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  Is it my hard drive? 
 
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Nas Nas Sep 21, 2011, 03:36pm EDT Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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Edited: Sep 21, 2011, 03:44pm EDT

Replies: 6 - Views: 3058
So basically for the past half year (maybe longer) my pc running vista has had occasional freeze up's and restarts mostly due to me running it 24/7 without any rest. Usually a restart and running chkdsk fixes things. I did also have some bsod issues but that was down to a failing graphics card.

Yesterday afternoon I had another of those freeze up episodes where everything stopped responding even after waiting around 10 mins so i did a hard reset by pressing on the power button for a few seconds and it restarted and started working fine again.

Last night as I was sleeping I heard the pc restart at least two or three times. It's happened before so I thought nothing of it until i woke up to find the screen on the startup repair page with a label reading something like "your computer was unable to start". I clicked on the restore option or something like that (i was still half asleep so i don't remember exactly) and ended up back on the same startup repair page so i tried again,even did a memory diagnostic and which turned out fine. Eventually there was a black screen with two options, one being go to startup restore page again and the other being "load windows normally".

I chose the second option and I was able to run it ok a few times but it kept restarting. No bsod or anything the screen just went black and after a while it would restart normally without going to that restore page that i had woken up to. Just a normal restart after running for 20-40 mins. After the third or fourth restart I scheduled a disk check and restarted manually via the startmenu and then i left the house to go out. When I got back three hours later, chckdsk was running at around 76% complete, there were no bad sectors or reparse file or any of that. I waited till it finished and instead of restarting, it went back into chckdsk starting from 0%. I figured it must have been on some kind of loop since I had left so i did another hard reset with the power button and got vista to start normally. Since then, it's been working fine, i've been able to run it as usual with many open tabs on chrome, live streaming sports, downloading torrents and media player or winamp/itunes in the background.

As I was sleeping again, roughly 24 hours after i heard the first restart, I heard the same thing which is what go be up at 3:30 in the morning putting up this post on hardwareanalysis trying to figure if this is my HD, bad memory, psu or some software glitch....

Any input would be appreciated. Sorry for the long ass post. Thanks in advance to those who bother to read and respond, especially jon who has been extra helpful with my other pc problems in the past.

EDIT:

PC Dell e521 running vista
2gigs ram
amd athlon 64 x2 dual core 3800 2ghz

Additional details:
I did uninstall my linksys pci adapter driver that day, I had to find the driver from the internet on my other pc and install it via usb. I doubt something like that would cause such a disruption.

I've since run Malwarebytes and a quick scan on avast and found no problems.


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micro Sep 21, 2011, 04:51pm EDT Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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Edited: Sep 21, 2011, 04:53pm EDT

 
>> Re: Is it my hard drive?
First off, i would start by running "Seatools". It is a lot better hdd diagnostic tool than windows has.
http://www.seagate.com/ww/v/index.jsp?locale=en-US&name=se...04090aRCRD

My initial thoughts would be that it either has a weak psu or bad thermal paste on your cpu.

here is a link to cpuid hardware monitor. Check your temps to make sure that over heating is not the issue:
http://www.cpuid.com/softwares/hwmonitor.html

EDIT:
If everything checks out, i would reinstall windows.

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john albrich Sep 21, 2011, 05:50pm EDT Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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>> Re: Is it my hard drive?
.
I'm wary that you've put your OS and data through so many "chkdsk" cycles. Chkdsk is NOT designed to "save", "restore" or "reconstruct" your data or the OS, and in fact can actually contribute to massive corruption/loss of your OS and data. Chkdsk is designed to fix the filesystem...the way the data are organized on the disk...not the data. It will even sacrifice data to ensure the filesystem is restored to operability. See my post here for more description:
http://www.hardwareanalysis.com/content/topic/77881/#593218

Whatever you decide to do, I'd make an image backup of the drive using Macrium Reflect Free Edition or DriveImage XML (aka DIXML) before you do anything else.


