Does my PC freezing mean a hardware or software problem and how can I fix it?

Mohamed Mamdouh May 22, 2012
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My was running well and I have used it for video calls and playing games with moderate graphics in the past. Lately when trying to make video call with Skype and Yahoo or playing the same game that used to run fine (Call of Duty 1) the following happens:

  1. My screen freezes and locks displaying the last image
  2. My mouse and keyboard don’t work
  3. My network connectivity light suddenly turns off
  4. The PC stays like this for an endless amount of time…
  5. I have to hard restart or power off the computer.

Everything else is running well (web browser, videos, music etc.) and even Skype and Yahoo are fine for text chat. I have updated all of my drivers and made sure that there is enough free space on the Windows partition. All temporary files have been deleted, registry has been cleaned and Windows is in good shape.

My PC also isn’t overheating (it used to but I had it repaired) and I noticed no suspicious activity or problems before this started happening. I know my PC is old, I just want it to do what it already did before this started happening. Thanks!

System specs:

CPU: Intel 2.66 GHz
RAM: 1x 512MB + 1x 256MB (768MB total)
Video: SiS 661fx integrated chip with 32MB shared memory

  1. Jordyn Bushaw
    October 4, 2012 at 3:05 am

    When you play a more modern game like Call Of Duty, the game requires fast responses from the processor, and requires 1gb for optimal performance. You might want to check your computer for viruses, Trojans, worms, malware, and other malicious code.

  2. Dalsan
    June 4, 2012 at 4:24 am

    I know this is late coming in and might be off the wall for some, but being that the system memory is low and the game is memory intensive, if any Windows updates installed could be part of the reason for sudden change in performance. Trying to disable unused services and features could help by reducing memory usage, thus giving more room for the game to run. Not saying this will fix the problem, but will help some with memory usage. Here are some guides you can use: for Win XP:
    For Win Vista:

  3. guthagowtham
    May 26, 2012 at 2:17 pm

    Well, there might be a chance of software or hardware problem.

    RAM : You have only 768 MB of RAM, I recommend atleast 1GB if you are using Windows XP and 2GB if you are using Windows 7.

    Operating System : If your Operating System is not genuine then such problems might occur.

    Malware : Your computer may be infected by malware. You can easily remove it. Here is the url of the list of malware fighters that help

    Download and install everything and remember to disable real time protection for every thing.

    Scan with Malwarebytes first, SUPERAntiSpyware next. Scan with Ad-Aware at last. That's it you can find any crept in malware.
    I recommend to do a SUPERAntiSpyware Critical Point scan with Rescue scan option enabled.

    Update your drivers, processor and RAM. All these costs but works.

    • Mohamed Mamdouh
      May 26, 2012 at 3:35 pm

      I already Run Malwarebyte
      I always scan but one more scan won't hurt :)
      and i'll try SUPERAntiSpyware as you suggested

      • todd
        July 31, 2012 at 12:19 pm

        There's no way this is related to the Windows drivers, malware, updates, etc. It has to be a hardware problem. It freezes when he is booted into a hirens disk or at the bios. That eliminates anything software by itself.

        I recommend power supply, new ram, or new video card as well. Worst case scenario its a motherboard problem. Its not software....any further scans are a waste of time.

  4. Oron
    May 26, 2012 at 1:06 pm

    Mohamed, This sounds very much like a PC I was working on recently... The erratic results (sometimes freezing, sometimes not, sometimes at startup and sometimes later) suggest this may be a hardware errror which is related to temperature and/or power. The difficulty is that diagnosing this requires replacing parts, one at a time, until you find the solution (or not!), so it may cost you some money.
    I would start by replacing the power supply. Get a good power supply with a higher rating than the one in the PC (perhaps you could borrow one from a friend) and try it out. If the problem goes away, this was the cause!
    Another thing you could try easily is to replace the battery. Most PC have a "button battery" (usually CR2016 or CR2032), which does eventually die out, take it out, give the CMOS a few minutes to lose its settings, and put in a new battery.
    If that fails, get back to us and we'll see what comes next... It would be useful in that case to know what motherboard and graphics card (if any) you are using.

