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Hardware Problem Developing In An Old Computer

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Andavari:  no, I haven't changed pagefile

yes, the active window continues to run, that is, the values change and you can rearrange the displays... most to least, least to most, etc.  But Process explorer will not shut off the computer. It will terminate winlogon.exe, which has the same effect.  

Didn't remove Avast yet.  Will do, can't right now.
Also will replace Outpost firewall, it is another primary suspect.
Didn't try USB mouse or keyboard, didn't think of it.  Will do.  


This screenshot shows all that monitoring stuff running.  
None of the values seem cause for alarm.  ??  
Also, When the lockup occurs, there is no visible spike in any of the values. Remember the values in procexp and CPUID continue to update after lockup. 




I know this haystack fairly well.  :)  Am about 99.9 percent sure that a secondary process within Avast or Outpost is the culprit.  Either Avast "instup.exe" or Outpost "acs.exe".  These 2 processes pop to the top of process explorer at the point of lockup. 


Have to go.  Back to the salt mines ... hay stack.  More later

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If you don't want to go down the road of removing Avast, which means running with no A/V or installing a substitute (albeit temporarily), why don't you try the version I've been running with no issues since 2011, ie Avast version 6.0.1367.


I believe that some, not all, software written while XP was still very relevant, will work better, with less chance of glitches or worse, than software written with Windows 10 in mind. One of these being Avast.


I'm fortunate in that the program side of the Avast installation isn't the most important part. The important parts being the "Engine" and "Virus Definitions" updates, which as I said earlier are still faultlessly updated.


I've found that many latest versions of various programs will cause my machine to slow down and lag seriously, whereby versions written during the XP days cause no issues at all. One of the reasons I've been using Palemoon (Atom XP) for a few years now. Current versions of Opera and Firefox just strangle my machine and max out the CPU.


Definitely worth a try, and the link is for OldApps.com, although I can upload my installer for you if you so desire.


Saying that, disregard the entire post if you wish. Refusal never offends. Entirely up to yourself.


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Dennis, thanks a lot for going the extra mile & providing that link. 

I will do that first, it would be the easiest solution if it works. 


May have to do the same thing with Outpost firewall. 


I frequently get called away from my computer reveries with little advanced notice. 

That and a remarkable talent for procrastination are the reasons I haven't actually done this stuff yet.

Can't start until I'll have time to finish. 


PaleMoon works excellently here. 

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Works the same for me although it's a shame that Version: 26.5.0 (Atom/WinXP) is the final version for XP.


No worries here though. Will stay with it.

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check disk can be manually stopped. But a virtual c drive sometime conflicts with ram. In that case you can better use and SSD. A 256GB will do. Install windows and other essential soft in ssd and other media files, picture in main HDD. You will get faster speed and everything will be okay.

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Another clue emerges from the haystack.  This popup from Outpost appeared today. 

Keep in mind I start this computer the same way every day for years and I don't remember ever seeing it. 

Also, the exe called Unins099.exe is one I have not seen before.


I power up, connect to the net, update Avast & SpywareBlaster, then disconnect. 

Then start Powershadow.  Then reconnect to the net, do computer stuff. 

In other words, the only things that change while not shadowed are the AV and SBlaster. 

One thing different, I ran a repair on Avast, but PS was on and those changes should have been undone.

Also when I declined this popup PS was on, so Outpost shouldn't "remember" that choice.  We'll see. 


Now to wait 2 or 3 days to see if the lockup occurs again.  :)



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solely on the naming convention, unins099.exe would be the OutPost un-installer, or more probably, since you have never seen it, it's that pop up itself.

maybe accepting that pop up offer then starts the uninstall process in readiness for the upgrade.

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OK.  unins099.exe has been there in the program folder, apparently forever, it just never ran before. 

I declined it.  Will wait & see what happens next. 


And I thought there might be an obvious, easy fix.  :blink: 

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Am I right in saying that you've had this lock up with two different rigs?


Your XP machine and another machine dual booting XP with another operating system?


