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My stationary computer with Windows 7 has a tendency to crash (basically, it reboots). It can crash in any situation, both when playing a game and when it's been idling for an hour. The only indication that it's about to crash is the sound of a disc spinning up. I'm guessing it's one of the hard drives somehow failing, and some seconds later the computer just reboots.

I want to investigate this further, so I'm wondering that if the OS somehow picks up on this crash before it happens (or perhaps the OS is even the reason the computer reboots), where would it log the error data?

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Go to the Control Panel and click on Administrative Tools. This will open up a new window in which you will want to open the Event Viewer.

In the Event Viewer you may be able to find what went wrong prior to the system rebooting, but it's possible that the system simply died before the event could be logged.

Open Event Viewer

What information appears in event logs (Event Viewer)?

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All of the system crashes log files located in the minidump folder. These files called Dump files.

More information about the dump files you'll find here.

A small memory dump file records the smallest set of useful information that may help identify why your computer has stopped unexpectedly. This option requires a paging file of at least 2 megabytes (MB) on the boot volume. On computers that are running Microsoft Windows 2000 or later, Windows create a new file every time your computer stops unexpectedly. A history of these files is stored in a folder

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You might want to check Event Viewer. It does not pick up failure before it has occurred but it does check some things on next boot. If there is anything about this crash, it will be there.

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You can also download NirSoft's Blue Screen View and see what it tells you. If the system is actually rebooting due to a crash you should have a log that Blue Screen View can open and give you some info on. If you can find someone that knows how to look at these crash dumps using WinDbg they can also help you find what caused the issue.

Also use the Event Viewer by typing in eventvwr in a run box and looking at System and Application around the time the reboot happened to see if something was trying to reboot the PC or other errors were happening.

You mention that it takes some time and you hear what might be a disk spinning up. You might be having a heating issue or something wrong in the BIOS so check with the manufacturer that you are running the latest BIOs version and make sure the computer has good ventilation and isn't getting to hot.

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