    Good luck to you all in the second round of elections - you deserve it!

    • Mohamed Mamdouh
      May 26, 2012 at 2:45 pm

      It seems you now excluded software part and searching for piece of trouble in hardware :)

      but as my PC is really old, I won't think to replace parts of hardware as i prefer instead of that planning to buy new pc

      but i need to be sure about problem isn't software
      are you now sure 100% that problem is hardware one ?
      are there any steps to do before setting up new windows in software part ?
      (because I'll be so busy next days in difficult exams as a medical student and l want to reach final exclusion about problem and how to solve)

      Thank you very much Oron for your precious time and your helpful knowledge

      • Oron
        May 26, 2012 at 3:52 pm

        As I said, there are some indications pointing towards a power problem, but it's certainly not impossible it's a software issue.
        You could try running Linux on the PC and see if it works reliably. If it does, then it's probably a software problem, and if it doesn't then it's probably hardware!
        You can download a "Live disk" of Ubuntu Linux, which comes as an ISO file. From this file you can make a bootable CD, which will allow you to run the system without installing it. If it works, you can then try to install Ubuntu onto the hard disc (from the same CD) and test it a bit more thoroughly.
        I appreciate you not wanting to spend money on an old computer, but power supplies are relatively cheap (in the UK, around £15-20) and batteries are even less...

        • Mohamed Mamdouh
          May 26, 2012 at 4:29 pm

          I'll try Linux although i never used but test won't bite :)

          and I think now there is no step before new windows or trying Linux
          So it'll be my next

          about hardware replacing I'm not excited to as every thing i use daily like music videos internet works fine
          I can live without games (hard life but it's ok for exams life :) )

          I consider saving money to buy new good PC better than lowering buying budget and fixing old working one ;)
          1 £ = 10 L.E (Egyptian pound) I think

          thanks Oron
          you are welcome to Egypt any time
          and who knows, you may live another revolution with us :D

  5. Mohamed Mamdouh
    May 25, 2012 at 6:33 pm

    Update :
    I used Hiren's BootCD to test hardware specifically Ram and Video card and CPU

    1- I selected "Windows Memory Diagnostic"
    result : at start it froze so i restarted

    2- I selected Memtest86+ (I don't know if it for linux or windows anyway)
    Result : it started and completed all tests and began to repeat tests so i Esc , It told me no error and to press Esc to get out so I pressed
    But it froze ... so i powered off ..but Surprise
    as usual when i restart or power off (without shutting electricity down at all) it ends freezing , but this time didn't !!!
    So i turned off electricity and turned back
    when i powered on trying to boot again from CD it showed me on BIOS message of system error
    so i ejected CD and restarted , Windows booted correctly

    3- that was yesterday , Today i tried other tests like
    GoldMemory 5.07 - Memory Diagnostic Tests.
    CPU/Video/Disk Performance Test 5.7 - a tool to test cpu, video, and disk.
    Video Memory Stress Test

    It showed NO ERROR !!!
    and this time no freezing happened at all :)

    I posted this may help you in diagnosis
    and sorry for being late , we have the first presidential Elections after 25Jan Revolution in Egypt and results started to flow from yesterday evening
    but it seems noneducational people grew up by Fallen regime will get him back Unfortunately :( (Hope Luck to us)

  6. Jeff
    May 25, 2012 at 9:45 am

    I am having similar problems but not with a game mainly when I try and open adobe photoshop elements 10 or a lot of time just freezes my Internet and I have to task manager my Internet closed and reopen I tried the chkdsk /r all I get is a black box that flashes up real fast and all I could read was the first couple of words that said access denied

  7. Gen Drex
    May 23, 2012 at 8:06 pm

    "My screen freezes and locks displaying the last image
    My mouse and keyboard don’t work
    My network connectivity light suddenly turns off
    The PC stays like this for an endless amount of time…
    I have to hard restart or power off the computer."

