help with diagnosis
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  1. #1

    help with diagnosis

    I've been having problems with my box for the longest time. I haven't been able to make a permanent fix for my problem. Here are my specs:

    Soyo Dragon SYP4I865PE Plus Motherboard
    P4 2.4 Ghz
    512 mb ram
    80 Western Digital HDD, + 60 GB hitacthi later on.
    Nvidia geForce FX 5600 256 mb
    XP Pro service pack 1

    The first time I booted it up, it would light up, then shutdown for a couple of seconds, then start up normally. This happens everytime the CMOS is reset. Thats not really the problem, but maybe a symptom. Here are the real problems.

    About a month later, I would boot up and get a message that says, "Windows has detected a registry file that has been replaced by an unrecognized one. That file has been replaced. The replacement was successful" or something like that. Afterwards, it would give me a windows file protection error. Then programs wouldn't run or give me crazy sounding errors, nothing in particular, different errors every time. So I decided to repair the installation. Then some crazy stuff happened.

    During the repair, it told me that my windows xp cd was invalid or corrupt. So after asking around, I was told that it wouldnt hurt to reset the CMOS on the Motherboard. So I did. Still no luck. I installed a new hard drive, and tried to install windows on it. It said my CD was bad. and wouldn't install without me holding down the enter key to select retry for every file that needed to be installed. So heres the weirdest part. For some reason, after the failed installation, I reset the CMOS after i took out the new hard drive, so I reset it while it had no HDD. I plug in the old HDD, and the windows install goes without a hitch.

    About a month later, I started getting the registry, file protection errors that i mentioned in the second paragraph. I eventually decided to install again, but I had to go through the same process. It only worked when I removed the hard drives, and reset the CMOS.

    So, this whole process has happened twice more, (a total of 4 times) in the past 1/2 year. Windows registry, file protection errors, a good amount of time in between eachother. Just recently, it happened a fifth and sixth time. This is where I can use the most detective help from the community, because it might be able to pinpoint something I'm not smart enough to pick up on.

    I downloaded a bootable knoppix cd, and messed around with it on my computer. I used it for a couple days, booting up with and without it, using both operating systems. The thing is, that the registry, file protection errors came on very quickly and persistently after I used knoppix. I couldnt log in, had to install again, same crazy way as last time with pulling the HDD and reseting the CMOS to get it to install with no errors.

    VERY recently, a girls pc was getting a windows/system not found error on boot, so I told her i could take out her HDD, plug it into my box, and burn a cd for her with her stuff. During this time, i have a second HDD installed, i use it for docs NTFS. I pull out the doc drive, plug in hers. I boot up, and i get the same error she did (windows/system not found). So I take it out, and put my doc drive back in, no changed jumper settings throught. I have to go through the same crazy install process again, because i keep getting her error.

    Now, I have no clue if its a hardware problem because of the way i have to install, or if i truely have a bad cd, or whatever. But yesterday, i got a crazy screen on boot up, with all kinds of crazy colors and letters changing positions. I dont really know what its called or how to describe it, so i cant google for it. I took a pic of it, and its attached. Maybe someone recognizes it, and can tell me what it is. I hope its related to my problem. Thanks for reading, help out if you like.

  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    First off.. real nice monitor..

    video display drivers might be fux0red for that screenshot.. really looks like a memory fault on the video card or something..

    now maybe you're facing more than one problem.. might have ram memory problems.. do you have more than one stick to make up that 512 ? you might try downloading and running docmemory , you'll find docmemory here. if you have two sticks.. run it twice.. reversing the sticks on your it can only test memory not in use.. and lower memory area problems can be a real bitch.. also you might try the memtest86 mem diag.. doing the same thing as I've suggested above. that one you'll find at

    lastly.. Western digital drives are VERY picky.. if you don't have the jumpers set on "cable select" you could run into all kinds of crazy things/problems.. so try setting that drives jumpers on cable select..

    that's pretty much all I can think of for now.. other than doing a reinstall of your video cards drivers.. (you might leave that one for last)

  3. #3
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Memphis, TN
    I also noticed that you said that this all happened very quickly after you ran live knoppix. Possibly could be a virus on your disk?

    Or a second possibility could be a BIOS virus?

    But I do think I would go with a memory problem as the first thing to check as sumdumguy suggested.
    If you have a spare stick lying around somewhere put that in there.
    or one last thing.

    Did you build this computer?
    If so, you could of accidentally damaged a pin on the processor. Might be a thing to check.

  4. #4
    Senior Member nihil's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    United Kingdom: Bridlington
    Hey man, can you tell me who "deals" for your videocard, I think that we might be able to do business

    Seriously, I have seen screen displays like that which were due to corrupt/incorrect drivers or the videocard memory failing. This might be an unrelated incident. Getr the latest drivers from the videocard MANUFACTURER...........bugger the Microsoft certification!.....and don't get generic/reference drivers from the chipset manufacturer .

    Similarly, your other problems could be RAM related. sumdumguy and cheyenne have given you good advice.

    What puzzles me is that you problems happen after weeks rather than the hours I would expect with a hardware problem. Also, if memory or video cards are physically on the way out this is a progressive process, they get worse and worse then they die. Your symptoms sound to be cyclical rather than progressive?

    The first thing I would do is get ny antivirus updated and run it in safe mode. I would then get a couple of "second" opinions by running online scans from Panda and PcCillin (Trend Microsystems). I would like to eliminate possible virus activities from the investigation.

