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  1. #1
    New Lounger
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    I've been using a black Caviar WD 500GB drive for the last year as my OS drive. Last January I installed Windows 7 64 bit and ran into a bunch of problems with my computer starting up, so I wiped it clean and started fresh a month or two ago. The problems only happen sometimes and kind of vague, but lately it's been getting worse again.

    Sometimes when booting up it will run chkdsk. It once found some bad files and fixed it up or whatever, but it was still running. I ran a chkdsk function (fsutiful dirty query) that seemed to change the drive from dirty to "NOT dirty". Sometimes the computer would freeze, regardless of how little of the processing power was being used and I would have to cold restart or run setup repair, which would then fail. I've also gotten the "disk read error press ctrl alt del to reboot" message a few times, which I got 2-3 times in the past 1-2 years which effectively killed my previous XP installs, except with W7 I can work my way back in around those. I've also rolled back to previous backup images with no changes.

    Today I was online and I got an error message stating explorer had crashed and was rebooting which then froze. One of my crashes a week or two ago also somehow managed to reset some BIOS settings. WD Diagnostics shows no errors, even when I run the extended test. I could always replace the drive, but I'd rather leave that as a last resort, as I don't want to buy a new drive, then wait a few months for weird issues to start popping up again.

    The drive is split into 2 partitions, one for the OS and one for image backups from W7, I'm running a Intel Q9550 processor, 4GB of Mushkin RAM, etc. Any help is appreciated, thanks.

  2. #2
    Super Moderator RetiredGeek's Avatar
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    Mike,

    I wouldn't mess around with an obviously flaky drive. Especially since it should still be in warranty.

    However, if you don't think it is the drive, the first thing I would do is open up the box remove all the cards and memory sticks, clean everything out, the reinsert all the memory sticks and cards making sure they are properly seated! Do the same with the drive cables. Then boot up again and see how it goes. If this doesn't fix things, I'd run a test on the memory. If that passes - get a new drive.

    Good Luck!
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  3. #3
    Super Moderator Deadeye81's Avatar
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    Hi Mike, and welcome to the Lounge!

    The symptoms you describe can be caused by a faulty RAM stick as well as a malfunctioning hard disk.

    To test your ram before going in the case to remove RAM sticks, download the pre-compiled ISO (.zip) version of Memtest 86+ v.4.10 here. Double click it to unpack the .zip file and use Windows 7 built in image burning software to burn the ISO to a CD. Place the CD in your optical drive. Reboot your computer to the optical drive (you may have to enter the BIOS setup to set boot priority to CD/DVD above any other drive - you will see instructions on your screen at each startup - the key command varies depending on the BIOS brand - it could be the F2 or Del key or another). As soon as your computer boots to the CD/DVD, Memtest should kick in and begin testing your RAM.

    Allow the test to run for two or three hours, the more the better. If you see errors, then one or more of your RAM sticks is defective. If you are comfortable going in your computer case, you can remove all RAM sticks except one, reboot to see if you still show the erratic behavior. If the computer behaves, add another of your RAM sticks, and test. Continue until all your RAM is fully installed, and tested as each stick is added. If one of the sticks is bad, this will identify the faulty one. This is the least costly way to troubleshoot your computer's behavior. All it takes is a little time.

    If all RAM is tested as good, then you could consider the hard disk (less likely since your WD software found no issues), or other software/hardware possibilites. I have also seen a failing power supply cause similar symptoms.

    RG, you beat me to the punch here.

    Mike, I would definitely check everything RetiredGeek recommended first.
    Deadeye81

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  4. #4
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    I would slaughter a chicken and look at its organs for signs of evil.
    But seriuosly, all of the above are good, I would also check for the latest chipset driver, especially if its an HP, though the problem would probably manifest itself more frequently if it were that, and I would also just replace the SATA data cable. Most likely it is the drive or RAM though, especially if the XP installs were on the same drive.

