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Need help diagnosing possible hardware problem


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#1
Cabranth

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Hi,

Within the last 2-3 days my PC has been completely freezing at both random moments as well as during the running of programs I had hoped would either fix the problem or at least help me diagnose it. The freezes are, as I said, complete. The monitor displays whatever I was doing, but nothing responds. No mouse, keyboard, or anything. I'm reduced to manually powering down by holding down my on/off button on the PC case. Afterwards, I choose to "Start Windows Normally" when that unexpected shutdown screen comes up, and I boot back into Windows fine until the next freeze.

The first freeze happened while the PC was idling in screen-saver mode (never saw a frozen screen saver before). The second time it froze while I was generically surfing the web. After that, I tried googling the problem. Many people suggested defragging the drive. The PC froze about 2 minutes into the defrag. I tried defragging again after restarting and it froze about a minute later than the 1st time.

Then I tried some of the programs recommended for diagnosing if it was a Hard Drive problem, as many people suggested. I tried the SMART utility in SpeedFan. Got the "Current Pending Sector Count" warning result that people said meant I had bad HD sectors, so I tried to run the Extended Test and froze up again. Then I tried HD Tune Pro and ran its Error Scan. That got about 3300mb or so along, detected 2 bad pieces, and my PC froze.

So that's where I'm stuck. Almost everything I've found on the web points toward a hardware problem (most say HD), so that's why I decided to post here first as opposed to Software, but every time I try to run anything to diagnose/fix it, it causes the freeze again. I sure hope somebody can help me figure this out, because I'm stumped.

Let me know what system hardware or any other info you need and I'll post them. Thanks.
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#2
iammykyl

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Gday CabranthPosted Image
We do need a little more information, please answer the following questions.
What type of computer is it, a Dell/HP pre configured? list the brand/model number.
If a custom build? list all the parts, including the brand/model of the PSU.
What OS is installed? include the bit ver.
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#3
Cabranth

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Hi iammykyl :),

My PC is a home build (my one and only so far), and it is almost exactly 27 months old.

Hardware:

Hard Drive: HITACHI Deskstar 7K1000.D HDS721075DLE630 (0F13179)
750GB 7200 RPM SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -
Bare Drive

Motherboard: ASRock A55 PRO3 FM1 AMD A55 (Hudson D2) SATA 6Gb/s
USB 3.0 HDMI ATX AMD

CPU: AMD Athlon II X4 631 Llano 2.6GHz Socket FM1 100W Quad-
Core Desktop Processor AD631XWNGXBOX

RAM: G.SKILL Value Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM
DDR3 1333 (PC3 10600) Desktop Memory Model F3-
10600CL9D-8GBNT

Video Card: PNY VCGGT5201XPB GeForce GT 520 (Fermi) 1GB 64-bit
DDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP

Power Supply: COOLER MASTER GX 450W RS450-ACAAD3-US 450W ATX12V
v2.31 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Active PFC Power Supply

Don't know if you want the case also, but I have the specs if you do. Also, the DVD Drive is from a previous PC and is at least a year older than the other parts which were all purchased new simultaneously. If you need the DVD Drive specs, I can try to find them.

Software:

OS:
Windows 7x64 Home Premium (updated daily).


I forgot to mention in my first post that in addition to the other steps I've tried, the very first thing I did was to open my case and reseat all the data and power connections I could (cleaned/dusted while I was in there as it was almost time for it anyway). When I initially put this build together I had trouble with the largest power cable to the motherboard not being seated firmly, and it was causing random power loss shutdowns. I saw a few people recommend cable checking as a basic first step just in case.

Let me know if there is any more info I omitted that you need.
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#4
iammykyl

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Thanks for the information.


We can test if the Basic part of windows is OK by using safe Mode.
Step 1. Restart the computer and before the windows loading screen appears start tapping the F8 Key.
On the screen that opens, select safe mode, (minimal) > press Enter.
On reboot, try running Defrag, as that was freezes the system. If OK, restart the computer,
and do step 2, > http://www.bleepingc...vironment/#skip

Step 2. On the system Recovery Options Screen, choose system Restore.
Look at the dates for before the problems started and do a restore. .
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#5
Cabranth

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Hi again.

I tried the defrag in safe mode, and nothing happened. Wouldn't run. I googled the problem and it seems defrag was disabled in safe mode for Win 7? I didn't see any obvious results on google that said anything about a way around this for the Windows 7 defrag, so I'm assuming there isn't one. I did see a few people mention other non-Windows defrag software which might run a defragmentation process in safe mode, but I wanted to ask here first.

