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intermitent system freeze w/ hardrive light stuck on...help!

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November 14, 2006 3:06:19 PM

Hi,

I have a home built system that is about 3 years old. I have recently encountered a recurring problem in which the system will slow down to a crawl and ultimately freeze if I try to do anything else. No blue screen or errors, just a total freeze up. I have noticed that the hard drive light on the front of the computer remains on during these freezes and does not go off. Restarting the system will often give me a few more minutes of use before it happens again.

Before moving on, here are the specs of my system:

Asus P4P 800 Mobo
Pentium 4 2.6ghz CPU
2 x 512 Buffalo Memory
Radeon 9600 Pro 128mb video
2 x Maxtor Diamondmax Plus 9 80gb SATA Hard drives (No Raid, Windows installed on C.)

I am not a big gamer and I use the system for music production and office type work.

Here is what I have tried:

--At first I thought it was software, so I backed up C, reformatted the hard drive and reinstalled Windows XP, but that did not fix the problem.
--I ran a 15 minute stress test (can’t remember what software) that ran every system to capacity. The first time the system immediately locked up, but there were no errors. The second time, the system made it through the full 15 minutes with no errors, although I did notice that both HDs only wrote a few megabytes of data during the 15 minutes.
--I also ran an HD benchmarking tool and found that both drives were only writing at 3 mb / sec, whereas before they had been writing at about 52mb / second.
--I have run scandisk a number of times but always find no errors, so I don’t think it is the hard drives and I can’t imagine that both would start to fail at exactly the same time.

Anyone have any thoughts here? I am thinking it could be a bad disk controller, cache or bus on the mobo, but I don’t want to run out and buy another one until I have an idea that I am looking in the right place.

Thanks in advance for the help.

--Zomicon
November 14, 2006 3:30:03 PM

One item that affects all areas and can cause sporadic issues is the power supply.

One way we can eliminate the disk controller is boot from a bootable CD and see if the problem persists (eliminate disk read/writes). If it does, another piece of hardware is the culprit.. PSU, RAM, etc.
November 14, 2006 6:51:10 PM

Oh, now here's a classic scenario...

Apparently both of your HDD's are have the config. jumper set on either master/master or slave/slave, only 1 hdd can be the master and the other must be the slave....

There are 2 ways to fix this and both of them are easy, set 1 jumper for master and the other for slave or set both to cable-select.......
problem solved.

Your welcome
November 14, 2006 9:11:33 PM

He said SATA drives. There's no such thing as master/slave/cable select for SATA.. each drive has its own channel. If ther e is a jumper, it is to switch between 1.5 and 3.0 Gbps.
November 14, 2006 9:21:16 PM

Good catch...
But you forgot one thing, Sata drives have jumpers..
Even if the drives were hooked up using Sata cables to channel 1 and 2 they would not function correctly if both jumpers were set to master/master or slave/slave so go back to your drawing board and let me know what you come up with next.
November 14, 2006 11:24:11 PM

Hey mad-dog, my Western Digital SATA HDD's don't have jumpers on them. In fact my BIOS lists each one as a Master device. The only thing with jumpers left on them for the most part are optical drives.

As for you zomicon, how many optical drives do you have in your system. If you have 2 or more opticals on the same cable and both of them have there jumpers set to cable select then you need to set one of them to Master and one to Slave then plug the cable into the primary IDE channle on your mobo. Also, what this sounds like is either a) you've been hacked and have some nasty spyware/virus/both on your rig causing it to crash or b) your PSU is underpowering the rig and you need a new one. My recommended course of action here is 1) get a new PSU (won't hurt and it'll help down the road) and 2) run a thurough system sacn for spyware/viruses.

Hope this helps!
November 14, 2006 11:43:48 PM

True, dedicated Sata drives don't have jumpers, i stand (sit) corrected....
November 14, 2006 11:51:29 PM

"dedicated Sata drives don't have jumpers"

Can you expand on this? Not saying your wrong, just I'm confused now :? . I thought there was only one type of SATA HDD and that they didn't have jumpers. But I'm only human and therefore I'm inclined to be falliable.
November 15, 2006 1:16:41 AM

Quote:
Can you expand on this?

No
Quote:
Not saying your wrong,

yes you are
Quote:
just I'm confused now

and your point is...?
Quote:
I thought there was only one type of SATA HDD and that they didn't have jumpers.

your probably right
Quote:
But I'm only human

half-android
Quote:
therefore I'm inclined to be falliable.

resistance is futile......lol
November 15, 2006 1:19:44 AM

"half-android"

What makes you think this. This is actually quite funny to me.
November 15, 2006 1:28:35 AM

take me with a grain of salt, i have a quirky sense of humor
November 15, 2006 1:31:50 AM

Quote:
take me with a grain of salt, i have a quirky sense of humor


Will you taste like Bisquits & Gravy, or will I have to spit you out after the first bite and throw you in the trash? :tongue:

I can see the reply already coming.

ROFLMAO before you kill me.
November 15, 2006 12:18:29 PM

Quote:
go back to your drawing board and let me know what you come up with next.

I guess I'll take that with a grain of salt... do you think your drawing board might be upside down? :D  Also, I didn't forget that some SATA drives have jumpers (see previous post). These jumpers allow some drives to switch between 1.5Gbps and 3.0Gbps.
November 15, 2006 12:25:58 PM

Thank-you for not taking me to heart, i do realize (now) after refreshing my knowledge on the subject that you were indeed correct and my drawing board was upside down, ripped to shreds, laying in a ditch after being run over by a mack truck........lol
November 15, 2006 12:28:42 PM

Quote:
Will you taste like Bisquits & Gravy, or will I have to spit you out after the first bite and throw you in the trash?

