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What causes Windows to lock up, and what to do about it?

- - - - - Windows Windows 9x freeze hang

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19 replies to this topic

#1
CamTron

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This is not something that happens particularly often, but when it does, it can be extremely frustrating.

Every once in a while, I may be browsing the web, playing Doom, RollerCoaster Tycoon 3, or doing something else on my Windows 98 machine, and suddenly, the shell stops responding and everything becomes unusably slow. Most of the time, I can do the three-finger salute, kill every open application and Explorer, and the desktop respawns, and I can go back to what I was doing.

 

However, sometimes the system becomes so unresponsive that it completely locks up. The screen becomes a still image, the mouse pointer doesn't move, and the keyboard doesn't respond either. Even pressing the power button on the front of the case does nothing. Ctrl+Alt+Del has no effect, either. It's as if Windows was just frozen in time. I once let the machine sit for two hours like that to see if it would finish whatever it was doing, only to come back with it still locked up as ever. As much as I absolutely hate doing this, I have no choice but to hard reset. I hold the power button down for 5 seconds to forcibly power off the machine, and then turn it back on and wait for ScanDisk to take its sweet time checking the disk for errors before Windows boots up. This happens maybe once or twice a week for me, but it's still infuriating.

 

Has anyone else experienced things like this? Are there any ways to diagnose this when it happens and find the cause.


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#2
MrMateczko

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Hardware specs? OS version? Any installed Unofficial Service Packs? Do you have IE6 installed?

We can't help if you tell only brief information.

Spoiler

 



#3
CamTron

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Here are my system details:

Hardware:

    Dell Dimension 4300

    Chipset: Intel i845, 82801BA southbridge

    CPU: 1.5 GHz Pentium 4 (codename Willamette)

    RAM: 512 MB SDRAM

    Graphics: Nvidia GeForce2 MX 400 with 32 MB of RAM

Software:

    Windows 98 Second Edition

    DirectX 9.0c

    KernelEx 4.5.2

    Maximus-Decim Native USB drivers v3.6

    Internet Explorer 6 SP1

    Microsoft Office XP Professional

    Updates:

        Q242975 (Not sure why this is installed. I don't have firewire ports.)

        Q256015 (fixes the MS-DOS device name "con\con" bug.)

 

Spoiler

Is it safe to do that? Powering off a computer by force can cause corrupt files since the OS can't clean up whatever it was doing.


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#4
loblo

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I suggest you reboot when your system becomes sluggish and a restart of explorer.exe does not help as it's just going to get worse and worse until it completely locks up eventually. You're not on your own with such issues believe me but there is no solutions, it's 9x after all and it's not very stable in the long run with heavy use.

 

And I recommend doing disk checking after bad shutdown. I have disabled autoscan but I run Norton Disk Doctor (much faster than scandisk) after any system crash/freeze that force me to reboot through the power button.


Edited by loblo, 07 June 2015 - 11:42 AM.


#5
MrMateczko

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It's just my pet peeve to see the ScanDisk popping all the time and having to press Enter over and over again.

But you can keep it if you don't find it as irritating as I do. It's a personal thing. Just had to throw it out.

 

You specs are totally fine, Q242975 is installed by the USB Mass Storage drivers, it installs the Safe Remove thingy.

I still think IE6 is the culprit here, you can try IEradicator http://www.litepc.com/ieradicator.html

For a different browser, you can try Opera 12.02, 10.63, or SeaMonkey.

 



#6
CamTron

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I never use Internet Explorer on this machine, anyway, so would using IEradicator do anything useful? I use Opera 12.02 instead.

 

One thing I have noticed, though, is that the freezing almost always occurs when a program is downloading stuff from the internet (like when I'm browsing the web or playing an online game), so I think it's network related. Would IE's presence cause networking instability? I must also mention that I connect this machine to the Internet using my Raspberry Pi as a wireless bridge since my modem and router are in another room.

 

BTW, are there any good utilities available for Windows 98 to check the SMART status of my hard drive? This drive is about 5 years old.


Edited by CamTron, 07 June 2015 - 07:07 PM.

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#7
loblo

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SmartUDM



#8
cov3rt

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for web browsers, i would use firefox 9.01 if you have kernelex 4.5.2 installed on W98SE. seemed to work well the last time i used it. also with the adobe flash player 11.0.1.152 ( 32 bit ) plug in update, you can watch youtube videos up to 1080p. i think the flash player plug in version might have to be the non IE version. im not sure though. i have the specific file(s) but i don't know how to put it as a link or attachment here, does anyone know how to do this? 



