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View Full Version : Sudden blank screen - advice needed



Tony
18-07-2005, 06:37 PM
This is the second time this has happened in the last few days, so I think it is time for some advice.

Without warning my monitor went black, and as far as I could tell the system froze. I did a hard reboot, and once the Windows logo with the green progress bar disappeared, it was all black and frozen again. Rebooted again, into safe mode, and the desktop eventually appeared OK. Looking at the display settings, it said "default monitor on <blank>".

Tried to shut down normally and the system hung on "windows is closing down" with the disk light hard on.

Another hard reboot, <F8> and selected "VGA mode". All started OK with the correct display/video card settings showing. Closed down normally, rebooted and now all is back to normal. (so far).

Any ideas as to what might be happening? My first guess would be that maybe the video card (NVIDIA GeForce FX5200) is dying - how could I confirm that?

TIA.

Speedy Gonzales
18-07-2005, 07:08 PM
What version of the videocard drivers are installed?

Sounds like a file is corrupted or you have a virus or something.

Tony
18-07-2005, 07:45 PM
What version of the videocard drivers are installed?

Sounds like a file is corrupted or you have a virus or something.The video driver version id 7.1.8.9. Could be a corrupt file - but wouldn't that tend to cause a permanent error?

If it's a virus then AVG isn't doing its job! I've no reason to suspect a virus.

Speedy Gonzales
18-07-2005, 08:04 PM
Try uninstalling those drivers that are installed / installing newer drivers from here.

http://www.nvidia.com/object/winxp_2k_77.72.html

See if it makes a diff.

Murray P
18-07-2005, 09:06 PM
What version of Windows? If 2k or XP, is it set to produce an error or BSOD, what does it say in event viewer?

Tony
19-07-2005, 01:31 AM
What version of Windows? If 2k or XP, is it set to produce an error or BSOD, what does it say in event viewer?It is WinXP Home, SP2 with all updates. I'm not sure how to "set to produce an error or BSOD". I am assuming it is though, as I have had a BSOD in the past (different errors).

The only thing I can see in the event viewer that looks relevant is several "application popups" at around the relevant time that say "Event ID 26", and in the description, "Machine Check:Regs" and of course a load of binary dump stuff at the bottom, none of which I can interpret.

I never think to look at the event viewer in these circumstances! :blush:

Murray P
19-07-2005, 02:55 AM
You checked System as well as Application events? You can change the view of the event binary/hex or "human readable" [sic] form.

Anyway, this could be your baby: MS KB-329284 (http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;329284). Would still pay to check a few events either side of ID: 26 and check some other ID:26 and those around it to see if they are consistent.

Basically troubleshoot your hardware before you start on software with this one.

Is all the memory being checked at boot (POST);

run memtest or such like, check cables and seating of RAM, cards, drives, etc;

What's you temperatures like, what's your power situation like;

Do a disc scan with the drive manufacturers diagnostic utility, from a boot CD or floppy, not from WIndows (one that checks the IDE controllers and cables is v handy). You can use a Linux rescue/diagnostics CD and check the memory with the same disk (Insert, BG Rescue, EBCD. don't use anything that alters the disc/data/writes to disc).

Uae Sisoft Sandra or Aida to check out RAM, board parameters, etc.

Tony
19-07-2005, 10:04 AM
Hmmm... interesting. I had another "black screen" event this morning, and when I eventually got back into action I checked the event log, and sure enough, there were some more "machine check" entries, but they occured about 40 mins before the blackout - during the morning boot-up. So I'm not entirely sure they are connected. I also noticed that the disk activity light was hard on when the screen went blank, and that is how it stayed until I did a hard reset after 5-6 minutes.

Murray P
19-07-2005, 12:43 PM
Disc thrashing can indicate a lack of memory or, swap file (virtual memory) or a, misbehaving software(?), malware/virus activity. It could be a faulty HDD or controller.

Try a memory test from a bootable disc, first. If you've got a memory fault, it could conceivably be triggered by the extra activity of software, including malware.

Tony
19-07-2005, 10:21 PM
Here's the latest. It has done it to me 3-4 times more, but this time no disk thrashing - the only evidence is a blank screen. It is not just a display problem though, as the PC is also no longer accessible from the network. Usually a reboot fixes it, but a couple of time it flashed up the initial "loading your personalised settings" screen and immediately crapped out again - which makes me think it is hardware or driver or service related; it must be too early for application stuff to be active.

I've run Sandra without anything showing that meant anything to me. I've also run AVG, Ad-Aware and Spybot - all clean. I'll run a memtest tonight and see what happens.

Murray P
19-07-2005, 11:19 PM
Is your important data backed up Tony?

Once you've done memtest, do a disc scan as per above advice.

