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Difficult Windows 7 / computer problem, help please.

Last response: in Windows 7
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October 17, 2012 5:27:26 PM

Hello-

My specs are copied below.

I built this machine a year or two ago. All of a sudden a few days ago, it has started freezing after about 3-8 minutes of operation after boot up. Basically the computer boots up normally and operates totally normally. After a short while (3 to 8 minutes), computer operation freezes. I can still move the mouse around, the screen looks normal, but nothing works. Next to the mouse cursor, the little circle spins like the computer is trying to do something. I can't click on the start button, click on icons, move the open windows around- nothing. After a few minutes, sometimes the computer will just dump and try to reboot.

Here's what I have done so far, which has been of zero help:

1) System restore to various points
2) I went into msconfig and unchecked all the boxes in the Services tab except the "Microsoft Corporation" stuff. I went to the startup tab and unchecked everything.
3) I rolled the video driver back, even though the driver wasn't updated today or in the past week or so I don't think. Video card temperatures are normal.
4) Even when running the computer in SAFE mode with no network capability, the system freezes after about 3 to 8 minutes.
5) I was thinking that maybe it was a virus, but I can't get through an entire system scan in Normal or Safe mode because the system freezes up.
6) I booted the computer from a LINUX CD and ran the computer in LINUX. It ran fine in LINUX with no lock ups.
7) I booted the computer 3 times, each with only one stick of RAM. All the times the computer locked up after about 10 minutes.

Any advice appreciated. I've pretty much done everything I know how to do. I'm "assuming" that this is some sort of Windows 7 problem and not a hardware problem since the computer ran fine when booted into LINUX.

Thanks in advance for your help.


Windows 7 64 bit
P6X58D-E Motherboard
Core i7
Corsair Dominator 6GB RAM DDR3
HD5870 Sapphire Graphics Card
OCZ Vertex 2 120GB boot drive
WD Velociraptor storage drive
SoundBlaster XFI
a b $ Windows 7
October 17, 2012 5:51:36 PM

is your system overclocked?
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a b $ Windows 7
October 17, 2012 5:53:41 PM

Sounds to me like you could be overheating something. Have you watched the temps in bios to make sure they are in the safe range?
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Related resources
October 17, 2012 5:58:45 PM

alvine said:
is your system overclocked?


Nope, everything running per factory settings.
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October 17, 2012 6:01:32 PM

ahnilated said:
Sounds to me like you could be overheating something. Have you watched the temps in bios to make sure they are in the safe range?


No, I haven't checked temperatures in BIOS. I didn't know I could, and I wouldn't know what a "normal" temperature was, anyway?

If you could advise me how to go into BIOS and check temperatures, along with normal ranges I should be looking for, that would be great. I'll look in the MB instruction manual, too. I'm not terribly familiar with BIOS.

As an aside, all of the fans in the computer are spinning and until a few days ago was running fine.

EDIT: If it was a cooling problem, wouldn't it have locked up when I was running the system off the LINUX bootable CD? Or will a computer not run as hot in a LINUX environment?
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a b $ Windows 7
October 17, 2012 6:03:08 PM

my cpu idles at 32-33c, full load doesnt get above 80c
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October 17, 2012 6:12:20 PM

alvine said:
my cpu idles at 32-33c, full load doesnt get above 80c


Thanks! I am in the MB manual now reading about how to check temps.

But if this isn't a temperature problem, where else should I go with this?
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October 17, 2012 6:34:51 PM

ahnilated said:
Sounds to me like you could be overheating something. Have you watched the temps in bios to make sure they are in the safe range?


