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Hardware instability

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by Arkady, Dec 20, 2001.

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  1. Arkady

    Arkady Thread Starter

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2001
    Messages:
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    Hi, not sure if this is the right folder to post in but I'm sure someone can redirect me if necessary.

    The problem I have is with two computers at work. They are identical in their composition and are suffering from similar problems. They tend to crash, or hang when we try and use them for illustrative work using Adobe Illustrator or AutoCAD. they are particularly susceptible to this during panning and zooming processes.

    The specs are: AMD Athlon 800 MHz
    128 MB Ram
    20 Gig HDD
    I think they've got 8 MB graphics cards but I'll check that.
    All sitting in Microstar MoBo's
    Power Supply is 235W

    I've been wondering if the power is too low, or if the memory is inadequate. It's a little confusing as the machines were relatively OK when they had NT as OS, but due to networking problems this was changed to 98. It was following this that stability started to become an issue, so I've been wondering if 98 is just more system intensive, so that when combined with Illustrator/CAD the memory is not up to the job.

    Any suggestions would be appreciated especially as I'll have to take ideas to my incredibly non-technical boss.

    And before you ask both machines were formatted and had the OS installed onto clean HDD's
     
  2. Rikku

    Rikku

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2001
    Messages:
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    If they worked fine with NT on them, then you can probably bet its not a hardware problem.

    If its at all possible, I would double (or triple) the RAM in the machines and put Windows 2000 on them...

    A better graphics card wouldn't hurt either - something with 32 megs of RAM would probably be better suited to your needs.

    With Windows 2000, they would be tons more stable....
     
  3. slipe

    slipe

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2000
    Messages:
    6,832
    Make sure nobody has messed with the virtual memory. Right click My Computer>Properties>Performance>Virtual Memory and make sure the computer is set to let Windows manage the swap file. Unless you can put the swap file on a second fast HD running on a different channel there isn’t really any advantage to messing with it. Norton Disc Doctor will defrag a space for it and put it on the fastest part of the HD for a very slight advantage, otherwise it is best left to Windows.

    Also make sure some genius hasn’t put “ConservativeSwapfileUsage=1” in your system INI. It really slows things down if you actually use the swap file.

    Defrag the computer regularly.

    My daughter worked professionally with AutoCad on a computer with 128Mb RAM for a couple of years with no problem. Neither AutoCad nor Illustrator are as RAM intensive as Photoshop or other raster programs. An 8Mb video card is plenty good for AutoCad and Illustrator. Her design shop had 4Mb cards with 17” monitors and didn’t have problems.

    NT is the better setup, but Win98 does not seem to be “more system intensive” as you say. The problem you usually run into with Win98 is resources. Start>Programs>System Tools>Resource Meter. Check to see if you are running short of resources when the problems occur.

    In any case it wouldn’t hurt to clean out your startup. There might be stuff running in the background that is hogging RAM and resources. This is a good primer on cleaning them out: http://www.pacs-portal.co.uk/startup_content.htm You can probably get by with 128Mb RAM if you keep other stuff from loading on startup. At the price of RAM another 128Mb would be judicious though.
     
  4. Wino

    Wino

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2001
    Messages:
    19,331
    Try reducing your Graphics Acceleration in System Properties>Perormance tab> Graphics - move the slider bar a notch to the left, reboot when told. Try that setting to see if problem still there. If so, repeat, moving another notch left, etc. I have to run one of my machines at next to last left setting - which has AutoCADLT & Generic CADD 5 & 6. Use to run same programs on a P233 with 64MB ram 4MB video card with no problems, but did have to adjust acceleration.

    Wino
     
  5. john_waldrum

    john_waldrum

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2001
    Messages:
    226
    Are these two computer ever used for web surfing or checking e-mail. Spyware can sometimes cause the symptoms you describe.
     
  6. john_waldrum

    john_waldrum

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    Apr 5, 2001
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    Forgot to add that I use Photoshop 6 and Adobe Illustrator 9 on my old Hp, it only alots 4megs for video, and I have 128 megs of ram.
     
  7. Arkady

    Arkady Thread Starter

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2001
    Messages:
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    Cheers for the advice people.

    At present I've actually cannibalised the HDD and graphics from one of the machines to get a P350 running, that we had lying around in the office. The spare memory has been put into the sister machine to see if it helps much.

    I'll check the startup, and virtual memory although to be honest there is no-one in the office who would no how to mess around with virtual memory, or even where to find it.

    It's good to no that win98 isn't likely to have an effect on resources. The machines were quite capable of crashing NT, just a lot less frequently. We really need a better network based around NT, but don't actually have anyone to administrate it. Which is why I'm posting here for advice ;).

    Both machines have net access so spyware could be an issue. Can anyone give me link to info on this so that I can investigate?

    Thanks for the tips though, I'll let you know if it clears anything up.
     
  8. Randy48

    Randy48

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2001
    Messages:
    32
    Your problem is more then likely your power supplies! AMD recommends a minimum of 300 watt power supplies for all of it's K7 CPU's. I work in the IT field and am a part-time OEM and I can verify that an AMD machine will not run stable with less then a 300 watt PSU!

    Also Windows 98 does not manage memory or System Resources thw way NT does. When you close most applications, the resources are not released. This is the main cause of system crashes with Win98!

    Upgrade your power supplies and you should see a vast improvement. Go back to NT and and your machines will thank you;)
     
  9. Arkady

    Arkady Thread Starter

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2001
    Messages:
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    Cheers for that about the PSUs. I was checking AMD's site yesterday and found that they do have some recommended PSUs that are either 250 or 235 watts. Which suprised me as I was under the impression that 300 was the minimum. I presume though that they were specific models, and as such the ones we have don't meet the benchmarks.

    Is there a way to purge unused system resources under 98, to free up memory that is being used up by closed applications?

    I agree NT would be better, but with our entire network running under 9x we found it incredibly difficult to reliably network NT machines to the rest of the system. We really need a complete IT overhaul, but limited budgets and the like mean that I'm left trying to get two computers working with the rest rather than getting a decent network environment across the board :(.

    Anyway thanks for the help, and happy christmas to those that celebrate such things.
     
  10. Randy48

    Randy48

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2001
    Messages:
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    There are several "freeware" programs that will free up some of the memory, just go to Download.com and do a search for "memory" and several will come up. They work pretty good on the memory issue, but the only way to free-up "other resources" is to reboot the machine!

    What issues/problems to you encounter running NT and Windows on the same network? At work and home, I have Win98, NT4.0, W2K, and Red Hat Linux 7.1 and 7.2 on the same LANs (at work, also have HP-Unix and VMS added) and with a little tweaking, no problems!

    If you need any help on configurations, just ask!
     
  11. Arkady

    Arkady Thread Starter

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2001
    Messages:
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    The issue was mainly speed. Connection speed to other machines, and data transfer rates. Word is we're getting a new network in April (New financial year, Easter close down for installation). I'm just trying to keep what we've got cobbled together until then.

    Anyhow, the extra memory in this machine seems to be keeping it going. Thanks for all the advice, and hope everyone else's New Year was as good as mine.

    Edit: If you know how to make an ME machine see the rest of the 9x network I'd be gratfeul. It can be seen and accessed, but ME keeps popping up the unable to browse network message. I'm just off to have a look at the MS site see if that will shed any light.
     
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