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Computer randomly switches itself on and off - driver issue?

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User avatar Sat42
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Subject: Computer randomly switches itself on and off - driver issue?

Post Posted: 24 Jul 2014, 14:01

I'm back at my parent's place and I'm trying to make an old computer (dating back to April 2005) work without an annoying issue that began to appear a year ago. Fortunately my parents have another desktop which works fine, but I wish to make the old one live for several more years, as apart from the issue I'm about to share with you, it works extremely well.

It's a Windows XP SP3, 2.5 GB of RAM, Sapphire ATI RADEON X800 XL, with 146 Go of HD memory and still about 40 Go of free space. It started with 512 MB of RAM, I added 2 GB a few years ago. The graphics card was an ATI Radeon X300, I changed that in favour of the X800 XL last Christmas. Everything works perfectly (Splinter Cell Chaos Theory works at the highest settings without ever lagging)...

Only thing is, this old but very functional computer has this one damn annoying problem (which predates the new graphics card): it switches itself on and off for no obvious reason, randomly! I can stop it from downright shutting down without asking by keeping 2 user profiles open (that way it asks me whether I'm sure I want to shut it down)... but it still manages to forcefully shutdown very occasionally.
I bought a new power supply unit a week ago, BeQuiet! 400W 80 Plus bronze certified instead of the old 305W one, in case the original power supply unit was to blame (as some of my friends suggested)...
It didn't get rid of the problem. Also, when playing a game, the power supply unit isn't quiet at all! I know I'm a dickhead at this, so I'm not used to going into the Bios to try and modulate the vent, but I'll figure that out later...

Googled the prob. Driver problem, perhaps?
I tried updating some drivers with SlimDrivers, it detected 21 possible updates, it worked for the graphics card but I freaked out when I tried the same with the sound card driver: it tried installing Realtek '97 and then I had no sound XD I went back to the previous version, thank god. But I'm not sure I want to let it make updates to my system's drivers (apparently I made the mistake of making backups on the C: drive, and should make backups one a USB memory stick or something).

Any suggestions? I'd be grateful!! Should I continue updating drivers with SlimDrivers? (with a USB memory stick for the backup files?)
Nali: Magic or Telekinesis
Waffnuffly wrote:It's tarydium-doped smoothies. Drunk by the player, I mean. The player is tripping balls. The whole game actually takes place in a large city and the player thinks he's on an alien world.

User avatar salsaSkaarj
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Subject: Re: Computer randomly switches itself on and off - driver issue?

Post Posted: 24 Jul 2014, 17:04

Graphic cards are very sensitive to heat and can generate a lot of heat themselves (especially when playing resource heavy games). Check your motherboard temperature (and Graphic card) ... if that goes direction 65-70 °C and more then that could trigger the temp-protection and switch off the PC automatically.
In that case your cheap options are getting an extra or an new (more efficient) cooler, or ... getting a new case which allows for better airflow (but that means rebuilding the PC).

Updating drivers rarely solves these problems. If there's something wrong with the drivers then usually some programs just won't function, but the PC won't randomly stop (although if you get into a start-shutdown cycle that could point to a driver problem).

For a quick and dirty diagnosis: try putting a fan directly blowing towards your PC and allow free airflow around the PC so that heat can disperse easily (remove the cover even), and compare the temperatures reached with and without fan.

User avatar Sat42
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Subject: Re: Computer randomly switches itself on and off - driver issue?

Post Posted: 24 Jul 2014, 23:16

Thanks for the reply salsaSkaarj :)

I updated all the drivers, at least SlimDrivers thinks everything is up to date, and that didn't solve the problem, as you suspected.

I checked the temperature for the graphics card: it varies between 57-59 °C. The hard drive varies between 37-40 °C and that is normal as it is meant to work between 24-49 °C. I actually figured that my Sapphire card is behind all the noise... but whatever, that's not the main issue.

Once the computer showed me a Windows Error Signature Bccode. BCCode: 7f, BCP1,2,3,4: 00000000
This prompted me to check out a general solution: I found this:
http://repairerrors.net/windows-error-s ... ccode.html
Sounds a bit fishy to me.

This sounds better:
http://www.maximumpc.com/article/featur ... _explained

I'll keep searching. Funny thing is, it's been over 2 hours since I'm using this computer with 2 user profiles open and I have kept the following
"Application popup: Windows : Other people are logged on to this remote computer. Shutting down Windows might cause them to lose data. Do you want to continue shutting down?"
OPEN and that has prevented the computer shutting down, making the search process much less painful!
Nali: Magic or Telekinesis
Waffnuffly wrote:It's tarydium-doped smoothies. Drunk by the player, I mean. The player is tripping balls. The whole game actually takes place in a large city and the player thinks he's on an alien world.

User avatar Dr.Flay
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Subject: Re: Computer randomly switches itself on and off - driver issue?