Just found the ASUS motherboard utility that I forgot I even installed. It shows CPU temp, voltages, fan speeds, etc., along with what the normal numbers should look like. All temperatures and voltages are normal. The CPU never even got above 45C.
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October 17, 2012 6:41:39 PM

You answered your own question. You booted from Linux and had no problems running from CD. What did you eliminate in that setup...., tada, your hard drive. I am abou 90% sure it is your hard drive because I had a similar problem. The issue is the hard drive was failing and would randomly just disconnect and then reconnect, back and forth so while the OS was waiting for its request for files the system continues working normally with anything already in memory. It could also just be a bad cable so check that first as SATA cables have a bad habit of getting tweaked.
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a b $ Windows 7
October 17, 2012 6:50:56 PM

You could try running the System File Checker, which involves opening the CMD prompt as an Administrator and typing sfc /scannow 'Enter'
As it could take up to 10 mins to run you'll have to be swift! As soon as you can, hit the Start Button and type cmd. Rt click on CMD at top of Start Menu and choose 'Run as Administrator' then type sfc /scannow remembering the space after sfc. Then hope it finds a fault it can cure before the machine shuts down...
Failing that you may have to re-install Windows, but it may be possible to do that as an upgrade by using your installation disk once booted into Windows from your desktop
(and hope warezme is wrong, but I suspect he may well be right..)
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October 17, 2012 6:53:15 PM

warezme said:
You answered your own question. You booted from Linux and had no problems running from CD. What did you eliminate in that setup...., tada, your hard drive. I am abou 90% sure it is your hard drive because I had a similar problem. The issue is the hard drive was failing and would randomly just disconnect and then reconnect, back and forth so while the OS was waiting for its request for files the system continues working normally with anything already in memory. It could also just be a bad cable so check that first as SATA cables have a bad habit of getting tweaked.


Thanks

Is there any way to test the hard drive (OCZ Vertex 2) to verify that? Is there such a thing as a hard drive test so I can turn your 90% certainty to 100% certainty?
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October 17, 2012 7:04:10 PM

dodger46 said:
You could try running the System File Checker, which involves opening the CMD prompt as an Administrator and typing sfc /scannow 'Enter'
As it could take up to 10 mins to run you'll have to be swift! As soon as you can, hit the Start Button and type cmd. Rt click on CMD at top of Start Menu and choose 'Run as Administrator' then type sfc /scannow remembering the space after sfc. Then hope it finds a fault it can cure before the machine shuts down...
Failing that you may have to re-install Windows, but it may be possible to do that as an upgrade by using your installation disk once booted into Windows from your desktop
(and hope warezme is wrong, but I suspect he may well be right..)


OK, will do.

You mention that I would have to reinstall windows......I assume that if I have bad/dying hard drive as warezme thinks that I can't just reinstall Windows on that same (possibly bad) drive, right? You mean I would have to buy a new hard drive then reinstall?

Does Windows 7 have some sort of repair function? Would that work?
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October 17, 2012 7:06:35 PM

ualdriver said:
Thanks

Is there any way to test the hard drive (OCZ Vertex 2) to verify that? Is there such a thing as a hard drive test so I can turn your 90% certainty to 100% certainty?
The easiest way would be to disconnect it and try another good working drive with a test OS on it (a regular HD is fine). If all goes well you know 100% it is the drive. I would still make sure it is not the cable or the SATA port. Swapping a cable or using another port is a lot cheaper than a new SSD.
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October 17, 2012 7:27:23 PM

warezme said:
The easiest way would be to disconnect it and try another good working drive with a test OS on it (a regular HD is fine). If all goes well you know 100% it is the drive. I would still make sure it is not the cable or the SATA port. Swapping a cable or using another port is a lot cheaper than a new SSD.


OK, thanks. I will do that. I didn't know that one could switch ports like that on the MB.

I don't have another HD with an OS on it, so I'd have to buy a new HD to do that test unfortunately. I was wondering if there was some sort of way I could pull the Vertex SSD from my computer and test it on my laptop or something.
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October 17, 2012 7:28:42 PM

dodger46 said:
SSD life is the only tester I'm aware of, if your system will run long enough...
http://download.cnet.com/SSDLife-Free/3000-2086_4-75323...
Wonder if there's a version that will run in the Linux environment...


OK, will download it and try. Maybe I can pull the SSD from my computer and run a test on my laptop somehow?
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a b $ Windows 7
October 17, 2012 7:33:41 PM

Rather than have to buy another HDD you could install WIndows on your present storage drive by creating a new partition and installing there. Meanwhile try the SFC, then try running your installation disk from your desktop, and if it gets that far, choose the ugrade option to see if it will repair Windows. You could test your SSD on your laptop, but you'd need a USB adapter to connect it, unless you ave a 17" Lappy with two drive bays...
http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/USB-to-SATA-Serial-ATA-15-7-2...
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October 17, 2012 7:49:29 PM

ualdriver said:
OK, thanks. I will do that. I didn't know that one could switch ports like that on the MB.