    All indicative of a failing hardware component, given the age(circa ~2005), and it having less than 1GB of ram + the installed graphics adapter, very unlikely to be software issue.

    You've also already have updated drivers, and checked off the usual particulars; one other thing you can try is check the hard drive for errors, which can be done by going to start, click run and type chkdsk.exe /r and press enter. It will say can't lock drive, schedule at restart, type y for yes, type exit, and then restart and let it run the scan at reboot. If there are any file system errors, Windows will attempt to correct and recover data.

    When that's done, restart, and open the run box again, type sfc.exe /scannow to check system files for errors, if there's none, the box should close when its finished, if there are errors, it may attempt to fix the files.

    (The above commands should work on XP/Vista/7)

    That's the software, now the hardware.

    There's three pieces of hardware specifically that are likely to be causing the issue, the hard drive, integrated graphics chip, and the motherboard - and possibly but less likely the power supply.

    Being this happens when doing anything that will put a reasonable load on the hardware, graphics chip specifically, I'd start by replacing that; being its an old computer(I'm assuming it has a Pentium 4 or Celeron D processor), any run of the mill PCI or AGP graphics card would do, these cost roughly $30 for a 512MB Geforce 8400GS.

    What are the full system specs? OEM or custom built? If OEM, make/model would help; if custom then, motherboard info, cpu, hard drive, power supply info would be beneficial.

    • Mohamed Mamdouh
      May 26, 2012 at 1:35 pm

      thank you , I'll post an update based on your suggestions
      thanks again for your time

    • Mohamed Mamdouh
      May 26, 2012 at 2:24 pm

      Update :

      1- I reset CMOS battery and HD cables ..... it helped really in launching problem ,thanks @ha14

      2- I checked the hard drive for errors .... it run well with no problem

      3- I tried to use (sfc.exe /scannow) showed me error
      The specific error code is 0x000006ba [The RPC server is unavailable]

      4- I use programs to clean and defrag registry like ccleaner - Advanced system care and it always clean and degraged

      5- I tried to test game again after that...(COD1)
      Result :
      I kept intro to run ... it passed all without freeze
      menu and choosing new loading started
      at first 2 min of game it froze :(

      6- Don't forget i run tests about ram and video card stress and CPU and it run and no problem found last time as i mentioned last update !!!

      7- Spec. of PC
      Motherboard : ASUS P5S800 -VM
      CPU : intel celeron 2.66 GHz -1 X Pentium 4 - 133 MHz External clock speed
      Display: SIS 661fx integrated 32 cache
      HD : (not sure but i think Maxtor) 80 GB
      Power supply: 230V 50Hz/60Hz A3 - Model : P4-300W

  8. Mohamed Mamdouh
    May 23, 2012 at 1:07 pm

    I want to add something happened may help in diagnosis of problem

    I suffer for few days from problem of not launching of computer
    I mean ..
    when i power PC, CPU start to work and i can eject CD Rom
    but screen doesn't work and still turned off
    I repeat power off and on many times till i see Num Lock and Caps Lock get one second light and screen starts as normal !!

    I think 2 problems connected to each others , Don't You ?

    • ha14
      May 23, 2012 at 8:49 pm

      Reset CMOS battery
      also remove ram clean dust
      reboot and see if this can fix something

      perhaps you have to reinstall WIndows?

      • Mohamed Mamdouh
        May 25, 2012 at 6:36 pm

        thanks i'll try

  9. Oron
    May 23, 2012 at 11:54 am

    Hi Mohamed, thanks for getting back to us with the extra info. This is certainly a tricky one!
    One thing you could do is download Hirens CD from which includes some hardware testing programs. You'll need to burn it onto a CD or USB drive (instructions available on Hirens' site) and boot the PC from that. It's not guaranteed to find the fault, but it's worth a shot!

