Hey, maybe this time it’s not the hard drive?

Or maybe it’s the hard drive and everything else at the same time.

My Windows box hasn’t been really happy since the move. And a few weeks ago, when I tried to start it up to test my new USB KVM switch, it started behaving badly. It was the first time I’d had it on in a while, and I was surprised that it suddenly rebooted, and while it was running chkdisk, it rebooted again. And again. And again. So I turned it off and forgot about it for a while.

Today I decided to try it again. I booted it with a Knoppix CD, and it managed to boot, and it could mount the hard disk. And I could navigate around. So I took my USB drive, and tried to copy files from the Windows drive to the USB drive. But it didn’t work – it got into the “My Desktop” part of the file system and Knoppix started talking about IDE errors and lost timer ticks.

So I grabbed another hard drive I had kicking around, and slapped it into the machine. There was a lot of dust in the machine, and I took it outside and blew it all off with my last can of “Blow Off Duster”. I booted it up and installed XP. It didn’t seem to want to get a DHCP address, but I gave it a static IP and started installing Windows Updates. But after downloading 17 updates and installing 3 of them, it rebooted with no warning. And when it came up, it said that Windows detected instability in the ATI Radeon graphic card driver. I pushed the resolution down to 1024×768 from 1280×1024, and blew off a bunch of dust in the graphics card heat sink. And it got a little further this time before it suddenly rebooted, and this time I saw a bunch of purple splotches on the display first.

So maybe it wasn’t the hard disk, and maybe it was the graphic card. Or maybe it was something else entirely. I’ve downloaded the Ultimate Boot CD and now I’m testing the drive and the memory and everything else. These tests run in text mode, so maybe they aren’t as demanding on the video card.

We’ll see.