Computer freezes due to inactivity?

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I got a bizarre problem. If I leave the PC idle, or use it for very
low CPU intensive acitivity, it will freeze after 5 or 10 minutes: the
mouse just freezes, and I have to press the reset button. But if I
leave some CPU intensive program running in the background, like the
Windows Media Player, then I can leave the PC idle for hours and
nothing will happen.

Also, this isn't a continous thing. I've had the PC for 5 years. It
seems to suddenly have a period when it starts acting this way, and it
will keep on acting like this until I do something to "fix" it. I
don't really know how I've managed before, I just try to take things
out and then replug them, like the hard drive or the video card. But
it's just dumb luck.

I think this has to be a static related issue or a cooling fan related
issue. Does this bizarre problem ring a bell with anyone?

Re: Computer freezes due to inactivity?

On Tue, 15 Apr 2008 10:40:49 -0700 (PDT), wrote:

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It'd be good to know a bit more about this system, major
parts in it including PSU make model ratings, anything els
that might seem applicable.

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It tends to suggest a marginal PSU with slow recovery time,
that can't respond to the increased current required when
processor comes out of a power managed state, - OR- some
kind of thermally related issue like a circuit board crack,
failing capacitor(s) or other mechanical connection going
intermittent with a change in temp.  The capacitors you can
examine easily enough, to see if they're bulged or vented
(usually apparent, but there are rare cases where on a video
card (certain Geforce 4 TI4200  for example) where you might
not see anything).

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If a fan were failing then a change in temp can effect it's
bearing play and RPM, but over a longer period it seems
unlikely such a fan would still work.   Nevertheless it
would be good to have system open when running to check fan
operation visually if you dont' have RPM feedback to see
that, and to measure power voltages from PSU if you have a

Next time you might try not unplugging everything, just one
thing at a time and waiting to see if it seems to make any

Inspect everything again including looking for traces of
residue on electrical contacts, especially if in a very
dusty, humid, or smoky environment.

If the burden and crashing of having this happen is
unworthwhile, you're basically left either replacing parts
or whole system... we can't know how much time and cost an
aging system is worth to you versus benefit of a newer one,
though moving to another system can have it's own price in
time spent.

Re: Computer freezes due to inactivity?

kony wrote:
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It's a Patriot Power Supply, made in May 2006, and the model is ATX
P4-400W. It has a switch to select between 220 and 110 volts, and I
use it in 220 V.

That was a good detailed response, thanks. I read it carefully, and
I'm now pretty sure that it's the power supply. It doesn't go idle
just because, I was mistaken about that because of Windows' random
hard drive accesses. What I now think is happening is that after 5
minutes if the PSU tries to access the hard drive it has to use more
power because someone goes into power saving mode (hard drive or the
PSU, I don't know), and the PSU is probably faulty and can't handle
the surge. Every time that I try to access the hard drive after 5
minutes of the computer being idle it causes a freeze. I was confused
about the computer "randomply" freezing because when I left it idle
Windows will still try to access the hard drive every now and then, so
that's probably why it would "randomly" freeze.

This would also explain why if I leave the Windows Media Player
running in the background (constantly accessing the hard drive) the
computer can run for hours and hours without freezing.

There was one important thing I forgot to add to my initial post. I
leave the computer running 24/365, and have done so for the last 5
years. I've replaced the PSU once before, because the fan died and it
wasn't possible to replace the fan inside the PSU.

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