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Thread: Need Advice Re: Random lockups & Optimal WinXP installat




  1. #1
    Join Date
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    Welp, I'm back. I dare say I'm starting to become a regular poster of problems in this forum. Whether that's a good or bad thing, I'm not going to think about. ;)

    Ok, here we go. And be advised, this is a long-ass post. Seriously. Go get a drink.

    For starters, here are my specs:

    -Tyan Trinity KT-A S2390B motherboard
    -Athlon XP 1700+ CPU
    -512 MB of SDRAM on three sticks, one 256, two 128s, all three different brands
    -Maxtor 80GB HDD with 8MB cache (the brand new one I bought for those who've helped me in the recent past) *Primary Master*
    -Maxtor 40GB HDD (currently disconnected due to power concerns, more on that later) *Primary Slave - if it were connected*
    -LG 32x-10x-40x CD-RW/Burner *Secondary Master*
    -Asus 52x CD-Rom Drive *Secondary Slave*
    -ATI Radeon 9500 Pro (the official one made by ATI, not by a third party)
    -Sound Blaster Audigy Gamer
    -D-Link DFE-538TX 10/100 Ethernet Adapter, Network Interface Card

    First things first. I've fixed the issues I've posted about in the past (kind of fixed.....you know how it is) but I've recently encountered a fresh assault of the "random lockups" I've had before. What I mean by this is my computer will simply freeze. No warning, no apparent software causing it, just a simple freezing. Desktop image frozen on monitor, mouse pointer not moving, keyboard not responding to Caps Lock and Num Lock attempts...you get the idea.

    The freezes are inconsistant with the computer activity that's supposedly causing them. I could be doing anything from booting into XP and simply opening Explorer (booted for the first time all day, active less then 6 minutes) from simultaneously surfing the net, chatting with 5+ people on MSN, and working on an Excel assignment while Winamp, WinMX and IRC are playing music and maintaining queued slots for downloads in the background (left idle all day, active more then 6 hours, then used as stated above when I get home) before the freezes occur.

    The only thing that changes when this freezing happens is the sounds coming from my tower. It sounds like a fan is either speeding up or slowing down but I can't even tell cause my CPUs HSF (Thermaltake Volcano 9) is loud as hell and makes it hard to distinguish whats making what noise. I can't even tell if the fan doing the things its doing when I freeze is the CPU HSF or the fan in my PSU! If I had to guess, I'd say the fan is slowing down though, as if suddenly under a low load. Think about the sound your computer makes as it boots into XP and then finishes running the "userinit" process and crap about 20 or so seconds of hitting the desktop. That little "high to low" tone the system seems to make. Vague? Of course. But it's all I've got.

    Now because of this and the approaching conclusion of my college year I've decided to start from scratch and reinstall everything, hoping for the best. However, since I'm not out of the woods yet (still have exams, still low on time, still low on money) I need to start thinking about how to fix whats broke for the time being, before I can spare the daylight to trash it and start anew.

    So, number 1: What should I be looking at with regards to my hardware config and software to minimize or eliminate these lockups?

    I've already done all the tweaking from Persian Immortal's WinXP tweak guides, especially paying attention to those regarding pagefile size setting and the DisablePageExecutive registry tweaks. I've also squared everything away with regards to running Windows Update (to the point where no updates are available,) Ad-Aware, Regcleaner, WinOptimizer, Cacheman, Bootvis, Error-Checking (both the long one where you check both options in XP and reboot, and the shorter manually run one "chkdsk /f" that focuses on corruption,) defragmenting, System File Checking (sfc /scannow) and taking two extra strength Advil with some Coke.

    I've also run the Memtest 86+ ISO boot CD some dude suggested to me last time I posted and it did 7 passes through all the tests in just under 4 hours, with 0 reported errors. So even though my three sticks of differently branded RAM working together is one of the worst RAM configurations possible, its still working as well as the day I installed Windows 98 years ago. Apparently anyway.

