Hardware Instability? Try this first!

Discussion in 'General Hardware' started by Anti-Trend, May 10, 2010.

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  1. Anti-Trend

    Anti-Trend Nonconformist Geek Staff Member

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    Is your system randomly crashing, rebooting, freezing, etc? Please try the following suggestions before posting a new thread:

    1. Consider the make & model of your PSU. A cheap, generic, or underspecified PSU can be the cause of many stability-related issues or even damage other components. As such, it should be among the first things you identify as a potential failure point for your system.
    2. Have you tried running Memtest86+ overnight? Download it, burn it as a CD, and boot to it. It'll automatically start testing your RAM. Even one memory error is too many, and will cause system instability or even data corruption. This could indicate faulty memory, voltage irregularities, incorrect timings, overheating, or even a problem with the CPU or motherboard.
    3. Have you sniffed around the motherboard and expansion cards for bad capacitors? Capacitors, or caps for short, are like small batteries. They can also fail in the same ways; swelling, leaking out of the top or bottom, or even exploding in severe cases. This can cause voltage irregularities and system instability. Unless you are already skilled at electrical repair, it's almost always best to just replace the entire component.
    4. Are you running Windows? If so, your operating system is synonymous with instability, insecurity and fragility. This being the case, it's wise to remove the operating system as a variable in your troubleshooting endeavors. One way to do so is to boot to a different operating system. Thankfully, there are many "live" Linux distributions, aptosid for example, which can be run directly from CD or flash drive without the need for installation. Try running a live Linux OS for a day or so, then see if you get any instability during that time. You can also run the 'dmesg' command to see the kernel logs at any time, which can help expose many hardware issues. If Linux is 100% stable throughout your tests however, your Windows OS is a prime candidate for your perceived hardware issues.
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