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Hardrive problems after leaving computer off for 2 days

Last response: in Systems
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March 26, 2012 2:19:08 PM

I've had this exact same problem 5 times now:

I would be away for 2-3 days and upon return, the first boot up of windows WILL result in a crash about 5-10 mins after starting up.

Check disk will run and fix several errors, then I would be able to boot up and run normally again. If I try to skip checkdisk, windows will fail to startup.

The most confusing thing is that on other days when I am at home and booting up the computer everyday there would be no problems whatsoever.

Last two times we have been away, we have kept the heating in the house on to eliminate the possibility that a temperature difference caused the problem.

When I was away for longer on Christmas, I had used remotely access and had it switch on every other day or so to retrieve data for my work - this resulted in there being no problems when I returned. However, every other trip when I have been away for more than 2 days has resulted in a problem. 2-3 times may be a coincidence, but 5 times in a row and I am starting to feel that leaving the computer off for two days is the cause of the problem. Though I have no idea how this might be related.

I built the computer about 2 years ago and never had any problems until last September.

Computer specifications:
OS: 64 bit Windows 7
Motherboard: Gigabyte X58A-UD7
CPU: i7-920 overclocked to 3900 (tried for a few months without the overclock did not remove the problem)
RAM: 3x2GB OCZ 16000
PSU: 750W Antec
GPU: Asus NVidia 285 GTX
Harddrive: 2TB Seagate barracuda XT 6gb

Any advice what might be causing this kind of problem?
a b B Homebuilt system
March 26, 2012 2:28:27 PM

do you get a bsod or the system just freezes and you can't do anything?
March 26, 2012 2:28:52 PM

It could be the hard drives are failing or failing to spin up right. I would advise making a backup and getting a different drive.
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a b B Homebuilt system
March 26, 2012 3:56:19 PM

A failure that always shows up after at least two days of "Off" makes me think of a charged source that weakens over time - maybe the CMOS battery? That is the silver disk about the size of a quarter mounted on the mobo in a plastic holder. (In "olden days" this was more common because the battery was a rechargeable NiCd unit soldered to the mobo, but now this is less common because it's a replaceable type.) It maintains the data in the BIOS while no power is supplied from the PSU. If this battery is weak, at least two kinds of errors can occur. The first is easy to check - if the battery fails, normally the system clock will be wrong. Does that happen when your other problems occur? The other effect is harder to spot. With a weak battery, some of the data stored in the BIOS chips can be corrupted when the machine is shut down, causing glitches when it re-starts. MAYBE that is what is happening.

IF you think the battery needs replacement, here's the complete process.
1. Go into BIOS Setup and look for any settings you have customized (like CPU voltage, RAM timing, SATA Port Mode or specifying which is the boot device). Note all these down so you can restore these settings later.
2. Shut down and disconnect power. Open the case and find the battery in its holder. If you can see its type number, note that and go buy one from and electronics shop. If you can't, remove it and take it with you.
3. Remove the battery if you haven't already. NOTE which side is "out".
4. Find next to the battery a set of 3 pins with a jumper on two of them, marked "BIOS Reset". Move the jumper to the other pin pair and wait at lest 5 - 10 seconds. Replace the jumper as it was originally. This step completely removes all power to the BIOS chip so it is forced to reset on booting up again.
5. Install the new battery oriented the same as the original. Close up the case and
connect the power cord.
6. Turn on power and immediately go into BIOS Setup. Look at (probably) the last screens that talk about exiting, saving, resetting, etc. You should find there a place to Restore Factory Default settings, and maybe also choices for "Optimized Settings" and / or "User Saved Settings". Restore the Factory Default or Optimized settings. This step ensures that a complete set of good fully-functional settings have been installed in the BIOS - no odd corrupted ones left over. Now Save and Exit.
7. AGAIN, go directly into BIOS setup, and inspect all the settings. If you have notes about previous customizations, restore them now. Pay special attention to things like the Boot Priority Sequence, and any special setting for SATA Port Mode. Ensure that all your drives are showing properly in BIOS. Set the system clock, which will be wrong. Now Save and Exit, and let the system complete its boot. Your machine should be back to working normally.

