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Any PC guru's around?

 3:54 am on Mar 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

Most everything I know about PC's is self-taught, meaning I know a lot less than I think I do..

There's a problem with my PC, and a check at M$ doesn't reveal the specific problem, so no fixes are found. Here's the problem.

Usually, without warning, the mouse stops responding and the keyboard becomes useless. Sometimes there may a bit of a warning - like the mouse will stop, but pressing the ESC key will un-freeze it. I've have slowed the mouse movement to a crawl. There are no tracers or fancy pointers used.

I've got 3 suspects for the problem. The video card, the motherboard, OS problems. When it all works, it works great. I notice that when I boot into safe mode it always slows, and on rare occassion will hang, when loading agp440.sys.

Re-booting does not always solve the problem. I just spent 15 minutes, and several reboots, before I could use the mouse or keyboard again.

Does anyone have an idea about what could be causing this problem?

Thank You



 12:39 pm on Mar 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

It could be a hardware problem. Is the processor overheating? You need to see whether the internal fan is turning properly, and not filled up with dust. Note, I'm not talking about the big external fan which makes all the noise.

If it's not that, which version of Windows are you using?


 1:38 pm on Mar 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

If it's not that, which version of Windows are you using?

That might help...

I'm using W2K Professional. I don't think it's a heating problem. But the hardware is a couple of years old. It's strange. Happened last night, then might go for a few days without a problem.

I read about the problems with agp440.sys, and they seemed similar in some ways, but not enough to apply those fix procedures.


 6:34 pm on Mar 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

...and your drivers are up to date?


 8:02 pm on Mar 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

First things first, chant the tech support mantra with me...

it's always the cable, it's always the cable, it's always the cable

Do you plug your mouse into the keyboard, then into the PC? If so try a new keyboard, or an old one and see if you can duplicate the problem.

Note: the above assumes USB keyboard and mouse, if it's PS2 don't do a bunch of unplugging and replugging with the machine on.

If the problem continues, you want to try a different USB port, and also try the mouse and keyboard on a different computer. It is likely that none of this stuff solves the problem, but you want to eliminate the cheapest fixes first, because in my experience ma mouse that slows down and freezes can be an indicator of a very serious problem.


 11:53 pm on Mar 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

If you're running a software firewall, disable that and see if your problem clears up. I had problems with ZA (free version) and MPF (subscription). I'm on day 10 of 30 day free trial of Armor2Net. So far so good - no unexplained lockups or phantom reboots.


 12:11 am on Mar 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

>>Any PC guru's around?

What have you created now? :)


 12:12 am on Mar 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

I'm trying to remember what might have happened just prior to the problem starting. All I come up with is I installed MySQL.

The keyboard and mouse are both PS2, I've got printers on the USB ports.

Drivers... Everything is current, AFAIK. I know all the M$ fixes are current.

Drivers... its beginning to look like I might need need to go thru the "Clean Install" process just to make sure. I've really, really, really been avoiding this option, hoping something would smoke or snap or fall out, and make the problem very obvious.

My firewall is BI, and has been running clean. It was installed 6 months ago. I don't use the Application Protection setting. I did have some ZA problems, on this machine and another one. It's been removed, however.

I guess I better go print the Clean Install procedure and start getting ready...


 1:32 am on Mar 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

In my experience this type of problem is usally a driver problem. Have you changed any hardware or software associated with input-output? i.e. mouse, video, cdrom, dvdrom, keyboard. I would uninstall and reinstall the video card drivers and uninstall any of these and reinstall to find the offender if so.

Other than that, the fan on or near the processor. If it is not running and the unit is over heating all sorts of anomalies happen... simply make sure the fans inside your box are running, if not replace the fan.


 1:49 am on Mar 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

>>Any PC guru's around?

Good conversation pieces. :)


 3:33 am on Mar 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

Ah, haaa. The mac version, not needed! :) MG, Did I miss you at Pubcon?


 5:50 am on Mar 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

Macguru... go away :)

Actually, anyone I've ever met that used a mac went thru a pc first, and never looked back. It still seems like a cult.

I'm going to start "removing/replacing drivers and rebooting" for a while. Got to keep an eye on all the active processes too. Did I mention I detest having to troubleshoot and analyze $M systems. Maybe I won't make it back and macguru can have the last laugh...

I've got 3 fans running on this box. They get dirty, and I do clean them. I'll take the heat considerations to heart. Those fans were pretty grubby when I found them last August.

Jon_King - hardware, no. Software, that's more likely. [sigh] I appreciate all the feedback.


 10:45 pm on Mar 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

- Keyboard only in my case; never the mouse. both PS2
- W2K Professional.
- it can happen when it's 52 degrees Farenheit in the room
- unplugging and replugging the keyboard always fixes it in my case.
- no firewall

it's always the cable,

Could be, or just the keyboard. I also think that a more modern BIOS might reset without plugging and unplugging.

usally a driver problem

I think you might be right.

