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  HDD issue, possibly memory or other issues?? 
 
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Norm Muelleman Aug 01, 2011, 10:48am EDT Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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Hello all from Iraq!

Been several weeks since I posted. Unfortunately I am having major issues with my recently purchased laptop, and am seeking your sound advice as usual :)

Computer:
ASUS N53SN laptop
Intel i7 processor
4 Gb ram
Windows 7 Premium 64 bit
750 Gb HDD

All has been well until the past week or so. I noticed that my computer seemed to be slowing down during boot and shutdown. Didn't think much about it. But now I'm having all sorts of issues.

I've had a couple BSOD splash screens, but can't find the dump file.
I'm having errant windows IE problems; when i sometimes try to fire up IE to sign into my internet provider here on the base, IE acts squirelly. I can't click on the user/password to log into the ISP. I can do so with Firefox.

Sometimes when I click on the IE icon down on the toolbar, I get an error msg that says "the file or program is missing".

Sometimes the computer will completely lock up, and i"ll have to hard reset it.

I run Malwarebytes, and Vipre for my antivirus. I keep both updated regularly. One time I ran Vipre and it locked up. It then showed that it didn't have any defination files loaded. I basically uninstalled and reinstalled the program. I've run both now several times in Safe Mode and have found nothing.

I've run chkdsk several times, with nothing found.

I ran Windows Diagnostic Memory Tool, thinking I might have bad DDR3 ram; no memory errors were found with standard test. I have not done the extended test.

I did a System Restore, and went back to my last restore point that was a week ago. It completed successfully. But now the problems are cropping up again.

I'm thinking that the HDD might be failing, especially since there was that BSOD that happened this morning. Oh, there are a lot of Errors in the event viewers of varying types.

I'm trying to d/l AVG to see if it might pick up something that Vipre is missing.

When I first got the laptop, I burned off the DVD's for a system restore, but I forgot them back in the states. My wife is sending them to me. I can burn off another set, but I'm afraid that if Windows 7 is corrupted, the DVD's will be corrupted. I also had Hirens v 10 at home. Forgot it as well; I tried to d/l the latest v 14, but it aborted about 40% in the process, and I got a memory call error (which led me to believe it was memory issues).

I'm all over the place on this I know. I'm running out of thoughts, and figured someone with more experience might be able to lend some insight.


Norm Muelleman
Cisco CCNA
CompTIA Security+
CompTIA Network+
Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)
Working on A+ and MCSA

My computer ate your computer for lunch :)
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micro Aug 01, 2011, 11:37am EDT Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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>> Re: HDD issue, possibly memory or other issues??
Try running seatools, it is a hdd diagnosing software provided by Seagate, it is for any brand of hdd.

If it shows nothing wrong, i would format the computer and see if that takes care of it.
Since your disks are on their way, i would just download a trial full version of windows 7 to see if that will take fix the problems.

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john albrich Aug 01, 2011, 12:28pm EDT Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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Edited: Aug 01, 2011, 12:29pm EDT

 
>> Re: HDD issue, possibly memory or other issues??

Until you get the discs,you might also try:

UBCD (diagnostics-RAM, CPU, HDD, motherboard, etc)
http://www.ultimatebootcd.com/
http://majorgeeks.com/Ultimate_Boot_CD_UBCD_d4981.html

then burn to a CD/DVD the image file that you download and BOOT from the CD/DVD. This takes Windows operating system ENTIRELY out of the picture. So if the problem has been you're missing files or files are corrupted, this will eliminate that as a problem source during your testing.

You can also try a live Linux distro like Ubuntu or Knoppix. Again, the point is to take Windows out of the picture. You boot the Linux CD/DVD and try running some high-usage programs, videos, etc.

If things still fail when Windows is NOT running, then you have a hardware or firmware problem (e.g. of a "firmware" issue = BIOS settings might be corrupted, causing unintended overclocking, wrong voltages, etc.)


Some other things to consider:
You say you have 4GB of RAM. If this is 2x2GB modules, then try booting with just ONE 2GB module installed (make sure it's in the right socket). Then run what has been failing and see if the problem continues to occur. If it does, SWAP the other module and try again. If the problem didn't occur with either module ALONE, then your modules are probably OK...but you might have a motherboard/RAM socket problem (not that uncommon in laptops) with the second RAM socket...or a problem that shows up only when both modules are mechanically seated. Of course, it's also possible just reseating the RAM modules "fixed" a corrosion or mis-seating problem with the connectors/modules.

