Monday, January 12, 2009

Weird TurboTax Behavior

It took until 1AM last night (this morning?) but I finally figured out a weird customer problem. The problem was with TurboTax 2008. The program would install perfectly, and open. After choosing continue, the computer would hard power cycle and reboot. It would not pop up any error and no errors were logged in the Event Viewer either. It happened while either transferring previous tax files, or creating a new file on the screen before it asks personal information like marital status, etc.

The hard drive tested perfectly and so did the RAM. Replacing the power supply didn't help, nor did disconnecting every removable device. My google skills were failing me searching for behavior like this. Intuit support wasn't any help to the customer either. It wasn't until I realized the problem did not occur in safe mode, but still was a problem in XP's diagnostic mode that I had an idea that worked...

It seems that TurboTax does something with the video. I'm unclear exactly what. If someone at Intuit happens to read this and would contact me, I'd love to find out why this was a problem. Given its high resolution requirements, maybe it is adjusting refresh rates or something. Anyhow, the fix was to either install a dedicated graphics card or update the video device driver (the cheaper alternative I chose). If you're getting strange power problems and have ruled out all the typical causes like I did, try the graphics driver. This particular machine had an Asus K9NGM-V motherboard with integrated VIA graphics and PCI-e expansion. After updating with Asus' driver from June to October, the problem resolved itself.

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