I have no luck with computers

This particular tale of woe starts shortly after I moved to the UK in a more-or-less permanent fashion. I took a (back then) almost brand new laptop with me: it was shiny, it worked much better than my old desktop had, and it did what I wanted it to do.

All was well for a few weeks, then the laptop decided to break. While I was playing a game (an old game, at that - Starcraft), it rebooted. And rebooted. And rebooted. It wouldn't even load Windows anymore, nor any of the load-from-CD rescue solutions I tried. So I backed up my data (thank god for Ask Metafilter, that website is absolutely priceless) and asked my parents to mail me my old desktop, so I had a computer to use while the laptop got fixed (as opposed to just stealing my boyfriend's computer now and then).

It took some convincing, but they sent me the desktop. That computer worked briefly, then the videocard died. Fine, we had a spare videocard in the house; we replaced it, and all was fine for a while.

Then the (second-hand) monitor we'd acquired to attach to the computer started turning all sorts of interesting colors. A gentle push (or a not-so-gentle whack) would fix it, and though I knew it would eventually break down, I would be getting my laptop back soon.

Then I got my laptop back. Yay, everything worked again! I moved all my data back to it, and it took less than a couple of weeks for its monitor to start going blue, too. This, of course, was a different issue, not fixed by a gentle push (or a not-so-gentle whack); it quickly ended up making the laptop unusable for me, unless I connected it to an external monitor - which I did, while waiting to get the chance to send it off for repairs again.

A week ago, I pulled all my data off the laptop again, sent the laptop off for repairs (thankfully it's still under warranty) and went back to using the desktop.

And yesterday, while I was innocently surfing the internet, it froze on me (the kind of hard freeze where you have to pull the plug to get any reaction from the computer, as not even the power button will work). And now it doesn't load into Windows anymore (freezes halfway through), nor into any sort of CD-based rescue environments. As the HD Windows is on appears to be fine (booting into DOS and running various disk-checking programs works), I suspect the RAM (running Memtest86 right now to check), but if it is, we have no spare RAM to use, and the desktop is (unless my memory is trying to trick me) using a single 512MB stick - so it's all or nothing, and neither will do me much good.

Sigh. And I don't even know when I'll get my laptop back. At least my data is fine, I guess, it could've been worse.

Comments: 2

My mother's computer did something very similar. Memtest86 said the ram was fine. It lied. Don't ask me how or why it lied but I took the brute force approach of swapping parts with a known good computer until the fault swapped with it.

What type of RAM is it?

According to the weblog post I made waaaaaay back when I got that computer (who needs good memory when you have weblog archives? :P), it's "DIMM DDR 512MB 184 pin, 333MHz". If that means anything at all. *entirely too sleepy right now*

I'm opening the computer tomorrow to pry out the HD with all my data on it, stuff it in an external HD enclosure, and copy some files over to boyfriend's computer (and burn the rest to CD, just in case); I'll replace the RAM with known-good RAM (from boyfriend's computer, have nothing else) just to check if it is indeed that. Memtest86 found no errors but it might, indeed, be lying.

I'm kinda hoping it's the RAM. It's not the HD, I think (and if it is, I'll just toss it, as it's an old tiny 4GB HD I was using simply for the express purpose of keeping the OS and my data separate; but I can merrily free some space on the data HD, turn it into a new partition, and reinstall Windows there - having a working computer > all); if it's the RAM, I can buy some new or kidnap one of the sticks off boyfriend's computer. If it's something else that's harder / more expensive to replace... I'll just have to wait until I can get my laptop back, and be own-computer-less (and have to type on a keyboard with funny letter placement and constantly have to backspace punctuation - grrr English keyboards) until then. Sigh.

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