As I said, I suspect the battery may be weak, but that may be wrong. Your problem may well be something else. But if it's the battery, replacing it and completely restoring a good set of BIOS parameters will do the job.
March 27, 2012 3:54:56 PM

Thanks for the replys all.

alvine said:
do you get a bsod or the system just freezes and you can't do anything?


Both happen.

The last time, i.e. yesterday, the cursor turned to a busy symbol and the program I was using (reading gmail on firefox) stopped responding, but was still able to alt tab to other windows. Then eventually the system stopped responding at all. Had to hard reset it by holding down the power button - ctrl alt del didnt work either.

On most other occassions it blue screened.

ahnilated said:
It could be the hard drives are failing or failing to spin up right. I would advise making a backup and getting a different drive.


Hard drive problem sounds very possible.

Paperdoc said:
A failure that always shows up after at least two days of "Off" makes me think of a charged source that weakens over time - maybe the CMOS battery? That is the silver disk about the size of a quarter mounted on the mobo in a plastic holder. (In "olden days" this was more common because the battery was a rechargeable NiCd unit soldered to the mobo, but now this is less common because it's a replaceable type.) It maintains the data in the BIOS while no power is supplied from the PSU. If this battery is weak, at least two kinds of errors can occur. The first is easy to check - if the battery fails, normally the system clock will be wrong. Does that happen when your other problems occur? The other effect is harder to spot. With a weak battery, some of the data stored in the BIOS chips can be corrupted when the machine is shut down, causing glitches when it re-starts. MAYBE that is what is happening.

IF you think the battery needs replacement, here's the complete process.
1. Go into BIOS Setup and look for any settings you have customized (like CPU voltage, RAM timing, SATA Port Mode or specifying which is the boot device). Note all these down so you can restore these settings later.
2. Shut down and disconnect power. Open the case and find the battery in its holder. If you can see its type number, note that and go buy one from and electronics shop. If you can't, remove it and take it with you.
3. Remove the battery if you haven't already. NOTE which side is "out".
4. Find next to the battery a set of 3 pins with a jumper on two of them, marked "BIOS Reset". Move the jumper to the other pin pair and wait at lest 5 - 10 seconds. Replace the jumper as it was originally. This step completely removes all power to the BIOS chip so it is forced to reset on booting up again.
5. Install the new battery oriented the same as the original. Close up the case and
connect the power cord.
6. Turn on power and immediately go into BIOS Setup. Look at (probably) the last screens that talk about exiting, saving, resetting, etc. You should find there a place to Restore Factory Default settings, and maybe also choices for "Optimized Settings" and / or "User Saved Settings". Restore the Factory Default or Optimized settings. This step ensures that a complete set of good fully-functional settings have been installed in the BIOS - no odd corrupted ones left over. Now Save and Exit.
7. AGAIN, go directly into BIOS setup, and inspect all the settings. If you have notes about previous customizations, restore them now. Pay special attention to things like the Boot Priority Sequence, and any special setting for SATA Port Mode. Ensure that all your drives are showing properly in BIOS. Set the system clock, which will be wrong. Now Save and Exit, and let the system complete its boot. Your machine should be back to working normally.

As I said, I suspect the battery may be weak, but that may be wrong. Your problem may well be something else. But if it's the battery, replacing it and completely restoring a good set of BIOS parameters will do the job.


I had reseated the bios battery a month ago, although not replaced it, as I did not suspect it at that time - never lost any custom settings without deliberately clearing cmos. I might try to replace the battery first, as it is a cheaper option than buying a new hard drive xD.


The biggest confusion I have is why checkdisk can repair the errors - it would restore a few orphaned files to folders, after which the system works fine again.
!