Why is my computer restarting itself?

So I go wandering away from my computer a few minutes ago, leaving open a few spare programs. I come back, and my computer has completely restarted itself with no help from me, eating the last two hours’ work I’ve done on my thesis revision (sigh). This is the second time in two weeks that my computer has pulled this little prank. Aside from being an obvious lesson on the wisdom of saving your work often, what the heck is going on here?

It’s a brand-new Windows XP machine with a 1.3 gHz Celeron processor, 256 megs of RAM, and a 40 GB hard drive. Don’t know what other specs you more tech-savvy folks might need, but there’s the basics.

Windows XP has an annoying habit of restarting automatically whenever there is an error (as opposed to the BSOD).

There is an option to stop that, but I don’t know it right off hand.

You really need to save your stuff periodically.


Yeah, I know. I got spoiled by MS Word’s autosave function, which MS Works’ word processor doesn’t have, so I got careless. I’ll be better from now on.

Stupid piece of crap Windows XP.

What video card do you have? Do you have the screensaver set? WinXP can get a little twitchy with video cards and other programs (rundll).

To troubleshoot this, you need to see the BSOD. You can get this by right clicking My Computer, and choose Properties. Click on the Advanced tab, and then the Settings button for “Startup and Recovery.” Uncheck the “Automatically Restart” box under System Failure. The lovely BSOD will then appear the next time a conflict occurs, and you’ll have the needed information.

Ahhh, thank you, brachy. I do have the screensaver set, yes, but I honestly don’t know what video card I have and I don’t have the specs handy right now. ::sheepish:: That makes me useless, I know.

Not useless! (Merely enroute through that unknown world of Troubleshoot.) :slight_smile:

Well, you can see if it’s a video card/rundll conflict by letting the screensaver run. If you don’t get an unexpected reboot, try running Works and then letting the screensaver start (it may be a combination of programs running and not involve the video card at all). If still no reboot, then try for the BSOD (if Auto Restart is enabled).

You can find your monitor and video card by right clicking on your desktop, going to Display Properties, and clicking on the Settings tab.

My computer with Win 98 has lately taken to rebooting spontaneously too…It does it once or twice a week with no warning, always when I’m using it. (I save things often). Once it reboots, it is for some reason usually reverts to a hideous black large font desktop scheme, the wall paper can only be displayed as “stretched”, and IE has display problems…usually these problems are rectified after a few cycles of Start+shutdown+standby, but why it does this I have no idea…Planned obsolescence seems to be a feature of these Windows series operating systems.

Possible causes include:

  1. Brownouts
  2. CPU overheating
  3. Bad programming :smiley:

The first thing to check would be the power supply. Random restarts are symptoms of a power supply on it’s way out. You could change it yourself, but it’d probably be easier just to take the box in to a local computer shop and have them check it for you while you wait.

If it’s not the case for the OP (Because it’s relatively new), it could easily be the issue for ataraxy.

Regarding the restart option urban talks about- to disable the auto-restart setting, right click ‘My Computer’ and tick the advanced tab. In start up and recovery, click settings. Within the settings box, in the ‘System Failure’ section, uncheck the ‘Automatic Restart’ option.

Since you were away from the computer when it wanted to restart, it’s unlikely it was doing anything that would make it crash- ie running an app that it didn’t like- so the auto restart thing probably won’t change anything, but it’s there if you want to change it.

Hmm. I had this problem with my ibook, but it turned out to be the start button was partially jammed down behind the casing, with the result that the slightest knock could trigger a shut-down (or at least prompt for one).

Knowing nothing about XP, my only suggestion is poltergeist activity.

Sorry, but what is a BSOD?:confused:

Blue Screen Of Death

What you saw on your monitor when the OS in any of the the various 95-and-later versions of MSWindows got itself backed into a corner and went off the edge.

Restarting can be a ton of things. Since its new, did you call the people who made the computer &
ask them what to do? I would deal with any heat issues first.

From personal experience, if you have a board based on a VIA chipset, make sure you have the latest 4 in 1 drivers installed, if applicable.

I also second a bad power supply or processor overheating as being possible root-causes.

Cheaper PSs don’t handle voltage fluctuations very well, so if you notice this kind of thing (lights dim when the air conditioner kicks on, etc) that is likely to be an issue.

And in the category of power supply problems, I had a bad power cord once that would intermittently and randomly cause restarts. Damned annoying, until I finally figured it out.

I hope it’s not a power supply problem. It’s a brand new computer! ::grumps:: I’ll call them, I guess.

      • I don’t know nuthing of WinXP (and won’t personally for a number of months yet) but there’s two reasons PC’s generally reboot: over heating, or HD errors from a malfunctioning HD. THere’s certain central system files that contain embedded check systems, and if the OS kernel cannot read them properly, it will automatically reboot right away without warning, because the concerned files contain the central features of the OS (such as how to copy data or navigate a directory) and it that stuff don’t work right, nuthing else will either anyway.
  • I’ve got an old HD I got from a PC in a shop’s junkpile, and it has a full install of Win95 on it as well as what appears to be a bunch of personal files. Problem is, it causes any system it’s hooked up to to reboot: first at about 90 seconds, and then every 30 or so seconds from then on. Someday I wil figure out how to read it… a little at a time, if nothing else. - DougC