What do you want me to do now? Try a different way to defrag in Safe, or go to Step 2?
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#6
iammykyl

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I only really wanted Defrag running to see if it froze the system as it did in normal mode.
See if you can run any application, task manager etc, as many as possible, try to get a freeze. If the computer keeps going then go to step 2.
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#7
Cabranth

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OK, I went back to safe mode and opened a bunch of non-specific programs/windows like task manager CCleaner, solitaire, etc and no problem. I did manage to open the HD Tune Pro (Hard Disk/SSD Utility) in safe mode and run the Error Scan since it was one of the things that froze it up before. Same thing with minor differences this time. I got about 3000mb in to the test (I think it was about 3300 last time in normal Windows?), no bad sectors were displayed in the side bar (last time in normal Windows it showed 2?), and my PC froze up solid just like before. I waited a good 5 minutes to see if it was possibly just hanging, but it never responded. Had to manually power down and reboot.

Next?
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#8
iammykyl

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We can try a repair of the HDD but just in case of a disaster a backup of all your important Data should be done. Have you used the W7 drive image or backup features? Do you have an alternative HDD to use, or a USB stick?
Sorry this is a bit of a long process, the time difference make it awkward.



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#9
Cabranth

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Hi again. No worries about the timing. It happens when we're on opposite side of the globe.

Well, I thought I had the freezing sorted. I was messing around yesterday and decided to try the chkdsk routine just to see if it would run, and it did. For the rest of yesterday I had no more freezes, and actually managed to run the disk diagnostics in SpeedFan, HD Tune Pro, CrystalDiskInfo, as well as the windows defragmenter all without freezes. Then this morning I had 2 apparently random freezes. One while just opening common desktop applications like solitaire, and the other surfing the web. I haven't yet today tried running any of the diagnostic/repair programs that caused freezes.

Almost all the opinions I've been able to find online so far indicates my hard drive is beginning to fail, and that it could die immediately, or last months with little to no degradation in function. I've decided to go ahead and order a new drive from newegg and could use your opinion on that and a few other things.

From my other hardware specs, do you see any conflicts with this new drive? My link

I have OEM Windows 7, so that means I can use it on my new drive, correct? I only have to buy it again if I use a new motherboard?

I managed to blunder through transferring my files from hd to hd when I set this current build up, but do you know of a good step by step guide for a semi-beginner? Last time I tried to use the Windows File Transfer kit, but it crashed every time I tried it. I ended up connecting the old drive to my new PC as a 2nd drive and literally copying files from drive to drive.

I'd also like to look into certifying my current drive as failed under warranty (I believe it had a 3 year warranty), but what I've found looks like I have to download some program from the manufacturer that runs some kind of health test on the drive before I can return it. Do you have any experience with this? I've never done it before and don't know anything about the process.

Thanks for all your help. :)
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#10
iammykyl

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Gday.
When checking the drive, did you use the command? chkdsk /f C:
You should also check the RAM, > http://www.wikihow.c...-with-MemTest86

I have OEM Windows 7, so that means I can use it on my new drive, correct? I only have to buy it again if I use a new motherboard?

Correct.


I managed to blunder through transferring my files from hd to hd when I set this current build up, but do you know of a good step by step guide for a semi-beginner? Last time I tried to use the Windows File Transfer kit, but it crashed every time I tried it. I ended up connecting the old drive to my new PC as a 2nd drive and literally copying files from drive to drive.

You were on the right track, here's how. .
Backup the important Data first, then > disconnect the old drive, > connect up the new drive to the lowest numbered SATA port, #0 or #1, > Clean install of OS, MB Drivers/utilities, video drivers/software, do all updates, > test system, > Connect up old drive, copy Data only. If the old drive was suspect, bin it.


RMA. Consumer laws and warranty is different in every country, here it is with the seller, may be different with you. I would contact where you baught the drive to get a RMA number and go from there.

Your selected drive is good to go.
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#11
Cabranth

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Hi again,

Do you have any recommendation for how long I should let Memtest run? I've never had bad RAM before, so I have no experience testing it.

Re: Backing up Data. Never done this before. Is a backup 1 to 1 sized? I don't have a spare hard drive lying around, and I'm currently using 385 gigs on this drive. I have a few blank DVD5s, but only about 10 or so.

What do you mean by "Copy Data only" ? Is that an option I need to select in some transfer program, or are you telling me to only copy data? I don't quite understand what else I would be able to copy. Last time the only thing I could think to do was right-click "copy" (from old hard drive), then "paste" (in new hard drive) folders I wanted to keep. Things like "Documents", "Program Files", etc.

Regarding the return process, I meant I know I have to download and run the specific Fitness Test for my Hitachi hard drive to determine if my hard drive qualifies as "failed". I just wondered if you had ever done this before with any drive you've had. I was especially curious if you had ever heard whether these Fitness Tests that the different manufacturers require customers to run are in the habit of declaring a drive "fit" when it obviously isn't. I've got until November (site gives disclaimer that info may be inaccurate) with the warranty on this current hard drive, so that part of this whole process isn't as time critical as moving all my data to the new drive before the old one may go belly-up.

Cheers.
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#12
iammykyl

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Gday.
2 hours should be enough to run the Memtest.

What do you mean by "Copy Data only" ? Is that an option I need to select in some transfer program, or are you telling me to only copy data? I don't quite understand what else I would be able to copy

Saying just to copy Data files. Beginners will copy program files, (which won't work) and files with the exe extention, they could contain infections.
I backup to a 16GB USB flash drive, much simpler than CD. You will need to fromat the stick with NTFS.
Follow this guide and you will be OK. > http://www.aclasspc.com.au/tutorials/59-pc-tutorials/132-how-to-backup-to-external-hard-drive-in-windows-7


Re. HDD. I have never had a hard drive fail so not done the RMA process. WD now owns Hatachi so don't know if the test still applies, best bet is to contact where you purchased the drive, request a RMA to see what they say.
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#13
Cabranth

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Hi again.

Ran the Memtest last night a little over 2 hours. Got 2.2 passes, no errors. You're the expert, but I didn't really expect anything. From what little I've read about it, bad RAM would have shown different symptoms.

About the "copy data only", ok I get it now. Thanks for the clarification. :)

I don't have a 16 gig USB, unfortunately, only a 4gig (SDHC card in USB adapter). Can I use that Win7 backup with a few of my blank DVDs? I don't mind if it's more tedious than a USB drive. If the USB is an absolute necessity, I guess I can order one from newegg, or see if it's available at the same price close by.

About the RMA, I was really curious about the tests these different manufacturers make you run on the drives, and a little about the process anecdotally from someone. Since you've never experienced either, no problem. I'll see if I can find anything further online. The warranty is manufacturer, so I'll be dealing with HGST I know, not newegg where I purchased it. I've got the test already and only need to run it at boot similar to Memtest.

EDIT: I went ahead and ordered a USB drive. I got This One since it was twice the memory I had been looking at for 1.5 the price. I know I'll have to see if it holds up, but I didn't see any others even up to x2 the price that didn't have reviews saying the more expensive USB was either not worth the extra $ or fell apart/malfunctioned within days or weeks of usage.

Thanks.

Edited by Cabranth, 06 March 2014 - 11:22 AM.

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#14
iammykyl

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Gday.
The USB stick sounds OK, plenty of room. I would not do any other tests until you have that backup, just in case.
When done, close all running programs, Paste into the Run box chkdsk /f C: and press enter, > at the prompt, enter Y the computer will restart and perform a HDD test and repair.
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#15
Cabranth

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Hi again,

Just to be absolutely clear, you want me to:

1. Sit tight for now. No more diagnostics of any kind.
2. When USB gets here, do the USB backup.
3. Run the chkdsk /f C: before I start the transfer process to the new hard drive?

Just to be conservative, I'm looking at Monday next week before I get both deliveries. There's a probability that one or both could be delivered tomorrow (Sat), but I'm not holding my breath. According to newegg's tracking, both orders are in transit from the regional hubs to my local hub. My deliveries usually arrive the day after they arrive at the local hub, but I never know what private shipping companies will do on Saturdays here.

On a side note, yesterday was the first day since this all started that I didn't have a single freeze. I didn't run any Win 7 diagnostic routines (chkdsk, defrag) or any of the other diagnostic programs I downloaded, either, so I don't know if that had anything to do with it. I suppose it would have been helpful if I'd kept more scientific track of this. If I have any more freezes, I'll try to remember to do a better job of documenting them.

Thanks.
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