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Hangs then fails to boot

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May 20, 2011 6:18:40 AM

Hello everyone!

Have this setup:

Quote:
CPU: Athlon II X4 635 2.9ghz 4x512kb
MOBO: Gigabyte GA-880GMA-UD2H
GPU: Sapphire HD6850 1GB 256bit GDDR5
PSU: 650w XFX PRO 80+ Bronze Non Modular
RAM: 4gb (dual) ddr3-1600 G.Skill RipJaws CL9 (9-9-24)
HDD: 500gb WDC™ Caviar® Blue (WD5000AAKX) 16mb sata 3 hdd


My problem is while playing or somethings even if im not, my computer just randomly hangs and I can see that the HDD led indicator is not blinking which I assume that my HDD is not working. What I did is to basically do a hard reset since nothing really responds, even the reset key. So I press and hold the turn ON button and start it up again but it only gives me an error, something like... "unable to boot or failed to boot from drive..." (sorry, I wasn't able to capture the error message but it's something near to that). It only happened once, but computer still hangs from time to time for the past few days. It also hangs while booting up and had to do a hard reset again.

I don't hear any beep or any other sound from my hardware so I'm kinda lost on what to check. I'm thinking that it might be a bad 4 month old HDD. Any troubleshooting I can do to isolate the problem and know what to do? Not a computer savvy and not too techy for me to do this.

Hoping for a response! Thanks!

Regards,
Omis

More about : hangs fails boot

a b G Storage
May 20, 2011 7:01:19 AM

I would start with the power supply and make sure that it is delivering the correct and stable voltage. If that works out then look at the Motherboard next. Look the HDD after that. My instincts say Motherboard but the PSU is always the first thing to check.
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May 20, 2011 7:08:16 AM

How would I check if my PSU is delivering stable voltage? Is there an application I can use for that?
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a b G Storage
May 20, 2011 9:14:30 AM

Try looking in the BIOS under PC Health if it exists in that particular BIOS.
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May 20, 2011 10:13:00 AM

I will check, but what should I be looking for? Wattages? What should be the amount?
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a b G Storage
May 20, 2011 10:29:15 AM

Voltage is the measure. It should be steady. From memory there are three Voltage outputs called Rails on a PSU. They are 12 volt, 5 volt and 3.3 volt. They often sit just off those numbers but if you see one of them much lower or the voltage jumping all over the place then you know there is an issue with the PSU.
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May 20, 2011 11:03:57 AM

While trying to get in to BIOS, the error came up again. I don't know if this will help, but it says "A read disk error has occured." and it's asking me to do CTRL+ALT+DEL to restart. Anyway, I'll try to get in this mobo's BIOS first.
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May 20, 2011 11:33:16 AM

Well, I tried going in to BIOS, but it wouldn't let me. Not even in it's Post Screen. Whenever I try to do it, it just opens up Windows Boot Manager. I almost lost my patience. lol
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a b G Storage
May 20, 2011 11:33:52 AM

Ok well that is a much more specific piece of information. It places the Hard Drive at the top of the suspect list. It has most likely failed and data is probably (but not always) beyond recovery. Take the drive back and get it replaced under warranty.
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May 20, 2011 11:38:27 AM

So does that mean it's a bad HDD, and that I cannot do anything else to fix it like reinstalling OS?
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May 20, 2011 11:40:37 AM

Also, most of the time it boots up normally and can run for some good hours, even days. Can that happen with a faulty HDD?
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a b G Storage
May 21, 2011 1:13:05 AM

Thats why I wondered if the Motherboard may be the culprit but it is possible that the HDD BIOS is acting up which is a real nasty to diagnose. So yes a faulty HDD suffering BIOS issues can certainly run for long periods and then fall over at random. If it is the heads then normally the problem presents itself every time allowing easy diagnosis. It is likely that WD have some diagnostic software on their site that will allow you to test the drive. My picks for now are HDD BIOS or Motherboard.
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a b G Storage
May 21, 2011 1:24:53 AM

Most common cause of intermittent HD operation is a loose cable. Repeated on/off of the PC equals heat (expansion) / cooling (contraction). Your event happens after the PC on a while?

