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New build freezing during disk access

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September 27, 2010 3:46:42 PM

So I finally got a chance to get my new HTPC up and running over the weekend. Well, mostly.

As the title indicates, it appears that semi-randomly during disk access, the computer will freeze up. It just locks, no blue screen, mouse doesn't move, etc. -- I have to hold in the power button to power it off, reset button rarely works. Anyway, I figured I'd toss the question out to the forum while I'm at work & thinking it over myself.

Basic list of components: i3-540, Gigabyte H55M-USB3, 4 GB G.Skill ECO Series (running as rated with XMP profile), OCZ Vertex 2 60 GB, WD Caviar Green 2 TB, Seasonic 400W fanless PSU, Antec Fusion Remote Black case, Win 7. Here's the thread if you're interested in more detail on the components.

I've downloaded SpeedFan, temps seem to be fine, they don't seem to spike before the freezes occur. I ran memtest86+ overnight, ended up with 0 errors in 17 or 18 passes. The Vertex 2 is at the most recent firmware level, and the motherboard appears to have the most recent chipset drivers, etc.

I have poked through the Event Log some, and have mostly seen the unexpected shutdown messages that show up after booting. I'll give it a more careful review once I get home, but there was nothing immediately obvious when quickly scanning it.

I can most consistently get the freeze to occur when accessing an external USB3 connected drive (copying files from an old computer to the new one), but it has occurred at other times as well. That doesn't necessarily narrow it down to a disk access problem, but it's certainly an interesting coincidence.

I'd welcome any suggestions on troubleshooting. I haven't really exhausted all of my options yet, but would be happy to get another brain or two thinking about this.

Thanks!
September 27, 2010 4:20:04 PM

Have you tried disabling the USB3 controller (in BIOS) and connecting via a USB2 port (ext HDD) to see what happens? USB3 is relatively new and driver support may be an issue. Are you running updated NEC USB3 drivers?
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September 27, 2010 7:08:47 PM

Yes, USB drivers are updated.

I'm not certain it's specifically the USB drive, as I was experiencing some freezing before it's connected. I just know that I can always trigger it by accessing the external USB3 device.

However, good idea, I'll look at disabling the USB3 ports.
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September 27, 2010 7:13:44 PM

coldsleep said:
Yes, USB drivers are updated.

I'm not certain it's specifically the USB drive, as I was experiencing some freezing before it's connected. I just know that I can always trigger it by accessing the external USB3 device.

However, good idea, I'll look at disabling the USB3 ports.

Worth a shot to isolate where the problem may be. Good luck!
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September 28, 2010 10:15:04 PM

At this point, I believe it's the WD Caviar Green that's the problem. Disabling USB3 didn't affect the problem. Going to investigate WD firmware/other fixes this evening.

Further suggestions welcome.
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September 29, 2010 12:49:55 PM

Does your BIOS support various acoustic performance settings for your HDD? You would have to dig through your BIOS to find, but some systems allow you to configure for "quiet" vs. "performance". If available, go for the performance settings and see if that helps. Quiet does what it sounds like, but spins the drives down creating a performance lag as they spin back up.
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September 29, 2010 1:27:04 PM

So I updated the BIOS, and no further problems.

The only thing that gets me is that the change log for the BIOS only indicates that they updated the BIOS splash. Nothing about improving I/O or any other tweaks.

Thanks for helping me think through the issue.
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Best solution

September 29, 2010 1:36:13 PM

Often, performance tweaks in BIOS revisions go unmentioned as they are expected. Still, a good idea to dig through your mobo BIOS to see how it has configured (default) your HDD performance.
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September 29, 2010 3:12:10 PM

Best answer selected by coldsleep.
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September 29, 2010 3:13:38 PM

Yeah, I'm used to working with large vendors & servers, so I expect to see more detailed change logs. :) 

Still experiencing some intermittent weirdness (mostly focused on the SSD/booting now), but at least I was able to write about 100 GB of data to the Caviar Green without locking up.
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