Without a completely fresh install of the OS there's simply no way to begin to diagnose the exact problem. Ideally, you'd try that on a different HDD to remove ANY chance that the diagnosis is influenced by your HDD being faulty or contaminated with a really nasty rootkit or something. If you decide to use your existing HDD then it would be preferable to make sure it is completely wiped free of all contamination by a non-Windows based partition manager utility like Parted Magic, qparted, or similar, including the MBR (master boot record) before you try to install an OS on it. You could skip that step, and just do a fresh install of the OS, and if the problem goes away then all is "good". Before moving any of your old data files back to your computer I'd recommend a thorough anti-virus scan of the files using a quality AV application.

Note: a fresh install from an install CD/DVD can be very different from doing a "restore" of the OS.

You can look at the "health" of the HDD by using a SMART capable utility like:
HD Tune
Disk Checkup (passmark)
Speedfan
etc.

You can also run non-Windows based diagnostics from a CD/DVD using UBCD. Download UBCD and burn it to a CD or DVD and boot from that (you may have to change BIOS Settings to do so). First run the memory tests at LEAST overnight, then CPU tests.

Summarizing:
1) Make a backup of the disk
2) Look at the SMART data for the disk and see if anything stands out (like excessive read errors, sector reallocation, high-flying writes, etc). Replace the disk if needed.
Check also to make sure your HDD is not being overheated. Any temp above 50C for an HDD is worth worrying about.
3) Run UBCD diagnostics
4) If nothing stood out in items 2 and 3, try a fresh-install of the OS, then run some applications at least overnight as you have been doing.
5) If problem solved, load your data/applications after checking with an AV program just to reduce the chance you could re-infect your computer


Those programs can all be found on majorgeeks.com and other download sites...but I trust majorgeeks more than most other sites to have vetted the programs.

john albrich Sep 21, 2011, 05:54pm EDT Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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>> Re: Is it my hard drive?
.
I'm wary that you've put your OS and data through so many "chkdsk" cycles. Chkdsk is NOT designed to "save", "restore" or "reconstruct" your data or the OS, and in fact can actually contribute to massive corruption/loss of your OS and data. Chkdsk is designed to fix the filesystem...the way the data are organized on the disk...not the data. It will even sacrifice data to ensure the filesystem is restored to operability. See my post here for more description:
http://www.hardwareanalysis.com/content/topic/77881/#593218

Whatever you decide to do, I'd make an image backup of the drive using Macrium Reflect Free Edition or DriveImage XML (aka DIXML) before you do anything else.


Without a completely fresh install of the OS there's simply no way to begin to diagnose the exact problem. Ideally, you'd try that on a different HDD to remove ANY chance that the diagnosis is influenced by your HDD being faulty or contaminated with a really nasty rootkit or something. If you decide to use your existing HDD then it would be preferable to make sure it is completely wiped free of all contamination by a non-Windows based partition manager utility like Parted Magic, qparted, or similar, including the MBR (master boot record) before you try to install an OS on it. You could skip that step, and just do a fresh install of the OS, and if the problem goes away then all is "good". Before moving any of your old data files back to your computer I'd recommend a thorough anti-virus scan of the files using a quality AV application.

Note: a fresh install from an install CD/DVD can be very different from doing a "restore" of the OS.

You can look at the "health" of the HDD by using a SMART capable utility like:
HD Tune
Disk Checkup (passmark)
Speedfan
etc.

You can also run non-Windows based diagnostics from a CD/DVD using UBCD. Download UBCD and burn it to a CD or DVD and boot from that (you may have to change BIOS Settings to do so). First run the memory tests at LEAST overnight, then CPU tests.

Summarizing:
1) Make a backup of the disk
2) Look at the SMART data for the disk and see if anything stands out (like excessive read errors, sector reallocation, high-flying writes, etc). Replace the disk if needed.
Check also to make sure your HDD is not being overheated. Any temp above 50C for an HDD is worth worrying about.
3) Run UBCD diagnostics
4) If nothing stood out in items 2 and 3, try a fresh-install of the OS, then run some applications at least overnight as you have been doing.
5) If problem solved, load your data/applications after checking with an AV program just to reduce the chance you could re-infect your computer


Those programs can all be found on majorgeeks.com and other download sites...but I trust majorgeeks more than most other sites to have vetted the programs.


edit to add:
sorry I repeated some of what micro suggested...I had the "reply to" on my computer for a couple hours as I had to write it up a little bit at a time, got distracted, etc. and didn't re-check for any recent updates before I hit the submit button.