I can see the reply already coming.

ROFLMAO before you kill me.


[quoted from 3-stooges]:

"Wise guy huh,............why i oughta.....
November 15, 2006 1:38:23 PM

Quote:
One item that affects all areas and can cause sporadic issues is the power supply.


Very good advice. Use one of those system utilities that monitors MoBo functions such as fan speed, CPU temp and PS outputs. I discovered that my -5V was operating at -3.56V and +5V at +4.32V. Although I had little problems during operation, I had to constantly reset the PC during power on to get it to work. Your problem appears to be the other way around. Give it a try. The utility I used has a graph function that plots supply output. Now if I could remember the name of this software......


Rick
November 15, 2006 3:12:14 PM

Thanks for the suggestion. I will try booting it from ultimate PE and see if I can reproduce the problem. I did check for jumper issues on the hard drives and found that there were none! Also, I am only running one DVD/CDRW, so I don't think that is the culprit. I will also try and find a diagnostic to check things like voltage, etc.

--I ran a bunch of tests on the RAM so I don't think that is it, although it does seem to happen if I try to do too many things at once...for example launching a program while downloading a large file, so I am wondering if might be something with virtual memory.

I'll let you all know what I find, and keep the suggestions coming.

Zomicon
November 15, 2006 3:56:55 PM

I was just wondering if you had checked the System Event Log? Also can you reproduce the same situation in Safe Mode?
November 15, 2006 8:01:59 PM

Check your drives using the following excellent on-line tool.

http://www.seagate.com/support/seatools/

When you reformatted, did you do a slow or quick format? If you have bad sectors on the disk then a quick format will not mark them as bad and so you will encounter the same problems.

You need to use a process of elimination.

Start by taking everything that is superflous out of the box.

Use 1 stick of ram, no PCI cards, and only one hard drive, 1 x CD-ROM.

If you still get problem then swap the hard drive, you get the idea.

If the problem goes away when you have taken all the extra bits out then add them one at a time until you find out where your problem is at.

If the systemn locks up and the hard drive light is on then that would indicate to me a problem with the hard drive. Hard drives can take a long time trying to write to a bad sector but eventually they will timeout.

Hope you get to the bottom!!! :( 
November 16, 2006 1:55:19 AM

Quote:
If ther e is a jumper, it is to switch between 1.5 and 3.0 Gbps.

If that was the case my Barracuda would only have 3 pins on the jumper, mine has 4 giving the builder 3 choices .....
left 2
middle 2
right 2
I wonder what they're for.... :?
November 16, 2006 2:28:57 AM

It may very well be your harddrives,but it could also be a virus or cookie tracker.I've encountered this prob myself and found that adaware took care of it.But at the same time it could be a psu problem.So I guess you have your work cut out for you in trying various methods to fix this issue you have.Goodluck.

Dahak

AMD X2-4400+@2.4 S-939
EVGA NF4 SLI MB
2X EVGA 7800GT IN SLI
2X1GIG DDR IN DC MODE
WD300GIG HD
EXTREME 19IN.MONITOR 1280X1024
ACE 520WATT PSU
COOLERMASTER MINI R120
November 16, 2006 11:13:18 AM

Not to say anyone is wrong here... but I've never had a PSU cause a intermittent lockup... while it's possible... I find it highly unprobable...

I've found most intermittent lockups are caused by these:
1) Drivers (video card, chipset, Microsoft updates for your latest drivers etc.)
2) Memory (trying to read information out of memory that isn't there or corrupted)
3) Hard drives (usually numerous bad blocks) [boot to Windows XP, boot to the recovery console by pressing 'R' and type 'chkdsk /r' minus the quotes] usually takes a while depending on your drive.
4) Video card (usually caused by drivers)
5) Processor (or other components over heating)
November 16, 2006 5:08:59 PM

Thanks for all the help so far, although sadly I have not been able to get any closer to a solution. I ran the full diagnostic on both drives using Sea Tools last night, and it said that the physical integrity of both drives was fine although they both had multiple file system errors. I also ran an HD diagnostic on Bart's Ultimate PE disk, that wrote to all empty space on the drive in several formats on a loop. I let it run all night and there were no errors. I did notice, however, that the average write time was 10mb/s and I think it should be in the 50's. This would seem to indicate long periods where the drive slowed down to a crawl. Does anyone know what a reasonable average should be for SATA drives?

I think I am going to try stripping the system down as was suggested by another poster and seeing what I can find. I am also going to start by zeroing out C, reformating and reinstalling windows and leaving D (my data drive) off the system. Does anyone know if it is possible to create a new partition on D without losing the data that is currently on it and install windows to it as well so I can test both drives separately ?

thanks,

a very frustrated zomicon
November 16, 2006 5:37:40 PM

you need something like partition magic to resize a partition and thus create a second partition. I think you can download a demo of it to get you through a one off resize.
November 16, 2006 8:01:41 PM

Quote:
If ther e is a jumper, it is to switch between 1.5 and 3.0 Gbps.

If that was the case my Barracuda would only have 3 pins on the jumper, mine has 4 giving the builder 3 choices .....
left 2
middle 2
right 2
I wonder what they're for.... :?

Let me help you out. This is for the 7200.10 series.



But... this isn't anything new. HDD manufacturers often include extra pins in their jumper configurations so that you can park the shunt while it isn't in use. That way you can't lose it. Engage brain wrinkle! Engaged! :tongue:
!