Suggest you unplug and reattach the HD cables, even replace it if you want (they're cheap)
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a b G Storage
May 21, 2011 3:23:39 AM

The fact that you can't restart the system even using the reset switch makes me think of the Motherboard again. A faulty HDD should not be able to cripple a system BIOS to that degree. If the reset switch is not restarting the PC seems to me to be a failure of the Motherboard BIOS to respond to the command. As this process is taking place at a raw hardware level then it is my guess at this point that the Motherboard is faulty at the BIOS level. Either the BIOS is not receiving instruction due to hardware failure on the Board or the BIOS itself is faulty and is simply not responding to instruction. Also we still have to eliminate the PSU as a possible culprit.
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a b G Storage
May 21, 2011 3:32:51 AM

The statement that during restart you get the message "something like... "unable to boot or failed to boot from drive..."" suggests the MB cannot communicate with the HD. Replace the power cable and comm cable and try again
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a b G Storage
May 21, 2011 4:22:39 PM

Random system lockups are often a symptom of unstable ram, so even though the error messages point to the hard drive, I think that it would be worth checking the ram. One thing to check is the voltage the ram is made to run at. This sounds like a home built rig, so you should be able to check the newegg product page (or wherever you got it) and see what the required voltage for the ram is. Many AMD motherboards default to supplying the ram with 1.5 or 1.6 volts, so if you have higher voltage ram, you may need to manually set the voltage. However, given that you only have 4 gigs of ram and that it has relatively loose timings, I doubt that this is the problem. To be sure of the stability of your ram, check it with memtest86+. I also like the suggestion of checking the tightness of the HDD cables. As I recall though, you should be able to get into BIOS even without a HDD plugged in, which would indicate that maybe the motherboard is the problem. So - the actual cause of the instability has not yet been pinpointed.
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May 22, 2011 7:20:04 AM

Okay. That's information overload. lol But thanks though. I appreciate all the reply.

Just an update, someone told me that it may be some bad files on my HDD so he asked me to do a check disk, which I did and came up with some bad sectors. However, that didn't fix the problem. It still hangs randomly. I assume when you scan your disk, it automatically fix all the bad files you have.

So ATM, all I can do is to check if the HDD cable is loose or maybe a bad one. I have a spare so that'll be easy one.

Another problem I encountered is that I can't seem to access the BIOS when booting up. I don't know it just gives me a little window to press the button to access it or if it's just not responding to the command (if that's possible too). Any other way I can access BIOS aside from pressing a button on start up?

Traildriver said:
Most common cause of intermittent HD operation is a loose cable. Repeated on/off of the PC equals heat (expansion) / cooling (contraction). Your event happens after the PC on a while?

Suggest you unplug and reattach the HD cables, even replace it if you want (they're cheap)


Yes, it happens when it's turn on for about an hour or so. Playing is what I usually do when it hangs. Would it help if I post a screenshot of its temps?
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a b G Storage
May 22, 2011 9:28:01 AM

Ok we need to clarify if you have bad sectors or damaged files. If it is bad sectors that normally means a head crash but that does not account for the inability to get into BIOS. Therefore I am going out on to a limb here. If you have a damaged file structure that will be a result of all the system crashes. The fact that you cant get into BIOS fairly screams Motherboard issues. However if the HDD and the Motherboard are damaged then that indicates damaged components due to failing PSU. Get it to a technician. You will almost certainly need too.
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May 22, 2011 10:54:43 AM

I'm not that familiar with how check disk work but when I scanned my drive C, it showed that I had about 8kb of bad sector. I don't know either if that was fixed after the scan.
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a b G Storage
May 22, 2011 11:05:54 AM

Check the connectors on your hard drive, make sure they are good and tight first.
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May 22, 2011 11:32:33 AM

Yep. Just tried that earlier. Trying to monitor it now. I'll update you guys maybe tomorrow if I experience it again.
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a b G Storage
May 22, 2011 3:28:10 PM

Wamphryi said:
If it is bad sectors that normally means a head crash

A head crash would pretty well toast the HDD. These things do slowly go bad over time.