Nas Nas Sep 21, 2011, 09:00pm EDT Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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Edited: Sep 21, 2011, 09:12pm EDT

 
>> Re: Is it my hard drive?
Thanks guys I really appreciate your quick replies. In my rush to finish my post early this morning and trying to avoid getting ambushed by another random shutdown, i forgot to add these HDTune results.

March readings of my main drive
http://i265.photobucket.com/albums/ii207/pistolero983/hdtune/2..._09-25.png

[IMG]http://i265.photobucket.com/albums/ii207/pistolero983/hdtune/2..._09-09.png[/IMG]

Readings from yesterday:

First one after I was first able to get back into vista after getting past the "windows could not start" page
[IMG]http://i265.photobucket.com/albums/ii207/pistolero983/hdtune/2..._10-33.png[/IMG]

Subsequent readings
[IMG]http://i265.photobucket.com/albums/ii207/pistolero983/hdtune/2..._10-41.png[/IMG]


[IMG]http://i265.photobucket.com/albums/ii207/pistolero983/hdtune/2..._16-09.png[/IMG]

[IMG]http://i265.photobucket.com/albums/ii207/pistolero983/hdtune/2..._16-05.png[/IMG]


I don't know if these erratic readings as well as two more restarts this morning, followed by loud "searching" or "seeking" noises at the start prove it's the HD or not. In the meantime i'll try to look into your other suggestions.

EDIT:
HWMonitor shows my main samsung drive at Celsius and my backup seagate drive at 47. I'll keep an eye on them.


I downloaded Seatools last week after another freeze up but it could only detect my freeagentgo connected via usb not my main samsung drive or backup seagate internal drive so I ditched it. Maybe i'll give it another go when I get back later.

john albrich Sep 21, 2011, 09:54pm EDT Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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Edited: Sep 20, 2012, 04:24am EDT

 
>> Re: Is it my hard drive?
.
Generally those very erratic readings on HD Tune indicate significant problems with a hard drive. The "dips" in performance (when substantial 'dips' repeatedly occur in each of multiple tests on that drive in about the SAME physical position(s) on the drive) often indicate the drive is doing a LOT of retries, recovering from errors, etc. Note: if the data throughput "dips" don't repeat in the same place, or they don't always appear in each test, then they could be due to some system operational issue rather than a specific hard drive problem. Keep in mind that such results could also be HDD temperature related so if the tests are run at different times one may or may not see "dips" repeating in the same location. With changes in HDD operating temperature, the "dip" location(s) could change or the symptoms could even disappear as conditions change.

The SMART data will likely show at least 1 major indicator of degradation. Look at the parameters I suggested earlier. If you want to know more about a specific parameter visit this site...here are a few examples of a some key parameters in SMART:

http://kb.acronis.com/content/9101
9101: S.M.A.R.T. Attribute: Read Error Rate

http://kb.acronis.com/content/9107
9107: S.M.A.R.T. Attribute: Seek Error Rate

http://kb.acronis.com/content/9131
9131: S.M.A.R.T. Attribute: Hardware ECC Recovered

http://kb.acronis.com/content/9124
9124: S.M.A.R.T. Attribute: High Fly Writes


Edit 201109211900 to add:
One reason I like Passmark's well designed "Disk Checkup" utility is that it monitors disk drives over time and looks for trends that may indicate an oncoming failure. It also tries to provide "actual" failure dates but those dates should be taken with a grain of salt. Some drives with a "TEC" date of tomorrow for example, can have certain types of failures and actually continue to run reliably for many years (although their performance may be reduced). However, Disk Checkup has accurately pointed out failing drives to me in the past.

Edit 201209200825uct to clarify:
add clarifier to first paragraph regarding "dips"

Nas Nas Sep 22, 2011, 05:06am EDT Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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>> Re: Is it my hard drive?
I'll look into that stuff you added in your last post.

I actually just got home, I left my pc on with some live streaming site running in the background and it was still working when I arrived around four hours later. No auto restart. Last night it restarted again, twice that I heard and another two times this morning when I left my room to lounge around in the living room. All those times, I maybe had one or two folders open, a tab or two on chrome running but not much else activity. Maybe that has something to do with it, maybe when there is little activity the rpm's slow and for some reason it restarts?


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