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Low Post Day

31 August 2016

PG apologizes for getting behind on TPV posts today.

Late yesterday, his principal computer had a big crash and wouldn’t reboot or boot or show any other meaningful signs of life. PG can handle many of the problems that cause computers to misbehave, but this problem had him stumped last night and this morning.

So PG spent much of the morning locating a computer whisperer and consulting with him. With the exercise of his computer superpowers, the expert had everything fixed very quickly, but, like PG, was not certain about exactly what caused the problems in the first place.

Thus, PG will do some posts, but the total may be lower than his typical daily output.

Books in General

9 Comments to “Low Post Day”

  1. Your ‘few’ are often more interesting than many another’s many.

  2. No huhu. Yours is a well-regarded free service and anything we get is gravy.

    There is lots of gravy.

    I’ll be happy to chip in whenever you need a new computer. I’m sure many readers here will be, too.

  3. From the description, do you think it was power supply-related?

    There are a lot of things that can cause a sudden crash. I’m assuming a Windows machine, but typically they might be (in no particular order):

    * Memory address issue – some process eventually hits a bad portion of the memory and crashes the computer
    * Power supply – either failing or the power draw (such as from a graphics card during heavy usage) is excessive and causes it to shut down
    * System drive issues (whether hard drive or SSD)
    * Overheating CPU – due to being under strain (heavy program activity) or due to a failing/failed fan or fan/heatsink not being adhered
    * Possibly the CMOS battery failing/failed (usually only an issue on systems that are more than at least 5 years old)
    * Interruption in electricity
    * Severe program crash that also crashes Windows

    For laptops, failing fans that overheat the CPU and failing hard drives are among the more common – absent a program crash that also crashes Windows.

    For desktops, all of these apply but the failing (or overstrained) power supply and memory issues might be more common than the other hardware issues.

    If the crashed computer failed to reboot at all (as in, doesn’t even go into “POST”/BIOS, this implies:

    * Power supply
    * Electricity supply (if plugged into a surge protector or power strip, maybe the surge protector or power strip is either failing or was tripped and needs resetting)
    * CMOS battery on the motherboard – this is a standard watch-type battery, commonly a CR2032, that preserves BIOS settings for bootup

    With some power supplies, a temporary interruption in electricity that causes the computer to lose power for just barely long enough might cause the power supply to go into a reset mode and make the computer initially unable to restart. The way to resolve this is often to turn the power switch on and off and try again.

    On some computers, sometimes you might be able to switch the red voltage switch on the power supply back and forth (*make sure the power supply is unplugged if you do this and make sure you return the voltage switch to 115V since the 230V position is for European voltage*) and this resolves the issue once you plug the cord back in and turn it back on.

    A failing/failed CMOS battery might actually cause a computer crash if its failure has affected BIOS settings that were optimized to the computer’s memory and CPU and the BIOS has reverted to default settings (typically voltage settings or RAM timing settings). The computer might then either be bootable or non-bootable, depending on whether the CMOS battery has fully failed.

    Lastly, it might be an issue (especially for desktops) with memory not being fully seated, or cables that have flaky issues, or a motherboard with a glitch. But these might be less common.

    I would probably prioritize troubleshooting (if you think the issue might recur) with the following:

    * If the crash happened during heavy program usage (i.e., many windows or videos or a graphics and memory-heavy game open), then I would focus on RAM, CPU fan, or power supply (or possibly even the graphics card fan).
    * Especially if it’s a laptop, I’d consider the fan(s) and hard drive
    * If the computer is 5 or more years old, I’d consider the CMOS battery
    * If the computer failed to show any signs of life at all after a crash, I’d focus on the power supply and/or the surge protector/power strip it’s plugged into, or possibly the CMOS battery

    There are various applications that can test some hardware to eliminate those as culprits, such as:

    * Memory – use Memtest86 or Memtest86+
    * Hard drive – the hard drive maker always has a diagnostic program you can download and run
    * Fans – there are some programs such as SpeedTest and Motherboard Monitor that may be able to check fan speed and operation, but can require a bit of effort to set up and may not configure to all hardware. You can also tell on a desktop (with the case open) whether a fan is working and with laptops you may be able to discern if the main cooling fan is *not* working (it may rev up or come on during load and blows hot air out the side vent)

  4. The important thing is all is well with you. Low post counts or high; it’s still worth the trip.

  5. Nothing like the Bluescreen of Death to ruin your day. Glad your computer whisperer was able to help, PG.

  6. In addition to Matthew’s comments – how clean is your power? Do you have truly square waves coming through your power supply to your computer?
    I suffered through similar computer flakiness and finally resolved it with a whole house surge protector after trying all else.
    Good luck! Your posts are one of my joys –

  7. Truth to tell, after four posts a day I’m overwhelmed.

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