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System Freezes after Idle for a While


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#1 WingMan71

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Posted 14 September 2016 - 01:24 PM

I have a new problem with my computer:

 

Dell Inspiron 3847 Desktop

Windows 7 Home Premium

 

Problem:

 

System freezes after about 15 or 20 minutes of idling (inactivity).  Do not get a BSOD.  Computer does not reboot itself. It just freezes up with whatever is on the screen. It does not matter if I have a screen saver active or not.  The mouse cursor will not move at all, or will move just a tad bid until the spinning circle icon shows up and then its stuck there.  Only way to recover from this is to pull the power cord for a minute and start over.

 

Sometimes I'll eventually get a pop-up warning saying "Warning - Unresponsive Script - not responding" or something similar.  Most times I don't get any such warning.

 

Most of the time I walk off for a while FireFox is running.  I suspected that FireFox was the problem so I have purposely closed FireFox before letting the system idle for a while.  Makes no difference, system still freezes after 15 or 20 minutes. (FireFox is updated to the latest version.)

 

I have tried to run a full system scan with McAfee AntiVirus, but it takes too long to run.  Scan gets to about 40% and then the 15 or 20 minutes is up and the system freezes so the scan never finishes.  A quick-scan with McAfee AntiVirus worked and reported no issues.  I was also able to run a scan with MalwareBytes Anti-Malware (free version).  That scan reported no issues.  Also ran MalwareBytes Anti-Rootkit.  That found no issues either.

 

Any advice on what to look for or what to try next would be appreciated.

 

 



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#2 ranchhand_

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Posted 15 September 2016 - 08:09 AM

Hello Wingman...

The only way to diagnose screen freezes is a step by step method. First, we will start with the usual suspects.

> Test your memory (RAM) as follows:

 

>  Download the (free) zip file (2nd from the top) ISO of Memtest86+ and burn to a CD.

>  Make sure your BIOS is set to CD = 1st Boot Device, HDD = 2nd Boot Device.

Reboot with the CD in your drive. Allow it to run until you get a message at the bottom of the screen that testing is complete (about 20 minutes). Any red posts at the bottom of the screen means that memory stick is bad. You need only one complete run, allowing Memtest to run multiple times will accomplish nothing. 

If you have multiple sticks, test only one (1) stick at a time. This will entail removing one stick at a time, leaving only one mounted to test. If you simply have no knowledge on removing the memory sticks, run the test but allow 3 complete cycles, but it is better to do one at a time.
Post back with results.

If Memtest will not run or you get error messages, let me know.

If you have any questions on how to do the above, post back.

> Test your Hard Drive (HDD): 

 

Go here and download Seatools For DOS (free)
http://www.seagate.com/support/downloads/seatools/#

Accept the EULA and download the ISO file.
When download is complete burn the ISO to a CD or DVD.
Make sure your BIOS is set to:   1st Boot Device = CD drive, 2nd Boot Device = Hard Drive.
When the program opens, click the upper left corner for the Long Test.
> Note: if you get a pop-up window telling you that SMART has tripped and asking if you want to continue, choose Yes. Be sure to post that in your next reply along with the result of the test.
At the end of the test, you will get either a Pass or Fail notice. Post the result in your next reply.
Be sure to have your hard drive directly installed internally to the motherboard, not in an external case.

> Check the case for dust buildup: Open the side panel, and check the case for excessive dust buildup (which can cause overheating). Pay special attention to all heatsinks, such as the CPU fan and heasink, northbridge heatsink, the video card heatsink (if you have a separate video card), etc. and case vent fans. If the unit if pretty dusty, take it out on the back deck and blow it out using a vacuum cleaner with airflow reversed, and a crevice tool attachment to concentrate airflow. Do not directly touch any part with the tool, just direct the airflow. If you have any allergies to dust, better wear a filter mask. You will be surprised at the cloud that will emerge.

