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  1. #1
    Junior Flareon13's Avatar
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    Is anyone proficient in deciphering bluescreens?

    So a couple months ago, I was watching a friend stream stuff, when suddenly my computer bluescreened. I thought "That's odd, hope it was just a fluke", but it did it again shortly afterwards. After that, it stopped for a while, up until a little after New Year's, about 3 weeks ago. Then it started bluescreening while playing games, and also while I was doing seemingly innocent things, like browsing a site or something.

    Some friends suggested I try reformatting my computer, which I did, and it seemed to help, for a couple days there was no bluescreens. Then it just started doing it again, off and on, and I couldn't find a rhyme or reason to it, although I did copy down some of the stuff that popped up on the bluescreens before the screen went away.

    One time, while trying to reinstall Oblivion on my computer, it bluescreened, then told me Windows 7 failed to restart, and I thought my computer was done for. I did a System Repair thing, as the computer suggested (I had no choice, as trying to start Windows 7 without doing that either returned me to the "you should do a System Repair or try to start normally" screen, or gave me yet another bluescreen), and it said there was nothing wrong. After that, the computer started normally, no bluescreens or "windows failed to start" screen, as if nothing was wrong. But apparently, something IS wrong.

    More recently, I was trying to watch two of my friends' streams at the same time, and it bluescreened after about ten minutes, and did it three more times, before I tried not opening all my other programs when the computer restarted. That seemed to help, as having just Firefox and the two tabs for the streams didn't result in any bluescreens. But just today, in the "straw that broke the camel's back" and got me to make this post, I was trying to play TF2 with some friends, when hl2.exe crashed. That's not unusual, but when I got back into the game, it bluescreened.

    I finally decided to try and find someone who can help me figure out what's going wrong with what I assume to be something in the computer's hardware, so that I don't go buying the wrong parts, thinking I figured out what's wrong.

    Now, I googled some of the phrases the bluescreens turned up in their error messages, and they seem to suggest something might be going wrong with the RAM sticks, or the hard drive. I think the results said something like "check the drivers, and if it's not a driver issue, it's a hardware issue", and I believe I checked the drivers, and they seem to be working just fine, all updated and everything.

    Alright, let's see, some of the error messages were:

    Driver IRQL Not Less Or Equal

    A Driver Has Overrun A Stack Based Buffer (this one had an extra message about how this could potentially allow a malicious user to gain control of this machine)

    Page Fault In Nonpaged Area

    If anyone knows of what might be causing bluescreens like these to show up, I'd really appreciate help in finding out what the problem is. I'd just buy a new computer, since this one is 5+ years old and probably needs a lot of new parts to be up-to-date, but the cheapest desktop I can find with the stuff I'd want is about $500 or so, and I don't quite have that much money. So I'd prefer to just replace whatever's causing the problem, which I assume will be cheaper.

    (Hopefully this is a good place to ask this kinda thing, I dunno where else I usually go online that could help with such a problem)

    Oh, and if anyone needs my computer specs, I'll find them out and post 'em. I didn't build this computer myself, a friend did, and as I said, it was 5+ years ago, so I forgot the technical names of a few parts.
    Last edited by Flareon13; 01-21-2014 at 04:59 PM. Reason: additional info

  2. #2
    Junior Taris's Avatar
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    for what you're describing it may indeed be a bad driver issue. Make sure to correctly identify your video card in the computer DEVICE MANAGER under DISPLAY ADAPTORS. Download the latest driver for that specific device from the manufacturers website, and see if that fixes it. It could also be an indicator that the device may be failing, or there are corrupted operating system files.

  3. #3
    This might seem like a silly thing to suggest, but when's the last time your computer case has been cleaned out? 'cus dust buildup can cause some crazy things. I also wouldn't discount there being a problem with the RAM, though it'd be odd for it to take 5 years for a defect to show up, as good RAM should last quite a long time. Do you have any local friends you could swap compatible parts with for a bit?

  4. #4
    Junior Flareon13's Avatar
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    Alrighty, just found out there's a new version of the video card's drivers that was released a couple weeks ago, I just downloaded that and I guess now I just have to see if it stops the bluescreens. If it does it again, I'll try to find out if the bluescreen says anything new for the error message. It might be a while before I can consider them gone, though, since they don't happen daily, for example. I think before today, it was about half a week ago that it bluescreened last. Anyways, thanks for the tip, hopefully this new driver does the trick!

    Oh, and it's been a little while since I could clean out the computer... Due to certain circumstances, I can't just go out and buy some compressed air, and no place near here sells it. That's a good idea, though. I'll try and nudge someone to see if they can help me get a bottle or two of compressed air so I can give it a thorough cleaning!
    Last edited by Flareon13; 01-21-2014 at 06:28 PM. Reason: just saw second reply

  5. #5
    The easiest thing to do at first is to take everything except the CPU out, dustcan the hell out of everything, and plug it all back in. If it's just a loose connection, reseating it often fixes it. If it's dust, well now there's no dust. If the problem continues, well at least now you know it's not a connection issue.

    Next step is to (if possible) take out the GPU and run on the integrated graphics for a while. Try some games (though they'll run like crap) and livestreams. If it still continues, you know it's not the GPU and most likely not a weak power supply.

