STREAM.SYS Fix For Windows 2000
This is intended for those of you who have an ATI TV Wonder card, a Hyper-Threading capable CPU and are running Windows 2000 in any version. These instructions were developed and tested with Service Pack 4. Other service packs likely have the same "defect" but I have not tested them.

I recently purchased a new Dell computer and with the purchase of the system, I finally decided to install an ATI TV Wonder PCI TV tuner card that I had kicking around for a while. Prior to the purchase of this system, the computer I wanted to install it in didn't have a compatible video system and my main system didn't have any free slots.

I got the adapter installed and working. It seemed to work nicely in the system until suddenly the ATI TV tuner software locked up. I attributed the fault to the software until I realized that other programs capable of using the TV tuner card (such as the Windows Media Encoder) also failed in the same way...totally frozen. Oftentimes the programs would take the entire system with them.

At first I attributed the failures to the card having difficulties working in such a fast and modern system. It wasn't until I did some work with Google that I found the true reason. A bug in the Microsoft-supplied STREAM.SYS driver causes this lockup problem on certain systems with Intel Pentium 4 processors featuring Hyper-Threading technology. Microsoft supplied a fix for Windows XP that is available as an add-on to Windows XP Service Pack 1 and included with Windows XP Service Pack 2.

This hotfix only functions on Windows XP. It will not run on Windows 2000, despite the fact that Windows 2000 apparently suffers from the same bug in STREAM.SYS on Hyper-Threading capable systems. So, how does one get the fix to work with Windows 2000? It's not too hard.

All you need is the Hotfix file, a Windows XP computer running SP1 or SP2 as a source for the file and some experience replacing key system files.

WARNING: Applying this Hotfix to your Windows 2000 system is likely not supported by Microsoft. Assume that if you mess things up that they cannot help you fix them! The fix itself is intended for Windows XP systems. It has been my experience that the updated file works with Windows 2000 as well and solves the problem of certain TV tuner card related software locking up on a computer with Hyper-Threading technology. However, always make a complete backup of your system before ever attempting any procedure (such as this one) that may cause your system to crash or fail entirely. These instructions are provided as a courtesy only and I can accept no responsibility for the results of their use.

Get the Hotfix Description from Microsoft. The actual Hotfix is located here.
For anyone without access to an XP machine, download the updated STREAM.SYS here.

(All of these files have been checked as thoroughly as is possible for viruses with a current anti-virus product. However, you should consider taking the time to scan them yourself.)

1. From the XP system, run the Hotfix. (This isn't necessary on XP SP2, where the fix is included with the service pack. In fact, the Hotfix setup program will not run on XPSP2.)
2. With the Hotfix setup program running, search for the file STREAM.SYS. It will be in a folder with a long alphanumeric name or in the windows\system\drivers folder on an XP SP2 system. Make sure you get the latest revision of the file.
3. Copy this new STREAM.SYS file to your Windows 2000 system. The desktop is a good place to keep it for the moment. The version of this file should be 5.3.2600.1193 or later. Compare yours to the screenshot below.

5.3.2600.1193 Version STREAM.SYS

4. Search for STREAM.SYS on your Windows 2000 computer. Make a note of every folder in which it appears. You'll find it in the following folders for certain:


Copy the STREAM.SYS file to each of these folders, starting with the ServicePackFiles and dllcache locations. Put it in the system\drivers location last.

5. Make sure the file copied. If you get a file in use error, reboot your machine and try again. You might have to use safe mode. I didn't have to reboot my computer after placing this updated file and now my TV tuner card is working perfectly.

For those who are wondering, yes, I could have contacted Microsoft about this, and I'm reasonably sure that, yes, they would have developed a fix for Windows 2000 users. However, doing so would likely have required a lot of testing and fiddling around that I just didn't have the time for.

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