59 posts are a lot to absorb without a synapse firing glitch happening sometime before the end.  :(


I was going to suggest two simple operations which may have had some success with one machine, but two different machines? Maybe not, but I'll mention them anyway as they're easy peasy to do.


First one is a solution hazel found for her XP machine when she had a "freezing" problem in 2006. What a memory eh, for the guy who can't remember which day it is!!


It's the "Static Discharge Routine". The problem wasn't the exact same as yours but it was a "freezing" problem. No telling what static can do, and I've tried this myself. With the mains power off the computer power light does illuminate momentarily when the on switch is held in, showing the presence of residual power. Static?


Have a read here, and notice the names in that topic. Some good friends there no longer around for one reason or another ...




The solution comes in post #7.


The second one is a suggestion mta made a wee while back and you haven't said as to whether you tried it or not. Clear out the dust. I've recently discovered just how destructive dust can be and I've spared your topic that story as I've placed it in a new one in the lounge.




I've linked to it as the problems dust can cause can be really severe. Surprisingly so.

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just to clarify this Static Discharge Routine... (cool phrase by the way)


we aren't talking about static electricity as in 'rubbing shoes on carpet, touching sisters arm, hearing satisfying yelp' sort of thing are we, cause that is simply not what a PC can do.


the power LED coming on when pressing the power button AFTER the PC is shut down AND the power cable removed is just the residual charge in the motherboard and PSU's capacitors.

the power button completes the circuit between pin 15 and ground on the ATX power supply going into the motherboard and tells the PC to turn on.

the capacitors (think of them of batteries, or flow regulators) will also self-discharge after about 20 seconds, but again, only when the mains is disconnected.


the static jolt you can sometimes get when touching your PC is the static charge built up in YOU and finding it's way to earth via the PC's metal casing which is grounded.


you'll sometimes get a tech support guru to tell you to turn off your PC, disconnect it from the mains, then 'turn it on', that's what he is doing - making sure the unit is really OFF with no chance of anything being kept alive in memory.

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Dennis, what a memory. Most impressive. Thanks for those links, old memories, eh?  

And you are quite right, its a looong topic.  I very much appreciate the kind help so far.  I had no idea that the
thread would run so long, and certainly don't want to be a bore.  But I find this investigation intriguing.  I'm
just thinking that maybe some other hapless windows xp user is having a similar problem and will maybe stumble on
this. Probably not, probably they have all gone over to the dark side, win 10.  :)  

To make it easier, here is a summary:  

The computer just sort of locks up.  
- Sometimes once or twice a day, sometimes not for weeks at a time.
- the lockup usually occurs when awakening the computer from standby, then getting on the net.
- When it occurs, the desktop window and the system tray stop responding to the mouse or keyboard.
--- but Process Explorer and HWmonitor still respond normally ...
--- except if you try to get them to do something outside their own window, such as shut down the computer.
- Sometimes after a restart check disk runs, always on D: (recovery partition), always no bad sectors.
- The mouse and keyboard are OEM, PS2 type, the graphics processor is integrated in the MB

what has been done so far:
There is a screenshot of some tests actually running in post #51
- ran chkdsk and sfc /scannow, OK.
- ran avast boot scan, OK.
- Manually deleted the recycle bins in safe mode, OK.
- monitoring w/ procexp and hwmon for heat, CPU, RAM use, OK.
- ran speccy for heat & CPU, OK
- ran intelburntest, got hot, 147 deg f, but didn't lock or freeze.
- ran gsmartcontrol, the 2 minute test, attributes and health report were OK.
- ran HDTune, no bad sectors, health report looked OK.
- ran cleanmem, made no difference.
- ran mta's touch test, sort of hot but no blisters.  :)

what has not been done yet:  
- replace the CMOS battery
- run Microsoft Windows Memory Diagnostic
- run Puppy for 2 or 3 days to see if lockup occurs
- replace firewall or AV.  Firewall is now the chief suspect.  
- use a non PS2 mouse and keyboard.
- check hardware contacts for oxide, do a thorough cleaning.
- run that static discharge test