    Next, take out all but one stick of RAM. Do the tests above. Blue screen? Try again with the other stick of RAM, or in another slot. Rinse, repeat until you've tried them all. No bluescreens anymore? You've narrowed it down to two possibilities: Bad RAM, or a bad slot. From there it's basically trial and error. Still getting bluescreens despite all of this? Now there are 3 possibilities: Drivers, Power supply, or motherboard.

    Drivers are easy, just update the driver or reinstall Windows, and see if that fixes the BSOD. Don't forget things like the network driver, or the chipset driver, or hell even the sound driver. All the drivers tend to need to shuffle data around automatically, and it is stupid easy for one to shuffle data somewhere it's not supposed to.

    If you have another power supply to test with (preferably a beefier one) that makes it stupid easy to check, just swap them out. Otherwise, you're gonna have a lot of fun ordering a new one off NewEgg. Bonus points if you do that, only to find out it is in fact the motherboard crapping out.

    The problem is, RAM issues and Driver issues both show the exact same symptoms, as in the end they're causing the exact same thing: places in memory aren't holding what the CPU expected.

    The reason it often happens when playing games or other things is, normally, most of your RAM is empty. Who gives a crap if byte 0x00000083:43A5DC7F changes from 0x34 to 0xF2 if it's not being used for anything? But, once you fire up a game or a livestream or two, more RAM gets used, and less is available to safely trample. Windows starts shuffling things around, a poorly coded driver doesn't realize this (or the RAM stick hiccoughs) and boom, that byte that says "run the driver next" gets changed to "run this image file that isn't actually code next" and confuses the hell out of the CPU and Windows goes "OSHI- and kills everything to keep the random code from accidentally formatting your hard drive with a RickRoll.

    There's a utility that takes advantage of this to see if there is something wrong with your RAM. IIRC It's called MemTest 86+ and it often comes with most Linux LiveCDs. Typically you set it to run over a few hours, come back and check, and if there are red things on the screen, there's a problem with your RAM. If not, it's most likely something else.

  6. #6
    Resident Khajiit Ibuuyk's Avatar


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    I doubt it's the dust; people tend to make a bigger fuss about it than it really is. Sounds like either your GPU or RAM. You could try switching your RAM to another slot and/or run MemTest as Socks suggested.

    As for the GPU, once you're updated and/or reinstalled your drivers, downloading FurMark and run the 1920x1080 15 minutes benchmark. If it reaches above 80C or BSOD, clean up the dust and try again. If it does it again, something's wrong with your GPU. Of course, you can't do anything while it runs.

  7. #7
    Regular smelge's Avatar
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    Run Memtest. It's the RAM.

    I used to get those errors a lot when I was using a certain brand of RAM, and was forever sending them off for warranty.

  8. #8
    Junior Flareon13's Avatar
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    Welp, had another bluescreen after about ten minutes of playing La-Mulana, so I guess the problem is still there. I'd do the Memtest thing, but it seems to require me to either burn the program to a disk, or use a flash drive, and I don't have any blank disks for burning stuff to, or any unused flash drives.

    On a side note, it seems my disk drive won't open anyways, so even if I had blank disks, I can't get the drive to open up to put any disks into it. When I try to open it, the light lights up, and the disk drive makes noise, but it just doesn't open. I'm thinking that might be due to a combination of dust and not being used in a long while, though. I'll have to get a can of compressed air, get into the computer, and clean it out to see if that's what's making the disk drive get stuck.

    Sometimes I wonder how I managed to keep this thing running for so long, lol

    Edit: Forget all that, I got a flash drive I can use, I just need to back up what's on it first.

  9. #9
    Premium User Runefox's Avatar


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    Without the exact STOP code, it's tough to troubleshoot this kind of thing. However, Pagefault in Nonpaged Area tends to be hardware related. As others have suggested, usually RAM, but it could also be motherboard related.

    If the computer is 5 years old, and given your description of the problem and others you're experiencing, chances are good that replacing the parts in it is going to be an exercise in futility; Patching holes in a sinking ship. Depending on just how old the components are (in terms of generation), it might actually end up being more expensive to replace parts than it would be to build a new one.

    What would you be looking for in a replacement computer, anyway? I could look at throwing together a build and see if I can reduce the number down from that $500 mark.

  10. #10
    Junior Flareon13's Avatar
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    What would you be looking for in a replacement computer, anyway? I could look at throwing together a build and see if I can reduce the number down from that $500 mark.
    Hmm, let's see... I want a computer that can run any game I throw at it really well. Doesn't have to be Crysis at max settings (is that even still the thing people consider to be most impressive if a computer can run it, these days?), but something that can run games like, say, Saint's Row 3/4, or Skyrim with that HD DLC thingamajig. I don't think I'd do anything super system-intensive all that often, but it's nice to have the option for when I do, y'know?

    The computer I was looking at that costs $500 has stuff like 8GBs of RAM, and a 1TB hard drive, as well as an NVIDIA GT610 graphics card, and an AMD A series 3.8GHz processor. I'm no expert, but I'm guessing that stuff is probably more than what I'll need, huh? I guess I'm just thinking in terms of "if I need it, this will have it, just in case", rather than "what I need to be able to do X Y Z is this, that, and the other thing". So, see anything that would be too much for what I want out of a computer? Oh, but one thing I know I want, is Window 7. Not Windows 8, that looks too weird, and I hear it doesn't cooperate with certain games due to being newer.

 

 

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