#9
dencorso

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i think the flash player plug in version might have to be the non IE version. im not sure though. i have the specific file(s) but i don't know how to put it as a link or attachment here, does anyone know how to do this? 

 

Its not alowed to redistribute unredistributables. You ought to have read the Rules, already... :whistle:



#10
cov3rt

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i think the flash player plug in version might have to be the non IE version. im not sure though. i have the specific file(s) but i don't know how to put it as a link or attachment here, does anyone know how to do this? 

 

Its not alowed to redistribute unredistributables. You ought to have read the Rules, already... :whistle:

 

sorry, i have not read the rules completely, but thanks for letting me know, i will look it at more thoroughly. 



#11
submix8c

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Per the above Flash version - this is the best I can provide for the non-IE version.

https://www.virustot...383c3/analysis/

 

I have it (archived), it can be found, and I can't/won't provide a direct link (per the rules). I'm treading as it is. :ph34r:

The above will tell you specifically what to look for (hash, filename, etc.).

 

Good luck. (hint - look for "flash_player_11.0.1.152_other_browsers.exe")

 

HTH


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#12
CamTron

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Per the above Flash version - this is the best I can provide for the non-IE version.

https://www.virustot...383c3/analysis/

 

I have it (archived), it can be found, and I can't/won't provide a direct link (per the rules). I'm treading as it is. :ph34r:

The above will tell you specifically what to look for (hash, filename, etc.).

 

Good luck. (hint - look for "flash_player_11.0.1.152_other_browsers.exe")

 

HTH

Ummm... I already have Flash 11 installed, and from Adobe's official archives. Every Flash Player version as far back as Flash 2 is still downloadable from Adobe. I don't have any problems with modern web content using Opera 12 (with the exception of obscure Unicode characters, and stuff like Java and WebGL, which I never need).

 

Did Microsoft release any Windows 98 updates to improve the stability of the networking stack?


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#13
cov3rt

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Per the above Flash version - this is the best I can provide for the non-IE version.

https://www.virustot...383c3/analysis/

 

I have it (archived), it can be found, and I can't/won't provide a direct link (per the rules). I'm treading as it is. :ph34r:

The above will tell you specifically what to look for (hash, filename, etc.).

 

Good luck. (hint - look for "flash_player_11.0.1.152_other_browsers.exe")

 

HTH

Ummm... I already have Flash 11 installed, and from Adobe's official archives. Every Flash Player version as far back as Flash 2 is still downloadable from Adobe. I don't have any problems with modern web content using Opera 12 (with the exception of obscure Unicode characters, and stuff like Java and WebGL, which I never need).

 

Did Microsoft release any Windows 98 updates to improve the stability of the networking stack?

 

this may be off topic to your specific problem but i just wanted to say that windows 95 and 98 carry lots of updates that improve stability, whether its official ones or unofficial, however, i try to find as many official ones first, before going to the unofficial ones, and i only use the unofficial ones if i really need them for a certain purpose like the extended usb mass storage update from rleow which works perfect on windows 95. i recently acquired over 20 hotfixes for windows 95 from looking up articles from kbupdate.info, i requested them from cached sites that had the option to request them and they were sent fairly quick. with all this being said, you should have over 100 official updates for both w95 and 98, if you have something like half of that or not many, then you may see noticeable issues like the ones you described, since these older operating systems rely heavily on important updates / additional updated files, they can run fairly poorly without them. 



#14
submix8c

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The statement about "FLASH available on the Archives" is fine if you have an account. So I didn't bother with a "direct" link (as per rules).

I must also mention that I connect this machine to the Internet using my Raspberry Pi as a wireless bridge since my modem and router are in another room.
WiFi speed/connection.

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#15
go98

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Has anyone else experienced things like this? Are there any ways to diagnose this when it happens and find the cause.

Hello, yes this is interesting. The problem is, that to find the cause, it has to be reproducable in an exact way.

...but if you experience this often enough, you can assist by doing this:

 

The file kernel32.dll (c:\windows\system), which you cannot alter directly, but need to make a copy first. If you know about hex-editors, then search for the following bytes (there's only one occurance): 6830A0F7BF

Now, go back 5 bytes in the file where the byte is 55 and from there enter the following: 6A006A01FF152CB3FCBF

 

When finished, exit to dos and replace the original file with the one you changed (keep the original file too).

Now, everytime you press ctrl-alt-delete, the computer will shut down immedeately. This way we will get an idea of where to start...because there are 2 possibilities, either it works or not when your computer locks/freezes and so we can rule out things.

 

My time is limited, so I may not be here too often, but sooner or later things get fixed by someone...

 

NOTE! It's always risky to edit important files, so you decide! I only see my own system.



#16
CamTron

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Has anyone else experienced things like this? Are there any ways to diagnose this when it happens and find the cause.

Hello, yes this is interesting. The problem is, that to find the cause, it has to be reproducable in an exact way.

...but if you experience this often enough, you can assist by doing this:

 

The file kernel32.dll (c:\windows\system), which you cannot alter directly, but need to make a copy first. If you know about hex-editors, then search for the following bytes (there's only one occurance): 6830A0F7BF

Now, go back 5 bytes in the file where the byte is 55 and from there enter the following: 6A006A01FF152CB3FCBF

 

When finished, exit to dos and replace the original file with the one you changed (keep the original file too).

Now, everytime you press ctrl-alt-delete, the computer will shut down immedeately. This way we will get an idea of where to start...because there are 2 possibilities, either it works or not when your computer locks/freezes and so we can rule out things.

 

My time is limited, so I may not be here too often, but sooner or later things get fixed by someone...

 

NOTE! It's always risky to edit important files, so you decide! I only see my own system.

 

That's nice, but there is already a system.ini setting to have Ctrl+Alt+Del immediately reboot, without modifying kernel32.dll. Under the [386Enh] section, if LocalReboot=Off, the computer will reboot immediately. If it is On or not set, then it displays the Close Program dialog box. The issue isn't really what I'd call reproducible, so it's quite hard to diagnose.


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#17
go98

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Hmm, CamTron, I insist, this is an interesting problem, but hard to diagnose if it's not clear how...or...when it is hard to diagnose, suspect the hardware... :ph34r:

 

Acctually, it's a better starting check-point to do according to my instructions than using the setting you mentioned, because then we are down in the vmm/vxd-line directly. For those who like it technical, it's controlled by the locked code section in reboot.vxd, but it's also calling services...where does the locking possibly occur? => interesting! :huh:

 

In the end, if ppl in this forum together get it rock-stable in the future, you might even transform into an 9Xocalypse survivor :yes:



#18
submix8c

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I must also mention that I connect this machine to the Internet using my Raspberry Pi as a wireless bridge since my modem and router are in another room.
WiFi speed/connection.

Have you even considered that? Might I suggest direct connection to see if you still get a lockup? It is, after all, called "troubleshooting", right?


Edited by submix8c, 26 June 2015 - 09:02 AM.

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#19
sdfox7

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Just my experience with Windows 95 and 98, simply installing the OS and staying away from individual updates works the best. I am more a fan of service packs than individual updates.

I think Kernel Ex is a fabulous program. That being said, there are some fundamentals you should keep in mind when installing unofficial updates.

Every time you install an update or hack at the operating system level, you change the original design of the operating system and that could lead to issues. For every update you install, the operating system moves farther from its original performance and design and you run the risk of breaking compatibility with other programs. Simply put, one fix can break another function, call, or thunk.

This is the precise reason there was no Service Pack 7 for NT 4.0. Microsoft "could not guarantee that programs designed for NT 4.0 would continue to function on NT 4.0".

When I install Windows 95, I install IE 5.5 and Office 97 with Service Pack 1, 2, and 3. That's it. Many updates are already made to Windows 95 when you install IE 5.5. COMCTL32.DLL, MFC42.DDL, etc. While there is a Service Pack 1 for original Windows 95, I do not use original Windows 95 due to the many improvements and wireless support made in the 1996 version of Windows 95 B (OSR 2 and later).

References:

Availability of Microsoft Windows 95 Service Pack 1: http://web.archive.o...t.com/kb/142794

Windows 95 Service Pack 1 (12/31/95): http://web.archive.o...ck1/default.asp

#20
submix8c

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?

Microsoft "could not guarantee that programs designed for NT 4.0 would continue to function on NT 4.0".
I can't seem to find that quote. Do you have a link?

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