BTW, memory tests and disc scans can/will strees the parts. If there is a fault, it can tip it over. Back up.

Tony
19-07-2005, 11:48 PM
Have no fear - I've been obsessive about backups ever since I was an operator on IBM mainframes in the 1970s!

We backup changed data every day across the PCs on the network, and do a full backup every Sunday to CD. So if it all turns to custard tonight, all I should lose is anything that happened since today's b/u - which is not much.

Having said that, this of course will be the day when I find the CDs are crap and the other PC loses all my backed up incremental stuff. :rolleyes:

Thanks for the concern, though.

Tony
20-07-2005, 09:53 AM
I ran memtest all night, with nothing adverse reported. This morning I ran a chkdsk on all the partitions, all OK as well. I've also run a benchmark on the display adapter, which presumably exercised it fairly hard, and that has worked OK as well.

So where do I go from here? I've installed the latest video drivers as per Speedy's advice.

FoxyMX
20-07-2005, 10:48 AM
I am wondering whether your hard drive is on the blink. Have you got another to try in that machine? Running a hard drive testing utility might be a good idea.

Murray P
20-07-2005, 11:37 AM
I ran memtest all night, with nothing adverse reported. This morning I ran a chkdsk on all the partitions, all OK as well. I've also run a benchmark on the display adapter, which presumably exercised it fairly hard, and that has worked OK as well.

So where do I go from here? I've installed the latest video drivers as per Speedy's advice.

Don't run chkdisk or scandisk, they only check the FAT and files. Use the drive manufacturers diagnostic utility from a boot disc (not from windows), or some other type of rescue/diagnostic disc. Is SMART activated (a true diagnostic utility will query SMART)? Have you checked temperatures and PSU? Does it blank out in Safe Mode or with default VGA if you run in that mode for a day or two?

Tony
20-07-2005, 11:21 PM
Is SMART activated (a true diagnostic utility will query SMART)? Have you checked temperatures and PSU?How do I find out if SMART is activated - BIOS? (I think it is). PSU??? (Power supply?) I've seen conflicting info about temperatures; Sandra at one point was reporting 229 degrees - I don't think so... but at another point indicated 50 odd degrees (if I remember correctly). Something else also reported the lower temp.
I've run the Seagate tools suite (the drive is a ST360015A) with no reported hardware errors. It did say there were errors in the indexes on all partitions, "and other <unspecified> errors were found". It says this is informational only and to run a software check - e.g. chkdsk. Done that from a DOS box and all it found were a couple of orphaned files. - which is not surprisng seeing as how I have been having lockups. I've already run chkdsk at boot time (see previous post) with no reported errors.

The irony of it all is that through all this it hasn't locked up once!

So - I've checked memory (memtest)
I've checked the physical disk (Seagate Tools)
I've checked the file system (chkdsk)
I've exercised the video system (benchmark)

I think I might wait a bit now and see if it recurs - unless anyone has any other ideas? I really don't want to format and reinstall except as an absolute last resort.

Speedy Gonzales
20-07-2005, 11:30 PM
Yup the Smart option SHOULD (or maybe) be under the ide Master/primary entries in the BIOS.

And yup PSU is the power supply.

Tony
21-07-2005, 06:37 PM
It has just occurred to me that I have only experienced this problem when I have moved/clicked the mouse (except when it has happened on startup.) I'm using a MS optical cordless mouse and keyboard, but I have spares of both, so I'll plug those in for a while and see what happens.

Watch this space!

Tony
22-07-2005, 09:12 PM
Ah well, so much for that good idea. I had a blank screen/lockup today using an old PS/2 mouse and a corded keyboard. It did happen when I moved the mouse though. At least it means I can go back to an optical mouse with a wheel...

I've opened up the case, vacuumed out all the fluff and dust, reseated everything I could get my hands on, so now I'm just waiting for it all to happen again. I have no idea what to do if/when it does. :badpc:

Speedy Gonzales
22-07-2005, 09:26 PM
This seems to be a prob with this card according to Google.

Like here

http://www.techsupportforum.com/computer/topic/56708-1.html

This sound similar to your prob?

Using a logitech mouse, can cause this prob, but I see you're not using a logitech. Try updating the MS mouse software, if u use it.

And what's this card ? PCI? AGP?

I would also check the BIOS, and see what the setting is on for the primary graphic adapter. In some BIOSES there's an option for PCI/AGP.

Tony
11-01-2006, 09:19 PM
We finally seem to have a fix for this problem (though ask me again in 6 months...).

It looks like it was the power supply. Anyway, a new (replaced under warranty) power supply has made the problem go away for the moment.

Thanks everyone for your advice. :thumbs: :thumbs: