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  1. #1
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    HD moving upstream in a river of molasses

    Hi guys, I'm putting this in the hardware forum but it may be something else that's the problem so I guess I'll just see what jumps out at me first.
    The problem I'm having at present is a duplicate of one I suffered in February which caused me so much grief.
    I didn't find an acceptable answer then but I did manage to get things moving by buying and installing a new hard drive.
    So: here we go.
    The computer, a desktop one with Win 7 installed, has 3 hard drives. Had 3 drives, may be a better description but more on that later.

    For no apparent reason when I started it up one morning around a week ago it took forever to load up. I mean in excess of 3 hours. From that point everything that I tried to do such as open a file or a programme (I'm English) took substantial times to open, in fact trying to move the cursor from one side of the screen to another took 90 minutes and was completed in moves of around half an inch at a time before freezing again.
    I have an up to date antivirus (Kaspersky) as well as malwarebytes. I haven't installed anything recently, or even removed anything that could have left stuff in the registry.
    I have run a Ram check and nothing shows as a problem there. I have booted directly from a Kaspersky startup disc to check for boot virus activity but this is all clean. I did the same thing with AVG startup disc to double check.
    I have tried to do a Restore, a Last Known Good Configuration, and also a Repair from a Windows disc to one of the hard drives but this doesn't cure anything.
    Now, for those who are already ahead of me, this same thing happens on each of the drives I try to boot from so it appears to be non hard drive related.
    Actually, getting back to the 3 hard drives, on one reboot the one I used as my normal primary went missing from the system and the computer went through a complete file check removing apparent dead links that related to the missing drive from the other drives.
    I have now installed a new windows 7 onto one of the drives. I didn't mean to, I just loaded the Win7 disc to do another system check from a DOS prompt but as it took so long to load the disc I fell asleep and it installed the new Windows by default.
    So, the new system is still the same. Naturally it hasn't had any other devices set up on this drive so no conflict of drivers is likely. Nevertheless it's still no better.
    I'm thinking it has more to do with hardware for this reason. As I said, the RAM checks out OK.
    I guess a dodgy processor would just not work at all. Maybe I'm wrong but I'm sure you'll let me know. What would be the result of a CMOS battery being almost done for? Could that be the problem, or not?

    I've gone to the expense of buying a motherboard bundle today with processor, ram etc and am likely to just install them but before I do I thought I'd throw this to the forum to see if it hits home with anyone. I'd still rather get this system working and perhaps, just maybe, get my hard drive back from the land of the dead, especially since this was the new one I fitted in February and has most of my useful stuff on it.
    Any ideas guys n'gals

    Added when remembered of importance.
    Thinking back, when I had this same problem in February it wasn't so much to do with a slow computer, I just lost without any reason my primary hard drive. I could still access the other drives and managed to salvage some stuff from them that related to files I made as backups.
    I still got the dreaded startup CHKDSK which threw out loads of stuff from God knows where. It took a whole night to complete on the 1st occasion but that wasn't the end of it.
    It did the same thing each time I restarted the computer and seemed to find thousands more dead links/files etc each time.
    I did a fsc scannow and other stuff at the time, as well as loads of other recommended things that I read about on various forums, to see if that threw any light on the situation but it didn't.
    At least I got pretty normal access to the remaining drives although the dead hard drive at that time never recovered to my knowledge.
    I fitted the new one on the same SATA connection so I wonder..............
    Last edited by Just Plain Fred; 2012-06-03 at 15:04.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lynnzer View Post
    Any ideas guys n'gals
    Lynnzer,

    Hello..... and welcome to the lounge. A good first try would be to check your Power Supply ..There is a free program that you could try, and one that you could purchase . Regards Fred
    PS: The HD Sentinal is a free trial but, the program is a keeper and you will most likley purchase it straight away.

    1. CPUID HardWare Monitor

    2. HD Sentinel




    Last edited by Just Plain Fred; 2012-06-03 at 15:07.
    PlainFred

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  3. #3
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    Fred seems a popular name for Moderators. I know of others.
    Cheers Fred.
    I'm guessing that a power supply which isn't up to the task could be a problem then?
    I would have thought that it would just give up, fuse something or burn out.
    My biggest problem with a power supply check is in installing anything. It's slow.
    I really do mean slow, in capital letters SLOW.
    It would probably take me a couple of days to get it installed.
    Maybe well worth doing in any case and thinking of it, with 3 hard drives running maybe that could be a bit much. Would that be likely to kill only one of them do you reckon, and if so why just the primary drive?
    I don't run any graphically excessive games, just website editing stuff, office works programmes etc so the drain isn't anything unusual and in any case it's been fine for a couple of years to this time (February at least).
    I'm going to disconnect all non essential power draining devices, 2nd (and 3rd - just in case it's still using power) hard drives and try from there.
    Will report back tomorrow on that one.

  4. #4
    Super Moderator satrow's Avatar
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    Failing PSU's are killers of hard drives and other hardware - anything being powered by a PSU can be killed by it.

  5. #5
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    I'm beginning to think this could be the problem. 3 hard drives will probably be more than this PSU is meant to handle. I just didn't think of this when I built the system, even though I put in a damned good cooling system.
    I can always play safe by just buying a new PSU with plenty of output and install when I replace the new motherboard bundle. Actually, I wonder if I just do a PSU replacement whether the old motherboard and CPU would still be OK anyway.
    They may well not have been damaged yet and the RAM's still checking out OK.

    Now, Failing PSU's are killers of anything powered by it........
    Anyone tell me how to fit a USB cable to the wife.........
    Just joking.

  6. #6
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    A few weeks ago someone had a slowness issue with a laptop (though not as serious as yours seems to be), and the culprit was the power supply. I guess it may as well be the cause here. I would try replacing the PSU before anything else.

  7. #7
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    lynnzer,
    Just make sure that you have the room behind the PSU ... Once you cross into the "Big Boy" realm ( around 750W or so) they get larger in overall length, even though they will "Bolt Up" ...Regards Fred
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by Just Plain Fred; 2012-06-03 at 18:14.
    PlainFred

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  8. #8
    Super Moderator CLiNT's Avatar
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    What are your system's hardware specifications;

    Make and model of computer?
    PSU wattage?
    Motherboard type, make model?
    How old is your system?

  9. #9
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    Gotcha

    I think I have it sussed.
    Around the time I started to get problems, it was just after we fitted a new carpet and did a full redecorate of the study.
    I saw no reason to suspect anything here following the work and replaced the computer back into its place in the corner of the study.
    All went wrong shortly afterwards.
    I actually blamed the wife for the problem I had then, as I saw her pick up the keyboard with the engine running (if you get the drift - the computer running if you didn't) and give it a good old rub down to clean if from the work that had just been completed. Dust everywhere.........

    So, on lifting it out from its living space to dismantle for a potential PSU replacement, I noticed right away that the PSU is on the bottom of the case and the fan draws air from underneath the case, ie from the floor.
    It's lived like this for at least a year without any problem as we had wooden flooring over this time.
    However we now have a good thick pile carpet and it's not been able to draw air from underneath the computer to cool the PSU, which is rated at 450 watts.
    That size PSU should be well able to cope with my system according to a useful calculation tool I found. It shows that all I needed was 325 watts to run everything.

    So, dismantling the case and looking at the PSU I can see that the cooling fan is clogged with all sorts of stuff, mainly new carpet fibre.
    Thinking of it, the wife did warn me of a burning smell at one stage but I couldn't make out where it came from, not thinking it was the computer.

    I have a new case now with a PSU of 500 watts and I'll be transplanting everything into it over the next couple of days so I'll report back then.

    Naturally the PSU isn't on the base in this case. I can't think how stupid this is anyway as it's obvious this will become a problem, if not immediately.
    The make of the case isn't displayed on it so I can't warn you of this but fool that I am, I should have recognised this potential problem when I bought the thing in the first place.

