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Question: Why does my computer using Windows XP, keep rebooting or shutdown everytime I turn it on?

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Problem:

The computer which is running Microsoft Windows XP Home/Pro keeps shutting back down in the early stages of windows trying to load. The computer could reboot it's self while trying to run a hard disk check (scan-disk scan), the welcome screen, after the desktop loads, or perhaps even when a certain action is taken on your computer.

Good News:
Being able to stop your computer from doing this is very easy. (Most of the time)

Bad News:
This doesn't mean your computer has been restored to a normal use. (Most of the time)

Explanation:

The reason your computer may be rebooting like this, is usually caused because of one of two reasons.

1.) The computer Processor or Power Supply may be over heating. Too much heat can result in permanent hardware damage and boot failure.

2.) Windows is having a conflict or producing fatal errors behind the scenes without showing you any actual error information. These types of errors are known as the 'Windows Blue Screen of Death' more commonly.

In Windows XP, instead of showing you this 'Windows Blue Screen of Death' error on your screen like you might remember on earlier versions of Windows, Windows XP is setup by default to have the computer reboot instead of showing you this error. Why the change? I'm not sure, I can only guess Microsoft thought this new nick name was hurting their business. Who likes the word 'death' associated with a problem with their product?

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Problem #1 Dealing with Hardware Over Heating.

If you think or can confirm the problem might be heat related, you will want to make sure you do the following.

First, shut down your computer and load the bios screen. This is usually down by hitting a button like [F9] on your keyboard. If your unsure, just hit every [F] button on your keyboard as soon as you turn it on until your bios loads. Next, find the menu or location inside your bios that gives you a estimated temperature of your processor, system zone 1, and 2. Write down these statistics on paper. You will use this information to compare results after performing the clean out of your computer.

1.) Purchase 1-2 cans of compressed air, or obtain access to an Air Compressor.
2.) Take the case off the computer and take a quick inspection of the amount of dust build up. If you see dust caked into the processor or power supply fan, you will want to continue with these instructions. If not, just do a general clean out of visual dust inside the computer, and put the case back on. Go ahead and continue on to [Problem #2] listed below these set of instructions.
3.) Disassemble the processor fan, and the heat sink block from the Motherboard and move these two items away from the computer. Put these items on top of a neat and clean surface. I suggest a small sheet of wax paper in this exercise. You will also want to gather up about 10 Q-Tips that are used to clean out ear wax from your ears.
4.) You will want too first blow out any dirt, dust or hair with your compressed air. Once most of this has been removed from the Fan and Heat Sink, take one of your Q-Tips and rub away the remaining junk that is lodged into these two hardware pieces.
5.) Pay attention to the fan unit as this is the most important piece in heat controlling of the processor or power supply. Any dust that would obstruct the RPM (Rotations Per Minute) on any of your fan(s) should be removed. This is the may reason of processor over heating. The less the fan spins and rotates, the less cooling your processor will receive.
6.) Perform the same step(s) with the power supply obviously. It is vital that any fans not be obstructed by dirt, dust or hair to ensure proper cooling of your computer.
7.) Assemble your hardware back together.
8.) Leave the computer in bios mode for about 30 minutes. You want to let the computer heat up to it's peek temperature and compare the results with the ones you written down earlier.

If you see a major difference, turn the computer on and see if the error has resolved it's self. If it hasn't you may want to continue with troubleshooting [Problem #2] which is shown below.

Problem #2 Finding the exact error and problem with Windows XP.

In this exercise we will show you how you can make Windows XP display the error message that is associated with the constant rebooting and shutdown of your computer when it's turned on. First we want to tell Windows XP to stop rebooting when there is a 'Windows Blue Screen of Death' error. We want to see this error and not have it hidden from us by Windows XP forcefully shutting the computer down. To do this follow these instructions:

1.) Go to your Desktop and Right Click on [My Computer]. Left click on [Properties] at the bottom of this Menu.
2.) In the new window that is shown, click on the [Advanced] tab that you see at the top of this Window.
3.) You will want to look for the [Settings] button near the text that looks like this:

(Startup and Recovery)

(System startup, system failure, and debugging information)

[Settings] <--Click this button.

4.) When the next menu loads, under the text (System failure) make sure [Automatically restart] has been [Un-checked or Disabled].

Below is a Screenshot when the above instructions have been completed

The above actions will now allow the error information to come through instead of your computer rebooting constantly when you turn it on, or when you do something specific that would trigger Windows XP to reboot the computer.

Resolution:

Once you have reached this point, there are so many things that could go wrong, or things that would cause you these kinds of errors. I would recommend looking for a listed file name. I.E. HAL.DLL, RT2500.SYS, or COMMAND.COM

Example: In my Windows XP blue screen of death, I noticed the error was caused by [IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL_TO]. The 'Windows XP Blue Screen of Death' displayed this as the main cause of the memory error in my computer system. I also noticed at the bottom that this may be caused or associated with the file RT2500.SYS.

Actions I would take to resolve this issue would be:
First off, I would search the exact error in a search engine and find out the different meanings it may carry when it displays in these types of error messages.

A.) Visit http://www.google.com and enter in "IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL_TO" into the search criteria field and hit 'Search'. After reviewing the results, I now understand there is a possible IRQ conflict caused by new hardware, or caused by some software I may have installed.

B.) Now I would do the same thing for the file name "RT2500.SYS". I now understand that this file is my Network Wireless Card driver, or associated with my Wireless Card Network driver in general. All of this was done by doing very minimal research that took me only about 2 minutes of my time.

Now that we understand what is going on, you can research what you should do to stop this. In my example, there may be a new driver I should be using from my Wireless network Card's manufacturer (LinkSys) instead of keeping the default driver Windows XP may have installed for me. I may have to move my Wireless Card to a different PCI slot on my motherboard. I may even have to remove the card from my system and buy another one to stop the error.

Once you can stop the error, you can stop the rebooting/blue screen of death/interruptions with Windows XP.

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