For the past couple of weeks I’ve been experiencing intermittent boot problems with my desktop machine running Windows XP. As anyone who has ever worked in tech support will tell you, these are the type of problems that give tech support agents nightmares. Though when I say intermittent, the error would appear on every second boot. Restarting the system would resolve the problem.
I tried searching Google and the Microsoft Knowledge Base for answers, but not one of the pages I found seemed to deal with my particular problem. Given that the problem would resolve itself after a hard restart I began to think that it might be a hardware problem – this kind of symptom might be related to a component which wasn’t initialising correctly, and was causing the OS to blue-screen. By the time I restarted the system, it had “warmed up”, and that’s why it was only on every second boot that I was seeing the problem.
This particular machine is only a couple of months old, and as you can imagine I wasn’t too happy that it was beginning to fail on me, especially as I store all my important data on it.
But more in hope than expectation I decided to ignore the possibility of a hardware issue, and troubleshoot the software side. From experience I’ve found that more often than not when Windows blue-screens it’s driver related, and even more often than not the driver responsible is the video driver.
My PC has an nVidia Geforce 7500 card, so I updated the drivers to the latest ForceWare driver version 94.24. A quick restart, and the problem was solved.
While my problem is resolved, I don’t know what caused it in the first place. I haven’t installed or changed anything on the machine in a while, except for the usual Microsoft Updates. The only thing that I can think of is that an update from Microsoft didn’t like the video driver on my computer, and that there was a timing issue with the initialisation of the driver. That’s not s definitive answer, but I think it’s a fairly decent guess.