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Computer freezing occasionally


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#1 adnrew

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Posted 03 July 2010 - 09:43 PM

So I have a secondhand computer. Running Windows XP Professional.

It was a friends old HP 533w with a bad power supply. Because of the case, we couldn't put a new one in. We just moved the motherboard to a new case and everything's been fine.
We left the 80gb Western Digital it came with as the primary master. I put my hard drive, a 320gb Seagate Barracuda, as the primary slave.
We formatted and reinstalled Windows XP on the 80gb and we've been gradually migrating programs from the 320 to the 80.
We put this together just three weeks ago and just this past week, trouble started.

Recently, the computer has been freezing. First time was while browsing the web and listening to music. Everything just hung and there was no error. Nothing was responsive and the music stopped.
Second time was after a reboot, I went into Windows Explorer and clicked on one of the 320's partitions and it hung up again.
A third time was when I shut it down. It just sat on the shutting down screen and was stuck.

Now it seems to like doing it while it's idle. No programs are running. I'll leave and comeback within an hour or so and everything is frozen.
After one of these freezes, I opened the case and noticed the IDE cable running between the two hard drives is kind of tight, and the connection of the Primary Master (80gb) was loose. Pushed it back in and everything was fine until a day later when it started hanging again.

My brother managed to actually "hear" it crash. Whilst running a game installed on the Master (80gb drive) he said he heard short zipping sounds followed by a click. Tried to shut it down normally and it hung up in the middle of that. Then he did a hard reboot and everything was detected in the BIOS, it said "Primary Slave Fail". He continued and let it boot into Windows and it got to the loading screen or the snake screen as some call it. He heard the zipping sounds again and immediately shut it off. Waited about an hour and turned it back on and it hasn't froze or crashed or made any of the noises he described. It's been running for about 7 hours now.

What I've done:
-Ran AVG and looked for viruses. Cleaned up a few things. Still hung after this.
-Ran Microsoft's Memory checking program. No errors.
-Unplugged and replugged IDE connectors to both drives. Cleaning them out and made sure no pins are bent.
-Ran Seagates program for detecting faulty drives. Ran it on both of them. No errors.

What I suspect:
-My 320 Seagate is on it's last legs. It's sad, as I am a musician and I do record to it. (Yes, I know that would cause wear and tear but I looked up suggested drives for recording and saw Seagates Barracuda in a lot of places.)
-Whilst running the Seagate program on the 320, it could have hung up on me and then caught itself again. I didn't watch it the whole time, as the long tests take upwards of 2 hours.
-The Primary IDE cable for the hard drives is faulty. (It is the original one that came with the HP 533w.)
-The power supply could be having some trouble powering both drives.

It's all very strange as I can be reading and writing data with the 320gb slave for hours, and nothing happens and then it hangs up when it's idle. In the previous machine, the 320gb Seagate was the only hard drive and it's partitioned into three drives. This hard drive is just less than two years old, so it's a little worrying that it would be the one to die before the much much older 80gb.

At the suggestion of a friend, I downloaded CrystalDiskInfo to look at the drives. The 320gb appears with no problems.
The 80gb has a "Caution" and has highlighted the Reallocated Sector Count with a problem. Googling this has no helpful results. I'm not sure what this means.

So any advice on what I should do first? Or is there some software that's better for detecting faulty hard drives?
I'm completely comfortable with opening the case and checking things, so if you have any ideas, I'm willing to try them.

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#2 MrBruce1959

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Posted 03 July 2010 - 10:00 PM

Hello and welcome to Bleepingcomputer.

I am not 100% sure about the noise you are describing, this could be a wire or cable occasionally hitting a cooling fan, or it is the servo in the hard drive, this noise usually sounds like marbles in a blender while it is running.

Make sure nothing is touching a fan, also make sure your motherboard is not shorting out to the computer case some where, this will cause a arcing noise like an electrical spark.

Below is diagnostic software for Seagate hard drives called sea tools, down load the program, all it requires is registering your email to download the software, no purchase is necessary.

