April 28, 2006
Dear CNET members,
Happy Friday! This week our community members came through in a big way with a record number of submissions to Derek's question in regards to his system randomly rebooting. From what we gathered from your submissions, it looks like many of you have experienced this issue in the past, so we created a "This happened to me, here's what solved my problem" section to include your experiences. I personally have seen this issue surface on other people's machines, too, and the two scenarios that I was able to help solve were due to either an overheating CPU (a dying CPU fan) or a faulty memory module. While that is my own personal experience, this issue isn't just limited to those--as you can read in this week's submissions. While most of you pointed to an underpowered/failing power supply as the culprit, members have also suggested checking for malware infections or bad motherboard capacitors, and the list goes on. This just goes to show that there may be no simple solution, Derek, and the best way to tackle this issue is through the process of elimination, starting from the basics to the more complex. So while this week's winning answers and all of the Honorable mentions and Other advice from our members will hopefully give you insight into your troubles, I hope you will join us in this discussion and give us more specifics so that all of our supportive members can give you a helping hand. This newsletter is all about helping each other out, so all of you please join in. Thanks for the great submissions, everyone, and I await your participation. Good luck!
Member Question of the Week
I have a Dell Dimension 4500 PC with a Pentium 4 2GHz processor. The computer has been randomly restarting. It is not caused by using any one application, and it happens completely randomly; it doesn't matter if the computer has been on for 5 minutes or 3 hours. Also, the system clock is losing time (the time is always wrong and needs to be reset). I thought that the CMOS battery might be the problem, so I swapped it out for a new one, but there's been no change or improvement. Next, I thought it might be the power supply not having enough wattage (it is a 250W PSU). The PSU fan is barely blowing, and I thought it could be overheating. I haven't purchased a new PSU yet, because I'm not sure that is the problem. I have Norton AntiVirus 2006 installed, and a full system scan has not revealed any viruses. I have Windows XP SP2 and have all downloaded Fixes/Updates. The Microsoft Malware removal tool did not find anything either.
I bought this computer from a friend. She was not too discerning in her Internet usage and ended up having to reformat the hard drive and reinstall Windows XP due to viruses. Since then, I have utilized Ad-aware, antispyware, and Norton to clean up the computer. There are no more problems with the computer that point to viruses, other than this random system restarting and the system clock inaccuracy.
Derek B. of Chicago, Illinois
This week, rather than just having one winning answer, we decided to present you with four winners. That's right, four! These members, Miguel K., Barry W., Charles W., and Pete Z., did an exceptional write-up of a whole list of possibilities to address Derek's issue. These members are no strangers to the weekly newsletter Q&A and have been an incredible help to our members in previous editions of our Community Help & How-to newsletters. So congrats, folks! The knowledge that you all share with us is deeply appreciated.
Miguel K., Barry W., Charles W., and Pete Z.
Miguel, Barry, Charles, and Pete's
efforts, we're sending them a choice of any
Help.com Learning CD.
Each week we take a look at topics discussed in the forums.
Laptop vs. desktop performance
Best regards and enjoy!
Member AbsolutFcs keeps hearing about desktop-replacement laptops, but he never sees a direct comparison between the two. While for a similar price, you could get a much better desktop computer than a laptop, he's wondering how these new hard-core laptops compare to desktops. Anyone have any input on this?
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Software to enhance out-of-focus
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PC system recovery question
If you have an off-the-shelf PC and over the years you've upgraded your hard drive and few other hardware components, can you still use the factory recovery disc to restore your computer as if it were new? See the entire question that member grj712 put forth to our members. He'd appreciate any advice.
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PC caught on fire!
It doesn't happen often, but member sdpb_guy roommate's machine caught on fire! If you've personally experienced this disaster, come join us in this discussion and share. He's looking to see if anything from that PC is salvageable.
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New! The Real Deal and MP3 Insider forums
We recently created two new forums called The Real Deal forum, hosted by CNET editor Tom Merritt, and the MP3 Insider Lounge forum, hosted by CNET editor James Kim and Veronica Belmont, for our CNET members who subscribe to the CNET Real Deal and MP3 Insider podcasts, and it has quickly become a popular place for many fun discussions. If you'd like to join in the fun, you are welcome to pile in with your posts in this new forum. But to get the full experience, check out the The Real Deal and the MP3 Insider podcasts.
Help WantedHere's your chance to help your fellow CNET members solve their PC and gadget woes.
Check out next week's question:
When I purchased my VAIO laptop two-plus years ago, I didn't realize that the 60GB HD had been partitioned into two drives. A couple of months after having used the laptop, I discovered the partition: a 10GB partition and a 50GB partition. Of course, by then the operating system, along with a number of program hogs, had already been installed on the smaller partition. I procrastinated taking action until now, when the C: drive, after cleaning and compression, has only 25 percent left, while the D: drive has 90 percent remaining. Is there an easy way to unpartition the drive to return to one physical drive, or do I have to back everything up to another computer, blow everything off my laptop, and then reformat it? And, if the latter, unappetizing option is my only recourse, do you have a step-by-step checklist to follow?
Barnabas P. of
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