    Now here's where things get ugly. I stated above that my 40G HDD was disconnected due to power concerns. These power concerns arose from the following, shameful fact:

    I'm running my computer off a 250 Watt PSU.
    *Cringes as forum members scream, brandish the Cross and start hissing*

    Now it's a no-brainer that this could be the source of my lockups, and a simple (and crucial) upgrade of my PSU would probably solve my problems, also negating the purpose of me typing this post and having you read it in the first place. However, why I'm typing this post looking for help is because the lockups aren't consistant with my crappy PSU alone. Freezes never occured in Windows 98 for example, even though I was running the exact same rig setup and power settings. Also, if my PSU truly was the bottleneck causing all my troubles, why can I use my PC more then 12 hours one day and only 12 minutes the next before problems occur? Shouldn't I be having trouble all the time and not just some of the time if my PSU were the cause?

    My PSU is A bottleneck, to be sure, and I'm way ahead of your suggestions that I upgrade it ASAP, but I'm not convinced it's THE bottleneck creating the source of my woes.

    Regardless, fixing my crap will just put a splint on my broken leg. Only through a fresh install of everything will I be able to put my weight back on it and run my daily miles. Which brings me to my second point of advice:

    Number 2: If I have two HDDs, one 40GB, one 80GB (/w 8mb cache), what's the absolute best method to install WinXP and manage it's installation?

    By "best method", I mean things like whether installing it off the WinXP CD or copying the setup files to my HDD and installing it from there is the best choice. Almost like the old "Wincabs" way of installing Windows 98, where you would install Windows off the HDD and the OS would never ask you to insert the Win98 CD for things like driver updates and crap. If there's a way to do that with Windows XP, I'd love to hear about it in detail.

    By "manage it's installation" I mean things like HDD partitions configurations, (ie. putting what partitions where and why. For example, should I install XP on a seperate partition and put my data on another on the same HDD, or should I put XP on one partition, make another partition on same HDD for backup data but keep my main data on my second HDD?) and pagefile settings. (if I have two HDD's, which one do I put the pagefile on? same HDD with XP installation? same partition or different partition?)

    So yeah, there you have it. Any advice, suggestions, comments, quips, random expressions of the english language and smilies regarding causes/solutions to my freezes, super-optimal WinXP installations and ways to get rich quick are appreciated. Well, the quips will be appreciated if they're good, but unappreciated if they suck. Ditto for the random expressions. Also, no "***** yourself out to X number of fat chicks for 1000 bucks a piece" suggestions. I watch Family Guy too. :rolleyes:

    Thanks in advance. Respond at your convenience.
    Peace.

    -The Fiercest
    "Your speed is in a constant battle with your attention to detail." - Unknown Author

  2. #2
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    We'll worry about the lockup issue if it occurs after the reinstall. :)
    By the way, is that DDR SDRAM or just SDRAM?

    First thing to do is put in the XP CD and restart the computer. Go into your BIOS, which is probably done by pressing F1 after starting your computer (before Windows loads). Navigate to your BIOS until you find an option allowing you to change the boot priority. Change it to your CD drive (pay attention as to which drive). After that, the installation process should start.

    There won't be a lot of options during the install, so following my instructions won't be too difficult. You should reformat both HDDs. If you need something from them, get it off the computer before doing this. How you format them depends a lot on what you're doing. If you play games, as in games that require a lot of CPU power, RAM and HDD usage, and video card usage (in other words, not card games or anything like that), you'll want to do it one way. You'll do it differently if you are a proffesional video editor of some sort or something similar. If you're just a regular user that does e-mail, IM, web browsing, word processing, etc. you'll do it completely differently. Note that there are probably those who would disagree with the suggestions I'm about to give you, so I'll explain:
    You have three basic variable to choose when formatting your HDDs:
    1. Number of partitions
    2. Partition Size
    3. File System
    The third one is what's most improtant since the other two are more a matter of organization and can be easily changed, for the most part, after installing. There are two choices for your file system: NTFS are FAT32. Most will tell you to go with NTFS, and just NTFS. I disagree, unless you don't do anything that utilizes your HDD power much, ever. The differences, in lamen terms, are:
    NTFS utilizes space much better; you can, disregarding extremely rare exceptions, fit much more files and larger files on it. Depending on the size of you're files and whether or not you use it's compression features (which FAT32 does not have), I would say 5% to 15% more. Now, if you're going to use up all 110 or so GB that you'll get out of those two HDDs, that means something. If you'll use use up a good amount, to the point where space might become an issue, that means something else. Basically, NTFS is useful because you'll be able to fit much more. However, it has other, arguably more important uses. First, it's safer for your HDD. What I mean by safer is, your less likely to damage or destroy it with NTFS. Now both damage and destruction are rare, but they do happen. NTFS records all file transfers and writing to the HDD. If something goes wrong while writing to the HDD (such as a crash), there's less chance of errors. NTFS has other features, as well, but the small cluster size (which is what causes it to utilize space better), the ability to compress (which also helps with space), and the "safety" feature are what I find to be most important.

