I ran another disc-check from boot (after the drive was formatted) and it came up clean. Probably cause it fixed the bad sectors.

I have already tried replacing the cable and using a different SATA port btw.

Finally, I'm running the computer in safe mode (to run hdtune and other diagnostic software) and hasn't yet crashed! So perhaps I was wrong and it is not a hardware fault (as I previously thought, but rather a problem with one of the system services Windows runs under normal boot protocols?

I should mention that it doesn't always print a BSOD when it crashes - sometimes it just shows the aforementioned patterned screen before it restarts.

27-01-2012, 10:59 AM
Have you updated chipset and video drivers at all? worth a crack if not. Get them directly from the manufacturers website not windows update.
It's also worth running memtest or similar to verify the RAM as it's one component that can cause this sort of problem.
It might not hurt also to default the BIOS just in case there's some odd setting in there somewhere.

Problems are not always easily proved, I once had a perfectly good motherboard and video card that behaved like that when used together but worked perfectly if used seperately with different hardware.

27-01-2012, 11:08 AM
Yep, all the drivers, updates etc are installed. For windows and hardware.

I've tried reseting the bios -no luck

I've run a memtest and cpu test in the past without any errors showing. Hope to get a chance to run them again today.

Thanks :) Any more ideas?

27-01-2012, 11:30 AM
Whats the STOP error.

27-01-2012, 11:59 AM
That error code and problem listed can be caused by corrupted drivers. Since its completely random I wouldn't think it was hardware related - but then it may be as well.

See if windows is actually reporting the fault.

Click start, type in reli in the results, click "View Reliability history" When it opens there will be red circles or other error warnings, look through and see if any one thing is common as to when it crashes.

If there is, what does it say is causing the problem ( full report).

Failing that, try running Driver Verifier from windows, its a inbuilt program that Windows can check for rouge or damaged drivers and report back. Full instructions on how to run and use it From this web site (http://mikemstech.blogspot.com/2011/12/enable-driver-verifier-to-help-identify.html).

I used it this morning to track down a driver that was causing all sorts of problems on a customers Computer that nothing else would find.

27-01-2012, 01:50 PM
I took a look and it doesn't look like Windows is recording the crashes?! There are no entries in the log, despite the computer crashing about 6 or 7 times since the last time I reinstalled windows.

Interestingly enough, I've been running windows in safe mode all morning and it hasn't crashed just yet! So I guess this means you are correct in saying it looks to be software related. However, I have tried reinstalling Windows (a clean reinstall) and it doesn't fix the problem???

Perhaps I am reinstalling bad drivers over and over again? How can I tell which one is the problem (other than the reliability thing mentioned above which has not been recording errors?)?

Perhaps it is a service that is corrupted? I'm going to try a diagnostic startup (from MSconfig) to see if I can narrow it down.

Any further ideas / comments?

27-01-2012, 02:12 PM
Theres several ways to test it. If its not crashing in safe mode, then theres a good chance it is driver related.

One way to tell, bit long winded but sometimes you have to do these things -- as mentioned, disable items in the msconfig, every thing thats not needed. then if it doesn't crash, enable one at a time, sooner or later it will show the culprit.

Reinstall Windows from fresh run it on its default drivers, then install fresh drivers from the manufactures site one at a time and test each time.

Can you do something please -- lets have a look at whats actually running ( may narrow it down and be quicker) : if you haven't already, install Ccleaner ( link in my sig) -- run it, then on the left, TOOLS / Startup, when it loads, (windows tab) save to text file ( bottom right) save then open the text file, copy /paste its contents back here. ( theres no personal data shown)

27-01-2012, 02:18 PM
I just run it in diagnostic startup and it crashed. Ho hum.

So therefore it's one of the more basic drivers, correct - as it only loads the bare bones. Not even audio. Something like Graphics perhaps.

