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Computer crashes spontaneously, sometimes frequently, other times going for 5-6 days. I use my laptop a lot. Heavy use doesn't seem to affect it. I noticed, albeit anecdotally, that it happens more often when using wireless internet heavily. (however I am almost always using the wireless card so I don't know if this is relevant). I always get the same message (see below). What is my best approach to fix this? Whocrashed is giving me nothin...

On Mon 3/21/2011 10:13:22 AM GMT your computer crashed
crash dump file: C:\Windows\Minidump\032111-7924-01.dmp

This was probably caused by the following module: ntoskrnl.exe (nt+0x70740) 

Bugcheck code: 0xF4 (0x3, 0xFFFFFA8009F00A30, 0xFFFFFA8009F00D10, 0xFFFFF80002D865D0)


file path: C:\Windows\system32\ntoskrnl.exe

product: Microsoft® Windows® Operating System

company: Microsoft Corporation

description: NT Kernel & System

Bug check description: This indicates that a process or thread crucial to system operation has unexpectedly exited or been terminated. 

This appears to be a typical software driver bug and is not likely to be caused by a hardware problem. 

The crash took place in the Windows kernel. Possibly this problem is caused by another driver which cannot be identified at this time. 
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It could be memory or some associated hardware - Download Hiren's Boot CD and use the hardware testing tools to check out your hardware. – Majenko Mar 21 '11 at 10:31
Try checking for updates to your wireless card drivers. Alternatively, check the options and disable any options related to enabling the wireless before you logon. Some wireless drivers hook into GINA and I think that can cause ntoskrnl.exe to crash. – LawrenceC Mar 21 '11 at 11:16
@filamint: most crashes nowadays are indeed caused by drivers, even if the immediate diagnostics can't confirm that. – 0xC0000022L Mar 21 '11 at 13:29
@filamint: Can you use this online analyser on the minidump so we have more information? – Tom Wijsman Mar 22 '11 at 16:14
@Tom: nice link. Thanks for that. – 0xC0000022L Mar 22 '11 at 18:09

Sounds like a hardware problem. Often these Stop errors (F4) are caused by failing hard drives.

From MS's site (MSDN):

  1. Download and install updates and device drivers for your computer from Windows Update.
  2. Scan your computer for computer viruses.
  3. Check your hard disk for errors.

I would advise figuring out who manufactured your hard drive, and then go to their site and get their HDD diagnostics utilties (if any) and see what it says about the drive's health.

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The easiest way around narrowing down the cause of a crash, is use WinDbg to analyze the dump file that windows created when the crash occurred:

  1. Download MS' SDK if you don't already have WinDbg
  2. Install WinDbg, I found its installer directly among the downloaded content at ...\Windows Kits\10\WDK\Installers\X64 Debuggers And Tools-x64_en-us.msi
  3. Find your crash dump files, typically in C:\Windows\Minidump\
  4. Just drag and drop the .dmp file into WinDbg window, and press the !analyze -v link that appears within WinDbg, then have a look at the text that appears.

One of the more interesting parts is the part called STACK_TEXT. Just reading the names of the calls, usually gives a really good clue.

Here's an example of a few lines of the cause of one of my most recent crashes. I have removed insignificant text where it says "[...]" to make it more readable.

ffffd000`2a4465f0 [...] : win32kbase!ApplyPathsModality+0x286
ffffd000`2a446690 [...] : win32kbase!DrvSetDisplayConfig+0x553
ffffd000`2a4467e0 [...] : win32kbase!xxxUserSetDisplayConfig+0x24b
ffffd000`2a446950 [...] : win32kbase!VideoPortCalloutThread+0x4c7
ffffd000`2a446a90 [...] : win32kbase!xxxCreateSystemThreads+0x5b
ffffd000`2a446ad0 [...] : win32kfull!NtUserCallNoParam+0x2d
ffffd000`2a446b00 [...] : nt!KiSystemServiceCopyEnd+0x13
000000dd`940ffee8 [...] : 0x00007ffa`bef67274

Just reading those names, pretty much suggests a video driver issue. So in my case I'll try finding updated video drivers.

Over the years, I've found that pretty much every single crash on Windows seemed to be caused by some dodgy driver, usually the graphics drivers.

I am however no expert in Window kernel internals, so there is some chance that the info you find in your dump files might be misleading. But at least it can help you make some guesses.

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