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Why is my computer restarting
Computers can restart for various reasons. It often occurs due to hardware issues, but may also occur due to software. Overheating and RAM (Random Access Memory) problems are some of the most common causes.

What is hardware
Hardware refers to the physical components in your computer, such as the Random Access Memory (RAM), hard drive(s), Central Processing Unit (CPU, or Processor), power supply unit (psu), graphics card, and motherboard. Any one of these can cause restarts.

What is software
Software refers to the programs that tell the hardware what to do. They usually use the Operating System (OS), such as Windows XP or Vista.

How can I tell if my computer is overheating
There are several programs that can monitor the temperature of various components of your computer (if it is supported). These include Hmonitor and SpeedFan. If the displayed temperature is fairly high. Anything over about 50 Celsius (~120 F) for your CPU and hard drives should be avoided, although CPUs can get a little warmer.

To try fixing warm temperatures:
  1. First, dust out the computer and make sure that it is properly ventilated. You can buy canned air at nearly every electronics store. Just make sure to spray the can first outside of your PC and spray with the can upward.
     If your computer works after dusting it, you may want to consider purchasing dust filters for your fans and maybe adding additional fans.
  3. If you have any large fans available, take the side off of your PC and blow the fan into it while your computer is still running.
  4. If your computer works while a fan is blowing into it, your computer is overheating and will need more fans and/or cable organization to improve airflow.

How can I tell if my memory (RAM) is bad
I have written a tutorial on how to test RAM here.

If you do not receive any blue screens (jokingly called the blue screen of death, or BSOD):


  1. Go to Start | Run and type eventvwr.msc to bring up the Event Viewer
    Look under System and Application for errors, which are marked with a red X. If these correspond with the times your computer restarts, this is likely the culprit.
  3. Write down the message(s) and the other information contained in the error message and either look the problem up with a search engine, such as Google, or, if you cannot solve it yourself, ask for help on a Tech Support Forum (several links in the Helpful Links Page). Please include as much detail as possible. You can also try some of the steps below if you think (or find) that it is hardware-related
  4. Also, disable "Automatic Restart on System Failure," which restarts your computer when XP encounters a system failure.
  5. If you now see blue screen errors, please click the link below for troubleshooting tips.

If you do receive blue screens:
Please see my troubleshooting tips here.

Additional Troubleshooting:
  • First, remove all unnecessary hardware. All you really need is your motherboard, your hard drive, power supply, CPU, fans, one stick of RAM and either a graphics card or your integrated graphics.
  • If you have any spare components (besides a motherboard and hard drive), try swapping them one at a time. Especially try to switch the power supply. Look on the motherboard for burn marks or leaking capacitors.
  • There are also stress tests that you can run. These use different parts of your computer (often the CPU) to make sure that they are not overheating or have problems. The Ultimate Boot CD has these and other useful tools.
  • If you recently installed hardware or software, try pressing F8 when your computer is starting and choose 'Last Known Good Configuration.' If you just installed software, uninstall it and restart. Remove any newly added hardware and uninstall the driver and software that came with it.


Thanks to many of the members at Kicken Hardware for assisting me with this page!