Will post the CCleaner stuff in a sec

27-01-2012, 02:25 PM

No HKCU:Run IDMan C:\Program Files (x86)\Internet Download Manager\IDMan.exe /onboot
No HKCU:Run RocketDock "C:\Program Files (x86)\RocketDock\RocketDock.exe"
No HKCU:Run Steam "C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\Steam.exe" -silent
No HKLM:Run APSDaemon "C:\Program Files (x86)\Common Files\Apple\Apple Application Support\APSDaemon.exe"
No HKLM:Run avast "C:\Program Files\AVAST Software\Avast\avastUI.exe" /nogui
No HKLM:Run iTunesHelper "C:\Program Files (x86)\iTunes\iTunesHelper.exe"
No HKLM:Run RtHDVCpl C:\Program Files\Realtek\Audio\HDA\RAVCpl64.exe -s
No HKLM:Run StartCCC "C:\Program Files (x86)\ATI Technologies\ATI.ACE\Core-Static\CLIStart.exe" MSRun
No HKLM:Run SunJavaUpdateSched "C:\Program Files (x86)\Common Files\Java\Java Update\jusched.exe"
Yes HKLM:Run ZoneAlarm Client "C:\Program Files (x86)\Zone Labs\ZoneAlarm\zlclient.exe"
No HKLM:Run ZoneAlarm Installer "C:\Program Files (x86)\CheckPoint\Install\Launcher.exe" "C:\Program Files (x86)\CheckPoint\Install\Install.exe" /r download /c "C:\Program Files (x86)\CheckPoint\Install\Install.xml" /l /w
No Startup Common MozyHome Status.lnk C:\PROGRA~1\MozyHome\mozystat.exe
No Startup User Dropbox.lnk C:\Users\Chris\AppData\Roaming\Dropbox\bin\Dropbox .exe

27-01-2012, 02:41 PM
Take Zone alarm out as well. You will find ZA doesn't ( or shouldn't run in safe mode).

Also, boot as if going into safe mode, but select "disable Automatic Restart on system failure" "if" it crashes it will tell you what has caused it, it will blue screen and stay there till you reboot it. ( this was asked before by the way by PCTek) :D

Rip out both ZA and Avast, the two could be clashing.

27-01-2012, 02:54 PM
Yeah, not sure why ZA started.. ho hum..

Whoops, thanks for the reminder about the auto restart.

I'm currently in Windows now - with only the Microsoft services running - so far so good. I've copied a few GB from an external HDD to put a bit of stress on the system but it hasn't crashed yet.

If it doesn't crash then that's good - I have a rough idea where the problem lies - one of the third party programs I keep installing. Probably iTunes since it's made by Apple. Lol
If it does crash, then I know its Microsofts fault and I can go from there. As it does it with every installation of Windows - this could be a problem

Am I correct in the above? Funny, for months now I've been adament it was a hardware issue. But it looks to be software related now

27-01-2012, 02:59 PM
In this game its sometimes a process of elimination. Edited above -- remove both Avast and ZA as well.

Like a %^#@$*$^# Laptop I got here, runs nice in safe mode, locks up in normal mode, slowly ripping out third party programs one at a time :devil even after disabling everything thats possible in startup.

It Aint gonna beat me lol

27-01-2012, 03:14 PM
Arr! It just crashed.

It would have loaded the latest driver I had installed, right? (as opposed to the very basics that I came with the Windows 7 installation)? Is there a way to disable drivers one at a time - like you can just untick a box with the services?

It CAN'T be a problem with the Microsoft services, right? I mean, they came with the Windows DVD. So they must work.

27-01-2012, 03:41 PM
I've just run HDtune and it is showing that the Hard drive has "Communication errors" and "unstable sectors". I've tried replacing the cable to no effect. HD might be on it's way out?

Speedy Gonzales
27-01-2012, 03:47 PM

27-01-2012, 04:30 PM
If the HDD is faulty, then yep it will cause problems. Looking back, failed sectors are a sign of damage, which cant really be fixed.

Speedy Gonzales
27-01-2012, 04:37 PM
Sometimes files that programs install (that appear in bluescreenview), will also crash a system. Do you know how to upload a dmp file to skydrive?? You need a hotmail email acct

27-01-2012, 05:03 PM
Had a very similar problem with a system here that was upgraded to Win7 64 from Vista.
Was running 2 reasonably new sata hard drives.
Finished up replacing both with one large one & havent had a problem since.

01-02-2012, 10:21 AM
Well guys, turns out it was a conflicting graphics driver! I believe the problem was Steam automatically installing the latest AMD drivers - and not uninstalling the old ones. All this time I thought it was hardware! ARG! lol

BUT, now a service / program / file called "Kernal Power" is giving me grief - causing the PC to not boot into windows properly sometimes and randomly restart. I checked the Event Viewer and it turns out that this Kernel power has been responsible for all the crashes since the graphics driver problem.

I have booted into windows with only MS services running (through MSconfig - otherwise the PC wouldn't even start today with third party ones running) and it has not crashed as of this moment. I'm trying to figure out which program Kernel Power comes from so I can kill it. With a vengance.

Any help?


Speedy Gonzales
01-02-2012, 10:28 AM
Try another PSU. Or check the connections from the PSU, to the mobo / devices. Make sure theyre in properly. That maybe the cause, of the kernal power bluescreen

01-02-2012, 04:11 PM
It's a brand new PSU - perhaps it is a problem with me not installing it correctly. BTW, I've googled the problem a few times it usually is a software thing - conflicting sound drivers mostly - and one instance of Zone Alarm causing problems.

Any further ideas?

Speedy Gonzales
01-02-2012, 04:18 PM
Get rid of zonealarm its crap. Win7's firewall is good enough

Speedy Gonzales
01-02-2012, 04:32 PM
Zonealarm maybe the cause of those kernel power errors (http://www.sevenforums.com/crashes-debugging/104790-possible-causes-kernel-power-critical-errors.html). This guy found that out

It looks like there's a hotfix for it on the MS site somewhere (KB981889. it maybe included in SP1) But, I still wouldnt use it

01-02-2012, 07:55 PM
I've got a hunch it's a RAM issue. RAM or heat. My justification is that it's stable for about 4 hours, then corrupts. Then is OK again for 4 hours.

If it was heat issues alone the second crash would come sooner than the first (the second being quicker since the system was already hot).

I'm going with either a bad RAM module, or a program with a memory leak eventually corrupting the system.

See if you can get into Task Manager and see if anything is chewing up an obscene amount of RAM, or a steadily growing amount of RAM. At least it may point to the prog / driver to deal with.

03-02-2012, 09:58 AM
Perhaps it could be heat - although I don't think so as it often crashes when the system is cold. I keep an eye on the temps using speccy, and sometimes when playing games the graphics card gets to 80 celcius. Which is quiet hot, but nothing unexpected as its a budget card without even a fan. Designed for home therter pcs and I'm playing Mass Effect 2 ;D

RAM is an interesting point. I'll take a look.

03-02-2012, 09:59 AM
I saw the one about Zone Alarm as well. And found another guy who had an issue with conflicitng sound drivers. Both which I fixed but no success.

Speedy Gonzales
03-02-2012, 02:00 PM
So what does the BSOD say now?? If you removed ZA?

03-02-2012, 02:42 PM
I can see this is going to go on for ages unless you actually sort out exactly whats causing the problem.

So far some are saying its hardware,some software,its only guess work - both will cause the same problem, you have to narrow it down to which one.

One way to test, boot the computer with a Ubuntu live CD, run it from that. The ubuntu live CD bypasses the Windows OS completely. If its a hardware problem, then it will also crash in Ubuntu/Live CD ( actually will crash quicker) - if its a software or other driver problem then it wont.

Edited: in post 18 you mentioned the HDD was throwing up errors and its possibly faulty -
I've just run HDtune and it is showing that the Hard drive has "Communication errors" and "unstable sectors". did you replace the HDD ? If the HDD is faulty then all the fixes in the world wont help. Even running ubuntu as I mentioned above more than likely wont detect if the drive is faulty.