This may help sometime...

  Ian in Northampton 19:18 30 Dec 2010

Not asking for a solution here (although anyone with any insight is more than welcome to comment) – just passing on an experience that may help others.

For no apparent reason (i.e. no new software installed, no new hardware installed, no changes to my PC except the regular Avast! update) my system started to hang – it would just stop, with the mouse frozen, and the only way to recover it was a cold restart.

My first port of call was System Restore. However, it hung part way through that and, as many times as I kept trying System Restore, the machine wouldn’t stay up long enough for me to complete it. Fortunately, I only reinstalled XP a couple of weeks back, and all my data is on a drive other than C:, so it wasn’t a major decision to reinstall XP again.

That turned into a bit of a nightmare, as the first XP CD I tried was giving “can’t read file” errors. Ditto with copy two. Fortunately, I’m a belt and braces kind of person, so I have four copies of my XP CD (and three CDs of my drivers…) . The third one worked fine – but then the system hung part way through the install… ?

To me, this was conclusive proof that what I had was a hardware problem, not a software problem (I was probably wrong to reach this conclusion, but anyway…)

I recalled that I’d read somewhere – possibly even on this very forum – that it can be a good idea to detach all connected devices when installing XP, so I duly removed the three external hard drives, the printer, the scanner and the second monitor – and started again.

This time – success! Having completed the reinstall a couple of days ago, I’ve been gradually reattaching all the devices to see if any one of them was giving the problem. Thus far – they’re all reattached except a USB hub – touch wood, no problems, no more hangs.

My conclusion? I had a marginal hardware connection that was sending a bad signal to the system, causing it to crash, and reattaching all the external hardware has cured the problem.

Learning points:

1. If your system exhibits the same problems mine did, it may be worth detaching and reattaching all your external devices.

2. The received wisdom about removing all external devices when you reinstall XP (or whatever) is probably good advice.

3. You can never have too many copies of your disks. Job one for me, on re-establishing a stable system, was to make two more copies of my XP CD.

I hope this may help someone some time…

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