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July 12th, 2016, 17:04
So, I have this old computer, with a very weird problem. About 3.5 years ago it started hanging up all of sudden, it was just completely frozen and there was nothing to do but to reboot it. At that time I did some investigation, among other things I took out the ram memory and put it back in again, and this did this solve the issue.

About a year later the problem came back, and the solution was to do the same thing with the ram again.

Now the problem came back again. With one difference, even rebooting didn't help, when rebooting the computer gave 3 loud error beeps. Now I suspected it still might be related to ram, so what I did was to move the ram from dual channel setup to a single channel setup, and the problem was resolved… for about two week. At that time I got error on boot-up again. Re-inserting the ram didn't help. However moving the ram back to dual channel setup, resolved the problem, and now it has been running without much issues for another week. It is worth to note that I have ran memory diagnostic and that found no issues with the memory.

I do have a theory on what could be wrong, but before I go into detail about it, it'd be nice to see what people here think about this mystery error, and see if they match with my theory.
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July 12th, 2016, 17:23
Had exactly the same problem with my 'old' desktop computer. The solution as you mentioned was to pull out the ram sticks and put them back again (or install them on one channel then the other).

This normally happens when the children give the case a knock once in a while - it has been all right for months now.

It might be loose or damaged ram connections on the motherboard (it can't be excessive heating since this happens when I first start the desktop).
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July 12th, 2016, 17:42
Do you keep it unplugged or it's always in standby mode?
If it's not unplugged at any time, unplug it yourself and wait a minute till you plug it back. Why can this solve the problem? No coonection will empty condensators and get rid of static electricity. Keep in mind that this is not a long term solution - a service could find the actual cause (bad case design that just can't be helped for example).

Another possibility is MBO problem. When it sometimes works, sometimes doesn't work in a years old machine, cleaning the dust could help. Especially the petrified dust in unused slots like those you plug RAM into! But if dust removal doesn't help, then something on MBO farted or…

Third possibility is CPU overheat and BIOS that doesn't automatically restart the machine to prevent the possible CPU damage but leaves it in frozen state.

RAM? No it's not RAM. RAM won't cause freezes, only restarts, inability to boot the system or BSOD.

One more thing. Bad webbrowsers code can freeze the machine. If freezes happen only while you're browsing, disable hardware acceleration in browsers you use or switch to another one.
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July 12th, 2016, 19:14
I had something similar, and it turned out to be an … what's the English word … ?
Electrolytic Capacitor (according to dict.leo.org) that wasn't good anymore.
It had opened up a bit (like a miniature can), and if I had replaced it, the PC might have been usable again. Or so I understood descriptions of similar problems in my computer magazine.

Another possibility is to simply replace the mainboard's battery.
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July 12th, 2016, 19:33
3 Beeps is a RAM error, however it sounds like the RAM problem is coming from the Motherboard if this is an ongoing issue for you (athough can't rule out RAM 100%).

What kind of motherboard problem is another story. Power/voltage issues? BIOS? Cap issues? Dirty contacts?

If it happens again, check the BIOS battery next time like Alrik mentioned:

1) Remove the battery
2) Power on the system
3) Power off the system
4) Put the battery back in
5) Power on the system

See if it boots properly. This should flush any BIOS quirks. And if the system is old like you mentioned, it's probably time to replace anyways.

Otherwise, probably time to replace that board. What model is it?
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July 14th, 2016, 08:59
Well, today the screen turned off all of a sudden.. and after that it refused to boot. It didn't help to remove the ram or keep it without power for several minutes. Neither did moving the ram.

I did some dust cleaning though, and re-inserted the memory again. It started up and ran fine for quite awhile.

I guess maybe the motherboard is about to break down ? It still puzzles me a little why moving around the ram is the only way to get it to boot though… and also the error beeps indicate system memory. Maybe some glitch and dust in the memory slots, so even a small vibration could cause the memory to get mispositioned ?
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