Note: follow good ESD handling procedures and make sure the battery is REMOVED from the laptop when you work with the memory modules.

Good luck!

Norm Muelleman Aug 01, 2011, 01:12pm EDT Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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>> Re: HDD issue, possibly memory or other issues??
Well, some updates;

I tried d/ling AVG from MajorGeeks. When I tried to run it, I kept getting error file corrupted.

I ran the SeaGate Seatool. AHA! We have a winner! When I ran SMART, it passed. When I ran Short Drive Self Test, I got an error. It basically said I had problem sector errors, ensure I had backups..blah blah blah. It suggested I run Seagate Tool for DOS from the .iso image I burn onto a CD.

So, I d/led the image. I need a CD, so I'll tackle it tomorrow and burn it and see if it works.

I had Ubuntu at home. I'll try and d/l it again and see if I can get it to d/l and try running it. I do have BackTrack 4r2 on my USB drive. I might put that in there and see if it works. I can't remember if BackTrack has any disk utilities; it's mostly for..ahem..well, forensics :)

But I'm still worried about something insideous lurking. I did d/l Kaspersky's rootkit analyzer, and it came up with nothing. So maybe I'm being too paranoid? With the Seagate's tool coming up with an error, that makes me suspicious...but I know HDD's can/do fail. I did do a complete backup to my Passport, so I should lose anything important.

So, I'm going to run Seagate in the morning, see what that comes up with. I'll also download some of those other suggestions as a backup. I guess I can try and d/l the trial version of WIndows 7 and try that if all else fails.

See what else worries me is my touchpad is working again. I turned it "off" with the function key, since I have a portable mouse. When I try and turn the darn pad off again, it's not working. I dont think that's a HDD issue. That's what makes me wonder if something else is going on....

Norm Muelleman
Cisco CCNA
CompTIA Security+
CompTIA Network+
Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)
Working on A+ and MCSA

My computer ate your computer for lunch :)
john albrich Aug 01, 2011, 08:15pm EDT Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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>> Re: HDD issue, possibly memory or other issues??

If you DL another Windows OS (like the trial version) and the problems disappear, you might still have an HDD hardware problem...it just may take some time for the problems to show up as the data degrade over time.

You can use a drive's SMART data to help diagnose if you have an HDD hardware problem. There are several categories of SMART "analysis" programs: Many of these require Windows to be operating properly to provide reliable data. Note: a suspect drive can be attached (as a non-boot drive) to a known good system to do this if it was the OS drive on a problematic system and there is any question as to whether the OS is running properly.

Unfortunately, raw SMART data alone may not be very useful. Some SMART parameters are vastly more important than others, and some have NOTHING to do with real-time data integrity.

Here are a few basic types of SMART data "analysis" programs"

1) acquire and display SMART values and display non-intelligent parameter "threshold" values. No assessment of any kind based on the data is provided. It's left entirely up to the user to interpret results.

2) acquire and display SMART values and display non-intelligent parameter "threshold" values (e.g. seatools, HD Tune, HDDscan, etc), AND provide a simplistic "good"/"caution"/"no-good" assessment for a given drive health parameter. The problem with many of these kinds of simplistic "drive health" assessment programs is they may show assessments that show "cautions" or even "fails" based on raw data on parameters that really have NOTHING to do with whether a drive is actually "bad" and causing data integrity problems or not...whether the drive has actual "hard" errors or simply is reporting a high number of "soft" errors or concerns. For example, the analysis program may "red flag" or "yellow flag" a parameter simply based on the drive's "high" Power-on Hours, or a "high" number of CRC corrections even though the data weren't put at risk at all, or were ALL corrected and would NOT cause a data integrity problem but might show up as a performance degradation, etc. Other SMART parameters however may be more meaningful in actually determining whether you have a data integrity/corruption issue with a given drive and the assessment should be given more weight. In some cases, people will be led by these "flags" to replace a drive when there is in fact no real-world reason to do so.

3) acquire and display SMART values and display threshold values, and attempt to provide a predictive "time to failure" assessment based on history (e.g. Passmark's Diskcheck). With such programs the longer time period over which data are collected the more accurate the TEC prediction. Again, simply because a drive is predicted to fail in the immediate future may or may not indicate the drive is actually having data integrity problems at this point in time. It could simply be near it's theoretical end-of-life but not causing any actual problems at the moment.