Recent observations & actions:  
- Dennis, the lockup did occur on xp on the newer computer.
--- It dual boots 7 and xp from different HDDs using the BIOS boot menu.
- the lockup seems to correspond with Avast automatic updates. . .but,  
--- At that same time acs.exe, an outpost process, jumps to near top of the CPU usage list.
- I ran a "repair" on Avast. Soon after I did that the Outpost popup appeared.
- I found a setting in Avast under settings > special scans > screen saver scans which seems to indicate that
Avast will run a "loop scan" ?? every 3 days.  This corresponds roughly to the recent frequency of the lockups. So
I'm thinking, the locked window is the desktop and systray, maybe it's that Avast setting?

It's 99.9 percent sure that hardware / heat isn't the problem.
Its also 99.9 percent sure the problem is with Outpost, especially since popup that appeared.  Declining that popup may
have fixed it.  But if the lockup occurs again, I intend to first shut off that 3 day setting in Avast, then if
need be replace outpost, then if need be replace Avast.

Any other suggestions?  


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- the lockup usually occurs when awakening the computer from standby,


This is purely again from memory and even a link to go with it.


You use standby on both machines?


I recollect from a lot of years ago that coming out of standby could cause various issues with XP. One I experienced in 2007 could have been caused by this, and that is the dreaded DMA mode reverting to PIO. Read from post# 8 which I've linked to.




As I was using standby at that time I looked around for other issues that it could cause and there were a few in way of things not working as they should such as monitors not getting a signal, computer not being able to wake at all, or sundry things causing a premature wake up.


There was a complete list of the glitches waking from standby could cause with XP and they were listed at Kellys-Korner. Sadly that page isn't any more ...




Needless to say, I have never used standby since then and never will. It's well within the bounds of possibility that waking from standby could set up a glitch that isn't instantly evident. Between your two rigs, standby is one of the common denominators.


If your freeze returns I would try kicking standby into touch for a while maybe. Gotta be worth a shot even if it's a long one.


And this other idea is me just thinking out loud really.



--- but Process Explorer and HWmonitor still respond normally ...


Why is that?


If every house in a street was constantly being burgled except for one, I might start looking at that one house as maybe belonging to the burglar. Maybe Process Explorer is carrying a little guilt here?


That elusive needle might be right under yer nose as they say. If it was my computer I would get rid of it for a while if only to eliminate it. Seems odd that one program in particular is always working within it's window during this incomplete lock up.


Waking from standby might just be setting up something to be triggered by something else. With computers anything is possible.


Probably very long shots squire, but I think ideas are getting towards the exhaustive stage and I would try absolutely anything that's easy and painless to try. Not to mention completely free from financial pain.


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Thanks very much for all the suggestions.


All in all, it was a comprehensive shakedown, for sure.

All those diagnostics showed that the hardware is probably OK.  Big help, that was. 

Same for the software ideas, although I haven't tried many of them yet. 

I'll keep trying each suggestion and give it enough time to see if it works.


It's time now to let this topic rest a little bit. 

You guys have gone above and beyond the call of duty to help.  :wub:


I'll post back here eventually with the long term results, whatever happens. 

Thanks again. 


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FYI:  This is it, I think. 

To quote the venerable rridgely, "I hate computers".  :P


Probably the fix is DennisD's recommendation, revert back to an earlier version of Avast.  Will post back when I know for sure. 

edit:  I remember Andavari also said to check on Avast compatibility. & I did, their sites say it is OK w/ win xp.  I did, they say it is.  ??

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The lockup problem seems to be fixed. This computer has been running without lockups for about 10 days now.  

The problem Seems to have been a file called acs.exe, part of Outpost free firewall 6.5.1.  Outpost firewall uses acs.exe as part of it's host protection.  To view the components monitored by acs.exe, right click the tray icon and go to:
show/hide > host protection level optimal > known components > view list.


There is some more information here:


Note that nowadays there are files called acs.exe that go with different software & hardware.  

Acs.exe was monitoring over a thousand items, mostly exe files.  Some were associated with software that hasn't been on this computer for years, some had no associations.