Post Posted: 25 Jul 2014, 08:16

I recommend you don't use or trust that site, and install WOT in all your browsers.
https://www.mywot.com/en/scorecard/repairerrors.net
Use a BSoD tool like http://www.nirsoft.net/utils/blue_screen_view.html

Also stay away from generic software that installs updated drivers, as they will make a mess and will always say they can see newer drivers.
Only use the genuine distros from the manufacturers. Normally you just double-click on them and install, you don't need an extra program to do that for you.
Those tools always list the individual drivers that come as a collection, so it looks like they found lots.

When it comes to stability and CPU temperature and frequency control, the important drivers to check are the motherboard chipset drivers.
That 1 chipset driver package contains all the individual drivers for the CPU bus, PCI bus, IDE bus, AGP bus, USB ports, and RAM slots etc.
You know, all the important stuff.
ONLY AFTER updating your chipset, do you update the others.
http://support.amd.com/en-us
http://www.realtek.com.tw/downloads/dow ... l=4&Conn=3

Check your BIOS for any things that are disabled such as PlugNPlay (almost always disabled), and set things that have an auto option, to auto unless you have a reason.

If you can rule-out your drivers and PSU, it may be your mains supply, so the next step is to try the PC on a different power grid.
Sometimes moving to another floor will fix it, but sometimes you need to test at another house.

User avatar salsaSkaarj
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Subject: Re: Computer randomly switches itself on and off - driver issue?

Post Posted: 25 Jul 2014, 09:33

Sat42 wrote:Once the computer showed me a Windows Error Signature Bccode. BCCode: 7f, BCP1,2,3,4: 00000000

7F implies that user input is necessary. Basically it means you have to use windows diagnostics to get more precise info, in other words you still have no idea what could cause it.

There are many things you can do, including testing the Ram blocks 1 by 1, removing graphic card, removing sound drivers, etc... but all take lots of time and aren't worth it unless you really know what you're doing.

My suggestion is to take a backup of all the important stuff (external HD or large USB) and then just reinstall everything (full format - clean install). During setup any major problem will be detected immediately. A complete reinstall will take an hour or two max and then probably another 2 hours for your personal programs, which in total is a lot less than testing every detachable part seperately and checking all settings. If you still have problems after a reinstall then only use that PC for gaming but not for important stuff, and don't waste money on it.

BTW XP isn't supported anymore so you might even consider switching to Vista (shouldn't be too difficult to acquire :wink: ) which has much better event logging and error checking and won't have too much impact on your system.

As per Dr. Flay ... DON'T trust those "helpful" sites, not that they are all bad but install the wrong program or follow bad manual instructions and you probably will have to resort to a complete reinstall anyway.
BTW Dr; Flay's advice is sound and NirSoft = trustworthy but I fear you'll put more time into identification of the problem than into a complete reinstall.

BTW that PC wouldn't be overclocked by any chance? If that's the case then first reset it to see if that doesn't solve the problem (changing hardware after overclocking can give very unexpected results!!)

User avatar Sat42
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Subject: Re: Computer randomly switches itself on and off - driver issue?

Post Posted: 25 Jul 2014, 14:16

Hey guys thanks for the replies!

I might indeed resort to a clean install, I'm feeling I just don't have the knowledge, patience (and time for that matter) to go through every individual item and setting.
And thanks for the links Dr.Flay :)
@salsaSkaarj: no the PC isn't overclocked, you can guess I never was much of a technical geek when it comes to computers :P yet I guess that should change!

BTW, I was wondering what you guys think of this:
the problem of starting and shutting down for "no reason" started over a year ago, but it was VERY occasional. Last autumn it even seemed to have disappeared completely. The problem returned to the fore in February (I got all this info from my parents as I am mostly away for studies) and by early March it became pretty much impossible to use the computer - the frequency of shutting down and restarting became too high. ---> could this point to a hard drive "fatigue" (as in, it's dying out)?
The motherboard looks completely fine. BUT once I was in the BIOS and it still shut down without warning!

Thanks again for the help guys, I really appreciate it :)
Nali: Magic or Telekinesis
Waffnuffly wrote:It's tarydium-doped smoothies. Drunk by the player, I mean. The player is tripping balls. The whole game actually takes place in a large city and the player thinks he's on an alien world.

User avatar Sat42
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Subject: Re: Computer randomly switches itself on and off - driver issue?

Post Posted: 25 Jul 2014, 17:51

Also, while making backups, the computer today displayed a weird syndrome, whereby after shutting down forcefully, it booted for barely 1 or 2 seconds, switched off, then booted again for a few seconds, switched off again, and so on in rapid succession three or four times.
How can that be a software problem? doesn't that confirm it's hardware related?

A storm is upon us (IRL) - switching off for now!
Nali: Magic or Telekinesis
Waffnuffly wrote:It's tarydium-doped smoothies. Drunk by the player, I mean. The player is tripping balls. The whole game actually takes place in a large city and the player thinks he's on an alien world.

User avatar Sat42
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Subject: Re: Computer randomly switches itself on and off - driver issue?

Post Posted: 25 Jul 2014, 17:52

(By the way Dr.Flay, we have another desktop here - using the same main power supply, this other desktop works just fine)
Nali: Magic or Telekinesis
Waffnuffly wrote:It's tarydium-doped smoothies. Drunk by the player, I mean. The player is tripping balls. The whole game actually takes place in a large city and the player thinks he's on an alien world.

