Friday, January 8, 2010

Tech bleg

My machine at home started getting weird a few days ago and is now nigh unto unusable.  It is a pretty ordinary dual-core WinXP setup.  It's original incarnation was given to me a few years ago by my mom, who gave it to me without the XP cd's.  Then about 1.5 years ago the original Celeron motherboard in it gave up the smoke, so I replaced it with the newer dual-core mobo in a new case with a better power supply, re-using my old HD so I wouldn't have to buy another copy of Windows.  Security-wise, I've been running AVG Free and ZoneAlarm.  An old copy of SpyBot S&D is in there somewhere, too, but not running.  The whole thing worked really darned well up until the 4th.

Now it freaks out and reboots itself OFTEN!  Usually it won't even finish booting up before it gags and starts over.  Sometimes I can get to a point where I can open a browser and read for 30 seconds or so.  But that's about it.  In Safe Mode it will run for 10 minutes or so before freaking, but of course I can't do much in Safe Mode.    The more services/start up items that are running, the faster it craps out.

It seems like something is corrupted, but I can't seem to isolate it.  Then again, if something were corrupted, you'd think the freakouts would be more predictable - happening everytime the system tries to access the corrupted whatever.  The intermittent nature of the crashes makes me wonder.  It often crashes early in the boot cycle, before it has even gotten to all the start-up stuff.

In the old day's I'd just fire up Norton which would almost always solve my probs.  But things have been so trouble-free the last several years I don't even have a fresh version of it.  Current versions of it still any good?  Are there better diagnostic apps out there?  Other ideas?  Budget is folded, spindled and mutilated so CHEAP is GOOD!

Help me Obi-Wan, you're my only hope!

PS:  A pox on anybody who says "Get a Mac!"  I don't mind Macs, but please see the part above about CHEAP is GOOD before telling me PCs suck.


  1. I'm having some issues with my box lagging, and badly. Nothing comes up on any scan, but it's slow all the same. I'm going to do a windows re-install and hopefully, that will take care of it. The registry can get gummed up over the course of years.

  2. Download Ubuntu on another machine, make a boot cd, then install that and wipe out XP. It's linux-based. You can download over a thousand free aps. It's not a memory hog like Windows ... and it runs like a charm. I just gave new life to the kids machines, previously killed by hackers this past summer. Try it. You'll like it.

  3. Inno...

    Get rid of AVG. I had it for several years myself until I got hit with a real nasty virus. Also AVG itself started acting haywire, slowing my machine down, etc.

    Instead, get Avast. It's free. You just have to keep re-registering every 90 days. That program not only works really well, but rescued me from a virus that I could not get rid of with anything else. When you install it, it should ask you if you want to schedule a "boot time" scan. Say yes and reboot. It will go to a blue screen where it scans. Delete or quarantine anything it finds.

    Also, forget S&D. Download Malwarebytes. Update it if you can with the latest definitions. Do a full scan in safe mode (not like you have a choice) and see what it finds.

    You may want to do malwarebytes first. I frankly would do whichever one you can get to work first.

    This isn't a catch-all. I run backup images routinely and have had to wipe and restore to those backups twice when nothing else worked. But the first time I did that, I had a virus resident in the backup itself, and that's when I discovered Avast. It was the only program that got rid of it (I tried about 20), and it did it during that boot time scan.

    I do wonder if it's not a virus, but maybe a faulty power supply. Not as crazy as it sounds. Faulty power supplies can often create that kind of behavior. I would still look at viruses/malware first. Hope this helps.

  4. sounds like ya got some good advice Inno..G'mornin my friend!:)

  5. Well, since I desire no pox of any stripe, I will reserve my advice and let you guys work it out amongst yourselves. I hate that it happened to you, and there is really no constructive advice that I can offer.

    Cheap is relative, considering how trouble-free, virus-free, malware-free and reboot-free I have been in the past 20 years.

    I'll shut up now. Good luck, Brother!

  6. Thanks all. Went all weekend without net access so I couldn't see any of these suggestions. Got fed up and took it to the shop.

    Re: Linux - I used to mess with it back in the early days before prebuilt distros were common. Yeah, I'd spend all day downloading source and compiling my own. It was fun but I think my wife would freak at anything unfamiliar. Anyway, it's simmering in the shop for now and I have to get buy with my funky old work PC.

  7. Left a message for a tech guru to cruise by here and leave you some dope, but when I went back to his site, seems my comment never made it through the intertubes.

  8. Thanks anyway, OG. Now I'm down to just fingers-crossing that the 'puter shop will call with some good news soon.

  9. Matt: Download and install Malwarebytes and run a complete system scan.

    Download and install Ccleaner, do a thourough cleaning.

    Check to make sure your temp file folder is empty and not all full. This will really slow down an older XP machine.

    you can email me direct - if you have additional Q's.

  10. I almost was gonna say "Get a Mac" but didn't want anymore The Mac mini's arent expensive, really, if you get the cheaper one and add a $50 GB ram....that's what I did. I know all your other genius friends have great ideas too, esp. Snarky, his seems to work now.

  11. I won't say "Get a Mac", but I'll turn your own words on you. "Good isn't cheap"!


Family-friendly phrasing heartily encouraged.


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