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Troubleshooting Unstable Windows 7 (clean install)

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June 8, 2012 9:04:21 PM

Hi everyone - I know these questions are a dime a dozen around here, but hoping I can get some direction. Thanks for any help.

Anyways, I just finished building a new system and installed Windows 7.

SPECIFICATIONS:

Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-Z68XP-UD3 (rev 1.3)
CPU: Intel i5-2300 with integrated graphics
Memory: Team Xtreem LV 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 2133 (PC3 17000)
OS: Windows 7 Professional SP1 64-bit
Bios version: F8
Graphics: I'm using the integrated graphics for now.

My hard drive setup is interesting.

I'm running two 320 GB hard drives in a RAID stripe setup. This is the system boot disk and where I will install all my programs and what not. I'm reusing these drives from my previous computer.

I'm also running a pair of 2 TB drives in a RAID mirror where I will store all my data files, photos and so forth.

I set the RAID arrays up using the hardware RAID controller. I have not done anything in Windows 7 about the disks.

I'll soon be adding a 64GB SSD as a cache drive only but have not put that in yet since I don't have the bracket to mount it to the case.

Anywho....


INSTALLED SOFTWARE:

I had problems last night so reformatted and reinstalled Windows 7 this morning. Right now these are the only things installed -
* Windows 7 Pro SP1 - 64 bit
* All updates & driver updates found with Windows Update
* All drivers that came on the motherboard CD
* AVG Free Antivirus
* Google Chrome

I did not change any of the BIOS settings except to enable RAID, and disabled some stuff that I will never use like the onboard serial port and the GSATA controller. Most of that BIOS stuff is over my head.

THE PROBLEM
What happens is the computer will run fine for about 15-20 minutes. I have been surfing on the Internet waiting for the problem to come back before I install anymore software. So I'll be looking at something in Chrome and it will suddenly stop responding. The screen sort of "readjusts" so the top part of the Chrome window goes offscreen and I'll get the "hourglass" mouse icon. If I control-alt-delete and start the task manager it will come up and be unresponsive (shows "not responding" in the menu bar). After a few minutes I can get Chrome to respond again and get it to quit.

Once I get it to quit though, the system is pretty much screwed. What I mean is there will be little white boxes in the Windows Task Bar and so forth. If I tell the system to shut down or restart at this point, it will take forever for explorer.exe to quit and when it does, it will sit on the "your computer is shutting down" screen until I go and hit the power button.

THE QUESTION
I know this is such a general question that there could be a million things wrong. Are there any guides I can look at that can offer a step-by-step troubleshooting procedure? Does the BIOS need tweaking or updating? There have been 2 new BIOS updates since my MOBO was made: http://www.gigabyte.us/products/product-page.aspx?pid=3...

I don't need to be spoon-fed (though it'd be nice, ha!) but some links to troubleshooting guides would be great. Searching google for "Windows 7 unstable" returns too much noise and not enough signal.

Thanks for any help!
a b B Homebuilt system
a b $ Windows 7
June 8, 2012 10:40:44 PM

The first thing to do would be to run the memory test program memtest86 for at least three passes.
June 8, 2012 10:54:50 PM

Quote:
The first thing to do would be to run the memory test program memtest86 for at least three passes.



As a matter of fact, I am already doing that. Currently through 1.96 passes and no errors yet. I will report back once it's made 3-4 passes.
Related resources
June 9, 2012 5:13:42 AM

Memtest has almost completed the 7th pass and still no errors. I guess I will update the BIOS to the latest version since that's easy to do and I'm not really sure what else to try at this point.
June 9, 2012 10:19:14 AM

Bios update went smoothly, but did not fix my system. Same problem. Could this be caused by wonky video drivers? The reason I ask is because the system just went to hell again. I told it to reboot and it's stuck @ the shut down screen, but the screen is fuzzy, sort of like there are tiny dancing insects all around whereever there's supposed to be a sharp line on screen. I have had these dancing insects off and on since first booting the computer. They never show up during the POST, only once Windows starts to load.

Maybe it's related to the video driver? But I have the latest drivers for everything.

Is there a way to find & install earlier driver versions without having Windows hassle me all the time to get me to update? Maybe I will try that.
a b B Homebuilt system
a b $ Windows 7
June 9, 2012 4:56:01 PM

Quote:
but the screen is fuzzy, sort of like there are tiny dancing insects all around whereever there's supposed to be a sharp line on screen. I have had these dancing insects off and on since first booting the computer. They never show up during the POST, only once Windows starts to load.


This could be a faulty graphics card, but it could also be a faulty power supply.
June 9, 2012 10:17:06 PM

Latest update:

I disabled the onboard graphics and installed the video card from my old system just to see if the problems would go away. They did not.

I noticed that the issues often started while I was browsing in Google Chrome. I was getting error messages in Chrome either telling me that the Shockwave plugin had crashed or a message that said, "The following plugin is unresponsive: unknown."

At that point, I knew my problems would start and the system had become unstable.

I'm not sure if an error is happening during the normal workings of the OS and spreading to Chrome, or if Chrome is buggy and then spreading outwards to Windows 7. Searching on the Chrome error code turned up lots of responses, but not many people saying that it crashed the OS, just the browser itself.


To check on this I uninstalled Chrome and am now trying out the Opera browser. Let's hope this solves the problem. I'll update if it does just in case this comes up in a search for someone someday who is similarly frustrated.
June 10, 2012 12:07:57 AM

PROBLEM SOLVED

Google Chrome was the culprit. I've been running Opera for the past couple hours and have had zero problems. Before it took a max of 15 minutes before the system would lock up.

Subsequent google searches revealed that Chrome has lots of problems with 64 bit Windows systems. This is apparently a bug in Chrome that has gone on for a few years now and Google still has not fixed it.
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