User avatar zYnthetic
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Subject: Re: Computer randomly switches itself on and off - driver issue?

Post Posted: 26 Jul 2014, 11:05

If the CPU isn't overheating it could be bad ram. Try memtest. Either case, only a hardware issue would only cause it to shut off w/o notice or a clean shut down.
Image

User avatar Sat42
Skaarj Warlord Skaarj Warlord
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Subject: Re: Computer randomly switches itself on and off - driver issue?

Post Posted: 27 Jul 2014, 01:52

Thank you for your reply zYnthetic!

On the 25th all I got to do was transfer files I wished to keep (including savegames!) from the computer in question to the new desktop that my parents possess. I went canoeing today (well technically yesterday) so I haven't yet proceeded with a clean install.

Both my processor, a Pentium 4, and my chipset, an Intel 915G Express, have no temperature sensors, but I really am just about certain temperature isn't an issue here (the hard drive and graphics card are doing just fine, and the PSU is brand new with a better fan than before if anything).
I haven't had the time to try memtest yet, but I'm convinced it'll only show everything's fine on that side - by the way, Speedfan allowed me to run a check up on the hard drive and the results are great.
Sometimes, when it switches off, it isn't instant blackout, but I get the familiar Windows shutting down screen. Typically that's if the prob occurs before I opened two user profiles, otherwise the analog of this is it asks me whether I want to shut down! But yes, sometimes it's just instant blackout.
Since I've already made the necessary backups, I'll do a clean install later today (after some sleep). If the switching on and off (especially off :P ) continues, then I'm led to believe that I'll have to consider changing the motherboard (just in case, I reset the BIOS settings and it didn't help - kinda expected as none of us on my side would have normally touched that), maybe even the CPU. I'll go for some old, compatible and therefore cheap hardware, if it comes to that.

Only thing is, what happens if the computer shuts down while I'm doing the clean install?? I guess that would be bad! After all, the computer has already shown it is capable of shutting down while I'm in the BIOS!
Guess I'm just stupid, that should tell me to change the motherboard, right? (which kind of proves your point, zYnthetic)
Thanks again for helping a poor sod :)

PS: getting pissed I can't play EXU2 in the meantime! unfortunately, no progress has been made on my own mapping project, either - but hey, I'll eventually get there!
Nali: Magic or Telekinesis
Waffnuffly wrote:It's tarydium-doped smoothies. Drunk by the player, I mean. The player is tripping balls. The whole game actually takes place in a large city and the player thinks he's on an alien world.

User avatar evilgrins
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Subject: Re: Computer randomly switches itself on and off - driver issue?

Post Posted: 28 Jul 2014, 04:14

Or it just became sentient and it's trying to communicate with you.

Or eat you.

Damned evil computers!

User avatar salsaSkaarj
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Subject: Re: Computer randomly switches itself on and off - driver issue?

Post Posted: 28 Jul 2014, 09:00

Sat42 wrote:Only thing is, what happens if the computer shuts down while I'm doing the clean install?? I guess that would be bad! After all, the computer has already shown it is capable of shutting down while I'm in the BIOS!
Guess I'm just stupid, that should tell me to change the motherboard, right? (which kind of proves your point, zYnthetic)

Actually no, it's telling you not to waste money on it! The thing is you still wouldn't know what causes the restarts (except that you can safely assume it's a hardware problem).

User avatar Sat42
Skaarj Warlord Skaarj Warlord
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Subject: Re: Computer randomly switches itself on and off - driver issue?

Post Posted: 29 Jul 2014, 02:40

Thanks for your voice of reason salsaSkaarj :)

salsaSkaarj wrote:Actually no, it's telling you not to waste money on it! The thing is you still wouldn't know what causes the restarts (except that you can safely assume it's a hardware problem).


Yeah I thought about it after a good night's sleep and you're right of course, this rig belongs to the past. I'm considering getting a second hand desktop computer built and tested by some local computer store, which will also use the graphics card and PSU I possess, which work perfectly. Really, I don't want much. I don't have much time for games, and I'm basically happy with a rig that can make games from the mid 2000's run perfectly (quite apart from still enjoying various old games like Unreal, there are still a lot of old games I haven't played but want to play... but at this pace I'll probably get around to playing and finishing Half-Life 2 by 2020).

But if someone has any suggestions to make regarding the best I can hope for with a roughly 150 euro budget (I already have the monitor, keyboard and mouse, speakers, and graphics card (that old ATI Radeon X800XL) as well as the BeQuiet! PSU) I'm all ears! I have still to get back to the store in question.

evilgrins wrote:Or it just became sentient and it's trying to communicate with you.

Or eat you.

Damned evil computers!


LOL evilgrins, you just lived up to your nickname! :P :wink:
Nali: Magic or Telekinesis
Waffnuffly wrote:It's tarydium-doped smoothies. Drunk by the player, I mean. The player is tripping balls. The whole game actually takes place in a large city and the player thinks he's on an alien world.


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