 

> Go Here and download the free utility, Open Hardware. Click the gray "Download Open Hardware Monitor 0.6.0 Beta" button. Install it and leave a link on your desktop. When you are running your computer leave it open. Occasionally check what temperature your CPU is running at. Doing this you will get a good idea of how hot your computer is actually running over a period of time.

 

Please post back with the results of each of the above, including what temp your unit is running at.


Help Requests: If there is no reply after 3 days I remove the thread from my answer list. For further help PM me.


#3 WingMan71

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Posted 15 September 2016 - 11:41 AM

Hello Ranchhand,

 

Thanks very much for the instructions!  I'm attempting to do the tests but am having a problem.

 

My computer refuses to boot from the CD-ROM drive.  Yes, I have checked to see if the boot order in the BIOS setup says Boot Disk #1 is the optical disk and Boot Disk #2 is the hard drive.  Actually went into the BIOS setup twice and saved it both times to be sure.

 

I did notice that just the ISO file was burned to the CD-R disks and not the associated "desktop.ini" configuration files that were listed in the files to be burned list. Not sure if that is keeping the system from booting from the CD drive or not.

 

So, I can't run the memory diagnostics or the hard drive diagnostics from DOS right now.

 

In the mean time, I'm going to run the SeaTools for Windows version and test the hard drive.

 

Let me know what you think the issue is with not being able to boot from the CD drive.

 

Thanks!



#4 ranchhand_

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Posted 15 September 2016 - 12:57 PM

BIOS problem: is your date and time setting in the system tray correct or not? If the CMOS battery is getting weak it will not hold the time/date settings, and if so, that will be your problem of setting the boot device order. Next, I suggest re-setting the BIOS back to default settings. If you don't know how to do this post back. Then after you do that, try to set your boot order again. As a suggestion, after you get the order all set in the BIOS, try pressing F10 to save and exit (unless you are doing that already).

Not being able to set your boot order in the BIOS is going to make things difficult in the future, not just with this current problem, but with other things you will want to do. If you have a users' manual that came with the computer be sure to check that. If you don't have one, you may be able to find it online, be sure to check the Dell support website.

 

For now, you can use the Windows memory test that comes with Windows 7, here is the tut link:

http://www.sevenforums.com/tutorials/715-memory-diagnostics-tool.html


Help Requests: If there is no reply after 3 days I remove the thread from my answer list. For further help PM me.


#5 WingMan71

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Posted 15 September 2016 - 02:21 PM

Hello RanchHand,

 

My time/date in the system tray is spot on, so that seems to be OK.

 

I WAS actually able to set the boot order in the BIOS.  After I set Boot Disk #1 to the optical drive I did an Exit with Save.  I actually went back in to the setup again to check if the boot order was saved.  It was. Optical disk first, then the hard drive.  So, I'm confident that the boot order is now correct.

 

I was able to run the SeaTools for Windows and did the Short Drive Self Test.  That passed.  I'll do the Long Test tonight since that may take many hours.

 

I did, in fact, run the Windows 7 memory test.  BIG PROBLEM with it!  When run, it gives an error message stating that it will not be a complete test since it can only test memory addresses up through 4 GB.  My system has 8 GB.

 

That darn thing put my system into a permanent windows memory test boot loop!!!  I could not boot from the hard drive ever again after I started that memory diagnostic the first time!  Scared the crap out of me!  Any attempt to exit it or continue it (the only two choices) would result in a reboot directly back into the windows memory diagnostic test.  I even pulled the plug on my computer and booted it back up several minutes later.  It still booted directly into the memory diagnostic.  There was no escaping it.

 

I had to go online ussing my wife's computer and search for "computer stuck in window 7 memory diagnostic boot loop", and thankfully found a fix.  Whew!!!

 

I would strongly suggest NOT recommending anyone with more than 4 GB of RAM in their computer run this built-in Windows 7 memory diagnostics test based on my experience with it today.

