Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

Boot Error– "Unexpected Interrupt In Protected Mode"

If you turn on your computer and Windows fails to load to your Desktop, but instead displays the following error message, Unexpected Interrupt In Protected Mode, there are a couple of things that might be happening. Here are some troubleshooting steps which you can try to get your machine up and running again.

First, try rebooting your machine. If that doesn’t “cure” it, keep reading.

Causes: causes for this particular error message may be hardware-related: a failed or failing motherboard, or failing (or over-heating) CPU, or it may be related to a corrupted BIOS. Since the hardware issues most likely will require replacement parts and/or a trip to the shop, lets first tackle the BIOS possibility.

What is a “BIOS”? Your computer’s BIOS is a very basic set of instructions that tells your machine where to look for a keyboard and mouse and an operating system. It runs when your machine is first powered on. To make changes in the BIOS, you’re going to interrupt the boot process before Windows loads, so you need to use a keyboard that is plugged into the PS/2 port on the back of the machine, and not a wireless one. 

1) Reboot your machine, and get ready to act quickly. Very early you will see a little bit of text that says, “hit F2* to enter setup.” (*Different manufacturers use different keys– F2 is the most common, but it may be the Esc key, Del, or F10. Refer to your computer builder’s website if you cannot determine which key to press.) Rapidly hit the suggested key several times, and enter “Setup” — this is your BIOS control panel.

2) Look to the bottom of the screen for Setup’s menu choices. Now look for the Function Key choice that will reset the BIOS to its default configuration. This is frequently the F5 key, but it may be F6.. In the screenshot above, look to the lower right: for this BIOS, it is F5 we want. “Setup Defaults”.

3) Save and Exit the Setup utility, and reboot. (In the sample BIOS, that’s the F10 key. But you may have to hit Esc, an then answer “Yes” to the Save? question. It varies.)

If resetting the BIOS to its defaults does not restore Windows functionality, I recommend you take your machine in to a qualified tech who can determine the hardware issues.
If it did restore it, you want to ask yourself what caused the BIOS corruption? Usually the answer is a recently installed program, or malware– be sure to run an antivirus scan.

Today’s free link: from Uniblue. Scan, backup, and Update your PC’s drivers. Folks– I have only just now used this new tool. I learned of it from Bill Mullins, who is as reliable a source as I have ever run across. To read his review, click here. This is a 30-day free trial, which normally would disqualify it from being posted here, but I am impressed enough to make this one-time exception.

Copyright 2007-8 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

Share this post :

August 29, 2008 Posted by | advice, BIOS, computers, how to, PC, troubleshooting, Windows | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Troubleshooting the Blue Screen Of Death

BSOD’s, spontaneous reboots, freezing, and “incorrect password” lockouts. Bad computer. Bad.

bsod.jpg

Ah yes, the Blue Screen of Death. I sincerely hope you never see this rascal. The BSOD, or more properly, the Windows Stop Message, occurs when Windows detects a problem from which it cannot recover. The operating system halts and ‘diagnostic information’ is displayed on a blue screen as a series of hexadecimal numbers (there actually are a few humans capable of understanding, and using this information to effect repairs…but as far as I know, they all live in Seattle) which, frankly, will be of little use to the average user. Usually, a simple reboot resolves the issue. But sometimes it doesn’t–you reboot, Windows loads, you get the Welcome screen, and bingo! BSOD. Wash/rinse/repeat. Aargh!!!

If this happens to you, the odds are pretty good that you have (quite recently) added a new device (or card) or memory module to your machine, or installed a program that your machine just doesn’t like.
If it was a module, device, or card, try removing it and restoring your machine to the way it was before the install. If you run for a day or so with no BSOD’s, then you can be fairly sure you’ve found the culprit. It may be that the device is defective. It may be that you didn’t install it exactly correctly [maybe it didn’t “seat” all the way into its slot?], or maybe your machine was being fussy the day you installed? Don’t give up on your new card/device/module just yet. Go to the manufacturer’s Website and download the latest device driver for your version of Windows, and “unzip” and install it (by double-clicking on the downloaded file). Then reinstall your card/device/module–taking extra care to fully seat it, and double check your wires and cables–and reboot. If it is a defective unit, it will not be long before our friend the BSOD revisits…return the unit to the seller (or manufacturer) for exchange or refund.

If you suspect a recently installed application (or…Microsoft Update) is the cause, then use the Add/Remove Programs tool to uninstall it. (XP+older: Start> Control Panel> Add/Remove Programs, Vista: Start> Control Panel> Uninstall a program.) [Note: in Vista, uninstalling Updates is done through Windows Update itself, not Add/Remove.]
If you are unable to get into Windows, reboot and start hitting the F8 key to get into Safe Mode. [For more info, click here] Again, run for a day or two, and if you do not experience any BSOD’s, you’ve (most likely) found the perp. Again, you need not despair and abandon the program. It may have simply been an incomplete or corrupted install that was causing the stop errors. Try reinstalling it, but first make sure that there are no other applications running–turn off your AV, your IM, and close IE. You will soon know whether it is simply an incompatible or poorly written application.