I don't have another HD with an OS on it, so I'd have to buy a new HD to do that test unfortunately. I was wondering if there was some sort of way I could pull the Vertex SSD from my computer and test it on my laptop or something.
You could do that. If the drive has the same behavior on your laptop then it definitely is your hard drive. If it does not then it is pointing back to your cable or port. Most mobos have at least 4 to 6 SATA ports. The drive doesn't care which port you use unless you have a RAID setup and then only the RAID ports will work for those RAID pairs.
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October 17, 2012 8:21:54 PM

dodger46 said:
Rather than have to buy another HDD you could install WIndows on your present storage drive by creating a new partition and installing there. Meanwhile try the SFC, then try running your installation disk from your desktop, and if it gets that far, choose the ugrade option to see if it will repair Windows. You could test your SSD on your laptop, but you'd need a USB adapter to connect it, unless you ave a 17" Lappy with two drive bays...
http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/USB-to-SATA-Serial-ATA-15-7-2...



I guess I am a little confused. Tell me if my logic is incorrect.

By booting into LINUX and having the computer run properly, I have likely isolated the problem to the SSD boot drive or a problem with Windows 7 itself.

If I take the hard drive out, put it into an enclosure (I found one I forgot about), I could do the SFC from my laptop. If the hard drive passes the SFC with no problems, then I have a Windows 7 problem. If the SFC finds a problem, then I have a hard drive problem and I need a new hard drive.

Does that sound correct?
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October 17, 2012 8:22:54 PM

warezme said:
You could do that. If the drive has the same behavior on your laptop then it definitely is your hard drive. If it does not then it is pointing back to your cable or port. Most mobos have at least 4 to 6 SATA ports. The drive doesn't care which port you use unless you have a RAID setup and then only the RAID ports will work for those RAID pairs.


I switched cables and ports with known working cables and ports and unfortunately the problem persists.
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a b $ Windows 7
October 17, 2012 8:30:23 PM

The SFC is designed to run in an operating Windows environment, don't think it is much use from your laptop! Try downloading the SSD Life to your laptop, with the SSD connected it should find it and tell you if there's a problem.
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October 17, 2012 8:37:27 PM

dodger46 said:
The SFC is designed to run in an operating Windows environment, don't think it is much use from your laptop! Try downloading the SSD Life to your laptop, with the SSD connected it should find it and tell you if there's a problem.


he-he, yeah that is what I meant. Pull the suspect drive from my computer, put it in an enclosure, hook it up to my laptop, then see if I could test the hard drive from the laptop with the hooked up enclosure.



And thanks to you and warezme for sticking with me!! I am going to try to run that test now.
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October 17, 2012 8:58:30 PM

dodger46 said:
The SFC is designed to run in an operating Windows environment, don't think it is much use from your laptop! Try downloading the SSD Life to your laptop, with the SSD connected it should find it and tell you if there's a problem.


OK, I downloaded the SSD life in time before the computer froze. It said that it found no problems with my SSD with a big "DRIVE HEALTH IS EXCELLENT"

Then I rebooted, and did the System File Checker. Amazingly, it did its entire check before freezing. It too found nothing wrong. The message said, "Windows Resource protection did not find any integrity violations."

So between these two, can I assume my hard drive is good?
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a b $ Windows 7
October 17, 2012 9:00:35 PM

Agreed. Now see if you can run your Win 7 install from your desktop.
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a b $ Windows 7
October 17, 2012 9:03:04 PM

Might be an idea to check your RAM 1st, can do by removing a stick at a time to see if it runs w/o freezing
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October 17, 2012 9:10:19 PM

dodger46 said:
Agreed. Now see if you can run your Win 7 install from your desktop.


Now this is where I get a little confused. I just want to make sure that I don't do anything that wipes out the stuff on my boot drive like a clean install. I'm backed up, but the back-up is a month old and it would be a pain to move stuff 8 minutes at a time before the system freezes.