    FAT32 has a few bonuses, too. The most important is that it's faster. You can access it faster, write to it faster, it's faster in general. This is because of NTFS's little "safety" feature. This can be a huge different when you're playing games. It's also be faster during "extensive" error checking (as you put it, "the long one"). The only time you'll ever see NTFS go faster should be when defragmenting. The only other real bonus to use FAT32 is compatibility. Most Linux distrobutions can access it, older Windows versions can access it. However, this is becoming irrelevant as there is a freeware program that allows older Windows versions to access it and newer Linux distrobutions allow for NTFS access. Not to mention the fact that you're not using Linux or an older Windows version.

    All this considered, here is how I would suggest you set up you partitions:
    HDD 1 P1: FAT32. OS and OS-related files and programs go here (including page file). 6-10 GB.
    HDD1 P2: FAT32. Games and any other programs that use a lot of system resources go here. Around 70 GB.
    HDD2 P1: NTFS. Files that aren't neccesary for programs go here. Particulary good for file-sharing and backup files.

    However, if you're a "normal user" that doesn't play games or need all that much speed out of a computer, You have no need for any FAT32 partitions. Go with the same setup, except with all partitions being NTFS.
    :2cents:
    You will only have to worry about the first partition while installing XP. All other formatting can (and will) be done within XP (Control Panel\Administrative Tools\Disk Management).

    There's one other option to consider: You can try dual-booting. Dual-booting will allow you to choose between two operating systems (in this case, Windows 98 and Windows XP) when your computer starts up. There are several reasons for you to do this:
    Firstly, your computer is somewhat old (no offense) and will be faster on any "intensive" applications in Windows 98 (98 is faster than XP). Secondly, you can access things from one OS that can't be accessed in the other. In other words, virus removal and deleting things that sometimes won't allow themselves to be deleted (some files do this, there are several causes) become easier. Finally, it makes it easier if you ever have to reinstall one OS or if something goes wrong with one.
    The problem is that Windows 98 is unstable and requires some tweaking to become fast. I'd be happy to help you with this if you want to attempt it, but it's not neccessary. If you just want to go with XP, that works just fine.

    After installing, you need to install a few things. Drivers. First, you go to the web site of whatever companing made your chipset drivers and download drivers for your chipset. If you don't know what chipset you use, download CPU-Z from www.cpuid.org. After doing that, you install the latest version of Direct x. You can get that from Microsoft, no problem there. After that, go get the 4.4 catalysts for your Radeon. When you're done with that, get any other drivers you need and format your HDDs.

    If you have any problems or questions, feel free to post.

  3. #3
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    Ok you mentioned a volcano 9. What other cooling is there? That psu definately has to go. Are you aware what will probably happen when it blows? The last one I encountered after that happened was a total loss. Everything fried except the floppy and 1 cd rom. The funny thing is, he too also beat around the bush with random freezing for months before it finally happened and could have just got a better psu as advised instead of a whole new machine in the end(minus the floppy and case). So by not spending $65-$80cdn, it cost him $1000cdn plus all the data on the hd.
    athlon xp-m@2456mhz(12x204)
    tt aquariusII liquid cooled/ arctic silver ceramique
    asus a7n8xe-dlx
    thermaltake xaserIII lanfire
    bfg 6800gt
    seagate sataII 250gb/seagate 7200rpm 160gb ide
    samsung dvdrw
    2x1024 kingston hyper-x pc3200/ windows xp pro sp3
    logitech mx518/ logitech wingman rumble
    2x samsung 955df 19"/ canon i960
    creative x-fi fatal1ty 64mb/ altec lansing 251-5.1
    mushkin 550w

    opteron 146 @ 2850 (10x285)
    DFI infinity nf4 ultra
    thermaltake tsunami dream -black
    seagate sataII 500gb
    evga 8600gt oc ssc edition
    samsung sata dvd-rw
    2x1024 ocz black
    logitech ifeel/ nec accusync 75f
    ocz fatal1ty 550w

  4. #4
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    To Yawgm0th:

    Thanks for all the advice. Truly above and beyond (your post is as long as mine!) Really appreciate it. ;)

    My memory is just SDRAM. All three sticks.

