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XP PC Freezes - failing hardware??

Posted on 2005-04-30
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Last Modified: 2010-04-26
Hi,

I posted previously and thought the problem was resolved but it seems to have returned.

I have an Alienware PC bought in late 2001 running Windows XP Pro:  P4 2 Ghz CPU, 1 Gb RAM, LSI Logi MegaRaid SATA 150-4, four Maxtor SATA HDDs (200 Gb ea) running in a RAID 5 config.

Recently, my PC started freezing randomly -- while in windows or SafeMode.  Froze in BIOS.  Froze when booted off a CD.  Anywhere!  Sometimes my PC runs fine for a while, then after freezing & rebooting, it would freeze up very quickly...again & again after numerous reboots.  (overheating?)  

Also, sometimes I notice after a reboot, I dont have a NIC show up under Network Connections or Device Mgr.  It comes back after a reboot.  It's an Intel NIC PCI card (not embedded in mobo).

The last hardware change was made about 18 months ago (that's when I got the LSI card & SATA drives).  

Since the PC freezes everywhere, I dont see it being a software or OS problem but hardware instead.

I tested all the SATA drives - no errors.
I updated the LSI card's firmware (that resolved my previous recent problem of showing two drives as FAILED).
My BIOS is on the latest version (although a few years old - nothing newer released).
I tried removing RAM chips (I have 4, they need to run in pairs).
I disconnected all external devices - scanner, printer, ext DVD ROM, ext HDD.

I have the Intel monitor software running that monitors temperatures - they seem fine (in 'green' zone) so that's why I dont think it's overheating but...

How would I be able to check if it's the power supply or the mobo itself w/o swapping?  There are no burnt looking capacitors on the mobo (someone suggested to check this on another similar pc freezing post).

Any other ideas?  Thanks!!!
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25 Comments
 

Author Comment

by:davinder_rodey_mizuhocbus
ID: 13903322
After leaving PC off for about an hour, I rebooted and it's stayed up thusfar (1 hr so far). I'm running the Intel monitor and it's got all temperature zones (CPU, zone1, zone2) in normal 'green' ranges.  Guess if it freezes overnight, hopefully, i'll have the screen shot with high temperatures listed. <g>

So...maybe it is an insufficient PS?  I have a 300W and according to some PS calculator site (http://www.jscustompcs.com/power_supply/Power_Supply_Calculator.php?cmd=INTEL), it says I need 423W although some of those #s are probably not accurate..

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Expert Comment

by:burrcm
ID: 13903751
300W sounds low for 4XSata and 1GB of RAM. Pull half the RAM. If it improves, then PSU is likely.

Chris B
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Accepted Solution

by:
nobus earned 1050 total points
ID: 13903890
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Author Comment

by:davinder_rodey_mizuhocbus
ID: 13904323
Thanks for feedback.  I'm leaning towards PSU.
I confirmed I have a 340 W PSU now.  I'm ordering a 480 W Antec PSU today.  
PC is still running fine from last night (~11 hours now).
Temp monitor show same temperature so no overheating...yet.
I will post updates after PSU is replaced in a few days.
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Expert Comment

by:mwnnj
ID: 13905177
for to check out  the psu there are many psu testers:
http://www.dansdata.com/quickshot018.htm
http://shop.store.yahoo.com/directron/tester1.html

to check out your mobo you can use the tools:
MicroScope from Micro 2000: http://www.micro2000.com/microscope_suite/index.php
or PC Check from  : http://www.eurosoft-uk.com/pc_check.htm

both of the diagnostic tools are too expensive but ,if you can find them then you can make the needed hardware diagnostic for your mobo
i think they have also evaluation versions,check it out at yourself...

later
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Author Comment

by:davinder_rodey_mizuhocbus
ID: 13961668
So, I got the 450W PSU last Thursday.  Replaced it and ran the PC ok for about 1 day; then got a popup saying something about how I exceeded the max power capacity, followed by a reboot!  PC's been down for days now while I wait for a nwe 550 W PSU to arrive on Wed...

Apparently, since I have RAID-5, it draws more power than normal since all drives have to spin all the time, etc.

<sigh>
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Author Comment

by:davinder_rodey_mizuhocbus
ID: 13961673
Typo: I ordered the 480 W PSU (not 450 W).
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Expert Comment

by:nobus
ID: 13965949
you can calculate the power you need here :

http://www.jscustompcs.com/power_supply/      
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Author Comment

by:davinder_rodey_mizuhocbus
ID: 13967952
Thanks. I did that. See my original post.
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Expert Comment

by:nobus
ID: 13968668
i do not see that you calculated it; you said you ran with all devices disconnected.
Other than swapping parts, you eleiminated everything; so it has to be one of both.
Since you changed a lot af hardware, and it froze everywhere, it can be either one.
i suppose you tested this while running from 1 drive; and then while running from another one too?
then my best suggestion is replacing one of those.

>>  So, I got the 450W PSU last Thursday.  Replaced it and ran the PC ok for about 1 day; then got a popup saying something about how I exceeded the max power capacity, followed by a reboot!   <<  <--------    did you test with this new power supply, and only one drive connected? if it reboots then, i wopuld say it is your Motherboard causing all the trouble.
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Author Comment

by:davinder_rodey_mizuhocbus
ID: 13982730
I RMA'd the LSI card just to be safe.  Before I swapped it out, I booted up the PC and noticed Windows XP begins to load however never makes it past the loading screen. After about 3-4 minutes, it just reboots on it's own.  Safe mode doesn't get in either.  

Next, I swapped the LSI card.  Booted up, made sure the LSI card properly read the HDD RAID5 config off the HDDs, which it did.  Tried booting up but same problem as above.

Finally, I installed the 550W PSU unit.  Same problem as above.