4) acquire and display SMART values and display threshold values, AND compare your drive's SMART data relative to comparable (or same) drive models based on a real world database (e.g. speedfan (requires internet connection to compare to database)). I find this one quite useful for real-world drive assessment, but again, the user must still in the end determine if the provided data mean there is an actual risk to current data, or whether to simply keep watching a given parameter and take backup precautions just in case there is a future hard failure.


Understanding Individual SMART Parameters
Note: for a given SMART parameter, a good source of information to help a user understand the meaning of the data is:
http://kb.acronis.com/content/9134
(you can then examine other parameters starting from that point)

Norm Muelleman Aug 02, 2011, 12:22am EDT Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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>> Re: HDD issue, possibly memory or other issues??
Ok, must have HDD failing..
I got to work this morning and fired up the laptop. FIrst, when I tried to use PowerDVD to burn my .iso, it said it couldn't find the language file for it and aborted :(

I got Windows disc imager to burn the .iso for SeaTools for DOS

Fired up SeaTools for DOS...the program appeared to work just fine..
It said it could not locate a drive :( Said to check the cables, power, etc.
Well, I'm guessing that there's something major going on with my HDD. When I reboot to windows, so far I'm working ok (I'm on Windows typing this).

I did load my Backtrack; it seemed to work fine (it's on a thumbdrive). Side note; anyone know how to get the nic card to initialize in Backtrack (running DHCP)?

So, my wife called Microcenter in St. Louis. They said to contact ASUS as my laptop is still under manufacturer's warranty. Sigh...

Any other thoughts?

Norm Muelleman
Cisco CCNA
CompTIA Security+
CompTIA Network+
Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)
Working on A+ and MCSA

My computer ate your computer for lunch :)
James Dean Aug 02, 2011, 07:29am EDT Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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>> Re: HDD issue, possibly memory or other issues??
My solution to this is run a HDD diagnostic....also try run your laptop in safe mode...and restore it to the last known good configuration...and remove all temp file and every unused items from your computer run disc scan....these are some laptop optimization steps that will help to enhance your computer performance...and the problems your are facing...

Now restart your computer let it boot in normal mode...and then check if your programs are working fine or not...if it is not please let this know...

Good luck
James

Norm Muelleman Aug 02, 2011, 10:07am EDT Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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>> Re: HDD issue, possibly memory or other issues??
Ok, here's further troubleshooting I've done, and results;

I was able to run Ubuntu from Live cd. It appeared to run fine from the cd. While it was running, I ran the disk utility that came with it. It showed that there were errors on the HDD, and that the HDD was offset by 512k on the OS drive, and 4024 on the second drive (I made two partitions, C and D, OS on C, Data and video, etc on D). So that tells me something is really screwed up. It also recommended repartitioning the drives.

I then restarted and got into Windows. I ran the error tool on the hard drive. It aborted for drive D (which is 3x as big as C). I ran it on C:, which required a restart to begin. It did find several bad clusters and replaced them. However, when I rebooted into WIndows, it's starting to act all slow and squirelly again. For example, IE was all jumbled. Also, I ran Vipre on my external HDD just to be sure; it was about 99% done, then Vipre locked up and stopped responding. Then my entire PC became unstable, sllloooow as molasses, and required a hard restart. I'm currently running WIndows in Safe Mode with networking.

I did rerun Seagates HDD diagnostic, SeaTools for Windows; it still shows issues with the HDD. SMART passes, but the short drive self test failed, and it again says to ensure my data is backed up due to failure.

So, my wife called local Microcenter shop where we bought the laptop. They told me to contact ASUS directly. Well, ASUS's website says to either do the Live Chat (only availabe in US, Canada, China..doesnt work in Iraq), call them (yeah, right), or email. I sent them an email detailing the problems. They will respond "within 48 hours". That p**sed me off.

So, in the meantime, I could really use further suggestions. NOTE: I also noticed that the Action Center flag has been showing that there's a backup in progress now for over a day...and I dont have any backup going on, nor is there one scheduled. I did my last backup with my WD Passport's software.

I'm thinking that the best thing to do is do a format of the drive, and then attempt to restore the image from the external HDD. Or else, load up Ubuntu as my OS until my disks arrive. Thoughts? Best way to do the format/restore?

Norm Muelleman
Cisco CCNA
CompTIA Security+
CompTIA Network+
Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)
Working on A+ and MCSA

My computer ate your computer for lunch :)
Norm Muelleman Aug 02, 2011, 10:13am EDT Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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>> Re: HDD issue, possibly memory or other issues??
Follow-up..
Just as I posted that last msg, I happened to have Seagates running a diagnostic again in Safe mode. After I posted (which I hope it made it), the computer got slow, then I got a BSOD. I couldnt see the stop code before it rebooted. However, it kept telling me to remove non-bootable disk and reboot; nothing was in the CD. I just know that this is a HDD issue, but dont know if I should just wipe and try again, or wait for ASUS to get off their butt. This bites because I'm doing some CCNA Security studying over here on top of using this for all my communication back home via skype, email, etc.