    You can consider me a Gamer as I kill Call of Duty, Rise of Nations, GTA 3, Natural Selection and Dungeon Siege on a regular basis. And you're right about NTFS and FAT32, I have heard differing opinions on which one is best for what lifestyle of user, most of them saying "NTFS all the way." However, since I'm all for access speed and slightly less enthusiastic about security and data failsafes, I'll go ahead and use your recommended setup. Ditto on the NTFS for the second HDD. My standards demand that my backed up data have the very best file system protection.

    I've already created my own personal "Post-OS installation" CD as well as an "Enthusiast Tools" CD from years ago that I keep regularly updated with all my hardwares latest drivers and software versions of all things from Ad-Aware to Winzip. They include the redistributable of DirectX 9b as well so getting up to date post-XP installation won't be an issue.

    I've also already downloaded and installed the latest VIA Hyperion drivers for my aging KT-133A chipset. Currently, I've reverted to the slightly older v4.43 from the newest v4.51 in an effort to resolve the freezes before I began to post this thread. I haven't gone back to v4.51 after I saw the v.4.43s failed to solve my problems simply because there's no point. I will upgrade back to v4.51 before I attempt the reinstall though.

    I won't try dual-booting simply because I consider WinXP much better stability-wise, even with these random freezes. :lol: Also, you're right about Win98 needing alot of tweaking before it becomes a fast, somewhat stable OS. I've been there and done that and would cringe at the thought of doing it again. Still, the offer to help me with it is much appreciated.

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    To maximus7001:

    Other then my Volcano 9 and the somewhat negligable airflow my PSU is making, the only other cooling I have in my system is an 80mm Sunon case fan at the front of my tower, below the 3.5" HDD and floppy rack.

    It's not really doing much down there as I've already run tests with my case off and my system under high loads and the heat is definitely concentrated in the upper rear section of my tower, directly underneath my PSU, and above my Radeon 9500 Pro, in the general area of my Volcano 9 HSF.

    There's a space for a 60mm case fan at the rear of my system, essentially directly inline with the high heat area, I simply can't find a 60mm case fan to buy. There's this place my buddy pointed me to that supposedly sells 60mm CPU fans (which I've been told can be used as case fans, as long as the size fits) I've just yet to make the journey down there.

    I probably won't buy it though because I plan on buying the "Antec Sonata" case which comes with my salvation in the form of an included 380W PSU, and larger 120mm case fan mounts. No sense in buying a case fan that won't fit in the case I buy right afterward.

    Also, after reading the above you're probably thinking my CPU temperature may have something to do with my freezes. I've already thought about that and while it's still possible, it's unlikely again due to the time I can spend on my computer before problems occur. You did however remind me of another question I had regarding heat with your question about my cooling setup, which I've typed below.

    As for what will happen if I don't get a new PSU, don't scare me. I'm already paranoid with my PC as it is. I'd be doing an assignment, get up to get a drink, come back and before I even sit down I'm moving my mouse to see if the system has frozen, heart in my throat. This is no way for a PC enthusiast to live! :cry:

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    To Everyone Reading This:

    All of the advice I've gotten so far has been great, but frankly, I'm curious as to what will be said if I ask for a second opinion.

    So here I am asking for a second opinion. Does the above suggested WinXP installation sound like the best one possible? Does anyone out there have any nips or tucks to add to the process that they'd care to suggest? Debate people, debate! This IS a forum isn't it? :)

    Also, is there a way that anyone knows of to install Windows XP off of the hard drive so, like the Win98 installation I had previously, I won't ever need to insert my XP CD for things like driver updates or System File Checks? That type of 98 installation was the apex of convenience coolness and I wouldn't mind getting it back under XP.

    Finally, regarding heat, whats a generally acceptable temperature for both my CPU and my overall system? Once I buy my case and PSU, I'll probably buy a new CPU HSF and an additional case fan just to make sure my CPU/system heat isn't causing trouble, to kill two birds with one stone essentially. What sort of number should I be aiming for?

    Thanking you guys is becoming a habit. However its a habit I'm in no hurry to break. 8)

    Peace.

    -The Fiercest
    "Artificial Intelligence is no match for natural stupidity" - Unknown Author

  5. #5
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    If you ever get some extra money, I'm sure your games would appreciate a new motherboard and some DDR. :2cents: :D
    I've never heard of any way to install XP from the HDD. I think HP might have some way of going about it with the way it has its recovery partition on its system, but if you're not on an HP..... There's no reason to anyway, a CD installation should be good enough. You probably won't need you're XP CD if you're done installing. Unless you wanted to install IIS, which you don't, you wouldn't need it. Windows Update and driver downloads will do it.
    Please don't get a FAT32 vs. NTFS debate started. :lol:
    Last time that happened, we had a guy that couldn't be convinced that NTFS was useful, and it resulted in swearing, followed by post deletion..... :thumbs do
    You probably won't see much argument, anyway. The only real question is whether it's worth using FAT32 for the extra speed. And that's a matter of opinion more than fact. Most of the people (or the credible ones anyway, :D ) that would argue with me are elsewhere, anyway. :wink:

    Besides, if you have problem or are convinced to do something other than my setup, you can convert FAT32 partitions to NTFS in XP.

    And BTW, why do you use WinZip? It isn't needed to open Zip files, and Winrar and 7-zip are more useful programs IMO. :2cents: :D

  6. #6
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    About the psu, I am just trying to keep it from happening to you as well and stop your crashing. That antec sonata case has the nicest black finish I have ever seen. And is overall a decent extremely quiet case with an actual 380w antec psu. There is a big difference between cheapo and good psu's. The cheapos are always over rated, sometimes up to 100% simpley because these companies don't have to be accountable for it and rely on mass quantity of 1 time sales instead of reputation for profits. So the average generic "450w" for example is more like 250-300w. For best results, do not use the "fan only" power connectors on the antec psu. On the sonata case I did work on, I ended up modding a 80mm fan with wire grille into the lower front bezel to reduce the negative case pressure. Before doing this, the temps were much lower with the side off, not anymore. The problem was, the rear 120mm case fan on it's own was overpowering the thermo controled psu fan and pulling hot air from the psu into the case.
    athlon xp-m@2456mhz(12x204)
    tt aquariusII liquid cooled/ arctic silver ceramique
    asus a7n8xe-dlx
    thermaltake xaserIII lanfire
    bfg 6800gt
    seagate sataII 250gb/seagate 7200rpm 160gb ide
    samsung dvdrw
    2x1024 kingston hyper-x pc3200/ windows xp pro sp3
    logitech mx518/ logitech wingman rumble
    2x samsung 955df 19"/ canon i960
    creative x-fi fatal1ty 64mb/ altec lansing 251-5.1
    mushkin 550w

    opteron 146 @ 2850 (10x285)
    DFI infinity nf4 ultra
    thermaltake tsunami dream -black
    seagate sataII 500gb
    evga 8600gt oc ssc edition
    samsung sata dvd-rw
    2x1024 ocz black
    logitech ifeel/ nec accusync 75f
    ocz fatal1ty 550w

  7. #7
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    Yawgm0th:

    Way ahead of you on the "if you ever get some money..." part.
    It would take me exactly $922.30 CDN after tax to get the Antec Sonata, Asus A7N8X-E Deluxe mobo, Athlon XP 3000+ Barton CPU and OCZ "Platinum Edition" 512MB EL-DDR Dual Channel Kit I've been wanting for over half a year now. If you'd like to make a donation... ;)

    I use Winzip from force of habit I guess, and I do use Winrar. Winzip just sounded better in my description of my CDs cause it had a Z in it. You know, from Ad-aware to WinZip? A to Z? I'm lyrically dramatic like that... :roll:

    maximus7001:

    From the description I read of the Antec Sonata, it appears to come with a 120mm fan already hooked up in the rear of the case. I'm assuming this fan is using the "Fan Only" connection that runs off the PSU since it isn't drawing power from a motherboard or anything.

    Also, I'll probably have to use the "Fan Only" connector regardless. I read it makes the fan connected to it run at the same RPM as the fan in the PSU right? Making the connected fan automatically quieter? Well when I buy this case its gonna come with a fan, and I'm going to be connecting my CPU HSF and another 120mm fan to my motherboard (it only has 2 fan connections.) Like hell am I gonna have my HSF running at a slower RPM then its supposed to, and the fan I buy to put at the front of the case will be too far away from the PSU to use the FO connector neatly. That only leaves the rear fan to use the FO connector or not be connected at all.

    I thought this was a fine setup until you brought up your negative case pressure and modding solution. Now I'm concerned. :lol:

    What exactly was the issue with the fans and high temps being encountered? Could you explain it in more exacting detail? Sorry, but I'm a pseudo-noob when it comes to case fans and the like (I just hook em' up and let em' turn) and I'd really like to learn more about this glitch you found with the Sonata case setup. Hell, I'd like to learn more about case pressure and case cooling period!

    Post back soon bro. 8)

    -The Fiercest
    "Last night I was lying in bed, staring at the stars, and I wondered... Where the **** is my roof?" - Unknown Comedian :lol:

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fiercest
    Way ahead of you on the "if you ever get some money..." part.
    It would take me exactly $922.30 CDN after tax to get the Antec Sonata, Asus A7N8X-E Deluxe mobo, Athlon XP 3000+ Barton CPU and OCZ "Platinum Edition" 512MB EL-DDR Dual Channel Kit I've been wanting for over half a year now. If you'd like to make a donation...
    Hmmm.... I bet I could find better hardware than that for much cheaper. In fact, I was planning on an entire system for around $550 U.S. ($740 CAD). But you don't need a new video card (and I do). Hell, for the money your thinking of you could almost (maybe $100 U.S. more) get an Athlon 64 system (assuming you didn't upgrade video).
    I don't know what sales tax is over there, though. I imagine it's a bit higher than over here. Plus, I don't know how it works if you ordered from a U.S.-based site. I still think (I'm almost positive) I could find better for well under that price (about $670 U.S. is $900 CAD)

    Really, it's no problem. I think it would be more appropriate if we had a newthread in "What Should I Buy," but it's up to you. I'm sure you'll be quite happy. :D

  9. #9
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    Yawgm0th:

    Thanks alot bro, but I'm gonna hold off on searching earnestly for hardware until I've actually got some Green saved up to purchase it with. I'm sure you've decided to buy something once, and then had to wait until you'd saved up the money in order to get it. That sort of "waiting ready" game is extremely frustrating to me. While foresight and planning are all well and good for buying a new rig/hardware, I don't like doing it more then 2 months ahead of when I absolutely know I'll be able to buy it, otherwise I'd just get pissed off that what I want is so shiny and perfect and yet JUST another few months away. Hair pulling frustration to the max, is what that is. 8)

    What you COULD do for me though is dig up a link for that AVG virus scanner program you once told me about. Remember how you used to keep it in your sig? Well, I dunno if its a forum setting I'm overlooking or if I'm just going crazy, but I don't see anyone's custom sigs anymore. Was gonna follow that link of yours just before it disappeared. So if you could hunt down that link or just point me in the general direction of it, I'll be real grateful.

    maximus7001:

    Where the hell are you!? :lol:

    Just curious about those details on your Sonata case pressure issue. Wouldn't want to buy it (sigh.....someday.....) and then run smack hard into a wall I could've avoided.

    Post at your convenience.......just let it be convenient quickly. ;)

    -The Fiercest
    "God is my favorite fictional character" - Homer Simpson

  10. #10
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    http://www.grisoft.com/us/us_dwnl_free.php
    Yeah, signatures haven't been working for a while now. Almost nothing has. Most of us have moved on to a different site because of major administration issues. I still post here, though. Come join us here.You'lll find almost all of the old regulars and more good freeware links than you'll know what to do with. :D
    Quote Originally Posted by fiercest
    I'm sure you've decided to buy something once, and then had to wait until you'd saved up the money in order to get it. That sort of "waiting ready" game is extremely frustrating to me.
    Your telling me. :rolleyes: I'm still trying to scrounge up $550 U.S. to get something that should be painfully low-end within 2 years and difficult to upgrade. :thumbs do
    Hmm.... Maybe if I plunder Canada. It's right next door (not really, but I'm closer than most)......
    :P :laugh:

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