I am going to stop here, but I want to acknowledge that this is far from a complete discussion on all the possible causes (nor cures) for BSOD’s and the other woes mentioned at the top of this post. I will return to this topic again, and I invite your comments and critiques, and suggestions. I close by suggesting you also read my article on the Windows System Restore tool (click here) and reminding you that — should all your efforts fail, my services are available at http://aplusca.com.

Today’s free link: Sandra Lite from SiSoft. This is a benchmarking and system analysis tool that shows you a wealth of information about the workings of your computer, and detects areas that aren’t working as well as they should.

Copyright 2007-8 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

Share this post :

May 3, 2008 Posted by | advice, BSOD, computers, device drivers, hardware, how to, PC, performance, Plug and Play, removing Updates, Safe Mode, System Restore, tech, troubleshooting, Vista, Windows, XP | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Goodbye Bob Barker+recovery partitions+iPhone

Every now and then there comes a watershed moment and the world is changed forever and is never the same again. For instance; one day there was Pong, and suddenly we could ‘interact’ with our TV and a new word was born, “video game.” On another day the meaning of “apple” changed from ‘apple= a fruit’ to ‘apple= a personal computer that real people can use’…and it was in color so people actually wanted to (not to mention, it had a GUI), to name a few.

Pong screenshot             mac.jpg

Yesterday marked a watershed in my life — though certainly not on the level of import as the events mentioned above — and that is the retirement of Bob Barker from television and The Price is Right. Life will never be the same. Now I do not want you to think I’m a big fan of commercial/public television: I’m not. I particularly detest “daytime” television. There are however a couple of programs I watch fairly regularly, and whenever my schedule allowed, The Price is Right was one of them — in my younger days I would sometimes record it on a device called a “VCR”. The show made me feel…good. I become glad for the people who win (and saddened by a “double overbid”).

Some of my earliest memories are of watching Bob Barker on The Price is Right. He and the show have been a consistent part of my life…almost as consistent as “family”. Time marches on, and I am not angry at Bob for retiring. I just sort of feel like a part of my youth has gone missing. Goodbye, and thank you, Bob. (for an update on this click here.)

Some folks are saying the ‘invention’ of the Apple iPhone represents such a watershed moment in our history, much like Pong and the Mac were such moments. I want to state right here that I haven’t as yet touched an iPhone so I cannot say what it really does and does not do. I can say that it’s supposed to “revolutionize” our life experience by combining Websurfing (email), portable music, and mobile phone into one visually stunning and easy to use package (it runs a full OS, not some watered-down, “portable” OS), and I can say that from what I have seen, it is “cool.” If it can stand up to the physical abuse a cellphone takes, it could be a real winner. I invite anyone who has one of these items to submit their impression, as a comment, and let us know just how “revolutionary” it really is.

Tip of the day: Another recent ‘revolution’ in computing has snuck up upon us, more in the form of ‘evolution’, in that at some point and time PC manufacturers stopped shipping Windows Install disks and shipped instead a “recovery disk.” This disk was really an image of the machine taken after Windows, device drivers, and all the free-trial crud are installed. In the event of a serious malfunction, we could use this disk to restore our machine to as it was “out-of-the-box”. That is, by definition, without any of your files. Today, more and more manufacturers are skipping the disk altogether, and are storing the image on a “recovery partition.”

But what if the ‘serious malfunction’ was a hard drive failure (it happens)? Or, the machine simply will not boot properly? Your recovery solutions are limited. Windows Install disks have two very important features: they are “boot disks” , and they allow you to install the Recovery Console so that you can issue commands, and copy important system files back into the OS. I think this move to recovery partitions is just…wrong.

Fortunately, there are substitute boot disks, and the better ones also include utilities that allow you to scan for viruses, copy and delete system files, browse the Web, and other things that aid in making repairs. I recommend that you (if you haven’t already) download and burn one. I also recommend that you do this before disaster strikes. An excellent resource for boot disks can be found at bootdisk.com, and my top pick is listed below.

Today’s free link: The Ultimate Boot CD. “UBCD4Win is a bootable CD which contains software that allows you to repair, restore, or diagnose almost any computer problem. Our goal is to be the ultimate free hardware and software diagnostic tool. All software included in UBCD4Win are freeware utilities for Windows®. ”

Copyright © 2007 Tech Paul. All rights reserved.

Share this post :

June 16, 2007 Posted by | advice, Backups, computers, hardware, how to, iPhone, PC, tech, Uncategorized, Windows, XP | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment