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Mysterious Restarts

Thursday, October 18th, 2007 by | Filed Under: System Tune-Up Help
 
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Q:
For awhile now, my computer has been restarting itself. It does it without warning and for no apparent reason. When it happens, all of my work is lost and I’m getting really frustrated with it. Do you have any suggestions as to why this might be happening? I’m using Windows XP. Please help!

A:
For starters, if your computer is running at too high of a temperature, it will turn itself off. If your CPU is running above the 60 degree (Celsius) mark, you may be close to burning it out and a lot of systems are set up to turn off automatically when an unsafe level is reached. So, what could be causing your system to overheat? Well, a big part of it is the programs you’re running. For example, a lot of the music programs these days (like iTunes and Windows Media Player) use a lot of processing power when they’re working with your music files. So, if you’re using one of those programs a lot, it could cause your CPU to heat up. That can happen if you’re using too many programs all at the same time as well. It all just depends on what you use.

If this happens to you, the best thing you can do is get inside your computer and clean it out. If too much dust is collecting around the fans in your CPU, it can restrict the airflow and your computer won’t be able to cool down properly. To clean out your CPU, open it up and either use compressed air to eliminate some of the debris. Once you clean some of the dust particles out, the temperature should drop a great deal and your computer should be back to normal.

Now, if overheating wasn’t your problem, the next thing you’ll want to check on is your memory. If your computer hits a bad spot of RAM memory when it’s trying to access it, it could just go crazy and restart itself. The best way to test this out is to remove a stick of your memory, one by one, until you find the culprit. Remove one and then let your system run for awhile. If your computer seems to be working better, you’ll know the cause and you can then replace that piece of memory for better results.

If you still haven’t figured out what’s wrong with your computer, there is a setting you can change to see if it helps at all. There’s actually a setting within Windows XP that tells your computer to restart itself when a system error occurs. So, if you turn that option off, you should be good to go. To do that, go to Start, Control Panel and click on the Performance and Maintenance link. Next, click on the System link and then hit the Advanced tab. Now, under the Startup and Recovery section, click on the Settings button. Once there, uncheck the box that says “Automatically Restart,” which is located under the System Failure section. Now, this setting will stop your computer from restarting, so you may not want to leave it off, but you can at least use it until you figure out what the true problem may be.

If you’re a Windows Vista user the process is as follows: Go to Start>Control Panel and then double-click on “System” (you must be in Classic View to see this). Under the System windows click “Advanced System Settings” off to the left. In the window that appears, go under “Startup and Recovery” and click the “Settings” button. Under System Failure, uncheck “Automatically Restart” and click OK.

You should also try to think back to anything you’ve recently done on your computer. Maybe you installed a new piece of software or hardware. If so, try removing that and see if the problem persists. Or, you could try downloading the latest drivers from the manufacturer. Sometimes that’s all it takes. The restart problem could also be caused by a virus or some spyware, so make sure you run your scans to see if anything comes up. You should also go to Start, Control Panel, Add/Remove Programs and remove any programs from the list that you don’t need. Getting rid of unnecessary items is always a good thing to do.

Well, there you have it. Hopefully one of the above suggestions works for you, but if the problem continues, try contacting the manufacturer of your computer or try to get some answers from a professional computer repair store. Either way, I hope your restarting blues are now gone forever!

~ Erin

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