About 1 in 3 startups, Vista will boot, run for a few minutes, then just stop. It doesn't BSOD, it just freezes up (mouse cursor, sound and everything). I have to hard reset the computer using the power button.

This is not a hardware problem, as I dual boot Ubuntu and that doesn't have similar problems despite being used far more often.

It's also unlikely to be a driver problem, as Windows has ran fine for a year up until this started about 3 weeks ago.

A (possibly related) oddity: After Linux installs some kernel updates, it prompts me to change the grub boot file. I leave it do a 3 way merge. The next boot, Vista takes significantly longer to boot (4-5 minutes as opposed to 1 minute).

EDIT: The System log shows nothing except the "unexpected shutdown" from me holding the power button to switch it off.


This could be a hardware problem. How long do you wait to see if the freeze clears itself?

The unexpected shutdown error after reboot implies that the OS is still running to some extent. From a hardware professional standpoint, if the CPU is still running it is a "soft lock" and can be much more easily debugged. A "hard lock," where the CPU is completely out in the weeds, is more difficult to debug. Any lock up is not easy to debug in a home environment, though. The process of elimination is a pretty effective method to use. Since other OS's work, that rules out a lot of potential issues.

Have you tried different variations of booting Windows?

  • Safe Mode? Helps rule out drivers.
  • A clean install of Vista? Helps rule out bad OS image.
  • Boot with minimum hardware configuration and add HW one piece at a time?
  • Safe mode runs. (well I've tried it about 8 times without problems). A clean install is not currently an option, as my I need to replace my NAS drive so can't backup data. I can't remove hardware one by one as it's a laptop. – Macha Oct 31 '09 at 19:33
  • If safe mode also failed, then drivers as the problem would be ruled out for the most part. But since it passes, drivers could still be the issue. – hanleyp Nov 1 '09 at 15:06
  • A clean Vista install fixed the issue. – Macha Nov 9 '09 at 20:59

It may not seems like a hardware problem, but I would run a HDD and RAM test just to be certain:

(all of the above should be run for at least 8 hours)

Bad RAM has been known to give "file missing or corrupted" boot errors.

Once you've ruled out hardware, take a look at startup programs that might be causing a problem, or see if you can boot into safe mode consistently.

  • agree, almost certainly hardware problems here. – Jeff Atwood Oct 25 '09 at 3:18
  • I still haven't got around to running those tests (I don't have 8 hours to leave the computer run atm, and it's a laptop so I can't just leave it on overnight), but I will soon. – Macha Oct 30 '09 at 22:57

It doesn't sound like a hardware issue to me.

I would suggest running CCleaner (www.ccleaner.com) to not only clean the garbage files on your Windows partition, but to also run CCleaners built-in Registry cleaner. I have a PC repair business and this program has never failed to impress me, and I install it on all Windows-based computers that I repair.

Additionally, run a couple spyware programs, such as MalwareBytes and Spybot. You may have some malware, spyware, etc., messing with your Windows side.

Finally, run a good anti-virus program with updated definition files.

I think the above should eliminate any issues you describe above. Good luck.

  • Ran CCleaner. It didn't help. I run AV and AS software regularly. – Macha Oct 30 '09 at 23:01

Id say its all the programs that are starting up along with Windows. I suggest going using CCleaner and disable all start up programs, or at least the ones you dont necessarily need starting up with windows. CCleaner has this option under tools and startup.


Since Windows loves eating CPU so much (i don't know) it may be caused by heating. This explains random time before crash. It would be better to clean fans and try again.

The second possiblity is drivers. Windows update sometimes install stupid driver updates. Try to open in safe mode. Will it crash anyway, or not?

  • Wouldn't overheating cause it to reboot, not freeze? – Macha Oct 24 '09 at 23:51
  • 1
    it varies, but running the tests CoffeeBean recommended will tell you either way – Jeff Atwood Oct 25 '09 at 3:20

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