Thursday, February 22, 2007

Dust Hotel

A few weeks ago I began to experience my computer shutting down for no apparent reason. As I began to investigate the problem I discovered that the CPU was working at 100% just before this would happen. This did not happen immediately but after some time of running a memory labor intensive program such as analyzing and encoding a DVD or generating a kinship report in the family tree file that I know has many interconnected people. The next step I took was to look up all that I could on the Internet to see what the problem might be. The general consensus was that the CPU was overheating causing the system to shut down. So I began to monitor the BIOS at boot-up to see what the fan speed, system and CPU temps read. Of course when in the BIOS one doesn't get the true temperature of the working PC as nothing is going on to make the processor heat up, or so I thought. I watched the processor heat up from 35 C and ending at about 94 C +/- 3 C in 20 minutes time !!! The normal temperature for my system should be around 40-45 C !! How long had this been going on? Well I had planned to clean out my system inside and out and adding the 2 GB of RAM I had purchased so many months ago but never seemed to get around to it. My computer was acting so sluggish and knew XP Home had collected a lot of junk over the past three years since I first bought it. I had the case off before when I put in a second hard drive and it looked pretty clean then. That wasn't quite a year ago. Well when I opened the beastie up it looked fairly clean, still. BUT when I got to removing the cooling fan from the heat sink that is when I got the surprise of my life!! The dust must have been 1/4" thick on top and extending down inside the fins another 1/4" or so. I whipped out the mini-vacuum kit and canned air and went to work. I then put it all back together and crossed my fingers as I switched her on. She purred like a kitten. I monitored the temperature from the BIOS and found that the system temperature stayed at around 38 C and the CPU at 41-43 C !! That was all it took! My system is very slow in booting up yet. This occurs up until the memory check. Perhaps something got fried in the processor or the BIOS got damaged? After Windows loads all works fine and dandy. In fact as I am typing this I have been generating a kinship report that has been going on for the past four or five hours at the most! It is on its second and final pass and at 86% complete. The CPU usage is showing a steady 55-65% with both going. Before I had to change the affinity to only run CPU0 in order to keep the usage fixed at 50% but I couldn't wait for the extra hours for the report to generate. I couldn't even run very many other programs at the same time. But now it seems I don't have problems multi-tasking.

I learned a great deal about wireless networking, keeping the PC clean and recovering a system these past six days. It all started simply because my brother-in-law gave my youngest son his old Dell P4 1.3 GHz computer without a hard drive. Pretty straight forward stuff here. Purchase a hard drive pop it in and install the operating system. Been there, done that more times than I care to remember. But this time all went sour when I couldn't get his machine connected to the Internet via the wireless network. One by one each of our machines went down like the domino effect. After intensive reading I decided to reset the wireless router and re-install everything from scratch. I knew the machines were connecting to the router but they weren't getting past the ADSL modem to collect an IP address. Resetting the router worked. I think the main problem may have been with the ADSL modem. We had it replaced a few weeks ago by our ISP for free because when we had originally rented it, later purchased it, there was no 1 MB speed for the ADSL. Gradually we were upgraded for free but the modem was not. We found out it couldn't handle 2 MB/512K so they gave us a new one that is good up to 25 MB. After I got it home I just disconnected the old one and connected the new one. Perhaps it needed to be set-up first? Well, it is all done and taken care of and all works fine for the moment. I am almost done with installing the programs on my own system. I need to install a USB 2.0 PCI card in Alexi's machine and then put it back in his desk. All that is left is to wipe Tiina's hard drive clean and do a complete re-install as well. That should pretty much finish off my week of winter holiday! No Jalasjärvi this winter holiday :-(

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