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Possible failing HD?

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April 18, 2011 9:05:29 PM

My computer recently has been freezing up allot. This usually tends to occur a few minutes after logging on after leaving it off over night.
There are no strange noises, smells, or artifacts what so ever; it simply just freezes. Keyboard, mouse do not work and the HD light on front of the case which usually flickers when thinking suddenly stops. The fans inside the case continue to work properly and the screen displays the last image of what I was doing in a frozen pane.

Things I have done to try and fix the problem that have not worked:

I have ran diagnostics scans on the HD which have came up with nothing to report except that is passes inspection.
AV scans for any viruses. Passes Inspection.
Started up in a clean boot.
Bought a new power supply since the old one didn't support enough head room for a few years of use. This did not fix the freezing unfortunately.
Disconnected and re-connected the hardware in my computer and cleaned it of any dust.
Moved the computer to another outlet and power-surge strip in-case the one It was plugged into could have been faulty.
Checked if any parts of the motherboard were not loose or broken off.
Reinstalled Vista

I would give a error report of my computer but the log gives no useful information in the critical field and computer freezes would be considered "Critical"

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a c 96 G Storage
April 19, 2011 4:41:02 PM
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You have performed some excellent trouble-shooting on your own! Wish more posters were like you!

One thing you should do is to check the RAM for errors, one stick at a time. Use memtest86.
a c 329 G Storage
April 19, 2011 5:27:52 PM

My first thought was a PSU going bad, but you've already done that one. Next idea is to check the CPU temperature. Your symptom pattern (starts up OK when cold but freezes after a few minutes) may be caused by a CPU overheating and then the BIOS shutting it down to avoid permanent damage. There is probably a place in your BIOS Setup screens (go into there on boot-up instead of normal boot to Windows) where you can see some system temps like the CPU, the mobo, maybe the Northbridge. Alternatively, maybe your mobo came with a CD of utilities that includes a Windows application that will display system temps on screen within normal Windows operation.

If your CPU really is overheating, you may have to remove its cooling heatsink and fan, clean off the old thermal paste from both the heatsink and the CPU surfaces, and apply new. If you do, follow instructions on how much to apply and how to spread. Too much is almost as bad a too little. In re-assembling, make sure to get it fastened on straight and securely.
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a b G Storage
April 19, 2011 5:57:21 PM

Did you try a different video card?
April 19, 2011 8:59:07 PM

FreeDataRecovery said:
Did you try a different video card?


A matter of fact, yes I have! I have forgotten to include this (Stupid me). My computer has integrated graphics and then It has a dedicated graphics (Gts 250) I bought this recently after the power supply to play World of Warcraft and it has been running great. I do not OC the card since my mobo isn't exactly up to par in that general area.
Anyhow (back on topic) I have switched between the two and my problem will still occurs between the two. There are no driver issues between the two cards since when booting up on the "non-dedicated" graphics card in bios my computer automatically rolls over to the drivers installed for my integrated card and then when booting back with the "dedicated-graphics" it will automatically roll back to the Nvidia drivers to prevent any driver conflicts.
-Simply put, my graphics card is running fine as well as the non-dedicated intel card. All drivers on it I keep up to date since WoW seems picky on having the latest graphics drivers out ;) 
April 19, 2011 9:08:51 PM

Paperdoc said:
My first thought was a PSU going bad, but you've already done that one. Next idea is to check the CPU temperature. Your symptom pattern (starts up OK when cold but freezes after a few minutes) may be caused by a CPU overheating and then the BIOS shutting it down to avoid permanent damage. There is probably a place in your BIOS Setup screens (go into there on boot-up instead of normal boot to Windows) where you can see some system temps like the CPU, the mobo, maybe the Northbridge. Alternatively, maybe your mobo came with a CD of utilities that includes a Windows application that will display system temps on screen within normal Windows operation.

If your CPU really is overheating, you may have to remove its cooling heatsink and fan, clean off the old thermal paste from both the heatsink and the CPU surfaces, and apply new. If you do, follow instructions on how much to apply and how to spread. Too much is almost as bad a too little. In re-assembling, make sure to get it fastened on straight and securely.