    I guess Fred hit the nail on the head in his first response so thanks a million Fred.
    I just hope that the dead hard drive isn't completely stuffed. I may well change it to a slave drive and see if it gets picked up from that configuration when I reinstall everything.

    __________________________________________________ __________________________________________________ _____________
    Have now dismantled the old case and there's a load of potential problem areas here too. The CPU cooling fins are pretty well clogged with dust, as is the fan for that, plus the fan input grid at the back of the case. It seems as if lack of air may well have been a big problem for the whole system.

    I've rebuilt with all the bits and am left with only the wires onto the motherboard to complete the process.
    This bit ALWAYS takes me some time as the pins and things aren't necessarily as easily recognised as my ageing eyes can see.
    Hopefully will complete by midday and will see if I need to replace the motherboard bundle for the new one I bought in anticipation.
    If not, I'll return it and have a bit extra cash for my holidays next week in Tenerife.
    __________________________________________________ __________________________________________________ __________________

    Update on above.
    You know when you've put everything back together, plugged it in and PRAY that you've got all the right wiring to the right terminals before you hit the switch?
    Yeah, you know what I mean. Trepidation.
    Anyway, I hit the switch. No funny sounds, no apparent startup problems and in it went to my last C: drive.
    It tried to do a chkdisc but I have experience that it often trashes things I need to keep so over-rode that.
    Next thing I knew, in no time at all, the floating balls came on and it went right onto the prorammes and screens I last used. It was like suddenly finding freedom.

    I've had a quick look and my 2Tb drive is there too. I guess the programmes will still be working on it, hoping they do anyway.
    Just finding the drive is damned good news though.
    So, unless I come back with some sort of problem that crops up later I guess we can call this a "case & PSU" solved Sherlock.
    Many thanks to Fred for his immaculate advice and to those who also took an interest.
    Last edited by Lynnzer; 2012-06-05 at 05:02.

  10. #10
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    The importance of chkdsk and backups

    Quote Originally Posted by Lynnzer View Post
    It tried to do a chkdisc but I have experience that it often trashes things I need to keep so over-rode that.
    I'm glad you solved your problem, Lynnzer (well done!), but I'm disturbed by you skipping chkdsk.

    Chkdsk fixes low-level file errors on your disk. If you're repeatedly skipping it, you're letting these errors accrue and piling error on top of error over time. One type of disk error is 'cross-linked files', where part of a file's contents will be read from a completely unrelated file. Something you obviously want to avoid. Chkdsk doesn't 'trash things', it discovers already trashed files and fixes them as best it can before things get even worse. Skipping chkdsk every time it tries to run will result eventually in you noticing some of your data files are corrupt when it's too late. Or Windows will die from it's component files being damaged.

    I'm thinking your disk might be formatted as FAT32. When my disk was FAT32 I'd frequently have corrupt files deleted by chkdsk (even the entire Windows drawer one time, eek!). If this is the case, I strongly suggest you convert your disk to the much more stable NTFS file system, I guarantee you'll never look back!

    Since you're worried about files getting trashed, I'm also thinking you lack a backup procedure. It is a must. One day your hard disk will die, forever (it might have come close this time). Or you'll need a file which was accidentally deleted, removed by chkdsk, or corrupted by a malfunctioning program. No backup, and wave goodbye to your data. But a few minutes a week backing up and you're sweet. The three rules of computing: Backup, backup, backup.

    You could buy an external hard drive for around a hundred bucks. That's cheap insurance. You could then back up with a nice free partition backup program such as Easeus Todo Backup.

  11. #11
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    Although this is rare, I had this problem many years ago. It was back in the days of the Pentium II and it turned out to be a faulty cache and when the cache was turned off, the system was unbelivably slow. These days you can't usually get at most of these settings, but there is always a possibility that the BIOS settings have been corrupted.