  5. #5
    Super Moderator bbearren's Avatar
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    Also bear in mind that there is more to a hard drive than a platter or two and read/write heads. There is also a PCB with a few chips soldered in. A cold solder joint can give any number of inexplicable errors. After following the advice already given in the previous posts, if you still get flaky read/write errors, get an RMA on your drive. Hopefully, you have everything worth keeping backed up already.

    I have had a hard drive give me all the symptoms of a dead motherboard, and none of the symptoms of a flaky drive.


    After installing a new motherboard, then a new CPU and still no POST, I pulled the SATA cable and got a POST and the "No OS found" error message. A new cable made no difference. Changed out the hard drive with one from a similar machine, and booted without problems.

    My routine maintenance (chkdsk /r from time to time) had found nothing wrong with the drive, and I didn't even suspect it. Yet when it failed, it would not let the PC even POST.

    At least I ended up with a spare motherboard and a spare CPU. The hard drive was one month out of warranty.
    Create a fresh drive image before making system changes, in case you need to start over!

    "The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem. Savvy?"—Captain Jack Sparrow "When you're troubleshooting, start with the simple and proceed to the complex."—M.O. Johns "Experience is what you get when you're looking for something else."—Sir Thomas Robert Deware.
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  6. #6
    New Lounger
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    I'll give it a shot. I have an older version of memtest (from last year or something) that did not find anything bad with my RAM, however I think it might not work as well as a newer version of memtest? Because it's a 64bit OS or something? I thought I read that somewhere. I tried to burn a newer copy the other month but was having issues getting it to work but I'll try again.

    I feel I've had issues on and off that seem to come and go for a long while now, so it's hard for me to assume what it is. My last sticks of RAM had one faulty stick, I had a PSU die for no reason last year (which I had covered under warranty), various drives bite the dust. I'm reaaallly not in the mood to rip everything out and run stuff one component at a time, mainly because I agree it's either the drive or RAM, but also because the problem is so intermittent it makes it hard to test. If I had a consistent error it would make things easier.

    I would only feel comfortable RMA'ing the drive if I was getting an error with their software. But I must have had the "disk read error" a good 3 times with XP, killing my install each time, and January 2010 I got fed up and Windows 7...which last until about July or August, which I then wiped, re-installed and after a month or two more issues. It looks like I bought the RAM January 2010 and the OS drive in Sept 2009.

    I'll give memtest a shot again...thanks for the speedy replies guys, appreciate it.

  7. #7
    5 Star Lounger RussB's Avatar
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  8. #8
    Gold Lounger Roderunner's Avatar
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    Mike, I realise this is a long shot, is the hdd fat32 ?
    O wad some Power the giftie gie us, to see oursels as ithers see us!

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Crawford View Post
    I've been using a black Caviar WD 500GB drive for the last year as my OS drive. Last January I installed Windows 7 64 bit and ran into a bunch of problems with my computer starting up, so I wiped it clean and started fresh a month or two ago. The problems only happen sometimes and kind of vague, but lately it's been getting worse again.
    Mike,
    Just would like to add my comments..to already good advice. After i installed Windows 7 \ 64 about 2 months went by with no problems (installed around May) then My PC started throwing a "blue screen" and freezing up once in a while... Also was experiencing random (non BSOD's) shut downs as well . The Random ones were fixed by tightening up my motherboard (most all screws were loose) so if i hit (or tapped on ) the PC ...it would shut down.. The fix for the other problems freeze ups , BSOD's was not fixed by the "MS" patch (hot fix) http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2265716 so i recovered to an image that removed about half of the "MS" updates....and patches.. ( never to apply them again ) this so far has fixed the problems with the BSOS's and freeze ups. This has inspired me to remove all "7" patches and updates... so now i have a "clean" OS. That everything so far is now working correctly.... will post my additional findings on another thread. Regards Fred
    PlainFred

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  10. #10
    New Lounger
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    Hmm, well I should probably check all my connections, but I suspect they will be okay. I just spent all day and night testing my two RAM sticks individually with memtest and neither stick returned an error.

