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This isn't a problem that happens often, but still occasionally enough to be noticeable. Basically, sometimes when I open a YouTube link in Google chrome, I experience a violent crash.

Usually, the audio of whatever video I'm viewing keeps playing, but the screen completely locks up as does all input. I'm forced to hard reset / take battery out.

Given that its so seemingly benign, how could a flash crash take down the entire machine like this? What can I do to avoid this?

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When you say crash, do you really mean hang or an actual crash (e.g., a BSOD)? Have you tried another browser to see if it is Chrome? Have you tried enabling/disabling hardware acceleration in the Flash settings? Have you tried playing a short video to see if it returns to normal when the video ends? Alternately, have you tried just waiting longer? Try using the Task Manager to set the chrome.exe instances to low-priority to see if the system continues to respond. –  Synetech Jul 8 '12 at 4:35
    
It's hard to troubleshoot because it happens so sporadically. And yes I mean severe hang. I could always try waiting even longer next time, although I've waited pretty long before. –  Chase Meadors Jul 8 '12 at 4:59
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Do you have a Graphics Card? It could be related the Graphic Card Driver. I had faced a similar issue with Nvidia drivers where the screen froze and everything turned to pink. Updating the driver did the trick. –  Ganesh R. Jul 8 '12 at 7:10
    
Now that you mention it, it could be related to the graphics card. I've also had some seemingly unrelated issues with the card "skipping" and not outputting any video for about a second. I'll see if driver updates are available. –  Chase Meadors Jul 8 '12 at 8:23
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