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Posted on 2011-10-27
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I have a Dell desktop computer with Win Vista SP 1 that I am troubleshooting at the moment. It is running incredibly slow especially when browsing the web. The processor and disk activity seems low but it freezes up sometimes as well as BSODs. I ran dell diagnostics and received the following errors for the HD test.

0F00:0244 and 0F00:1A44
Block 263883454

For the CD drive I got errors

0F00:027B      Read
0F00:047B      Seek
0F00:2876      Bit

Not sure if both the HD and CD drives need replaced. The hard drive is a Seagate so I ran seatools on the drive. The long and short test came back fine, so did the Dell Diags have a false positive? The Avast AV program as well as Malware Bytes has shown no sign of an infection as well. The cd drive appears to show no sign of a problem within Windows. I need to find the cheapest and easiest way to get this machine back to peak performance. Any ideas?
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Question by:jbyrd1981
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by:shadowmantx
ID: 37040347
Check defrag of the hard drive.
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by:garycase
garycase earned 1600 total points
ID: 37040970
Intermittent errors on BOTH the hard drive and the optical drive could mean a failing controller, or an intermittent memory error.

I'd test the memory first -- run MemTest+ for at least a couple hours.
http://www.memtest.org/

... if it shows ANY errors, replace the memory.

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by:jbyrd1981
ID: 37042904
Shadow- The drive is 0% fragmented.

Gary- Ran Memtest from a thumb drive. No errors were found after it ran until completion.
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by:garycase
ID: 37043087
"... after it ran until completion ..."  ==>  MemTest never "completes" -- it continues to run additional passes.    If you're having random and sporadic bit errors it could take many passes to note that.    I'd run it overnight for at least 8-10 hours ... or, better yet (if you have some available known-good RAM), just replace the memory and see if the symptoms change.
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by:nobus
ID: 37043324
or just replace the cd or disk -  and rerun the test to show if if the problem stays or not
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by:jbyrd1981
ID: 37048829
Well, when I boot to the memtest from my thumbdrive it automatically begins the test. Has a completed percentage that did reach 100%. Maybe I am doing something wrong? I am giving it another go right now.

Wish I had extra RAM, HD, or CD drive to try.
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by:nobus
ID: 37049071
usually they say BSB 'Beg, Steal or Borrow"  in that case - but you can just buy ram, HD, or CD does not cost an arm or a leg
you need parts to be able to troubleshoot
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by:jbyrd1981
ID: 37050350
Yea... guess I could. I did notice a lot of cd rom drive errors in the event viewer. Although there has not been any more since May. Do you think disconnecting the CD drive for troubleshooting would help narrow it down?

I also had found out what I had done wrong with the memtest. It has been running for 14 hours so far with no errors. I am going to let it run for the rest of the day.
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by:nobus
ID: 37051971
no offense meant, but i should say "why do you think i suggested it?" now; so yes that's what i think
14hours memtest is enough for me
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garycase earned 1600 total points
ID: 37052026
It's not so much the time, as being sure you run a full 10 passes or so.    Generally 14 hours is plenty to do that -- it shows you how many passes you've run  [The patterns are altered with each subsequent pass.    It's rare that errors aren't shown by the end of the 1st pass, but I've seen cases where errors didn't show up until the 5th or 6th pass]

If you haven't seen CD errors since May, I'd say it's FAR more likely the errors were due to poor quality media than with the drive itself.

With the memory testing good, I'd double-check the hard drive.    It passes Seagates' long and short tests, so now try the Quick and Extended tests from Western Digital's Data Lifeguard (it works with any drive)   http://support.wdc.com/product/download.asp?groupid=613&sid=3&lang=en

If the drive still tests okay, look VERY carefully at the motherboard for any signs of deteriorating capacitors (bulging or leaking).     If you see this issue, you can replace the capacitors for ~ $20 if you're handy with a soldering iron;  or have it done professionally for ~ $65  [http://www.badcaps.net/ ]

Finally, if you have a high quality power supply available, you might want to try substituting that for the Dell supply.    The Dell supplied units are generally relatively low wattage, and may have deteriorated to the point where one of the rails is unreliable.    Power problems can cause a LOT of sporadic issues.
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by:Danny Child
ID: 37058284
Can you try a different OS - either Windows on a different CD, or an Ubuntu Bootable CD?
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by:Danny Child
ID: 37058290
that should be "Windows on a different hard disk"...
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by:jbyrd1981
ID: 37059561
Well the Memtest ran for well over 10 (22 passes) hours with no errors so the RAM seems to be fine. I ran the WD hard drive tool and it had an error with the long test. When you try to correct it with the program, there was an error.

