Hardware

Find out the solution to Kerry's chronic crashing problem

In this week's edition of the Support Republic Pop Quiz, we offer the fix to Kerry's recurrent crashing problems. As is often the case, the problem demanded some logical thinking and the process of elimination.


When we first introduced this Pop Quiz, Kerry was trying to figure out which device in his computer was causing his machine to crash on a regular basis. This week, we offer the solution to Kerry’s recurrent and frustrating problem.
The winner of Kerry’s crashing computer Pop Quiz is Charles Gardner, who was the only TechRepublic member to answer the Pop Quiz correctly! For his winning entry, Charles will be receiving a free TechRepublic T-shirt to show off to his peers. Congratulations!
What was the culprit?
It had gotten to the point where Kerry’s computer was doing nothing but giving him problems. Being a certified PC technician, he knew that his computer’s constant crashing could be blamed on just about anything, but he didn’t know where to begin looking for a solution.

Kerry first tried to format his hard drive and install a fresh copy of Windows Me in place of Windows 2000, thinking that a software issue could exist with Windows 2000 and the hardware in his machine. But after completing the installation of Windows Me, Kerry found that the machine still continued to crash. Kerry then downloaded the latest drivers for all the devices in his machine and installed them one by one to see if there was a driver issue, but it didn’t help.

Because he had tried two different operating systems, Kelly concluded that his problem wasn’t a software issue. For that reason, Kerry began to suspect that the trouble was because of a hardware conflict or error. But that suspicion led to a new hurdle since he had installed many different pieces of hardware. His installation list was as follows:
  • One Kingston 256MB PC133 RAM chip
  • One Maxtor DiamondMax 60 Ultra ATA 100 hard drive
  • One ASUS AGP-V6600 GeForce 256 Pure graphics card
  • One SoundBlaster Live! Platinum sound card and accessories
  • One Creative Labs CD-RW Blaster 12/10/32
  • One Creative Labs Ovation 12X PC-DVD
  • One Creative Labs Blaster 52X
  • One external Iomega Jaz 2GB SCSI data storage device
  • One Adaptec AHA-2940 Ultra SCSI for desktop PCs

Kerry decided that the devices that were most likely causing the conflict were the ASUS graphics card and the Adaptec SCSI controller, since these two devices were the last items to be installed before his machine began to behave erratically. He decided to make sure that each of these devices was properly seated in its respective slot. He removed both of the cards, then put them back again, making sure that he pushed firmly as he seated each card into its individual slot. Unfortunately, when the machine was restarted, it continued to crash.

But, when Kerry removed both the SCSI controller and the new video card and restarted the machine, it worked until he turned it off. After several reboots and shutdowns without a single crash, Kerry knew that one of the devices was causing the problem.

The solution
Kerry reinstalled the new video card into the machine and rebooted. After a successful startup and shutdown, he booted the machine several more times to see if it would crash. The machine worked fine, so Kerry then tried to reinstall the SCSI card.

To his surprise, the machine began to crash again after he rebooted. After turning off the machine and removing the card, Kerry restarted the computer and it didn’t crash. Obviously, the SCSI controller was the culprit.

But why did the SCSI card cause the machine to crash? Kerry realized that whenever he had the SCSI card installed on the computer, he had plugged the Jaz drive into the card. Without thinking, Kerry had forgotten to terminate the last device in the SCSI chain, which caused his computer to crash whenever the machine tried to access the controller.
Have you had an experience similar to that of Kerry's? If so, we want to hear your stories! Feel free to post a message below or send us a note.

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