OK, so I have a OEM copy of Windows 7 that I purchased when I built the system, disc only. If I boot up and stick the disc in the drive, what should I be selecting from the menu? Is there some sort of repair function that can fix Windows 7 and the problem I am having? Hopefully!?


P.S. I did check the RAM before all of this. I took the sticks out and booted the computer with only one stick in at a time, 3 times, once for each stick. The computer froze as usual each time.
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a b $ Windows 7
October 17, 2012 9:16:43 PM

Well, no guarantees, but it is a recognised method of re-installing Windows without formatting. If you're worried use your Linux disk and backup your files using that.
Video here, you'll need your Lappy...
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a b $ Windows 7
October 17, 2012 9:25:50 PM

At least you'll know that if the setup runs without freezing it will indicate that your Windows installation is at fault... and if it doesn't we're still looking for hardware...
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October 17, 2012 9:30:18 PM

dodger46 said:
Well, no guarantees, but it is a recognised method of re-installing Windows without formatting. If you're worried use your Linux disk and backup your files using that.
Video here, you'll need your Lappy...


I understand that whenever you mess around with Windows you could lose your stuff. I guess what I mean to say is a couple of things:

1) When I put the disc in after booting, I run setup.exe from the disc and I get a Windows 7 splash window with an "install now" in the center of the window. I guess before I hit that "install now" button, I want to make sure that I am only asking for a repair (?) and not a clean install which will wipe my drive new. That's what I am confused about.

2) If my computer freezes 10 minutes into whatever I am doing in #1 above, that could screw me regardless. Is there a way to do a repair by booting from the Windows 7 disc or something WITHOUT being in my dodgy, freezing desktop environment?

Thanks again for all of your help.
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a b $ Windows 7
October 17, 2012 9:41:16 PM

Sure, you could boot into the Installation disk and try Windows repair, but I seriously doubt it will fix what you have. It's more designed for startup repair when Windows won't start. Actually, if you have space on your SSD, it would be possible to install another copy of Windows on a clean partition.See what space you have available...
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Best solution

a b $ Windows 7
October 17, 2012 9:46:45 PM

If you decide to try the Repair Install, here's a full description of the method and any pitfalls
http://www.sevenforums.com/tutorials/3413-repair-instal...

I guess if it's going to freeze it will do so before you get to the crucial part!

I'm going to have to leave you with it. Wondering if you might long term be best to clean install Windows on the SSD provided your sensitive data is stored on the HDD. Easiest to perform. When you get to 'Where do you want to install windows' choose Drive Options(advanced) and format the drive. For safety disconnect the sata cable from your HDD 1st...
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October 17, 2012 10:02:56 PM

dodger46 said:
Sure, you could boot into the Installation disk and try Windows repair, but I seriously doubt it will fix what you have. It's more designed for startup repair when Windows won't start. Actually, if you have space on your SSD, it would be possible to install another copy of Windows on a clean partition.See what space you have available...


Oh. I thought I was putting the Win 7 disc in the drive as some sort of repair.

So what am I doing with this Win 7 disc that will fix my problem? Looking for a partition to do a reinstall?
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October 17, 2012 10:26:10 PM

dodger46 said:
If you decide to try the Repair Install, here's a full description of the method and any pitfalls
http://www.sevenforums.com/tutorials/3413-repair-instal...

I guess if it's going to freeze it will do so before you get to the crucial part!

I'm going to have to leave you with it. Wondering if you might long term be best to clean install Windows on the SSD provided your sensitive data is stored on the HDD. Easiest to perform. When you get to 'Where do you want to install windows' choose Drive Options(advanced) and format the drive. For safety disconnect the sata cable from your HDD 1st...


Yup. I've taken enough of your time. Thanks for all of your help. Remind me to buy you a beer or two the next time I see you :) 
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October 17, 2012 10:26:27 PM

Best answer selected by ualdriver.
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a b $ Windows 7
October 17, 2012 10:34:15 PM

OK one last try. Change your Boot order to CD/DVD 1st and boot into the Install disk. Choose language and OK. Like I said, it probably won't fix your installation, but will do no harm. Choose Repair as opposed to Install and see how you get on. If you have no data on your SSD consider re-installing Windows as suggested above, probably the easiest way out!
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!