I have inspected the MOBO and there is no sign of bulging or leaking capacitors.

I did find a Hard Drive to use so I am going to try and image this drive to the new one. I am also going to try and boot into BartPE. I am wondering if the bad parts of the drive are not only causing the issue but imaging will transfer the issue to the new drive. Since system files may have been corrupted on the old drive.
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by:garycase
ID: 37060537
Cloning (i.e. imaging/restoring) the old drive may very well not resolve this, if the old drive was corrupted, as the corrupted data will simply transfer to the new drive.    Won't hurt to try it -- but if you still get errors try a fresh install on the new drive before concluding the issue isn't the drive.
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by:nobus
nobus earned 400 total points
ID: 37061111
it is even not sure the disk is bad - the bad block can be a  sector with wrong info
whatever you do - first BACKUP  -use Winpe, or any live cd to copy your data
you can try a syartup repair also : http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/tutorials/tutorial148.html      repair Vista
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by:jbyrd1981
ID: 37074101
Here is an update. I was able to BSB an identical hard drive. I used a TD1 forensic imager to clone the original drive to the new one. Near the end of the process the device let me know of an error on the source disk but it finished. The new, cloned drive is now in the machine and is working better than the old. I can actually use the web browser without it actually becoming slow as well as when doing other menial tasks.

Now, I was a little curious if this system was indeed clean. Remember the Malwarebytes and avast scans came back clean. I wondered if rootkits may have been present. I used trendmicro's rootkit scanner and what do you know it found files. It was not able to fix every one. So I started Avast AV's preboot scan. It found them and appears to have resolved them.

Will the windows startup repair fix any changes that these files may have made to the Windows OS? If not, will the Dell recovery partition fix this without erasing the user data? Thanks!
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Expert Comment

by:kloyar
ID: 37074156
first problem is that you have a vista...  :-D
what size is your memory ? never use less than 2GB of ram with Vista/7
could b a controller problem, but a controller would usually give u more errors.
try using other tools like western digital tools or hitachi.
BSODs can be caused by many reasons. what's the error code you get ? you can see this in the event viewer.
errors in the event viewer regarding cd-rom means that the specific cd-rom that was inserted was defective, not the cd-rom itself.
use the windows disk utility to find and fix errors. could b certain bad block in a sensitive place that is causing the problems.
run a defragmentation tools in order to improve the disk performance (but after you run the chkdsk utility first)
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by:garycase
garycase earned 1600 total points
ID: 37074432
2nd question first:   The Dell recovery partition will restore the system to its original factory state => you do NOT want to do this !!

As for verifying that there are no errors in the system files ...

Run the System File Checker (SFC) from an elevated command prompt [Go to Accessories;  right-click on Command Prompt; and select "Run as Administrator"]

To just verify whether or not there are any issues, use this command:
sfc /verifyonly

To automatically correct any issues it finds, use this one:
sfc /scannow
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by:jbyrd1981
ID: 37074648
Well... I ran scannow and it found problems it could not repair. Could not open the log file to see more details it said access denied. Also, it would seem that I have network connectivity but IE or chrome will not go to any website. I guess removing those infected files must have done something. Have any ideas how to repair this installation of Vista? It does look like the dell recovery only lets you start completely over.
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by:garycase
ID: 37074672
Sounds like it's time for a fully reload -- either with a clean Vista disk;  the factory restore via the recovery partition;  or perhaps with a new Windows 7 disk.

In any event, that will require reloading all of the applications; data; etc. -- so be sure the data's backed up before proceeding.

Hopefully the drive itself is okay -- a replacement a week ago would have cost about half what they cost today ... the floods in Thailand have caused major changes in hard drive prices, as a 6-month+ shortage is expected due to the dramatically reduced manufacturing capacity.
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by:nobus
ID: 37074900
use the vista repair from a install dvd :  http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/tutorials/tutorial148.html      repair Vista
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by:jbyrd1981
ID: 37088827
Thanks for the info... I think I have finally put this computer into a healthy state after replacing the HD and CD drive. also, after cloning the drive with a forensic imager and running the Dell recovery partition on the new drive as well. Now there are no more disk errors showing up on the WD Long test and also no preboot scan viruses found. Just like it came from the factory now.

One thing that I cannot believe is that the manufacturer's (segate) drive tool did not detect the disk errors, but WD's and Dell's builtin did. I will have to keep that in mind as I troubleshoot these problems in the future. Thanks all!!!
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