I'm hoping that you'll all be able to take another look at a problem that I've been having with a friend's computer. First a bit of background....
I build computers alot for family and friends and normally up to this point I've been able to more or less figure out what's going on with them when something goes amiss.
This latest one however has me completely stumped and I'm hoping that maybe having an outside look at it might do the trick...
Anyhow, here are the specs as best as I can remember them:Intel Core i7 2.66ghz CPU
Gigabyte motherboard (unfortuantely can't remember the exact model spec, I just know it uses 1066 DDR33 memory
4gb Corsair PC1066mhz DDR3 RAM
ATI Radeon 4890 Graphics Card
Western Digital Caviar SATA (640 GB) this was the first drive, WD Caviar (750GB SATA) this was the 2nd one, I'll explain this in a bit.
Windows XP Home Edition
One generic DVD Burner Drive (IDE)(All purchased from Newegg)
Ok this is what has happened so far:
When I first assembled the compy and installed everything, everything installed without a hitch. In fact, it was probably the smoothest installation I've ever had. Everything from the motherboard driver CD to the graphics card, to running windows update went without a hitch. I considered the job done and installed the compy in my friend's home.
2 weeks later, my friend calls me up freaking out that he thinks he's gotten a virus because various programs are getting corrupted. He can't install anything and his web browser (I installed Google chrome, but it was happening with Chrome and IE) was having critical failures and would crash everytime he tried to browse a website.
His WoW installation was also getting corrupted and he pretty much could not install any new programs without the installation program have a critical hissyfit failure and aborting the installation.
Since it was only 2 weeks old, we decided to "nuke it from orbit" and re-install everything. We did a full format through the windows setup (I used the slow disk check option to be sure) and proceeded to re-install windows and his graphics card and motherboard, just like I did before.
Now, keep in mind, we changed NOTHING in the hardware and for some bizzarre reason it was turning out to be worse than ever. The windows installation proceeded without a hitch, but we started to encounter odd problems as soon as we tried to install the first programs and drivers in windows itself. Program after program started to get corrupted, even during windows update. This was on a brand new install where literally the only thing we had to install were his graphics card, his motherboard drivers and windows update.
The motherboard stopped recognizing the drivers for the sound card (then randomly windows update found drivers for it and installed them....o_O), random windows updates would fail and not install, (in particular the .net framework was having coniptions about everything...), and most ominously, I could not install any anti-virus program or pretty much any program at all without the installation encountering a random critical error that would abort the installation. Eventually programs would install, but it would be completely random and without any indication as to why it succeeded this time...
After doing 2 or 3 full reformats and re-installs and having the same issues, I theorized that the hard drive must be having issues or it was going bad. We sped over to Fry's electronics and snagged another 750GB sata drive and swapped it in to do a full re-install. I also flashed the CMOS memory (manually using the jumper on the mobo) as well just to be extra sure
This went noticeably smoother (in particular the windows updates went a LOT better, still had two random installation failures though).
However, I'm still facing the same problems. I can't install any antivirus (i've tried avg and symantec) and program installation is still very..."spotty". Sometimes the installation will go without a hitch and sometimes it will just critically fail for no apparent reason.
I'm really at a loss here, aside from the hard drive, I haven't touched the hardware since the 1st initial successful setup. I have a couple of theories of what may be going on, but I'm not 100% sure tbqh:-The windows installation/CD itself is corrupted somehow (not really sure how, since the installation goes smooth without a hitch each time)
-Something with the motherboard is fnagling with the data (hard drive controller?, bios?)
-Some other hardware component is interfering with proper data transmission (no idea at all)
So yeah, that's what I've been facing for the past couple of days. Any help you guys could provide would be deeply appreciated.
You could give memtest86 a try on the chance that stuff is getting corrupted in memory, and you may just have really bad luck with hard drives and got two duds in a row, but my money is either on the motherboard or the OS' interactions with it, as in drivers. Are you sure the board is fully supported on XP?
Oh yeah, random installation failures for XP updates happen all the time.
Only advice I can think of.
Thankee kindly heh, I've been proverbially tearing my hair out over this darn thing over the past few days.
I'll have to double check Gigabyte's website to see about this specific mobo, as far as I know it's a pretty "middle-of-the-road" mobo but we'll have to see.
I'll definitely run memtest86 then, I figure I should try to exhaust all options before breaking apart the damn thing and RMA'ing it to newegg...*shudders*.
Also I did not know that those windows updates were that fickle! O_O I have to admit this is the first time in all the assemblies I've done that I've had failures with them, so that's probably why I freaked out so bad when I saw so many failing at once....
Hrghhh....looks like another couple of hours at his house then....bleagh...
Wud yoo laek to lern aboot meatz? Look here!
All else fails I guess we'll do a massive RMA back to newegg and start from scratch. I'll keep you guys posted with the memtest and we'll see what happens!
Thanks for all the ideas so far. I'm definitely at my wits end with this beast...
Wud yoo laek to lern aboot meatz? Look here!
If you have a multimeter it might be worthwhile to check voltages in the system. I've seen voltage regulators going that caused data issues, but normally the system totally craps itself within a couple days.