My computer freezes (sometimes) after I turn it on?

Dennis Faas's picture

Infopackets Reader Brandon L. writes:

" Dear Dennis,

My computer has this really serious problem. I don't know what is causing the problem, but it only started happening recently. The whole day yesterday, my computer was frozen with a black screen at startup. You know: the first screen that says 'Press DEL to enter Setup'?

I tried restarting my machine and left it there thinking that the problem would go away, but after a few hours, nothing changed. I decided to go into the computer BIOS and selected 'Load optimized defaults', and like magic, my system appeared OK.

I don't understand why this happened or what is causing this problem. I've had this problem in the past and only had to wait a little while until the machine finally 'decides' to boot. Any ideas? "

My response:

This problem is definitely hardware related. I know this for a fact because Windows (which is software) isn't part of the scenario, and the problem is happening immediately after the computer is turned on. In this case, a process of elimination would be the proper way to go about solving this dilemma.

What I'm about to suggest may not be the most "correct" or "quickest" route in resolving Brandon's situation, but it will most definitely put him on the right track.

Try this:

  1. Do a "hard" CMOS reset using a jumper instead of through the CMOS menu. Once reset, reassign any necessary CMOS values and save the configuration. Consult your motherboard manual on how to reset your CMOS using a jumper. Side note: CMOS is short-form for "Complementary Metal-Oxide Semiconductor", and is often used interchangeably with the word "BIOS", which means "Basic Input Output System". Both the CMOS and BIOS play an important role in how a computer starts up and prepares to load Windows. Test the system for a while... if it happens again -- and if you get any error messages like "CMOS checksum mismatch", replace the CMOS battery on the main board.
  2. Ensure that your system isn't overheating. Try running the system with the case off and see if the health improves. If it does, add more case fans to increase airflow inside the machine and clear out any dust which may be clogging up heat sinks.
  3. Did you make recent changes to your hardware? Verify that your hard drive / CD ROM (etc) are configured properly. A misconfigured hard drive / CD ROM setup can cause a system to hang indefinitely.
  4. If the system still hangs, it may be because your power supply is giving incorrect voltage. Test another *qualified* power supply (I.E. safe to use on your system). An erratically fluctuating power supply can wreak havoc on any system and may cause it to hang or shut down spontaneously.
  5. If that doesn't help, try replacing the system memory (RAM). Bad RAM can cause erratic system behavior (especially freeze-ups).
  6. Try replacing the video card... and even try changing the monitor to see if it makes a difference. A bad video card can cause system freeze-ups.
  7. If that still doesn't solve the problem, take each device out of your machine (1 by 1), and test the system. The problem may be another device which sporadically causes the system to hang.
  8. As a last resort, try changing motherboards (with your processor / with another processor) and gradually introduce all the components inside the machine. If the system *still* hangs at after all your devices are installed, you will need to figure out which one is causing the problem by removing 1 at a time until your system is stable.

I think that pretty much covers everything.

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