Norm Muelleman
Cisco CCNA
CompTIA Security+
CompTIA Network+
Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)
Working on A+ and MCSA

My computer ate your computer for lunch :)
john albrich Aug 02, 2011, 12:07pm EDT Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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Edited: Aug 02, 2011, 12:09pm EDT

 
>> Re: HDD issue, possibly memory or other issues??

I didn't realize you had the OS set to reboot on BSOD.

You can stop that, so that the data are recorded in a file. You can then use the file contents to further ID what happened using a utility like BlueScreenView
http://majorgeeks.com/BlueScreenView_d6200.html

to find the procs to prevent reboot on bsod, just search internet for this or similar, maybe even limit search to your specific OS, etc.
prevent reboot on bsod



edit to add:
I should point out that IF you are having quasi-random hardware failures that cause the BSOD, then the data in the BSOD file may not provide any meaningful help as a hardware error could cause failures at multiple software entry points.

Norm Muelleman Aug 05, 2011, 07:10am EDT Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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>> Re: HDD issue, possibly memory or other issues??
Well, I've determined that the HDD was misalingned and had boot sector errors. So, I attempted to contact ASUS. Well, let me back up...

As you may/may not know, I'm over here in Kirkuk, Iraq. So this is a long distance thing.

I tried to send a service email to ASUS to see how I could get this resolved. They did not reply for over 72 hours(they said they would respond by 48). They then said that they had "service issues" on their site. Bottom line...I had to have my wife call them to see what needed to be done. They were giving her a bunch of crap about not having an RMA, etc.

They finally agreed to send a replacement HDD to my house in the US. However, I had to send my broken HDD back into them within 14 days, or I would be charged for the replacement HDD!!! Then they tried to say some BS that the warranty did not cover outside US. My wife pointed out that we bought the extended warranty which CLEARLY shows global coverage. Well, again, have to have the HDD to them within 14 days; it takes 12-14 days to get stuff from home to here!!! Then to get to ASUS on top of that!

I'm about to rate ASUS customer service right up there with Gateway's...SUCKS SUCKS SUCKS!!!

Anyone got a good suggestion for a HDD? I'm going to buy one from Newegg and have it shipped here. The, swap out drives, and send broken one home and when it gets home, have wife make the claim at that time.

Now to post some questions on the Linux forum..since I dont know much about Linux (but it's running on this HDD for some reason)

Norm Muelleman
Cisco CCNA
CompTIA Security+
CompTIA Network+
Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)
Working on A+ and MCSA

My computer ate your computer for lunch :)
john albrich Aug 05, 2011, 09:25am EDT Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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Edited: Aug 05, 2011, 09:27am EDT

 
>> Re: HDD issue, possibly memory or other issues??

If your notebook is used in high temperatures with lots of fine dust, you might want to consider a Western Digital 'Black Edition' 2.5" notebook drive. They cost about 15%-20% more than a "normal" drive but they are worth it when the environment is harsh.

The Black Edition drives are ruggedized for higher temps, dustier environments, higher G-shocks, etc.

Or, since you're using Win7, you may even want to consider an SSD drive. I definitely would. But SSD gets pricey if you need more than a 96GB drive. Very rugged compared to a normal HDD. You can get a 2nd Generation drive on sale for about $1.20 per GB when on sale, sometimes even less. If memory serves, I've very recently also seen a 3rd generation SATA 6Gbps SSD for about $1.50/GB when on a really good sale. I don't recall if I posted the specific info to this HWA thread:
http://www.hardwareanalysis.com/content/topic/77290/#588174

Norm Muelleman Aug 05, 2011, 10:16am EDT Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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>> Re: HDD issue, possibly memory or other issues??
I was looking at the WD black edition! Or an SSD, but I think I'll just do the black edition and be done with it. My wife is sending me my Win7 disks...I'm struggling with Ubuntu..it's nice and quick, but it's not picked up all the little things on my laptop, like specialized keys, the webcam and microphone...

Norm Muelleman
Cisco CCNA
CompTIA Security+
CompTIA Network+
Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)
Working on A+ and MCSA

My computer ate your computer for lunch :)

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