I went through the list and removed the obviously useless entries, then a few of the not so obvious ones.  Probably removed about 100 items and everything kept chugging along nicely. Soooo, it seems to be fixed.  

I cannot say how much I appreciate the suggestions offered here, they were all very helpful. They helped rule out the most serious hardware and software issues. I would certainly have gotten bogged down on that without some experienced guidance.  
After that it just came down to rooting around in the haystack and investigating anything that looked odd.

So many thanks again. You folks are the best.

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 Soooo, it seems to be fixed.  



Ooooh, I hope those words don't come back to bite you.

Quick, sacrifice a chicken and read it's entrails or something... :lol:

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Fixing computers can be a pain, however at least you found a solution. 10 days without issue is a good sign.


Just last night after restoring a Macrium Reflect image my USB mouse didn't work, the driver wouldn't load no matter what I did. Then I thought, I'll try something stupid simple by unplugging the USB mouse and plugging it back in and it worked. I like stupid simple solutions like that!

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Topic started 10 november 2016.  Almost 3 months.  Good grief. 

Delays were mostly due to the way I had to work on it ... catch as catch can, then wait several days to see if it was fixed, then start again. 


But i would never have gotten off the starting block without the hardware & heat diagnostics, so thanks again. 

I ran a bunch of diagnostics that I didn't post about (was afraid the topic might get too long.) but thanks very much for those too. 

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OK Mr Tenacity, has it tripped out at all?


That makes it sound like you have a pot smoking computer.

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Hi Dennis.
Yes, locked up once, but I know why.  Avast was scanning an exe before letting it run and I clicked "abort".  That forced a restart. 

About that acs.exe file mentioned in post #66, in total I deleted 471 obsolete entries.  Since that, old HAL here will run for 10 or more days with no problems. And there have been no unexplained lockups so probably that was the issue.  Must eventually do those hardware cleanup tasks though. 


Thanks for asking. 

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You're welcome matey.


For all I know I could have the same or worse problem than you have now as my computer has never ran for that amount of time. I close it down every night when I'm done with a CCleaner auto shutdown shortcut in my quick launch bar.


It's never been in standby since it tripped out 9 or 10 years ago, has never been in hibernate mode, and never ran for more than one day, so if you do the same you might have no problem at all.  :lol:

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The reason I leave it on is just plain laziness.  :P

It boots up fast enough, but the time to clean out the junk, then update everything, then start Powershadow is more than I want to spend every day. 


Now, for what it's worth, that old Outpost firewall, recommended by Rridgely years ago I think, is still really good for win xp.  Its still available at Filehippo, and I'm 99.9 percent sure that version 6.5.1 (2009) will install without a 'net connection. Agnitum, the authors, sold to Yandex, so updates are not available but they aren't needed for the standalone free firewall. 


For windows xp dinosaurs like me, that little bit of information may be the most useful part of this whole topic.  That and the references to those hardware assessment tools.  If any of these are considered competitive software, please feel free to delete any of all of this post.  I don't think they are, they all do different things, but it's not my call. 


Those were CCleaner, Speccy, HWMonitor (temperatures), HDTune Pro (free trial), Microsoft memory tester, Cleanmem, PassMark BurnInTest (be careful gets hot), GPU-Z, GSmartControl, HWinfo32, IntelBurnTest. Also a little gem called Netpeeker, (15 day trial).  Its a firewall, can be locked down pretty tight to show if anything is getting past your installed firewall. 


Some others were recommended but they weren't needed.  After running this list hardware seemed OK. I still have the complete list if someone is interested. 

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For other XP-ers, I should mention that before this lockup issue started, there was no problem waking any of my xp computers from standby.  The power options are set to turn off the monitor at 5 min, turn off the HDD at 10 min, and go to standby at 15 min.  Hibernation is not enabled. 


When it works the HDD turns off but the motherboard is still powered up. 

Very rarely the HDD will stay on, but always the computer wakes OK.  Also, the lockup had no apparent connection to standby. 

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