It all started about three years ago, when my Core i7 860 Windows 7 PC with 4 x 2 GB of RAM wasn't quite two and a half years old.
The PC kept freezing during the startup process. This happened at an arbitrary point in the startup process, sometimes before the Windows startup screen appeared, sometimes after. Each time a hard reboot was necessary, i.e. I had to press the reset button to reboot the PC – Ctrl+Alt+Del didn't work. When I turned on the PC for the first time on any given day, I almost always had to reboot the PC multiple times.
The number of reboots necessary when I initially started up the PC on any given day kept increasing. When the problem first appeared, it was only necessary to reboot the PC one or two times before it would run reasonably stable. When the problem was at its worst, I had to reboot the PC at least as many as five or six times before the PC would boot Windows normally and I was able to use the computer.
Sometimes, just after I had started the PC, it would reboot of its own accord right in the middle of the startup process. This happened at an arbitrary point in the startup process, sometimes before the Windows startup screen appeared, sometimes after.
All these frequent reboots would sometimes cause Windows Startup Repair to appear with the message, “Your computer was unable to start. Startup repair is checking your system for problems …” Without exception the result would be, “Startup Repair cannot repair this computer automatically”. After that you basically only had the option of clicking on the “Finish” button, thereby shutting down the computer. After one or more subsequent reboots the computer would run reasonably stable again.
The problem also manifested itself when the computer went into sleep mode. Instead of the computer going into sleep mode, it would simply shut down completely. It just turned itself off as if I had chosen “Shut down” from the Windows menu!
Another problem I was experiencing was the BIOS resetting itself to the default settings all by itself. This was easy to detect because after such an autonomous reset, the CPU fan target speed was set to its highest level (level 9), instead of level 4, which I had set it to. This caused the CPU fan to make much more noise than when the CPU fan target speed was set to level 4. Another BIOS problem that would appear, although quite infrequently, was a “CMOS Checksum Bad” error. When this error appeared I was either given the option of running the BIOS setup or loading the default BIOS values.
I also experienced issues after Windows had booted successfully. A common problem was that when I was watching a video on a web site that was displayed using Flash Player, the whole screen would suddenly show a “white static” type picture and an irritating continuous buzzing sound could be heard through the speakers. So the PC had effectively crashed. The PC was frozen in this state and this necessitated a hard reboot; Ctrl+Alt+Del didn't work.
Random blue screens were also common. By common I mean that I was averaging about two blue screens a month. I was getting the following bug check codes: 0x00000050, 0x000000F7, 0x0000003D, 0x0000001E, 0x00000024, 0x0000001A, 0x0000007E, 0x0000003B, and 0x000000C4. Sometimes there would be two blue screen events on the same day, one shortly after the other.
Finally it got to the point where I got so frustrated that I had to do something to fix the problem. I decided I would try the simple things first. So the troubleshooting strategy was to proceed from the simple to the complicated.
I had my BIOS configured so that during POST (Power-On Self Test), instead of seeing the screen which shows the detection of the processor, RAM, hard drives, optical drives, etc., I was shown a beautiful mountain landscape. So the first thing I did was to turn off this landscape picture so that I could see the detection of the computer's main hardware during POST.
This turned out to be a good idea, because after rebooting the PC multiple times, I could see a pattern emerging. I have four RAM modules installed, each being 2 GB in size, giving a total of 8 GB of RAM, which is running in dual-channel mode. Now when I booted the PC and 8 GB of RAM were detected during POST, the computer would keep freezing during startup or initiating a reboot in the middle of starting up until only 4 GB of RAM were detected during POST. When only 4 GB of RAM were detected, the startup process would proceed normally, Windows would start normally, and the computer would run reasonably stable after that. There was still the possibility of the computer crashing; it would then either blue screen or exhibit the “white static” type picture and the irritating buzzing sound when using Flash Player. But, at least the computer would run after only 4 GB of RAM had been detected during POST.
So I conjectured that because I had installed high quality Crucial RAM modules and assiduously adhered to ESD best practices while installing them, there had to be a contact problem with the RAM. I did not think that the RAM itself was defective.
I decided that I would remove all of the RAM modules and apply the “miracle” contact enhancer Stabilant 22 to all of the contacts. All of the RAM module contacts were liberally coated with Stabilant 22. The contact enhancer was finger-smeared onto the contacts with a cling-wrap protected index finger. All of the RAM modules were reinstalled in the slots they were installed in during the original build in 2010.
In addition to the RAM module contacts, the contacts of the video card and the serial/parallel interface PCI card were also liberally coated with Stabilant 22 as a preventive measure. These cards were also reinstalled in the slots they were installed in during the original build in 2010.
And now … for the results of my Stabilant treatment: The problems I described have all completely vanished!!! Poof, gone! Yeeeesssssss! Success! Since carrying out the Stabilant treatment I have been using the PC for almost exactly one year now and have experienced exactly one freeze during that whole year. Since this was an isolated incident, I am convinced this freeze was caused by a software issue. Apart from that, no problems. Not a single blue screen! I am delighted.
So it is clear that there was indeed a contact problem with the RAM modules, which was fixed by the application of Stabilant 22. (In theory, contact problems with the video card and/or the serial/parallel interface PCI card could also have been the culprit. However, because of the RAM detection problems experienced during POST, I am convinced that it was a contact problem with the RAM modules.)
Thank you Scott for bringing Stabilant 22 to my attention through Upgrading and Repairing PCs. It really helped me more than words can express.
Last edited by Daniel on Wed Sep 23, 2015 5:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.