As for the inability to get into BIOS. I found that when I switched from a PS2 to a USB keyboard, I couldn't just tap DEL and get into BIOS anymore. Instead, I had to keep hitting the key from the moment of powerup until the computer gave indications of doing what I wanted it to. So I would suggest trying that and seeing if it makes a difference.
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May 22, 2011 4:33:55 PM

elel said:
A head crash would pretty well toast the HDD. These things do slowly go bad over time.

As for the inability to get into BIOS. I found that when I switched from a PS2 to a USB keyboard, I couldn't just tap DEL and get into BIOS anymore. Instead, I had to keep hitting the key from the moment of powerup until the computer gave indications of doing what I wanted it to. So I would suggest trying that and seeing if it makes a difference.


Doesn't head crash mean that the HDD has malfunctioned and that I should have lost a lot of files/data or might not even work?

I might try what you've mentioned for going in to BIOS. I was using a PS2 keyboard before then switched to a USB one. Hope it'll work.
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May 23, 2011 9:24:48 AM

Any other symptoms for a head crash?

Just an update. Since I changed the sata ports I was using, I haven't experienced yet the problem. Still monitoring now, hope it was just a loose cable.
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May 23, 2011 10:39:05 AM

Just experienced it again, but this time while I was playing then tried to alt tabbed, it stucked between the game and the desktop since it was just a black screen with the game cursor showing that looked like it was about to go to the desktop. After about 30s, it restarted on its own.

Question, is it possible that the game I'm playing (Crysis 2) is the culprit? Cause, IIRC, I don't experience the problem when playing another game or just browsing. Also, most of the time it happens when I wanted to alt tab going to desktop or going back to the game from desktop.
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a b G Storage
May 23, 2011 11:36:42 AM

That sounds like a good possibility, though I haven't ever had a similar experience so I can't advise you on how to fix it.
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May 23, 2011 1:04:06 PM

Guess I'll have to monitor it more frequently.
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May 23, 2011 2:49:04 PM

Try doing a full drive check using the manufacturer's tools. The Ultimate Boot CD packages a lot of these on a bootable CD. Well worth doing an extended scan. The manufacturers tools can get the disk to use a spare sector on the drive to replace a bad one.

http://www.ultimatebootcd.com/
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May 24, 2011 4:58:08 AM

Would that delete any personal files I have? Do backup first maybe?
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May 26, 2011 7:25:53 PM

The tests are non-destructive, but may reveal a read/write problem with the drive. You don't need to backup in advance, but if you do suspect that there is a drive problem, taking a backup would be a wise precaution anyway.
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a b G Storage
May 29, 2011 6:12:22 PM

davel_68 said:
The tests are non-destructive, but may reveal a read/write problem with the drive. You don't need to backup in advance, but if you do suspect that there is a drive problem, taking a backup would be a wise precaution anyway.

Agreed
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May 30, 2011 4:25:43 PM

Will try that. Just doesn't have time to do some tests ATM. Also, to update you guy, I've experiencing another (maybe similar but different symptom) problem. Computer stops responding including applications I use, explorer.exe and some others but the mouse seems working except that I can't click on the start button basically because explorer.exe doesn't respond. When I try to start up task manager (ctrl+alt+del way) to end some processess, it opens up but can't end anything. Then it just freezes again and have to press the restart button. It will start up but in the "Starting Windows" screen, it just hang/freeze again.

I don't know... maybe I should do the physical test then if it's the HDD, might as well take it back.

Thanks guys! Really appreciate it. I'd buy you guys some beer if given a chance.
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a b G Storage
June 1, 2011 2:24:26 AM

Glad to help. Yes, these combinations of problems make me think more and more that it's either a bad hard drive or a virus - and probably the former.
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!