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Casimir Effect
06-02-2012, 12:34 AM
Windows (7 64-bit) desktop just became entirely unresponsive except for allowing me to move the mouse around (couldn't click on anything though). Force reset, get's into Windows and this happens again, nearly immediately. Force reset again, happens during startup (except with no visible mouse, obviously). Happens during Safe Mode, happens while loading Startup Repair, and I have no idea why. Or if I do make it into Windows as soon as I click on something it freezes.
I only have 2 ideas:
Installed new nVidia drivers yesterday (proper releases, not betas)
One of the crashes happened almost immediately after restart and the boot screens said "Drive Read Error" or something to that effect, so I'm thinking it could be the Windows hard drive that's gone. Which kind of makes sense as one of my fans sounds like a car engine when initially booting up in the morning (especially in the cold weather).

Anyone have any other ideas or can get behind one of the above explainations? Thanks!

Startup repair gives the message:
Root cause found:
Unspecified changes to system configuration might have caused the problem
Repair Action: System Restore [Ed: I asked it to do this]
Results: Failed. Error code 0x1f

Repair action: System files integrity check and repair
Results: Failed. Error code = 0x3

trjp
06-02-2012, 02:20 AM
Windows being unresponsive but the mouse still moving is rather odd - a system/hardware freeze would usually freeze everything.

On that basis I'm going for a driver problem or corrupted system file - but you should rule out a hardware fault as well

For the hardware, run a MEMTEST and a diagnostic on your HDD. You'll find everything you need on those slightly 'moody' bootdiscs (Hirens Boot Disc is usually my choice) or you can seek out your HDD Manuf's tools and an ISO for MEMTEST online (obviously you need a working PC to do that - catch 22??)!!

As far as Windows is concerned, SFC should be able to scan and identify any problems in the protected system files (and restore them where possible) - see this article for details

http://www.sevenforums.com/tutorials/1538-sfc-scannow-command-system-file-checker.html

The obvious thing to try is restoring to an earlier System Restore point (there should be one right before the driver update).

If that's not possible or won't coco you can try a Repair Install from your original partition/DVD

If that doesn't solve it - oh heck...

Snargelfargen
06-02-2012, 02:54 PM
It's best to rule out a failing hard drive right away, a failed system restore is not a good sign and you don't want to lose anything. Do you have a second desktop, or a friend with one you can use for an hour? Try plugging your hard drive into the other computer. That way you can boot with the other computer's OS, and from there you can test your hard drive to see if it's failing. I recommend CrystalDiskInfo (http://crystalmark.info/software/CrystalDiskInfo/index-e.html). If anything shows up yellow, your hard drive is failing and you should back up any files on it ASAP. It also couldn't do any harm to run a virus scan while your HD is plugged in and acessible.

If your hard drive really is failing, time is of the essence. Leave the computer off as much as possible, and don't restart too many times.

If the hard drive isn't the cause, perhaps a program is stealing focus, preventing your mouse clicks from affecting anything. Since you can still move the mouse around, windows probably isn't freezing. Does your computer accept keyboard input when it freezes? You could try opening the task manager by pressing ctrl+alt+del and seeing if there are any processes that are taking up all your cpu.

Mistabashi
06-02-2012, 03:14 PM
Are you by any chance booting off an SSD?

Casimir Effect
06-02-2012, 04:17 PM
Thanks for the replies everyone.
This morning I tried turning it on again and it loaded up as if nothing was ever wrong. So at least now I've had a chance to backup everything I could ever need. I'll try some of the HDD diagnostics later (so long as it keeps working) and maybe a driver rollback just in case, along with a full virus scan. If none of that picks up anything then I guess I'll just keep using it until it dies for good, maybe try a Repair Install sometime.

Windows doesn't see the keyboard either during the freezes so ctrl-alt-del does nothing. The very first crash happened while watching a fullscreen video online with iPlayer (Top Gear) and although the picture froze the audio kept going - not sure if this is relevant but it seemed strange. On the final attempts last night it wasn't even getting to the "Run in Safe Mode" part of booting up, just saying there was an error (probably a drive error). Hopefully the tests will confirm that the HDD is dead/dying, then I can at least get on with fixing it.

No SSD, just an old-fashioned, 500GB, un-partitioned, 7200rpm drive which is aged about 3 years.

Thanks again.

Odeon
06-02-2012, 08:31 PM
Based on the fact that it locked up repeatedly yesterday and booted up fine today, I'm thinking you might have an overheating problem somewhere. Try running SpeedFan (http://www.almico.com/sfdownload.php) while you watch another online video in a non-maximized window and see if it shows any temperature spikes above 80C. If it locks up you'll hopefully be able to see what SpeedFan last reported and if everything looks good, the problem lies elsewhere.

Did you watch a few videos before it happened yesterday or just the one without doing much else before that?

Casimir Effect
06-02-2012, 09:26 PM
I've had Speedfan and various Rivatuner profiles set up for this machine since I built it. The GPU and CPU have both had cooling problems and there is something wrong with the case/fans which... ah let's just say it can run pretty hot. But it's never had a problem resulting from overheating.
I've watched plenty of online videos before and a large amount of yesterday it was running Dragon Age 2 - often alt-tabbed to desktop - with no complaints (The Witcher 2 did cause some motherboard beeping a month ago but this has happened before with The Last Remnant many months ago). The GPU has gone up to 105C in the past and CPU tends to be around 65C (a bit above the operating temp of an Phenom II X4) when under very heavy load. This definitely wasn't the case yesterday though.

