Shockwave Flash causing instability?
July 16, 2014 1:51 PM   Subscribe

Twice in the past two days, my computer has choked while playing youtube videos

(both ones with interstitial/initial advertisements in them, but one fullscreen and one not). The audio starts stuttering and the video goes blank, after which a popup announcing the Shockwave Flash has crashed appears. Unfortunately, when I click that away, the computer is frozen afterward and I can't close anything. A few seconds after that, I get a blue screen of death announcing that something horrid has happened, after which I have to do a hard reboot. Computer seems normal afterward, but obv. this sort of symptom is very upsetting.

The BSOD says that a "recently installed" bit of software might be causing trouble. I had a dickens of a time updating Shockwave Flash on or around July 11 or 12, and I was wondering if that might be the source of the problem. Is it? How do I fix it?

Computer is an HP Pavilion m6 Notebook running Windows 7 Home.
posted by Scattercat to Computers & Internet (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The "recently installed software" thing on the BSOD is just standard copy. It has no idea if you installed anything or not.

I'd go get a latest browser update, check with adobe that you've got the latest flash, give everything a restart, and see how it goes.
posted by colin_l at 1:59 PM on July 16, 2014

If you run into the BSOD again, the error name and technical info on the BSOD would be extremely helpful in attempting a diagnosis.

As far as random shot-in-the-dark things to try, maybe check to make sure your video card drivers are up to date?
posted by Aleyn at 2:18 PM on July 16, 2014

I've had this happen to be on OS X. Computer would be fine until I started playing videos on YouTube or VLC. Then it would slow down, programs would become non-responsive, and eventually everything would freeze until I restarted it.

Could be that a video card or motherbaord is failing. Playing videos is a much more resource intensive operation than just browsing the web, and more likely to stress the components to the point where they fail.

Could also be an overheating problem. Again, video causes laptops to use a lot more power. Could be a fan failed inside, or heat sinks are clogged with dust.

In my case Apple Care replaced a few components in my system and the problem went away.
posted by sbutler at 3:27 PM on July 16, 2014

Response by poster: Motherboard failing is exactly what I'm worried about, unfortunately. How does one test that?
posted by Scattercat at 3:35 PM on July 16, 2014

In addition to overheating, the problem could be malfunctioning graphics drivers. See if you can update them through Windows Update, check the optional install section.
posted by JHarris at 3:38 PM on July 16, 2014

Response by poster: Well, the computer has known issues with overheating, but never previously just after playing videos...

Graphics drivers, browser, and all relevant add-ons have all been updated in the recent past.
posted by Scattercat at 3:40 PM on July 16, 2014

"computer has known issues with overheating"

pop the case and clean all the gunk out of the fan filters?
posted by colin_l at 3:46 PM on July 16, 2014

Response by poster: Laptop. :-( I don't even know how to get in there without breaking something.
posted by Scattercat at 3:49 PM on July 16, 2014

if it's a laptop, you could drop $30 on a usb fan stand, and see if you have the same problem with an external device doing what it can to help vent
posted by colin_l at 3:51 PM on July 16, 2014

Testing for a motherboard issue isn't always an exact process. Many vendors have a diagnostic suite you can run, and that's what you should do first. IIRC the Apple Care folks have their own internal utilities. Linux folks sometimes recommend running a kernel compile in a loop and if you can survive an hour of that you probably don't have any basic hardware errors.

But if you've had overheating problems in the past then that would move overheating to the top of my list of things to check.
posted by sbutler at 3:55 PM on July 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

Check your network driver - nic, wireless, whatever - and make sure it's the latest version. I have seen this happen on a couple computers; BSODs during youtube videos were usually a nic driver in need of update. Try it and see if the issue goes away.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 7:19 PM on July 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

You can use System Restore to return your computer to the state it was in before the upgrade.
posted by benito.strauss at 10:38 PM on July 16, 2014

Give us the error message OP! Without it we can just speculate.
posted by devnull at 1:57 AM on July 17, 2014

Response by poster: It hasn't happened again since! And I am obviously loathe to try and deliberately provoke it, lest it be the motherboard and I prompt a meltdown...
posted by Scattercat at 3:29 AM on July 17, 2014

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