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A friend of mine asked me to reformat the harddrive in his computer. Heres the specs: AMD 64 Athlon 1.5gb of ram (in 2 x 256mb and 2 x 512mb) 160gb IDE HDD onboard graphics and a 288W PSU

Ive spent the last 10 hours trying to get it to work. and i havnt gotten very far. At first, it kept turning off about a minute after booting from the XP disc. Eventually, i figured out its overheating. The temp monitor in the BIOS said it was sitting at about 100C. When it gets to 125, it turns off. So I cleaned it out, added a bunch of fans, cleaned the CPU heatsink and replaced the thermal paste, took the side off, and after all that, it was only down to like 92C in bios and still overheated when installing XP. Right now I have it running by an open window (its about -20C outside) and the bios says its about 78C. It does work, but thats hardly a practical solution. Is it possible theres something wrong with the sensor?

Well, that would seem like its enough trouble for one computer. but no. Ive finally reformatted the harddrive, which seemed to go relatively well, when it was done, it did its stuff and then restarted like it should. When it restarted, it got to the XP loading screen and now its just sitting there, endlessly loading. smae thing happens in safe mode except it sits at a giant list of directories.

I should mention that the reason im reformatting it in the first place is because when it turns on normally (this is before I did anything to it), it gets past the XP loading screen normally, then it flashes blue and restarts. If it helps, the blue screen says this:

STOP: c0000218 {Registry File Failure}
The registry cannot load the hive (file):
\SystemRoot\System32\Config\SOFTWARE
or its log or alternate.
It is corrupt, absent, or not writable.

Beginning dump of physical memory
Physical memory dump complete.
Conact your system adminisstrator or technical support group for further
assistance. 

Any help or advice would be much appreciated. Aside from pouring holy water on it, im pretty much out of ideas. Thanks

Update: Well, heat sink is definitely installed right now. Ive tried using a different PSU, different harddrive, still nothing. I did a mem check. ram seems to be fine. After all the advice ive gotten, i think the problem is the CPU is fried causing it to overheat. If not, then its cause the motherboard is fried. If was just a matter of the sensor being wrong, I wouldnt be having all the problems with formatting and corrupt files. I have quite a few spare parts, but i do not have a spare CPU so i cant check. Does anyone know of some program that can check the CPU in boot?

Im still open to any suggestions but i believe i have done all i can do. Thanks for all the help and advice.

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Regarding the processor temperature, my guess would be that temperature sensor on MB is not working correctly. If you have a heat sink positioned correctly, with thermal paste, then it should be nowhere near 90°C in idle. –  T. Kaltnekar Jan 29 '10 at 8:43
1  
Sounds like sensor is faulty. Have you tested the RAM as well? I've had faulty RAM that will prevent an install, but works fine after the OS is up and running. –  user3463 Jan 29 '10 at 12:19
    
Sounds like multiple problems TBH... you'll probably need some known-good components to hand to reliably narrow down what bits are bust. –  bobince Jan 29 '10 at 14:02
    
Where in the world is it -20C outside?! Yikes! –  Russ Warren Jan 30 '10 at 3:20
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that would be an accurate description. –  bubbzilla Jan 30 '10 at 7:54

6 Answers 6

  1. Get some spare parts -- you're going to need them.
  2. Get the overheating problem fixed, pronto! Investigate why exactly the heatsink/fan combo is not doing it's job. Is the fan spinning? Is the heatsink flush with the face of the processor? Is there enough (but not too much) thermal interface compound between the heatsink and processor to work adequately? These are all questions that need to be answered and fixed before you can begin troubleshooting any other problems. If you cannot solve the cooling problem with the current processor, consider replacing it with a known-working processor. There could be physical damage to the processor causing it to short and overheat.
  3. Run memtest86 to diagnose any memory problems. This could cause a failure to boot to Windows and a failure to install Windows correctly. Test all sticks together for multiple passes. If you receive ANY errors, begin testing individual sticks to determine the culprit. Remove any stick that receives an error!
  4. Test the hard drive for errors using the manufacturer's testing program. I usually just use the Ultimate Boot CD for this because it includes tools for the majority of hard drive manufacturers. Do the short test first -- if it fails replace it with a known-working drive. If the short test passes, run the extended test.
  5. If you are still running into trouble installing Windows, consider replacing the power supply with a known-working unit. All too often a power supply will not provide adequate and consistent power and will cause odd problems like these.

If everything passes and you're still dealing with problems, start swapping the motherboard, CPU and video card for known-working units.

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Sounds like the hard drive is failing. Put it into another machine and do a full format and then chkdsk on it, check out any bad sectors.

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ive considered that, i plugges in a different harddrive. It still formatting, so well see what happens. Thanks so much. Ive been watching 8 different forums all, and thats the first helpful reply ive gotten. –  bubbzilla Jan 29 '10 at 8:40
    
That does not completely explain the overheating. If it continues, I suggest taking it to be repaired (unless it should only to be used in ambient temperature of -20C). –  harrymc Jan 29 '10 at 8:55

You asked if there is something wrong with the sensor - It is possible that there is, but it is more likely that (especially if the machine has heavy use) the heatsink has become dislodged or basically become damaged over time.

This isn't really that easy to check... but if it has been removed and reinstalled, it could just be that there isn't enough thermal paste and you need to get more.

As for the other problems, it could be hard drive related, but it is more likely that all the shutdowns from heat have caused corruption on the hard drive, so a reinstall or repair install may fix it.

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for the heat sink, ive replaced the thermal paste, and i put lots. if anything, theres to much. I did notice the bottom of the heat sink was kinda scratched tho. not sure what to do about that... Ive reformatted the harddrive a couple times now, and i always get the same problem. eventually, i tried a different harddrive. Eventually it worked but its not my computer, so thats hardly a solution. Now that ive seen it actually work, im more hopeful. ill try installing it on the original harddrive one more time. –  bubbzilla Jan 29 '10 at 10:06
4  
ive replaced the thermal paste, and i put lots. Please don't - excessive thermal paste will cause more problems. –  Sathya Jan 29 '10 at 23:09

Another point of interest is that the working temperature range of all the devices of your computer is probably limited to a value over 0ºC so having it at a -20ºC is not a good idea. Even if the CPU is over 0ºC due to its heat this does not happens with the other equipment (like HDs or other cards, even the memory).

Maybe this is making the installation fails.

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You should run a memory test. Try this one: memtest.org

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If you are, or know, a do-it-yourselfer you can use an infrared thermometer to directly measure temperatures. I agree with Mr. Warren that you probably haven't attached the heat sink correctly, or that it has become damaged. Scratches on its bottom surface indicate that it touched something, which that surface never should--it should always be coated with thermal paste. May need a new fan/heatsink.

Once that's fixed, try booting off a Linux LiveCD (e.g. Ubuntu, Knoppix) and see what works. I'm not suggesting you install Linux, just use it as a test. If you can browse the web, open a document in OpenOffice.org, and so forth, the machine is likely usable and the XP problem is just that, an XP problem. If Linux doesn't work either, it's hardware.

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