weird PC lock-up problem

I have a Windows XP (service pack 2) PC with a dual-core Intel Pentium 4 CPU. I have Norton Internet Security 2006, Lavasoft Ad-Aware, Spybot Search & Destroy for security programs, and I’ve recently run Hijack This without seeing anything conspicuous in the results. I use MS Internet Explorer 7. All of my programs are fully updated with the latest patches/downloads etc.

I’ve been having a problem 4 or 5 months where my computer occasionally freezes up, and nothing short of manually powering it off and on again will restore functionality. There are three things that seem to be consistent about it:
[li]It only seems to happen when I’m using internet explorer, and generally when I either have a bunch of tabs open, or I’m also using things like iTunes, MS Office programs, etc. It’s never happened without at least one IE window/tab open.[/li][li]It doesn’t happen frequently, the most I’ve had it occur was once a week for 2 or 3 weeks. It’s usually more like a month or two between occurences[/li][li]It only seems to happen when my computer’s been on for a long stretch of time (somewhere along the lines of 20+ hours) without being turned off[/li][/ul]

I’ve been meaning to do something more than the usual virus & malware scans, but kept putting it off. Before I get caught up in the cycle of Tech Support I thought I’d check here to see if anyone had any insights that might give me an easier solution.
Preferably something besides “turn your computer off more often” and “use firefox” please. :wink:

Sounds to me more like an overheating issue. Check your fans to be sure they’re running, and that all fans and heat sinks are free of dust.

Well first off DONT use Norton Internet Security, if it is a lack of recourses like you said with lots of tabs open NIS, secondly it could be a site using java which makes the java client load up which i have had freeze my machine before.

I see a big problem without even seeing the Hijack This scan.

It’s called Norton Internet Security.

My clients buy new computers with that installed, and the next thing you know, it’s locked up on them.

My advice, get rid of NIS and get Zone Alarm.

YMMV, of course - that’s just my experience.

Q.E.D. is right, if it only happens after a while it is virtually certainly an overheating problem. Most modern motherboards and video cards have temperature sensors on them and should come with a utility to read those temperatures.

Aside from broken or disconnected fans and dust, you may have placed the PC case so the vents are partially or completely blocked. If a laptop this is especially critical.

It’s also possible you have a component that is failing at high temperature only, but check the above first.

Look for and install Speedfan this will give you an idea of your internal temps and or fan speeds.

If your motherboard supports it you can look through the bios for hardware status info and look to see if it has temp monitoring in there, if you find it, walk away for a few hours and come back to see if it is hovering near shutoff temp. Processors can easily spike 15-20 degreesF when hit with a heavy load. If fans are inadequate or dust buildup has reduced airflow through heat sinks you will be prone to this type of failure.

Wow, thanks for the fast turn-around.

Yeah, yeah, I know Norton has a bad rep, but I’m not ready to get into the fuss of configuring a new firewall and av program.

OTOH, it definitely sounds like it might be an overheating problem, thanks. I never would’ve thought of that myself, to be honest, mostly because I tend to associate stories of machines overheating with people overclocking their hardware or having much more dramatic results and/or a part failing completely. The case’s external vents could use a good dusting, and what was originally intended to be a temporary home for it has pretty much become permanent, so I should probably rearrange how I have the hardware on my desk (to give it more open airflow, it’s kind of in a corner right now).

And, of course, I’m going to stop leaving it on when I don’t inted to be at the machine for the next couple hours.

If airflow is adequate then leaving it on is not a problem for heat accumulation (it is for power wastage of course!).

If the fans blow outwards they must blow into open space, not against a surface; if they blow in then you’ll need to open up the case and suck the dust out (which WILL be there), and again ensure the area near the inflow is clear of obstruction.

Don’t do this.

Open up that box and check. I fixed a machine that would lock up 30-40 seconds from powerup simply by cleaning all the crap out of the fans and heatsink. There was literally a solid layer of crud 1/4" thick under the CPU fan so zero airflow through the heat sink. There was also tons of dust buildup on the fan blades themselves.

All of the external airflow in the world will not help this type of situation and will eventually cook off your CPU and or motherboard.

I’m partial to a tool called Motherboard Monitor to watch heat and other statistics.

You may also be dealing with a corrupted java install. Hit your add/remove programs and uninstall java and reinstall it fresh from the website.

I’d also recommend a registry cleaner. I use Registry Power Cleaner , but I’m sure there are some good free ones out there as well.