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I have an Hewlett Packard (fairly basic) Windows 7 PC, that crashed (no blue screen, the screen simply went black with no response from any peripherals) and then once the machine is powered off and back on again it crashes or stops upon a reboot (black screen again).

The crash is simply just a freeze on a black screen, no errors, nothing obvious, it simply just sits there doing nothing whilst powered on.

If we button off the machine it will load Hewlett Packard's version of the recovery prompt, allowing us to run "System Restore" or "System Recovery". So far I have run "System Restore" about 3 times from different dates (progressively getting earlier), which will recover the system to any of the set dates successfully.

Once back into the system I have full use as normal of the machine in Windows 7, but upon scouring the Windows Event Log the only error we can see around the time of the crash is:

The system has rebooted without cleanly shutting down first. This error could be caused if the system stopped responding, crashed, or lost power unexpectedly.

Log Name: System
Source: Kernel-Power
Event ID: 41
Level: Critical
User:  System
OpCode: Info
Logged: 11/04/2013 08:45:21
Task Category: (63)
Keywords: (2)
Computer: Home-PC

It seems that this error is hard to trouble shoot due to the vague nature of what could have caused the computer to fail in such a way. The is no BugcheckCode (it is "0").

What I'm concerned about is that I've run System Restore a few times, the computer has got back into a functioning state, but invariable it will crash again, requiring another System Restore. If I decide to run a full factory recovery on the machine, I'm wondering what the major differences are with this over a System Restore option. I realise the disk will be formatted and recovered from image, however if the machine still ends up crashing after a System Restore, is there any point in going through this process?

Could a failing hard disk be the cause? Or if it was, would we see some more specific errors in the Event Log? Can anyone recommend any software that might be able to scan the machines hardware to check if this issue might be hardware related? Note: The Event Log shows NO other errors prior to the Critical Event ID 41 - i.e. nothing obvious to say "Hey, I'm struggling a bit here with something and might give up any second now..."

Appreciate any advice.

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This sounds like a hard hardware failure. I would check the S.M.A.R.T data on the hdd. I would also check to validate your memory is failing. – Ramhound Apr 11 '13 at 11:33
Thanks Ramhound, I've had a look and found HD Tune as a util to scan the disk, and when I get physically in front of the machine I'll run a memory diagnostic from the BIOS as well. Thanks again! – Harry Apr 11 '13 at 11:59

Check the 5 steps posted here under scenario 3:

Windows Kernel event ID 41 error "The system has rebooted without cleanly shutting down first"

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