Put the program on a bootable floppy or cdrom and boot to it and run the utility on both hard drives as long as you need to to determine the disks of both drives status, if there are read/write errors or otherwise.

http://www.seagate.com/ww/v/index.jsp?loca...000dd04090aRCRD

Good luck and please keep us posted. :thumbsup:

Edited by MrBruce1959, 03 July 2010 - 10:03 PM.

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#3 adnrew

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Posted 04 July 2010 - 12:46 AM

Ran Seatools boot from the CD.
Scanned both drives and they passed. No errors at all.

Before restarting just now, I opened the case and looked around on the motherboard to see if it was touching anything it shouldn't be and looking for burn marks and any bloated/leaking/faulty capacitors.
Everything's in order as far as it looks.

Pushed the loose parts of the IDE cables as far away from the CPU fan as I could just to be sure. Tucked them into the empty parts of the drive bays(?) where you mount things. Yes.

At a loss for things to do on the hardware side for now, I took another look at the event viewer and tried to match up a log time to the last time it froze and I found this:
"The IMAPI CD-Burning COM Service service entered the stopped state."
That was at 1:36 AM on July 3rd. It froze then but I wasn't running anything that resembles a CD drive. This was a hang up that occurred when I was using Windows Explorer to browse the 320gb drive.
I've only used the CD drive to install WinXP Pro 2-3 weeks ago and just now to burn the Seatools boot disc and in those instances the CD drive worked fine.

EDIT
Looking through the viewer again, I found a Warning flag with a yellow icon. This must have been while I was out and the computer was left on, but idle. No programs running:
"The time service has not been able to synchronize the system time for 49152 seconds because none of the time providers has been able to provide a usable time stamp. The system clock is unsynchronized."

And just before this it has an Information log about the same IMAPI CD-Burning COM Service entering the stopped state.

Edited by adnrew, 04 July 2010 - 12:53 AM.


#4 adnrew

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Posted 04 July 2010 - 08:13 AM

Didn't know whether to edit or make a new post, but I have a new symptom.

I left the machine off after running those Seatools tests and posting the results.
Just turned it on about 15 minutes ago and it detected the two drives and then just stopped at a black screen.
Gave it the benefit of the doubt and let it sit there for a few minutes and then turned it off.
Upon reboot, it didn't detect either of the drives. Opened the case and did a light press on all the connections and it was able to boot again.

I have plenty of IDE cables to swap it with, so I may try that next.

#5 adnrew

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Posted 05 July 2010 - 01:35 PM

I may have fixed this.

I never knew this, but I guess it isn't good to have two hard drives on the same IDE cable as a master/slave to each other.
I finally got Windows Explorer to freeze/crash on its own without the computer crashing so it was able to write some event logs.
Seeing two alternating errors with IDE0 and IDE1 in the logs. Saying one is not ready or one cannot be accessed.

Put them both as masters on separate cables and we seem to be doing fine.
I'll update this if my freezing continues.

Though I kinda troubleshooted this one on myself, thanks MrBruce for the Seatools bootable recommendation.

#6 hamluis

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Posted 05 July 2010 - 01:43 PM

<<I never knew this, but I guess it isn't good to have two hard drives on the same IDE cable as a master/slave to each other.>>

Typically...hard drives and cables are designed to have two hard drives on the same cable.

The only problems that can develop with such arrangement...have to do with

a. Improper jumper settings on one or both drives. You must go either Master/Slave or Cable Select for both drives. No combination of those settings.

b. An attached hard drive has problems and XP does not like to boot with troubled drives attached.

c. Cables. They don't last forever and older cables cannot use Cable Select settings.

d. Improper connection.

Post the detail for the Event Viewer errors reflected for both IDE0 and IDE1, please.

Louis

#7 adnrew

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Posted 05 July 2010 - 03:38 PM

Alternating errors in the log with these two messages:

Source: atapi
Category: None
Event ID: 15
"The device, \Device\Ide\IdePort0, is not ready for access yet."

Source: Disk
Category: None
Event ID: 11
"The driver detected a controller error on \Device\Harddisk1\D."


EDIT - The times for these errors was when I opened Windows Explorer and had it hang but the mouse and keyboard were still responsive.

The C: drive has a few jumper settings.
Master
Slave
Master w/ Slave Present
Cable Select
The drive was set to Master w/ Slave Present.

