Hrm.. I made the mistake of purchasing a Northgate industries athlon 1.8 with a foxconn mobo about a year ago (convenient how they always die after warranty eh?)... and I've had nothing but trouble since then, and now it's progressed to the point of no return.

Previously, the machine would hang at random intervals, and after a few months Windows XP would simply refuse to boot. However, new install of XP, even just adding another copy to the drive would fix it for a few more months.. then the period began to drop.. a month, 2 weeks, a week.. and now I can keep a copy of XP stable for about 3 days and I'm at wits end. There are no warnings whatsoever, windows will get to the Windows logo screen with the scrolling blue (or green depending on how lazy I am :P ) bar at the bottom for about 5 seconds, and then immediately reboot. The last install I did was a complete flush with a reformat on Friday night, and it was corrupt this morning (Monday), but worked just fine all weekend. I'm starting to wonder if I have some sort of bios worm, so I'll see if I can flash it tonite, but I'm starting to get irritated with this p.o.s. paperweight.

Asides from a clean install I've changed the power supply, video card, both sticks of ram, ethernet card, modem, sound card, optical drives, usb card reader, both hard drives.. I'm down to something wrong with either the board, cpu or bios, and if those are shot I'm tossing this thing and buying a new machine.. so... before I give her the ol' heave ho, are there any suggestions? Is it possible I have a worm of some sort embedded in the bios that I don't know about? I'm confident enough that it's not related to all the hardware I've replaced, but I have no idea what's causing it.. help please!

Kit Stone


It sounds like you are having a lot of grief with that computer. You have changed a number of hardware items, and have re-tried the software. You haven't done much with the exterior enviornment however, and that may be the source of your grief.

I doubt it is a BIOS worm. You should, as a rule, run with the latest BIOS available, unless you find proof that an upgrade will harm you. Yes, I have seen some things do worse with new software.

Couple things to think of:

1) Is the power clean? Do you have your computer on a UPS? If the lights in your house are flickering a lot, your computer could be suffering from brown-outs, and that can cause a crash. All a lightbulb has to do during a brownout is get dimmer... imagine all the things your computer could be doing.

2) Are you hooked into a network, or is this a standalone computer? I built a Windows 2000 box in 2003 from scratch at work, and there was a virus outbreak going on, and within 13 minutes of the computer being on the network, it was infected. 13 minutes! You could have something on your local network, or be downloading something that is causing the problem. Consider setting it up for a few days and DON'T USE IT. Let it run and talk to itself, but no network. See if it does alright.

3) Try a different OS. Maybe XP doesn't like something on the box. Load it up with WIn 98 or consider a linux install. It's possible that some device driver is giving you grief. If it runs fine, then perhaps XP is the culprit.

4) Go into your XP box, and run it in safe mode for a few days. If you have a device driver that is eating away at something, safe mode should limit the "box" that the bug can work with. Also, check out the computer's logs, found in the Computer Management MSC (compmgmt.msc). Perhaps you have notations in there of something causing the problem.

I can tell you are at wit's end about the box. I would try to run it clean for a few days, with the power on, with it just sitting there with the screen saver on (you could kill the monitor, just have the CPU going), and keep it off of a network. If things work here, then you know that your installation process is good, and the box is trying to make you happy.

If these things don't work, and others don't have any better idea, then perhaps it is time to scrap it.


kcOarf covered everything pretty well. One other thing to check is the power supply in the computer itself. If the power supply output is not adequate or stable enough for the system you could be experiencing crashes and data corruption. Saving money by purchasing a cheap power supply will almost always lead to trouble later. A quality made 350W power supply is probably the minimum you should be using. Another thing to try is run a burn in test of your memory to see if it is failing after it gets warm. You can boot from a Knoppix CD and type "memtest" at the prompt once the CD starts to load. I would run the test for at least 2 - 3 hours to adequately stress test the memory.