Shutting Down...
February 11, 2005 8:40 AM   Subscribe

Since installing XP professional in November, I have experienced a spontaneous shutdown and restart of my desktop. When it returns, it tells me the system has recovered from a fatal error that is caused by an unspecified device driver. I have uninstalled both software and hardware one by one over the last several weeks in hopes of identifying the problem. Nothing. Even system restore does not solve it. Is is time to reinstall XP, even with the risk that it will likely happen again?
posted by terrier319 to Computers & Internet (13 answers total)
 
When I hear spontaneous shutdown and restart, I think hardware, possibly overheating or a thermal sensor that thinks the computer is overheating. Try visiting your vendor's website for BIOS and motherboard driver updates. If you built your own machine, visit the motherboard site for firmware and driver updates. Open up the case and make sure the fans are working and cleared of dust.

There is a Windows worm that can cause sudden shutdown, but that operates after a set period of time; from what you describe that doesn't sound like you're experiencing.
posted by AlexReynolds at 8:52 AM on February 11, 2005


Right-click on My Computer, select Properties. From there, select the Advanced tab, and then Startup and Recovery. You probably have "Automatically Restart" checked - uncheck it. When your machine hits the same problem next time, it won't spontaneously reboot, but will blue screen - that may well give you some information as to what drivers are causing the problem.
posted by benzo8 at 9:10 AM on February 11, 2005


terrier319 - I don't think the error message "caused by an unspecified device driver" really means anything. I used to get that message all the time after reboot when my computer froze. I eventually figured out the problem was overheating - it stopped when I improved general airflow around the case.
posted by muddgirl at 9:19 AM on February 11, 2005


I would try playing around with msconfig and disabling different startup programs and services to see if that makes a difference. Just go to start->run and type msconfig and then enter. There are different tabs where you can check/uncheck programs and services to try and see if these have any effect.
I'd also try looking in the logs using event viewer to see if maybe there is some hint as to what is causing the problem. If you're not familiar with doing this just pop me an email and I'll tell you how.
posted by white_devil at 9:20 AM on February 11, 2005


I used to have this problem with the my DSL modem drivers.. Does it only happen when you are online?
posted by eas98 at 10:50 AM on February 11, 2005


It's not clear: Is the machine bluescreening and rebooting? Hard rebooting without a bluescreen? Or shutting down "nicely," as though you'd done it yourself, and restarting? These may sound like subtleties, but each of these scenarios would indicate a different sort of problem: The first could be a driver, a software or OS issue, or a hardware problem. The second is almost certainly a hardware problem (bad RAM or overheating are possibilities to look into). The last very likely a non-driver software issue.
posted by majick at 12:22 PM on February 11, 2005


Definitely not bluescreening. I would say hard rebooting since it's an abrupt shutdown -- it doesn't exit windows systematically and fold away screens, if that's what you mean. I will open the case and blow away any dust to see if that helps. I guess this is trial and error in the absence of good internal diagnostics.
Question: in the case of overheating, wouldn't it shut down completely as oppoosed to shutting down and rebooting?
Thanks for all responses.
posted by terrier319 at 12:43 PM on February 11, 2005


"wouldn't it shut down completely as oppoosed to shutting down and rebooting?"

Depends on what is overheating. Some components fail completely when they get hot. Others just act dodgy. Yet others (recent CPUs for example) are designed to fail when overheated, but in a specific and controlled way.

If tidying up your cooling system doesn't help, check the memory with something like memtest86. While it's rare, memory does occasionally "go bad," and random resetting is one of the possible failure modes.

Anecdotally speaking, when I had a video card that was starting to crap out, I saw similar symptoms. Replacing it resolved them.

Power supply problems might also be a factor.
posted by majick at 1:34 PM on February 11, 2005


Right-click on My Computer, select Properties. From there, select the Advanced tab, and then Startup and Recovery. You probably have "Automatically Restart" checked - uncheck it. When your machine hits the same problem next time, it won't spontaneously reboot, but will blue screen - that may well give you some information as to what drivers are causing the problem.

Interesting I took Benzo8's suggestion above it did give me a blue screen with the following ... BUGCODE_USB_DRIVER ... so it would appear that is the problem. Does anyone know what BUGCODE is and how to fix. Thanks.
posted by terrier319 at 1:48 PM on February 11, 2005


terrier319, more of the error message would be helpful -- especially the parts that say 0x0c0032 or what-not.
posted by Jairus at 8:43 PM on February 11, 2005


Here's the Microsoft page on the error message: http://tinyurl.com/5vs85

Seconding Jairus, the hex would give us more information, but to trouble shoot things further I would look at removing all of your USB devices, and then replugging each of them in turn and trying to force the crash - this should narrow down which one is at fault. Also, make sure you're running the latest drivers for all of your USB devices.

There is a known issue with USB2.0 external storage devices under high load which can produce this exception (though it's solved in the latest updates, so off to windowsupdate.com with you too...)
posted by benzo8 at 12:33 AM on February 12, 2005


OK here is what is reads:

Technical information:

*** STOP: 0x000000FE
(0x00000005, 0x829EE0E0, 0x103300E0, 0x825E6F30)

Will also take the steps suggested by Benzo.
Thanks again folks!
posted by terrier319 at 11:10 AM on February 12, 2005


Over the weekend, I removed the devices that were connected to my USB PCI card (including a wireless G network adapter and a cordless mouse). Problem solved. No more shutdowns or errors.

This leads me to conclude that it may have been a power consumption problem with the network adapter -- next step is to try a powered USB hub and see what happens.

Thanks to all for responding and especially benzo8 for help in identifying the problem. Much appreciated.
posted by terrier319 at 7:04 AM on February 14, 2005


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