Windows XP Help

Crashes, Hangs and Reboots

1. What is a Crash?

A crash occurs when a misbehaving program or driver shutdowns Windows XP completely and displays an error message. On Windows XP this is usually a Blue Screen of Death or STOP message. Sometimes the faulty program will just stop responding and either hangs or shuts it self down and display the desktop. Fortunately, Windows XP is very stable, and only the program will crash and not Windows.

2. What is a Hang?

Hanging, freezing or unresponsiveness can be caused by a program using too much CPU time (see Task Manager) and not allowing Windows or other programs to run. Bad hardware or drivers can also cause freezing as the hardware is either incorrectly installed, or the drivers has bugs or some other problem.

3. What is a Reboot?

A reboot is when a serious problem occurs and the computer unexpectedly shuts down and restarts. This is usually caused by hardware problems such as overheating CPU or component or not enough power to the system. Power spikes and surges can also cause reboots as well, a spike protection device or a UPS (Uninterruptable Power Supply) can fix those problems.

4. How do I troubleshoot crashes, hangs and reboots?

When you can back into your system, load up the Event Viewer (eventvwr.msc) and check the System and Application logs for any recent errors and warnings. These can point you to potential problems on your system. If you have problems with running games or your graphics card or sound card, load DxDiag.exe and check each screen and run the tests to make sure your cards are correctly configured, changing the drivers may help. Also, look in Device Manager to see if there is a problem with any devices on your system, look for yellow exclamation marks next to problematic devices.

5. How do I restore back to a previous registry? It was ScanReg before.

Use the System Restore tool in Accessories, System Tools to restore to a previous version of the registry. Just follow the prompts in the Wizard and select a date (it even tells you what you installed at that time). To enable/disable Restore mode, open the System control panel, click on System Restore and tick or untick the box to enable it. If unable to boot, then use Last Known Good Configuration after pressing F8 for Safe Mode menu.

6. How do I copy missing files from my XP CD?

Most files for XP are stored in the \i386 folder on the CD and are compressed. To uncompress them, use the Expand program to expand it to uncompressed form:
e.g. expand d:\i386\freecell.ex_ c:\windows\system32\freecell.exe. If the file is stored in a CAB (cabinet) file, then load up MSConfig and click on Expand File button, enter name of file to restore and which drive to copy file from and where to save it to. You can also use SFC /SCANNOW to replace corrupt or missing system files.

7. What does the error message mean on a Blue STOP screen?

These STOP message occurs when a fatal error occurs which Windows cannot easily recover, sometimes a reboot will recover, if not then you need to boot into Safe Mode (press F8) when starting Windows or use the Recovery/Repairs tools from XP CD. See STOP Messages Database for explaination of them.

8. My PC is constantly shutting down. For example, LSASS, RPC, RPCSS or DCOM is shutting down?

This is usually caused by your PC being infected with a worm that is shutting down essential operating system services which causes your system to shut down unexpectedly. You must install or enable a Firewall to prevent these types of attack. You can download patches for common worms such as Blaster worm, Nachi and Sasser worm.

9. How do I repair my Windows XP installation?

a). You can either use the SFC /SCANNOW utilitiy to repair and replace missing system files.
b) You can select the Last Known Good Configuration during boot up to use a previous version of Registry.
c) You can use System Restore to restore Windows to a previous good state.
d) Boot from a Windows XP CD (not a Restore CD), and do a Repair Install. See How to Perform a Windows XP Repair Install on how to do this.
e) Boot from a Windows XP CD and reinstall Windows to a new folder (see Q.12 below).
f) Boot from a Windows XP CD and do a clean Windows installation.
g) Boot from a Recovery Disc and repair windows.

10. My computer has suddenly become a lot slower?

A recent program installation could cause this. It may be a legitimate program which is taking too long to complete a task and taking up too much cpu or disk usage (use Task Manager) to find out which process is causing it. Sometime a virus, spyware or other malware can cause system slow downs. Run a full virus scan of the hard disk and a scan with a Antispyware product may find some unwanted programs (sometimes known as PUPs - Potentially Unwanted Programs).

11. How do I create recovery discs for my computer?

It depends on the manufacturer, but here are some tutorials for some popular models:
HP and Compaq Desktop PCs - Obtaining Recovery Discs
How Do I Use the Dell™ PC Restore by Symantec Utility

12. How do I accesss my data if Windows will not boot up?

There are three methods you can use:
a) If you have a second hard disk, remove the disk with the corrupted Windows on it, insert another disk and install Windows on that disk (do not activate this, as it is only temporary). Now add your original disk and change the jumpers so that it is a Slave drive to your boot disk. You should now see the disk as an extra volume and you can back up the data to some removable media. Once the data is backed up you can reformat that drive and remove both drives, insert your original disk as a Primary drive and re-install Windows.

b) Sometimes, you might be able to reinstall Windows but to another folder other than C:\Windows for example, C:\Winnt and use that, so that it will not overwrite your existing Windows installation or data. To do this boot from the Windows XP disc, press Enter to select Windows XP Setup, select the partition to install Windows on, and select 'Leave the current file system intact (no changes)' and press ESC to install to a different folder and enter a new folder e.g. \WinXP and press Enter and follow instructions on screen.

c) If you have a Live Linux CD, you can boot from that disk and load Linux into memory and get read access to your data and can back up data to another disk such as USB disks or use the built in CD/DVD writer software.

13. How do I access the Recovery console?

Boot from the Windows XP or Recovery CD, and when you get to the the Welcome to Setup window, you can then press R to open the recovery console.

In the Recovery console you need to select the Windows installation (1 C:\Window) and then enter the 'administrator's password, Then you have access to several commands:

Commands Purpose
chkdsk Check disk for errors
disable Disable a service
diskpart Disk Partitioning program
driverquery Display installed drivers
enable Enable a service
fixmbr Fix Master Boot Record (Recovery Console only)
fixboot Fix boot files (Recovery Console only)
format Format a disk
help List commands
listsvc List services
logon Logon to windows
map List mapped drivers
sfc System file check
systemroot Set current dir to systemroot