    The other one I had like this was a Dell laptop. The hard disk on it was failing - it took an entire day to run the disk test instead of a few minutes. This is because it did about 30 retries on each disk sector until it got a good read. As a result, the disk test still passed. These days, modern disks do bad sector reallocation automatically, but if you have a failing disk, they eventually run out of bad sector allocation space and so then are forced to work with bad sectors.

    Try something like CrystalDiskInfo (free) to get at the SMART disk parameters and see if there are issues woth the disk.

    By the way - chkdsk - if you run it from Windows via the properties and tools, and don't check the "fix" box, it will only scan and not make any changes.

  12. #12
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    Keep it clean

    Even though my PC stands on a hardwood floor, it accumulates a lot of dust. I make it a point to vacuum and blow it out periodically, especially after doing it the first time and saw how bad it could get.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by TonyGore View Post
    Although this is rare, I had this problem many years ago. It was back in the days of the Pentium II and it turned out to be a faulty cache and when the cache was turned off, the system was unbelivably slow. These days you can't usually get at most of these settings, but there is always a possibility that the BIOS settings have been corrupted.

    The other one I had like this was a Dell laptop. The hard disk on it was failing - it took an entire day to run the disk test instead of a few minutes. This is because it did about 30 retries on each disk sector until it got a good read. As a result, the disk test still passed. These days, modern disks do bad sector reallocation automatically, but if you have a failing disk, they eventually run out of bad sector allocation space and so then are forced to work with bad sectors.

    Try something like CrystalDiskInfo (free) to get at the SMART disk parameters and see if there are issues woth the disk.

    By the way - chkdsk - if you run it from Windows via the properties and tools, and don't check the "fix" box, it will only scan and not make any changes.
    I thinjk it's all fine now after installation of a new PSU in a new case. I put it down to this more so because the problem was apparent on EVERY disc so more or less ruled out operating system problems as they wouldn't all pop up simultaneously.
    I'll give CrysalDisk a go just in case, though having run Knopix from a disc on the computer it finds all the drives and I can see they're all fine from the disc tools on that.
    The sort of chkdisc I was getting was at startup with nothing bu a default, if you don't want to run me, please hit the cancel button, sort of thing.
    Anyway I did a proper run once I got my useful stuff from the drive I lost and regained, and all's well afterwards.
    Might just do a defrag now and clean it out completely of dead space.

  14. #14
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    I'm not usually a fan of running chkdsk on boot because if it runs then (rather than interactively later) there's no provision for telling it NOT to 'fix' something it thinks needs fixing.

    But whenever I prevent it from running on boot I then immediately run it (without telling it to fix anything) as soon as the system has become operable: if it thinks something may be wrong, I want to get an idea of what it is - and THEN make the decision about whether to allow chkdsk to fix it or try to address it in some other manner.

    For example, I once let chkdsk run on boot with a drive that turned out to be in the process of failing. Had I prevented this and instead used a utility like 'unstoppable copier' or (at the raw disk level) the ddrescue Linux program to salvage everything I could I would have been far better off - since chkdsk's willy-nilly 'correction' of things based in some cases on erroneous interpretation of marginally-readable data or metadata left things a real mess.

    Most of the times chkdsk wants to run on boot it finds nothing wrong (it only runs because a clean shut-down was not performed and therefore there MIGHT be a problem) - in which case there's no down-side to preventing the boot-time execution and running it as soon as the system is up. Of the few other times it wants to run on boot the system will usually still come up OK, so there's no problem slightly deferring the check then, either. And if the system DOESN'T come up OK the likelihood is still that no harm will be done (and you can then just reboot and allow chkdsk to run then, if you don't decide to us another system on another disk to check things out).

    While the current behavior might be safer in some ways for the majority of Windows users, I wish there were some way to change the default to NOT fix errors it thought it had found during boot but instead just notify me after the boot completed that the disk should be checked.

  15. #15
    Super Moderator satrow's Avatar
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    Running SFC /scannow might be beneficial, too.

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