    • Mohamed Mamdouh
      May 23, 2012 at 1:12 pm

      thanks Oron for your interest ,
      I'll try it and post results
      but Question , Do you now exclude software problems ?
      and that means if I installed new windows won't solve problem ?

      • Oron
        May 23, 2012 at 1:54 pm

        No, not excluding software problems at all, but others have suggested some ways of going forward on that front. If it's a hardware problem, it would be good to find out at this stage, that's all!

        • Mohamed Mamdouh
          May 23, 2012 at 3:55 pm

          Thanks for explain :)

  10. Mohamed Mamdouh
    May 22, 2012 at 9:35 pm

    Thank you all for trying help :)
    i don't know direction of new replies so i'll reply down up :))

    I really tested using 512 ram only and removed 256 one
    -game worked fine in intro and menu and freeze at start of game (that happened before, even it sometime worked for first seconds or minutes of game )

    then removed 512 and used 256 only
    -game freeze at first second of intro

    Now i'm using 512 alone

    N.B I faced one time freezing on first black screen (BIOS i think:) ) while exchange between rams specifically after freezing with 256 and trying to use them together after that
    thanks , I tried this and show ( no problems at all ) except it asked to check if any update to graphic driver . I checked but no update found
    1- can it be cam problem although freezing also happens without using it like with games ?!!
    i followed your suggestion and reinstalled it from its own CD as i didn't find any updates and updated Skype and reinstalled it

    2- all my drivers updated and checked this with many programs and checked graphic driver from sis site and every type of check for update

    No luck yet :(

    3- my windows : XP pro sp3 with all updates till this month
    graphic card : built-in sis 661fx
    webcam : SOC pac207
    (note : cam run well alone and with video call before and now before freeze attack)

    @Zeeshan Khan
    thanks , I tried it and many programs and result was all my drivers updated
    @Bruce Epper
    thanks , No drivers installed since windows setup and every thing was running well with these drivers for 1 year till freezing problem last week only
    and i didn't do any suspicious actions before this week !!

    and I'm so sorry for being late in reply :)

  11. gpvprasad
    May 22, 2012 at 11:40 am

    Problem could be
    different sizes of RAM's I would better suggest place same RAM and also didn't mention RAM bus speed, that also sometimes cause a Hang because of difference in bus data and sync failures.

    Next when we are using high end games it is a generic problem so need a graphic card apart from basic system.

    • Bruce Epper
      May 22, 2012 at 6:08 pm

      A memory issue would be farther down the list since it would have been a constant issue, not something that suddenly cropped up and it would affect ALL applications, not a select few.

      CoD1 is not exactly a high-end game by today's standards either. He should not be having a great deal of trouble running it on his system.

  12. ha14
    May 22, 2012 at 10:54 am

    to find out what is happening with games
    try this microsoft solution

  13. Oron
    May 22, 2012 at 10:45 am

    Mohamed, it's impossible to be certain at this stage whether this is a hardware or software problem, but it does sound like a driver fault, most likely the web cam driver. Update it first (also update the graphics card driver, usually a good thing to do anyway!) and try again.

    If the problem persists, try uninstalling the web cam software completely (check on the company's site to see if there's a "driver remover", which will do a better job, and uninstall Skype, then install both again and try again...
    If you still have a problem, let us know and include more information such as specs of your PC, version of Windows, graphics card and web cam models etc, and we'll see if we can help you further.

  14. zeeshan khan
    May 22, 2012 at 10:34 am

    Download something like driver genius and make sure that all your drivers are up-to-date.

  15. Bruce Epper
    May 22, 2012 at 8:23 am

    Have you updated your video driver recently? Since the freezing hinges on things that are video intensive, I would first suspect the video driver. You may want to roll back the driver to a previous version to see if that corrects the issue.

    • Martin1234
      August 11, 2012 at 3:09 am

      hi can i help me tell me how to update my video driver?

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