Computer BSODing at random
September 2, 2009 8:15 PM   Subscribe

Windows Vista 64. Computer started bluescreening at random a few days ago, with increasing frequency - it's up to several per day now.

Pretty much every single bluescreen so far has happened with the computer entirely idle - nobody was even sitting at it. There's no file given as the reason; the message given sometimes is PAGE_FAULT_IN_NONPAGED_AREA, and sometimes isn't given at all.

The computer also appears to be unable to install the Vista Service Pack 2. The first time we attempted to install SP2, it was mid-install and then it BSOD'd; on reboot, it kept trying to revert changes and BSOD'ing every time, over and over. Booting into safe mode solved the endless loop, but since then, we're still unable to install it - it'll go through the motions, reboot, get to 96% and then say "Unable to install - reverting changes". The "Installation was not successful" screen details gives me an error of "ERROR_NO_PROC_SLOTS(0x80070059)".

The computer is barely one year old and has worked perfectly fine so far (up until the 28th of August, which is when this all started). I'm completely clueless as to what may be causing this, as sometimes it'll go days between BSOD's (we always shut it down at night, if it matters any), sometimes it'll BSOD three or four times in a single hour. It seems to be completely random.
posted by sailoreagle to Computers & Internet (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I would wager that there is a hardware fault, probably memory. It might be the processor or the MB, or another peripheral, or the hard disk.

On the offchance that it is software related, get an ubuntu CD and run it (you dont need to install it) and see how stable the machine is. If it runs without problems, reinstall windows.

These problems can sometimes be hard to nail down, so it may take several tries to get it fixed, as you'll have to test every part until you find the culprit.

If the machine is under warranty, let them deal with it. If it isn't, or if you want to try troubleshooting it, we can provide more detailed answers.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 8:24 PM on September 2, 2009

A page fault happens when a part of your memory that was put in a swap file needs to be loaded back into RAM. Despite the word "fault", it is not an error. The "unmapped memory" part sounds like a bigger issue. You may have a corrupted swap file. I am not 100% sure how to detect or fix this on a Windows system, but looking into this angle may be helpful.
posted by idiopath at 8:30 PM on September 2, 2009

By "unmapped memory" I of course meant "nonpaged area" -> meaning a problem with the swap storage, not the ram being swapped into.
posted by idiopath at 8:33 PM on September 2, 2009

The first thing I would suspect is memory. It's pretty cheap to swap out RAM, though I should add that experience has made me pretty skeptical about the usefulness of memtest diagnostics. Another common culprit is dust, spiders, or debris on the motherboard. The inside of computers often gets pretty filthy. Finally is the computer on an UPS? If not, get it on one.
posted by crapmatic at 8:37 PM on September 2, 2009

Page fault in nonpaged area would mean that the computer is trying to re-load memory from the hard disk into an area that it's not supposed to ever be paged out of, which can only be caused by something going way wrong.

Is it possible your computer is overheating? My sister had an old computer that started acting up one summer and apparently simply putting a fan on it solved the problem.

But it's likely bad hardware, most likely the memory.
posted by delmoi at 8:39 PM on September 2, 2009

The only things that can cause BSOD are Kernel-mode failures, which means a bug in the OS, a bug in a driver or bad hardware not doing the right thing. In your case it is likely hardware. Start with the video card and hard drive, and start swapping things out from there until you find the culprit.
posted by jeffamaphone at 8:41 PM on September 2, 2009

It could be a heat problem. Are any of your cooling fans dead?

Try running "speedfan" just to see how things look.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:00 PM on September 2, 2009

I had similar symptoms on my Dell 14z starting last week. I chatted with Dell support, and it turns out that one of the recent Windows updates caused the problem. The support guy rolled back the update (actually, it might have been two updates), and that solved the problem. I googled around a bit, and I think this article describes the same problem and the solution.
posted by The Tensor at 11:27 PM on September 2, 2009

Yeah, some people here at work had this same problem. They had to perform a system restore to go back to before the latest update. I believe the issue is device driver related. These were all Dell machines running Vista.
posted by orme at 4:53 AM on September 3, 2009

Just wanted to toss in a word about alternatively running *nix for stability:

Several years ago I built myself a full tower monster of a computer, running XP. Several months later, I started BSOD'ing, mostly page faults. I tried everything I could think of, and finally nuked from orbit. Again, BSOD's. Total wipe again, bitwise wipe, reinstall. STILL bsod'ing. SO I get smart and I boot a redhat distro, and let it run. All is fine. Runs for days w/o error. Ran memcheck, no errors. Finally reinstalled with a different install disc, and the problem seemed to go away unless I was balls deep in heavy computing.

Finally, and in a completely unrelated move, I bought a newer, larger stick of ram than one of my smaller sticks, and the problem entirely went away.

Long story short---the linux kernel can recognize bad sectors in ram and avoid them, thus making a bad stick of ram work fine.
posted by TomMelee at 5:08 AM on September 3, 2009

Ironically enough, my Vista 64 laptop started BSODing around that same time. Use the system restore and go back to about 8/20, and see if it stops. There was some driver or something in an update that hosed my 64 bit system royally. I went back, installed JUST the Vista service packs, and I'm keeping my antivirus uptodate and waiting on my Windows 7 upgrade. Vista 64 is, apparently, practically still in beta.
posted by Medieval Maven at 5:55 AM on September 3, 2009

Download and burn memtest86 onto a CD (it's a free download, burn the iso using imgburn), reboot with it in the drive and run the tests to check if your RAM is bad. If you get errors, its probably your ram blue screening you.
posted by glenno86 at 8:50 AM on September 3, 2009

Response by poster: For whoever unearths this question on a search: problem fixed itself. We did nothing. Weird, but I'm not complaining.
posted by sailoreagle at 3:29 PM on September 22, 2009

« Older I'm already sick. Probably best not to do further...   |   How to make seitan that isn't chewy or fried? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.