The D: drive has
Master
Slave
Cable Select
This drive was set to Slave.

I now have them set as just Masters (not w/ Slave Present on the first drive) on the Primary and Secondary cables, so they're completely separate.

Edited by adnrew, 05 July 2010 - 03:43 PM.


#8 MrBruce1959

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Posted 05 July 2010 - 04:59 PM

I would try entering your computers BIOS setup utility and make sure the drives are detected, I do not know if you have done this yet.

To enter the utility watch for the proper key or key combination displayed on the screen during boot up to enter what is sometimes called Set Up.

There should be a menu in the BIOS called MAIN, I have to add, the menu layout can sometimes be a little different in some OEM systems, but this menu shows the list of drives on the primary master, primary slave, secondary master and secondary slave.

It may also be listed as IDE0 or IDE1 etc.

There may be the word AUTO in the field next to each line, high-lite each field and press enter, it should name the drive by its hardware ID number.

Also some BIOS utilities have a main menu option called "auto detect hard drives"

You want to make sure the BIOS has successfully detected both hard drives.

You also want to make sure you save the configuration, by hitting the f10 key, this saves the configuration to the CMOS, exits the utility and reboots the system.

During the boot, the BIOS will now recognize the drives' configuration and will pass the control over to the hard drives' sector 0, where the boot command is located.

Edit: corrected a typo.

Edited by MrBruce1959, 06 July 2010 - 12:51 AM.

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#9 adnrew

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Posted 06 July 2010 - 12:00 AM

I have gone through the BIOS with this new configuration.
At first it wasn't seeing the main drive because I had the jumper set to "Master w/ Slave". After switching it to just master, it all checks out.

So I've had no hang ups so far today with the following setup:

Primary Master - Main C: Western Digital drive
Primary Slave - None
Secondary Master - My 320gb Seagate
Secondary Slave - LITE-ON CD-RW


This has actually been kind of an improvement as the Seagate has a majority of what gets burned to CD's.

#10 MrBruce1959

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Posted 06 July 2010 - 01:22 AM

OK keep us posted, If in the event you ever add anything to the Primary Slave option, here is how you do this:

About the ribbon wire types. if you have a 40 conductor ribbon wire, it is better to have an 80 conductor ribbon wire (the 80 conductor is better than the 40 conductor because these prevent cross-talk problems, only 40 wires are used, but the other 40 are alternated as ground wires to prevent one wire from cross-talking to the one next to it, by adding a ground in between each one reduces this problem)

This ribbon wire has 3 plugs with 40 holes in them, one hole may be blocked however to prevent accidental reverse plugging.

There are two plugs closest to each other on one end, this is the end that attach's to the drives, the one alone at one end, goes to the motherboard's IDE port, make sure the red wire side of the ribbon goes to pin 1 on motherboard, most IDE ports are keyed to prevent plugging the cable in back-wards.

Now the configuration.

Hard drive #1 which is to be the PRIMARY MASTER, can be placed on the end of the IDE cable, it has to be configured as a MASTER there should be a MAP on the hard drives label indicating if a jumper has to be placed on J50 to make the drive a MASTER, it can also show no jumper if it is to be a slave, or if CS (Cable Select) is used.

When you place hard ware number 2 which will end up being the PRIMARY SLAVE, you put this drive on the second 40 pin connector on the wire and check the drive for the jumper setting for SLAVE, on Maxtor and Seagate hard drives, no jumper is used to set as a slave.

Connect the four wire power wire to both drives, from the PSU.

Boot system up and enter the BIOS SETUP UTILITY at boot up, use proper key combination to enter setup, choose either AUTO DETECT HARD DRIVES if options is in the BIOS menu, if not look for MAIN at top of screen, on this screen, make sure you hi-lite PRIMARY MASTER and hit enter, it should now show the hard drives ID # then scroll down to PRIMARY SLAVE and do the same thing, hit enter and that drives ID # will display, make sure you recheck SECONDARY MASTER and SECONDARY SLAVE.

Now use ESC or just hit the F10, SAVE TO CMOS AND EXIT? type Y for yes and the utility now exits and system reboots, you should see a brief flash on boot screen showing all the drives before the windows splash screen takes over.

Hope this is helpful.
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