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Windows XP crash/boot failure - Hardware error or virus?
October 5, 2010 3:40 PM   Subscribe

My brother-in-law's windows XP machine has died, with a STOP error of 7e (ooooo5).. Sometimes it also references aspi.sys. Sometimes it makes it to the 'windows' screen, then hangs there loading endlessly. I suspected a rootkit because of a virus warning before it crashed, but I downloaded a couple of Linux rescue CDs and they didn't work - spitting out a variety of error messages (couldn't mount fs, init cancelled, or just a stream of hex numbers). I've also tried safe mode with and without console - it just resets without comment. The computer is very dusty, so my next step is to open it up and reseat the components after giving them a bit of compressed air - any thoughts on other stuff I could try, or components that might be at fault? I guess the motherboard is the obvious place for a problem - plausible?
posted by Sebmojo to Computers & Internet (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Try putting in different memory and then booting one of those live CDs.
posted by contraption at 3:53 PM on October 5, 2010


Other, wiser folks will probably have more specific info, but examine the motherboard for cracked, bulging, or stained components - thats a red flag that the board is toast. Too much dust can certainly be damaging to your motherboard, as well the lifespan of fans, cooling sinks etc. Did you try and boot with an XP install disc, just to see if it works?

Sure it isnt "acpi.sys"? That's associated with the hard drive, far as I can tell, and may signify a HD failure.

As for viruses etc, I'll leave that to smarter folks than me.
posted by elendil71 at 3:56 PM on October 5, 2010


Hardware errors usually happen intermittently, software errors are consistent. There may have been warning signs. Ask you BIL if the computer was acting up at all before the crash. As for the OS, I would not mess with trying to get rid of a rootkit virus. See if you can reformat the drive and reload Windows. It is very easy.
posted by fifilaru at 4:12 PM on October 5, 2010


ASPI tells me it's something having to do with the CD/DVD recorder/player. Try unplugging it or using a known-good drive.
posted by rhizome at 4:24 PM on October 5, 2010


Replacing the memory would be my first suggestion; when I've had similar errors it has been due to failing RAM. Another would be to do a WinXP reinstall (without formatting, of course) to see if something got corrupted. But, replace memory first before you start changing the contents of the hard drive or you may be compounding troubles.
posted by AzraelBrown at 4:31 PM on October 5, 2010


If it is dusty, vacuum it out with a brush attachment and try again. Dust can cause malfunctions in large quantities. I wouldn't try reseating until you knew that vacuuming alone didn't work.
posted by procrastination at 4:32 PM on October 5, 2010


Sorry, acpi.sys is right.
posted by Sebmojo at 4:42 PM on October 5, 2010


To go into a little more detail, the fact that it's failing to boot both the installed OS and the live CDs tells me that the problem isn't limited to the CD-ROM drive or to a virus in Windows. It's not entirely impossible that you're seeing two independent issues, but that's less likely than a motherboard or memory problem. If the computer's memory arrangement allows it, try removing one stick at a time to try and narrow down a bad one. Note that it's possible the OS has corrupted itself if the memory was bad, so you may still need to reinstall Windows and should do your testing with a live CD. If your live CDs are freshly burned it's a good idea to test-boot them with a known good computer to be sure they burned properly.

I would advise against vacuuming with a brush, vigorous dust removal has caused more trouble than dust in my experience.
posted by contraption at 4:56 PM on October 5, 2010


ACPI (basically: the motherboard) errors are different and would likely benefit from reseating and dusting with canned air.
posted by rhizome at 5:32 PM on October 5, 2010


Thanks all, I'll try that and report back.
posted by Sebmojo at 6:16 PM on October 5, 2010


Thanks all - surprisingly simple in the end, just a duff stick of RAM. Pulled it out and the machine started up fine.

I got to use BIL's commercial compressor to clean it out though which was awesome - massive cloud of paint and plaster dust erupted from the innards, and when I was done it looked like new.
posted by Sebmojo at 10:57 PM on October 5, 2010


Vacuuming the system board with or without a brush attachment is a terrible, terrible idea. There are these little things called jumpers, about the size of the head of a safety pin, that provide crucial settings for your system board by bridging electrical connections. They come off fairly easily and vacuum off VERY easily. Unless you have extras handy and a manual to tell you where they go, I'd avoid this at all costs. They look a little like miniatures of the fuses you'd find in a car's dashboard fusebox.
posted by Raichle at 2:41 AM on October 6, 2010


One additional point in case this turns up for anyone - if you clean out your computer with compressed air make sure you stop the fans from spinning as you do so. If left to spin they'll generate a DC current which can fry your computer. Didn't happen to me, happily, but it's a risk that's easily avoided by putting a finger on the fans as you clean.
posted by Sebmojo at 1:29 PM on October 17, 2010


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