    Another possibility is that your HDD is on the way out?.........after a while this would corrupt files.a reinstall would probably fix this for a while? Get the latest diagnostics proggy from Western Digital and run a low level scan on your drive.

    The next thing you need to do is go to the motherboard's site and check for any BIOS updates.

    My closing comment at this stage is have you checked that the motherboard, video card and memory are all compatible? there may be instability issues?

    For example cheap RAM is frequently a problem and not all videocards are compatible with all MoBos, just because they "fit the slot"

    Please report back..............this is an interesting one

  5. #5
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2001
    I have some questions regarding your computer's specs. My friend recently fixed some of his issues on his PC that were the result of a powersupply on its way out. So what is the power rating of your powersupply, and how old is it? And did these issues suddenly turn up after you added the second HDD?

    BTW, check this website out and do the calculations -

    My rough estimates say that you need at least a 350-400watt powersupply to run that machine. Even if your powersupply is rated at that, there are things to consider including amperage on each rail (+3, +5, +12 volts) that the powersupply can handle, and the demand that your hardware puts on it. The way to test this is to find a friend who has a powerful powersupply and "borrow" it from him for a while to see if the problem is solved by it. Also removing some unneeded highpower-consuming devices may help.

  6. #6
    First of all, this really sucks because every single part I have is a suspect. Second, Iím in college so I donít have access to parts to switch and swap to diagnose.

    1 stick, 512 mb.


    Would a bios password (ideally) prevent a virus from screwing it?
    Wouldnít clearing the CMOS get rid of it?
    Yes, I built it. Do the side effects of a screwed pin include corrupted files? I would think that everything would be effected immediately, and the speed would suffer. When this box is working, its pretty damn fast.


    Iíll try what you suggested, the third time it crashed, I did a BIOS update, but it crashed again later, as if it didn't do anything. But it wonít hurt.
    How do I check compatibility? Iíll check their sites after this post, but is there a site where I can put in my specs and it will spit out if they are compatible?
    Cheap RAM may be an issue, I bought it OEM from, 1 stick 512 mb


    Itís a new 350 supply. Iíll check it out when I find another supply.

    By the way, all parts were bought from any similar problems from anyone else? Just a reminder, that screen only happened once, and I am posting on the same box I am diagnosing. Another problem, is that it takes WEEKS for me to see if Iíve fixed the damn thing.

  7. #7
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    I still say.. run the two memory diags I suggested.. they're free and they'll do indepth testing.. you can let it loop for a while seeing if you can get it to "hiccup".. Tim's idea is good too.. if you can borrow a supply for a week or two (interchange with a college friend if possible).. you might also post the specs for the supply.. the various current outputs for each voltage should be on a label on that supply.

    nihil's suggestion about memory and compatiblity might just be the problem.. If I were you and could scrape the money together.. buy crucial ram.. that brand is top notch, should work on just about any mobo..

    I thought I'd also mention that some mobo's may have bad low esr caps in them see CXGJarrod's thread about info and a link I posted and inspect your mobo for bad caps.

    lastly.. do check to see that your western digital drive's jumpers are set to cable select.

  8. #8
    Senior Member nihil's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    United Kingdom: Bridlington
    Hi Soda,


    1. The Microsoft XP support site has a compatibility section. If it is listed you should be OK, if it is not listed you will probaby still be OK. What you are looking for is stuff they say there are issues with.

    2. nVidia and ATI have support sites with a FAQ section. They also host discussion forums where you can talk to fellow owners. All you really want to know is if anyone else has had a problem with the MoBo you are using.

    3. The major HDD manufacturers all have diagnostic programs on their support sites.

    I am 200% behind sumdumguy on Crucial as a RAM has a lifetime warranty and over here, is about as economical as you can get.

    Tim's point on the power supply got me thinking (350w is quite adequate for your system IMHO) your mains power supply "clean" you should get a surge protection block....they are only a few dollars. Power stations practice preventive maintenance (I have installed a few of those management systems in my time ) This is cyclical in its nature......when you take down a generator for maintenance and fire up another one you can get a power surge.................this would also be cyclical?

    EDIT: a "blip" (surge or brownout) could also explain the funny screen

    Good luck

  9. #9
    A little more evidence...

    I made my docmemory disk... but i got errors in the process. Picture attatched.


    Now the power supply, processor, memory, cdrom, HDD, GFX card, and now my Floppy drive are all in question. Could this just be a crapped mobo?

    Should I go ahead and use the docmemory boot disk even though i got errors in the process? Its a boot disk, so If its corrupt im afraid of what it might do to the memory.

    BTW thanks a lot for your help. Ive met a lot of nice people since posting on AO.

  10. #10
    Regal Making Handler
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Hello Soda,

    have you tried booting in vga mode and if so does the problem still occure. You could also be getting a resorce conflict, use the msinfo32.exe utiliy to check for shared or conflicting resorces. If there is you may have to change io or irq settings etc.

    What software have you got installed check to see if there is something incompatable with your os.

    Trouble shooting problems on pc's can be a nightmare and take up alot of time, have you used the msconfig utilty? its always a good place to start,
    What happens if a big asteroid hits the Earth? Judging from realistic simulations involving a sledge hammer and a common laboratory frog, we can assume it will be pretty bad. - Dave Barry

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