In my experience, if you can't solve the driver problem by disabling and enabling a component or some such thing, you have to do so by rebooting. Unplugging and plugging my cable back in would not qualify.

That said, there is one thing that makes me think you are right - I think that when I plug back in, it may be a different driver. The repeat speed when holding down a key comes to crawl after replugging. To fix that I need to reboot.



 10:56 pm on Mar 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

I dont remember how.. but if you press some F-keys during boot, you can boot in DOS mode [not 'protected mode'.. I mean exactly DOS mode.. that means to choose the option 'no drivers' or similar].
You can also try with 'protected mode' btw.

If your keyb is not freezing.. then it is 99% a software issue.. you can also select which drivers to load..


switch to a linux or mac machine.
"freezing.. what means 'freezing'?" :)


 11:11 pm on Mar 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

Longshot question:

I don't suppose the keyboard is an SK 6000, sold under many brands. The one at Dell [support.ap.dell.com] is branded differently from mine (Silitek versus PC Concepts), but it's the same modle number and exactly the same look.

switch to a linux

Did that, but when exchanging documents with Windows users, it just won't fly. And yes, I know about Open Office and whatnot, but I'm exchanging documents where we are doing final camera-ready layout. Even different versions of the same app are too risky.

or mac machine.

If Mac gives up being a totally proprietary end-to-end solution and doesn't make me drag a floppy or CD into the trash to eject it, I might think about it.


 1:21 am on Mar 18, 2004 (gmt 0)


Macs dont use floppies since over 5 years, and you dont need to drag external disks to the trash to eject them. And yes you can use a 177 buttons wheeled mouse, just plug it in, it works. :)


 5:35 am on Mar 18, 2004 (gmt 0)

Well, the verdict is NOT in yet, but so far so good. I've removed a CD Writer. Now, I knew that thing was was not up to par (not W2K compliant) but if it was the source of this problem, it took a while to develop. That driver was around for more than a few weeks before I started freezing up.

Still, I'm not sure. The boss and I have both noticed a slight hesitancy in mouse movement, then it takes off again. I see more reboots in my future..

<add>The keyboard isn't the one you mentioned Tom.</add>


 7:31 am on Mar 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

Here's a little more info I've managed to gather. (BTW, it's still freezes up)

About 1/2 hour ago I froze up, while using the mouse. More precisely, this is what appears to be happening.

I'll be moving the pointer, and when it reaches the end of the movement it freezes. The term "buffer overrun" comes to mind, although I'll admit I don't know that that term really applies to mice. But it seems that once the mouse is finished with the move instruction it decides to 'take a break'. The only thing is, you never know if it's "this time" or "the next time".

Also, I think I can safely rule out drivers. Why? We've installed a second hard drive (slave to the first). After freezing me out, I shut down the system. Waited a few minutes and powered it back up. No matter what drive I selected there was no mouse and no keyboard. That suggests to me the problem is NOT a driver. Maybe something in the BIOS... but why now? The boss doesn't know what BIOS is or how to access it. I've learned to leave well enough alone... maybe I could try setting up default settings tho.

So if it's a hardware problem, where to look? Motherboard, memory chips, processor? I'll take it all apart again tomorrow and see what there is to see. I know the fans are all running, but maybe not up to snuff? How do you measure the cooling power of a fan sitting on a processor?

When I powered the machine down the bright red heel on the mouse stayed lit. Finally, in a powered down mode I unplugged the mouse & keyboard, the re-plugged them and when I powered back up all was well. Maybe it's the new fangled mouse. They have no ball, you know. It's all whiz-bang electronics stuffed in a mouse shell. Is there a real likelyhood that a defective mouse will also disable the keyboard?

I swear, I'm gonna push for a non-M$ OS, maybe even a mac.


 9:00 am on Mar 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

I was having the same-type mouse freeze problem while scrolling around in IE. Normally hitting the CTRL key will unfreeze it. Is there a large spike in the cpu usage when it freezes? I have a server installed along with MySQL, it may be related. I ran a spyware scan, cleaned out startup programs and shut down any useless services that were running. It seems to have cleared up the problem.

If you are having to hardboot your pc due to screen freezing then my problem is not related. If you are using an AMD processor heat may be a big issue as they run HOT. Try replacing your thermal paste on the cpu itself.



 4:41 pm on Mar 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

This is what I would do, so I would have a fresh start:

- Shut computer off
- Touch a metal part of chassis to ground yourself
- Vacuum inside computer case thoroughly - make sure to use a plastic attachement
- Make sure to vacuum the fans
- Touch a metal part of chassis to ground yourself again
- One by one (and carefully), reseat every board (sound card, video cards, etc.)
- Reseat memory boards also
- Disconnect and reconnect all cables and connectors - even in the back of harddrive, floppy, etc.
- Dont't forget the power cables and connectors
- Do a double check and make sure everything is connected back the way it was before.
- Close computer
- Disconnect and reconnect all cables in the back of the computer
- Turn computer on and see if it freezes again
- Good luck

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