Let's assume the PSU is not the problem at this point and that I now have a seperate issue -- just getting into Windows (maybe caused through all those previous crashes, etc).  I tried booting off a few good boot CDs (Win XP & Knoppix) but it never does - instead, Windows brings me to the screen stating Windows didn't load properly last time - do I want to load normally or in safe mode, etc.  I'm guessing this is preventing the boot up off of CD.

I can boot off a floppy drive and see both CD & DVD drives and the CDs data but can't see the HDD's since it doesn't properly load the driver / RAID5 config.

Any suggestions on how I can get in or resolve this issue?  In the meantime, I'll leave the PC on and see if any PSU errors pop up.

Thanks!
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Author Comment

by:davinder_rodey_mizuhocbus
ID: 13982901
I got the PC to boot off of CDs - had to tweak BIOS settings.  Using Knoppix boot CD, I can see my RAID drive and data all looks intact (phew!).

Now looking into some sort of repair options to get XP to boot!!
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Author Comment

by:davinder_rodey_mizuhocbus
ID: 13983110
Booting off XP CD, I got into the recovery console after getting a floppy disk with my LSI card's driver but it took almost 15 minutes to get through the 'examining hard drive' screen. Then, when I got to the C: dos prompt, i'm unable to do anything and response is really slow when i type any command (10-30 seconds to respond to dir command).  Then it fails.  I can't do a dir listing or cd into any directory.  Recovery console is apparently a bust.
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Expert Comment

by:nobus
ID: 13983984
maybe you can do a repair install :

http://www.michaelstevenstech.com/XPrepairinstall.htm
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Author Comment

by:davinder_rodey_mizuhocbus
ID: 13985126
I tried to do a repair also and when I get to th point of identifying the drive on which it should install, it shows my hard drive listed but has a message about this partition not being accessible (for various possible reasons - corruption, not compatible, etc) and Windows can't install on it unless I format it.  My only options at this point are to format NTFS or format NTFS Quick. <g>

Since Knoppix can load the drive & I can recurse thruogh the directories ok, I think I may get some data off through Knoppix and recreate the RAID & install fresh unless I come up with something else....
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Expert Comment

by:nobus
ID: 13985438
At this point, i should backup my files, and start from scratch, after testing the drives and devices as much as i can, on another PC, and running tests on this one.
You've got the list above already
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Author Comment

by:davinder_rodey_mizuhocbus
ID: 13987123
LSI suggested I recreate the array adding one drive at a time.  This process will check each drive as it is added and identify any errors it may find, helping to isolate a problem HDD.  If it doesn't find any problematic HDDs, then chalk it up to some type of corruption somewhere along the line... <sigh>

Unfortunately, this blows away all the data so I'll have to get that off first...
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Assisted Solution

by:mwnnj
mwnnj earned 450 total points
ID: 13991494
hi davinder,
not a bad environment to recover windows nt-based OS is ERD Commander(current 2005):
http://www.winternals.com/products/repairandrecovery/index.asp?pid=ap#erdcommander2005
the tool is expensive but if you can borrow the programe then you could get access on your raid-array and this tool loads such as Knoppix,the only plus is you could try to make registry repair and system recovery to a previous point,where your system was good working...
for data recovery i could also suggest GetDataBack:
www.runtime.org --> GetDataBack - Data Recovery for NTFS V2.31
just take a look at this tool



cu
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Expert Comment

by:mwnnj
ID: 13991504
PS there are also a tool at runtime.org:
RAID Reconstructor V2.31
and
DiskExplorer for NTFS V2.31

good luck!
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Author Comment

by:davinder_rodey_mizuhocbus
ID: 13995386
Thanks guys.  I can see my data through Knoppix so the RAID5 config is there & working.
Knoppix doesn't officially support writing to NTFS so I can't copy from RAID5 to my ext USB HDD (backup) and they're strongly opposed to doing it because of data corruption possibilities.  Instead, I've connected my ext HDD to another PC and mapped to it through the network.  This way, I'm able to transfer all data over the network.
Once done, I'll nuke & recreate as mentioned above.
Maybe the end is in sight...finally?
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Expert Comment

by:mwnnj
ID: 13997143
this must surely work ,
but i think you must configure the samba server for to get access from a windows based system over a linux system( and for the oposite direction : lnux over windows),,,,


later
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Author Comment

by:davinder_rodey_mizuhocbus
ID: 13997220
There's nothing to configure. I can already connect TO a windows share FROM Knoppix.  
I believe Samba setup is required if I want to connect FROM windows TO knoppix, which i don't need to do.
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Expert Comment

by:mwnnj
ID: 13997373
that's what i said but,just try with the mapping drive and see if this will manage the problem...
i'm waiting for your comments!
Good luck!
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Author Comment

by:davinder_rodey_mizuhocbus
ID: 14021204
Sorry for delayed reply. Been busy with troubleshooting.
So, yes, I can map to windows shares and yes, I can copy data however the speeds were really slow (200 kbps to a shared out ext USB2 hdd from a windows PC).

I'm working on connecting that drive directly to my knoppix boot-up PC for faster transfers although that is presenting problems of its own.  I've managed to run cfdisk to create a 400 Gb FAT32 partition, mount & copy some data to it at 10-12 mbps speeds (which is great) but sometime over the night during the copy, it stopped and now I've lost my ext HDD (not showing up in knoppix).  I've got to troubleshoot that a little more tonight.

I guess since that's a seperate issue, I should close this question & award some points.
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Expert Comment

by:mwnnj
ID: 14044016
thanks for the points at all and you can just paste your furthur results at this topic ,no matter that you've awarded us with points,feel free to continue the discussion ,hope we will find out a better solution,,,
nice time !
waiting for your reply!


cu
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