@Snargelfargen
Using that CrystalDiskInfo program has returned a 'Caution' on the Windows HDD. On the SMART test the caution is coming from the Reallocated Sectors Count, where Current = 100 and Worst = 100 with Threshold = 36. Could this be what is causing the problems?

Thanks!

Snargelfargen
06-02-2012, 09:34 PM
@Snargelfargen
Using that CrystalDiskInfo program has returned a 'Caution' on the Windows HDD. On the SMART test the caution is coming from the Reallocated Sectors Count, where Current = 100 and Worst = 100 with Threshold = 36. Could this be what is causing the problems?

Unfortunately yes, your hard drive is starting to die. If you still need to use your computer for a while, it's probably best to leave it running, as failing hard drives are stressed a lot more by being turned on and off. Make sure you have anything important backed up on an external or flash drive until you get a replacement.

Casimir Effect
06-02-2012, 10:04 PM
Unfortunately yes, your hard drive is starting to die. If you still need to use your computer for a while, it's probably best to leave it running, as failing hard drives are stressed a lot more by being turned on and off. Make sure you have anything important backed up on an external or flash drive until you get a replacement.
I think you might be right. I just did a System Restore in case that would help and, upon trying to reinstall Crystal Disk, it's freezing again. Booting up gest to "Verifying DMI Pool Data ..........." then "A disk read error has occurred. Press ... to restart".

Ah well, at least everything is backed up now and I am 99% sure what the cause is. Now to order a new HDD and live off laptop for a few days.
Thanks for all your help.

Odeon
07-02-2012, 12:55 AM
If you've got the budget for it, you might want to try upgrading to an SSD. You don't get nearly as much storage for the money, but the performance gains are insane.

Casimir Effect
07-02-2012, 12:26 PM
Looked into it but my motherboard is kind of rubbish and wouldn't be able to do 6GBs SATA, plus the expense is too much for a poor postgrad. I've gone for a Samsung Spinpoint F3 which I hear nothing but good things about and this way when I finally do a full PC upgrade and get an SSD I'll have another TB of space lying around.

I am thankful I got that laptop for work last summer. I agree Dell aren't worth it (from other thread) at the top end but their more-basic XPS laptops have a lot going for them. It does a decent job with Matlab anyway.

Snargelfargen
07-02-2012, 06:48 PM
Looked into it but my motherboard is kind of rubbish and wouldn't be able to do 6GBs SATA, plus the expense is too much for a poor postgrad. I've gone for a Samsung Spinpoint F3 which I hear nothing but good things about and this way when I finally do a full PC upgrade and get an SSD I'll have another TB of space lying around.

A normal hard drive is probably all you need, but the older 3GB SATA connection is good enough for an ssd. Some things might take half a second to load instead of 0.25 seconds. The difference isn't noticeable because both are a million times faster than a normal hard drive*.

*not real math, but you get the idea.

It's a different story if you have 1.5GB per second SATA connections, in which case you probably need to replace more than just your motherboard!

Good to hear you caught the problem early anyways :)

Casimir Effect
08-02-2012, 01:20 AM
One day... one glorious day I will have an SSD. Probably when I next upgrade which, life proceeding as planned, will be in about a year.

One final question:
My current and future setup looks like this:
Internal HDD with Windows 7 64 installed
Internal HDD for games, backups etc
External HDD (we can forget about this).
Once I have the new drive all set up with Windows etc, what I'd like to do is reformat that other internal drive so as to start with a clean slate, as it were. Is there a way I can do this from within Windows and so not have to mess around with boot order and the Windows disc and DOS prompts? I'm always a bit paranoid around reformatting in case the Windows one gets hit somehow and I end up erasing stuff I didn't intend to.

Odeon
09-02-2012, 08:16 AM
You're talking about replacing the current Win7 HDD with a new one, then plugging the current Win7 HDD in after the new one is set up, right? You don't have plans to wipe your games and backup HDD, correct?

That can be done easily, yes, but you'll want to make sure you disconnect (unplugging either the power or SATA cable is enough) the current Win7 drive before plugging in the new one and installing Win7 on it. In fact, the easy route is to unplug all drives (including your external drive) except for the one you intend to install Win7 onto and when installation is done, plug the other drive(s) in again so that Windows recognizes them and assigns them drive letters. If you have the old Win7 HDD plugged in when installing Win7 on the new drive, it'll likely keep the current drive as the drive with all of your PCs boot information on it and just make the new one a secondary drive with the primary boot partition. So you'd end up with a dual-boot of two copies of Win7 and have to select the one you want every time you boot up or reboot. And wiping the current Win7 HDD will wipe the boot information, making the new Win7 inoperable.

So yeah, I always (try to remember to) unplug all drives except the one I'm installing Win7 onto. I even had an odd issue with Win7 becoming dependent on an external drive that was plugged into a USB dock so that it wouldn't boot correctly without it plugged in simply because it was plugged in when I set up Win7. Oy.

Snargelfargen
09-02-2012, 03:28 PM
If you are logged in as administrator, formatting a drive should be as simple as right-clicking on the target drive in My Computer, selecting Format and then saying yes to a UAC prompt. There are a couple dufferent options but it's normally best to stick with the defaults (Quick Format, NTFS File System and 4096 byte Allocation Units).

Odeon's advice on avoiding accidental formats/windows installation issues is wise.

Casimir Effect
09-02-2012, 04:15 PM
Again, thanks for all the help. New HDD is in and Windows installed again. I used the Disk Management things to reformat the other internal drive. So everything is now good to go, just a load of file/folder moving left and game installing.

Odeon
09-02-2012, 08:01 PM
There ya go. It's nice and easy when everything is installed correctly. 8-)