 

In case someone does, here's the fix.  (You need your Windows 7 boot disk or Reinstall Disk #1 to do this.)

 

1) Put your Windows 7 CD in the CD drive.

2) Set your BIOS to boot from your CD drive first.

 

3) Boot your computer.

4) Select your language and wait for the options menu to appear (can take several minutes)

5) Select "Repair Windows" and choose "Command Prompt"

6) Type the drive letter of the drive that has Windows 7 on it, for example type C: and press Enter.

7) Type the below code at the command prompt and press enter.  That's all you need to do to fix it.

     bcdedit /bootsequence {memdiag} /remove

 

That will stop the window memory test boot loop and your computer will boot from the hard drive again.

 

So, the mystery of not booting from the CD is still unexplained.  When I burned the ISO file to the CD I did it using Windows Explorer.  Just dragged and dropped the ISO file onto the CD drive in Explorer and then clicked on burn files to disk.  Should that have made it a bootable disk, or not?

 

Makes you want to say Hmmmmm?????



#6 ranchhand_

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Posted 15 September 2016 - 05:20 PM

Being bootable is in the software, not the burner. The burner is just a drone, it does what it is directed to do. If it burned successfully, the disk should be bootable.

I suspect that you have a 32 bit processor, so are running W7/32bit version. Since 32bit can only deal with a maximum of 4gigs of memory, the tester was telling you that it could only test the 1st 4 gigs, but not the full 8 gigs. 64 bit systems can handle over 8 gigs of memory. As far as going into a loop, that is unusual. But....we are talking about computers here, and they do get difficult at times. You did well in figuring out how to handle it.

So...at this point, can you boot from Memtest 86+ or not? If the BIOS is set to 1st boot device, and the burn was good, it should be booting from the optical drive.


Help Requests: If there is no reply after 3 days I remove the thread from my answer list. For further help PM me.


#7 WingMan71

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Posted 15 September 2016 - 05:27 PM

Hello RanchHand,

 

I have a Dell Inspiron 3874, which is running 64-bit Windows 7 and has 8 GB of memory installed. It came that way from Dell.

 

It was the Windows 7 Memory Diagnostic that said it couldn't handle more than 4 GB when it was run. That's what sent my system into a continuous boot loop into that program once it started.

 

I'm gun shy right now from the effort to get my system back to being able to boot into Windows from the hard disk.  Gonna quit for the night.

 

Will try again tomorrow to see if I can boot Memtest86+ from the CD drive.



#8 WingMan71

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Posted 16 September 2016 - 09:23 AM

OK, so I'm running Memtest86+ right now.  Second pass is done and starting on the third pass.  No errors so far, and I'm really not expecting any since it made it through two passes already.

 

The CD drive boot issue turned out not to be a BIOS setup issue. Explorer just copied the ISO file to the CD-R disk instead of making an image of the ISO file on the CD-R disk.  Oops!

 

Going to run the SeaTools long test on the hard drive tonight when I don't need the computer anymore today.  SeaTools quick test from Windows on the hard drive passed yesterday.

 

Really beginning to think that this is a software issue or a virus. I did get some pop-up warnings saying an unresponsive script was causing a problem, which usually happens when my browser is open and has a few tabs open with various Internet sites open.  Also, now this same system freeze happens when I'm working on the system after 20 minutes or so, not just when the system is idle.

 

Gonna run the long test on the hard drive tonight.  Then, see if I can get a full virus scan done on the system, which I haven't managed to do yet.  The scans get frozen after running for the same 20 minutes or so.



#9 WingMan71

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Posted 16 September 2016 - 09:32 AM

Also going to do a controlled environment experiment and run the system for an hour or so without ever opening a browser or even having an active Internet connection.

 

If the same system freeze happens without a browser running, I'll know the "my browser is breaking it" idea is not true.

 

Technology... just one more chance to screw up!!!


Edited by WingMan71, 16 September 2016 - 09:33 AM.