I use speed fan to keep a monitor on my computers temps. Also EVGA precision has a On screen Display that shows my PC health and temperatures during gaming. Both CPU cores sit at a idle temp of 30c and a load temp of 40c. Not only should over heating occur simply because speed fan says so but I keep my computer quite near to the air vent in my room. Not directly as dust can build up from it but near by just enough for perfectly cool temperatures. The thermal paste around the CPU seems fine. Like I already said I have taken apart most of my computer to clean it from dust and the cpu heat sink and its thermal paste is not bone cake hard. (It still has a few years left in it ;)  )
This is why i believe my HD is failing because I cannot seem to find anything else wrong with my computer. The HD shows up fine under the check disc scans in start up so im stumped. Will try scanning RAM with memtest though (Haven't done that yet)
April 19, 2011 9:13:32 PM

Ubrales said:
You have performed some excellent trouble-shooting on your own! Wish more posters were like you!

One thing you should do is to check the RAM for errors, one stick at a time. Use memtest86.


I will try this. Luckily my computer came with 4Gb's of RAM but with a 32x Vista OS (Kind of weird yet nice of HP to do that for me) which only uses 3Gb's of the ram. So if anything is critically wrong with either of the sticks being used I guess I can take the bad one out and replace with the extra.
I have a question about memtest though. If it comes up with just only ONE error, does that mean i have to replace the RAM with a new one?
a b G Storage
April 19, 2011 10:11:16 PM

Run Windows in Safe Mode. Do you still see the problem?
a c 96 G Storage
April 19, 2011 10:37:52 PM

Morkintash said:
I will try this. Luckily my computer came with 4Gb's of RAM but with a 32x Vista OS (Kind of weird yet nice of HP to do that for me) which only uses 3Gb's of the ram. So if anything is critically wrong with either of the sticks being used I guess I can take the bad one out and replace with the extra.
I have a question about memtest though. If it comes up with just only ONE error, does that mean i have to replace the RAM with a new one?

Rarely does memtest86 deliver just one error. The RAM will either be good, or, you will see several errors. It will be an easy judgment call that you can make after you see the test results.
April 19, 2011 11:17:22 PM

FreeDataRecovery said:
Run Windows in Safe Mode. Do you still see the problem?


No I haven't seen the problem in safe mode. My computer doesn't freeze every time I turn it on, just once a week and sometimes twice. It might freeze in safe mode to, but I hardly ever boot in it unless something is badly wrong with my computer, so I have no idea if It does or not. It happens most often on a normal boot since thats how I prefer the computer to boot so I haven't a clue if it happens on safe mode as often as normal since I hardly use it.
a b G Storage
April 19, 2011 11:33:33 PM

The idea of testing in Safe Mode is to help determine if the problem is hardware or a driver/software problem. You say the problem happens soon after log on so you would not need to stay in Safe Mode long to test it. You could also test by starting up off a boot CD and see if it freezes there too.
a c 329 G Storage
April 20, 2011 8:21:49 PM

OP, you first post says you have run diagnostic scans of the HDD. Later you are more specific and say that Scan Disk fails to show you any HDD problems.

Scan disk is not a very thorough HDD tester. You would be much better to go to the website of your HDD's manufacturer and download and install their own HDD diagnostic utility package. For example, WD has Data Lifeguard, Seagate has Seatools. Each has a version that runs under Windows. But I prefer the versions called "for DOS". Those amount to a complete disk image file (an .iso file) that you download and then burn to your own blank CD-R, using something like Nero that can burn an .iso image. This gives you your own bootable CD. You boot from that into a mini-DOS that does not use Windows or any other OS from your HDD, so it works even if your machine cannot boot and cannot use its HDD.

Each of these diagnostic suites has several test routines that are quite good and can be set to re-run continuously over a long time if you want. The Long tests in particular are thorough. All of the pure tests are non-destructive so your data is safe. However, they also include some tools for correcting certain errors that do write to the HDD, and MAY destroy data. All those types of tools will warn you on screen of this possible danger and ask for permission, so watch the screen prompts.

I'd suggest you get whichever of these free diagnostic suites suits your HDD and give it a thorough test. IF your HDD is still under warranty, the manufacturer will want to know the results of these tests before authorizing a replacement deal. So copy down any test results you get.
April 27, 2011 12:27:18 AM

Best answer selected by morkintash.
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