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Old February 17th, 2009, 10:26 AM   #1
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Crashes with Vista 32 system

Wish I knew the secret to Vista Happiness -- my personal computer has Vista Ultimate 32 bit and it has been a nightmare from day one --- running quadcore 2.83ghz processor on 4 gigs ddr3 ram, 512mb nVidia ddr3 board, and every possible diagnostic I can find gives the system a clean bill of health...but Vista crashes, crashes, crashes...on startup, without ever touching anything, even with the LAN disconnected, it crashes itself. If it gets past the logon screen, it crashes when the sidebar comes up. Or not, there is no consistency to the crashing....it won't even run Microsoft software reliably, crashing on a Defender scan every time. No viruses, rootkits, no odd or offbrand software. Just crash to black with no warning . I think any good operating system should handle conflicts or whatever with more grace. My theory is that it is doing so much stuff (prefetch, writing logs, etc) on startup that it stumbles over its own feet. If I am lucky enough to get it running, it will run pretty well if it gets past the first few minutes of startup....forgive the rant, but I could use some insight if anybody has any....helllllp???? // Battle Vaughan /miamiherald.com video team
PS Relevance to this thread is I am running Adobe CS4 production suite as my primary application. There's a few bugs there, too, but it's Vista that's driving me nuts....

Last edited by Battle Vaughan; February 17th, 2009 at 10:28 AM. Reason: addendum
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Old February 17th, 2009, 12:27 PM   #2
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Battle, your problems kind of sound like a bad stick of memory. Have you run Memtest? The ONLY glitch I had going to Vista 64 and CS4 was a bad stick of RAM, which Memtest immediately found after Vista's memory test and the Motherboard manufacturer's built-in memory test both failed to identify it. Memtest can take hours to do a complete, full-scale run, but it'll be worth your time to give it a go if you haven't already.

I've been a bit reluctant to respond to all the naysayers about Vista 64 and CS4 because I haven't put enough time in yet with the setup, but after a few dozen hours of tinkering with PPro, AE, Photoshop 64, Illustrator, Dreamweaver, Soundbooth, and just a quick look at Encore, I have yet to have a single hiccup.
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Old February 17th, 2009, 01:36 PM   #3
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Thanks, Pete, I'll give it a shot...I have run the CheckIt (Smith Video) memory test repeatedly, and the Vista system memory test repeatedly to no avail, but this sounds like a good diagnostic, thanks for the tip! / Battle Vaughan
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Old February 18th, 2009, 11:48 AM   #4
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Well, Pete, I ran Memtest, which is a real nice (and Free!) diagnostic and after a verrry long time says my ram is flawless....so I am still scratching my head...could be some kind of driver thing, but my drivers are all current and my problems all occur at or shortly after the logon screen, so I don't know what it could be... I have an Intel x48 motherboard with all the current intel drivers and bios...no off brand stuff anywhere ---so I'm leaning toward, maybe, demonic possession or something. Or maybe it's Vista bugs...our IT guru laughed in my face when I mentioned Vista and said he would light a candle for me....Thanks for the help, Memtest is a very nice piece of work! /Battle Vaughan
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Old February 18th, 2009, 02:20 PM   #5
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Too bad that wasn't it, as it would be an easy fix. A few other miscellaneous things that commonly cause random crashes:

- Too small or failing power supply (been there...I had similar problems a couple years ago with a new build and after contemplating a final update to my last will and testament, found out that the particular Antec power supply had some batches out of spec, causing many people similar problems. Grabbed another power supply off the shelf at Fry's and my problems with that system were over).

- Overclocking OR motherboard manufacterer's mistaken/overly aggressive memory timings. If overclocked, try without. If NOT overclocking, manually set more conservative memory timings in the BIOS and see if it stops the random crashes. As you might guess, I've been there, too.

- Inadequate cooling of a component, especially CPU (check temps under load with a utility).

- Bad sectors on the hard drive causing a runtime fault. If not recently done, run a scandisk.

It is certainly possible that there is a corrupt registry setting or some such, but I think a good percentage of situations like you're describing do end up being hardware issues. Having built about a half dozen of my own desktop systems over the past 5-6 years, I've been disappointed in how often new components just don't work, or fail shortly after going into service.

One off-the-wall thing you could try would be to download a version of Linux and an app or two and run them from CD -- push the system on a completely different, very stable OS. If you still get crashes, you know you've got a hardware fault somewhere.

BTW, is this a home-built, or a system from a computer manufacturer? Do you have SP1 installed?

Ok, I'm running out of ideas for now.
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Old February 18th, 2009, 02:39 PM   #6
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Pete, thanks for your well-thought-out problem matrix!
Quick answers:
Home built. 750 watt premium power supply, which, as you point out, could be out of spec or something. No overclocking. As problems are at startup, probably heat is not a factor, but I do have fans on everything including the ram. CPU stabilizes at 39 deg C. ,northbridge and southbridge temps show 41 deg c. headroom available. I have run scandisk until my fingers are cramped, no luck there.... I have SP1 and all updates....oddly, if I can just get past the first five minutes, the system is pretty stable....Q9550 processor, nVidia 8800GT video, Intel on-mobo audio, 4 gb DDR3 1333mhz ram, 4 WD drives. I deactivated the Raid array I had installed because Vista didn't like the Intel raid driver, deactivated the fancypants Aero look and all the frills I can find. Vista usability rating is 5.9 so the horses are there but one of them must be lame...I'm going to keep poking until I find it or Windows7 comes out, whichever is first. Wish I had bought XP Pro, which (on a 4-year old single-core Dell laptop) runs my CS4 apps reliably but very slowly....thanks again for all your insights!/ Battle Vaughan
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Old February 18th, 2009, 03:22 PM   #7
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Another thought since you build your own...if you bought the retail Vista (as opposed to the OEM versions I buy at Fry's), it should also have the 64 bit version. It might be interesting to just temporarily replace your C: drive with a new one and do an install of 64 bit to see what happens. That'd actually be a lot quicker than the last-resort measure of deactivating everything, reformatting, and re-installing Vista and CS4.
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Old February 18th, 2009, 05:41 PM   #8
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Unfortunately I cheaped out and got the oem version. I did a re-install once, hoping it would fix things, took three days (part time) to re-load everything and then load all the updates, a nightmare. I really appreciate your experience and input. I am tempted to follow up on your lead re the power supply, I think I bought a good one, but something is wrong and everything else (except Vista itself) checks out ok....unless there is some way to test it, too? /bv

Last edited by Battle Vaughan; February 18th, 2009 at 05:46 PM. Reason: fix spelling
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Old February 18th, 2009, 11:57 PM   #9
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Another freebie you might like to have for your toolkit is this:

Ultimate Boot CD - Overview

On one bootable CD it packs a lot of free low level diagnostic utilities.
Since you use Western Digital drives, I would try going into the
WD DLG Diagnostic 5.04c and doing a scan of the full drive looking for read/CRC errors.
This should be faster and more thorough than using ScanDisk.
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Old February 19th, 2009, 10:19 AM   #10
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Thanks, Bill, I'll give it a try. Next step after that is the Dilbert Reboot, in which one boots the **** off the top of the building....:) / B.Vaughan
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