If something freezes like a computer or a laptop, an experienced computer technician will use a General Troubleshooting Theory. This theory needs about ten pages to explain properly. We will describe here a so-called Systematic Fault Isolation that is a part of the General Troubleshooting Theory. Systematic Fault Isolation can help to diagnose issues related to Windows XP freezing.
Systematic Fault Isolation is a technique for systematically isolating the source of an issue. Simply eliminating half of the items can cause the problem, or eliminate one after another until the system will be stable.
For example, if Windows XP freezes and the hard drive is more than three years old, then simply testing the hard drive will eliminate this component as a cause of the fault, or we will know that the hard drive is faulty.
Why begin with the hardware test? Simply, because there is no logical point to reinstall the operating system if the hard drive has a bad sector, or is even overheating. It simply will fail again in a while.
From my experience, most of the faults are hard-drive related, and then follows virus infections. A third cause is a motherboard fault. And, in fourth place are the power supply units on desktops and the power adaptors on laptops. Everything else makes a few percent of faults that are left. So, if we look for a fault that has the biggest chance to happen, most likely we will be on the right path.
Another component that can cause system freezes is memory or RAM. This is not as frequent as hard drive faults, but when the RAM is faulty, the system will freeze up or display a blue screen and then shut down. Now, memory issues are more frequent, as the capacity of the memory increases, so increases the probability to fail.
After we check the two main components on the computer, we can return to the operating system and check it for viruses, malware and other foreign code pieces.
Usually, the infected system is reinstalled as we do not want the virus to resurrect. We never found an antivirus that can remove the virus code properly. There are many viruses are made smart. If a virus is reported as mild or low danger, then probably the reinstallation is unnecessary. But, if it has something like Conficker, then reinstallation is the best solution.
Another cause of a freeze could be the power supply, motherboard, or the CPU. The CPU usually gets damaged if it overheats. This happens frequently in laptops with clogged heating or radiator plates. In laptops, there is almost always some dust covering the heatsink plates near the fan. If the dust layer is thick, fans can’t cool it down, and the CPU gets hot and can fail.
Also, the motherboard is the cause of a fail or freeze. This can happen as a hard drive fault or RAM fault, but we need to consider it as a component for isolation. On some motherboard brands, the faulty capacitors are caused often by system instability. This is easily found as the capacitors get deformed, or even some colour liquid shows up on the capacitor top.
These are almost all the possible faults that can cause a computer with Windows XP to freeze. Just remember for the hardware, the age is critical as the longer it operates, the more chances there will be to fail. For the software, this may not be the case except with viruses that gather in the system.
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