    My PSU is a 500 watt Seasonic, which I got back in the spring. My previous one mysteriously blew up so I had to do an RMA for it. My OS drive is definitely NTFS as well. Is there anything else I can run (for free) that can check my drive? Normally I would just wipe the drive clean and start fresh (the drive is OS only, so I'm not concerned about backing files), but I've already done that once or twice, only to return to this vicious cycle.

  11. #11
    New Lounger
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    Another long (or maybe not so long) shot:
    Check your motherboard capacitors for signs of swelling or (even worse) blown-up ones.
    Also you should monitor temperatures on your CPU, GPU and hard drive(s)...
    A nice tool (though I've never used, but others did) would be SIV (System Information Viewer) from http://rh-software.com/.
    Another approach would be the creation of a bootable USB stick with your favorite Linux distribution and use some of the testing suites and/or applications found there... I'll go for XUbuntu myself, but... others might prefer UBCD4Win http://www.ubcd4win.com/.
    If a stress test doesn't reveal any hardware failure, then you should check your Win7 for driver and/or applications issues, as well as for some nasty (and poorly programmed) malware.
    That's my 2 cents.

  12. #12
    Super Moderator CLiNT's Avatar
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    My PSU is a 500 watt Seasonic, which I got back in the spring. My previous one mysteriously blew up so I had to do an RMA for it.
    I'm a bit concerned with the above statement, especially since PSUs are capable of destroying or damaging other components as well when they fail.

    If your not willing to swap out drives or do a tear down troubleshooting of the mainboard then watch for more specific error messages from the event viewer.
    It looks to me like your fast approaching the wall in terms of what non or limited invasive troubleshooting is capable.
    I don't recall from any of your posts whether or not you have actually gone into the event viewer to see what was there in terms of error messages/reports ect.
    More specific error related messages would be helpfull.
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  13. #13
    Super Moderator bbearren's Avatar
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    I concur with Clint. I recently changed out 3 motherboards for a client (the original, plus two which were RMA'd). The PC was a Compaq, and the PSU had built-in diagnostics, which indicated a bad motherboard or CPU. I tried a known good CPU and RAM, but the PSU diagnostics indicated the motherboard was bad.

    Turned out that the PSU was bad, and had killed 3 motherboards. The PSU checked good; a bit low on voltages, but within tolerances. When I finally ruled out all probabilities, the only common link was the PSU. I put in a new PSU with the last motherboard, and everything is working just fine now.

    The moral of the story is that a PSU can fool a PSU tester and still be bad.
    Create a fresh drive image before making system changes, in case you need to start over!

    "The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem. Savvy?"—Captain Jack Sparrow "When you're troubleshooting, start with the simple and proceed to the complex."—M.O. Johns "Experience is what you get when you're looking for something else."—Sir Thomas Robert Deware.
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  14. #14
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    I'm having similar problem but on and XP machine. The computer just slows down and almost freezes. I open task manager and the CPU usage is down around 7% and the memory usage is low. When I finally get everything to close and shut down the computer it starts the black Windows screen with the blue time bar comes up it goes away and I gt just a black screen for a minute or so than it goes to the log on screen and things works fine but a drive is missing. The drive is just storage but important. I can get it to boot up again and the drive will be there until the computer locks up. Should I be looking for the same problems?

    Thanks

    Marc

  15. #15
    5 Star Lounger
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marc Neermann View Post
    I'm having similar problem but on and XP machine. The computer just slows down and almost freezes. I open task manager and the CPU usage is down around 7% and the memory usage is low. When I finally get everything to close and shut down the computer it starts the black Windows screen with the blue time bar comes up it goes away and I gt just a black screen for a minute or so than it goes to the log on screen and things works fine but a drive is missing. The drive is just storage but important. I can get it to boot up again and the drive will be there until the computer locks up. Should I be looking for the same problems?
    In this case most likely that drive is dying. Wndows is failing to read or get proper response from it so after the lock up in which it is trying to communicate with it, Windows stops trying and removes it from the active list.

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