#10 ranchhand_

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Posted 16 September 2016 - 01:18 PM

As I said initially, you find these type of problems by step-by-step testing. You could also have a driver conflict, overheating, bad memory, hard drive starting to fail will cause this, and finally you have a backdoor trojan virus that is attempting to dial out and is crashing the computer. And more....I recently had to take a firewall that I really liked off my computer because it was conflicting with something (never did find out what it was) and causing random BSOD. I removed it and that ended the crashes. Years ago I had (seemingly) random system freezes just like yours, and it took me weeks to discover that one of my 4 sticks of memory went bad. Replaced it and no more problems. That is when I learned that it is best to test each stick of memory singly rather than multiple sticks together. When I tested multiple sticks at the same time the test came up positive. When I tested them singly, the bad boy showed up. And so on ad infinitum.


Help Requests: If there is no reply after 3 days I remove the thread from my answer list. For further help PM me.


#11 WingMan71

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Posted 16 September 2016 - 02:48 PM

Hello RanchHand,

 

The Memtest86+ test finished all three passes about three hours after I started it.  No errors.

 

I'll run the SeaTools long test on my hard drive tonight after dinner.

 

Tried to remember what, if anything I have changed on my computer since or before these symptoms started.  Only thing I can remember is that I installed DropBox somewhere around the same time, but I can't be completely sure of the relationship of that install and the freeze-up symptoms.

 

I have done one pass of my controlled environment test in which I didn't have an active Internet connection or any browser open and running.  The system still had some partial freezes in that environment.  The mouse sometimes refused to move and I couldn't click on anything, but after a minute or so it came back alive.  This is a very strange symptom.

 

I'll do the hard drive test tonight and go from there.

 

Thanks.



#12 WingMan71

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Posted 17 September 2016 - 09:23 AM

Status update...

 

Seatools hard drive long test completed last night.  No errors.

 

Memtest86+ memory diagnostic test completed yesterday.  Three complete passes, no errors.

 

CPU running at between 56 and 60 degrees Celsius.

 

Windows automatic updates applied several new updates this morning when I booted up.



#13 ranchhand_

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Posted 19 September 2016 - 02:58 PM

Enter Safe Mode without networking and let the computer run for a couple of hours. Post back if you experience any more freezes or not.


Help Requests: If there is no reply after 3 days I remove the thread from my answer list. For further help PM me.


#14 WingMan71

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Posted 20 September 2016 - 06:53 AM

Enter Safe Mode without networking and let the computer run for a couple of hours. Post back if you experience any more freezes or not.

 

Ran system for 5 hours last night in Safe Mode no networking. No problems, no freezing.

 

Also updated the video driver yesterday just to check one more piece of hardware.  No difference, system still froze after a while.



#15 ranchhand_

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Posted 20 September 2016 - 09:32 AM

Good...that tells us that something is loading into the system on normal boot that is causing a conflict. So let's start looking for software problems.

 

Your statement here:

 

 

    updated the video driver yesterday just to check one more piece of hardware.  No difference, system still froze after a while.

I assume that you mean that the system froze while in normal boot. Correct me if I am wrong.

 

Now let's do a clean boot and see what we come up with:

> Close all your currently running programs.

 

> Click Start

 

> in the search box at the bottom of the screen, type msconfig; at the top of the pop-up screen, R-click on msconfig.exe, then Run As Administrator. Leave the screen open.

 

> Open your web browser, and go Here:
   (I could post all the steps, but this is very clear and easy to read. If you want it to be more convenient for you, open this web tutorial and your msconfig screen and position them side by side on your monitor).

> Follow steps 3-5 only. Especially follow step 4 carefully and Hide all Microsoft Services. After the directed reboot, let your computer run 2-3 hours and see if your problem surfaces again or not. Post back with results.


Help Requests: If there is no reply after 3 days I remove the thread from my answer list. For further help PM me.





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