Computer Freezing

Hi, my second computer (which i use a lot for rendering 3D architectural jobs with 3ds max) is freezing randomly and in the last week is doing it more frequently than ever.  It just freezes, the monitor shows the screen as it was, and i can not move the mouse or use any command with the keyboard. The only option is to reboot.

I have checked in EVENT VIEWER, under SYSTEM, but nothing appears that could indicate the problem... no errors that i see. But i can Save a recent one if you think is important...

This started to happen like 3 to 4 months ago, but it was not that common. All i have to do is turn the PC off holding the power button for 10 secs and turn it on again.

The last 2 or 3 weeks it freezes very frequently, and when i restart it, it logs into windows and most of the times it freezes after a few seconds or minutes of login in. Nevertheless, after some attempts, i do manage to get it working, and it does not freezes unless i turn it off and on again, or perhaps after coming back from Sleep or hybernation....

Right now is working...

And this last days, it even freezes at boot... or it takes a long time to log into windows.

I have tested how will the PC behave in VISTA, and for the last 2 days i have it ON with VISTA and it has not had problems freezing. Altough if i restart the PC, it may stuck or take a loong time to boot as mentioned above...

I have not had any message of virus that i remember. I use Microsoft Security Essentials, and Malwarebytes anti Malware.

The computer specs are:

- Dell Inspiron 531
- Dual Boot Windows Vista and XP Pro SP3 32 bit (I only use XP in this PC, and i made this Dual boot many years ago, almost since the beginning because i dont like Vista, but i kept it just in case)
- AMD Athlon 64 x2 Dual Core Processor 5600+
- 4 Gigs Ram
- Bios 1.0.12 (I just checked DELL´s website and there is a 1.0.13 version, Should i get that?)

I have to many information in that computer, but mostly all my programs and plugins are set up. Right now i am very busy with work and i can not afford to Reformat the computer and install everything again.... I hope there is a solution for this.

I can open Separate questions if you think it can be usefull to address different issues separately. Please let me know.
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unrinoceronteAuthor Commented:
One other strange behavior is that the TIME (System time on the low right corner)  changes on ocassions..., sometimes is just the hour, and others the DATE and Time....

I have also noticed that the Monitor blinks one time and then freezes, sometimes is very quick, and sometimes the monitor goes black, and then after 1 second the screen comes back but everything is freezed at that moment...
1 - Download and install CCleaner , clean up the temporary file and speed up your PC.
2-  What version of 3DS MAX are you running? Check for its recommended hardware/software  requirements  . It maynot be enough.
3 - Do you a memory test too memtest86 is common tool.

4- Time could be associated with bad CMOS battery, replace it with a new one.
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unrinoceronteAuthor Commented:
Kavlins thanks, regarding your comments:

1- I have CCleaner, that does not help with this issue
2- I have 3ds Max 9 (very old), and i have been using it for many years in this computer, so that also can not be the issue
3- I did a memory Test with the DELL included application when i logged into VISTA. Actually it showed that ALL the hardware is OK... I will Run MEMTEST and post the results.
4- I did change the CMOS battery at the beginning of this year... I will try puting a new one, but i think time changes are related to the computer freezing up....

I have started this other 2 follow up questions to expand the possibilities on the issue i am having with this PC:
Question 2
Question 3
Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
"... and in the last week is doing it more frequently than ever ..."  ==>  Did you by chance update the video drivers recently?    Video drivers are a common cause of lockups.    Usually you want the most current drivers;  but in some cases an older version will actually work better, due to various conflicts with other hardware elements of a system.
David Johnson, CD, MVPOwnerCommented:
What are your motherboard temperatures? One test to see if it is hardware based failure is to boot into the bios menu and see if it freezes while in the bios menu. A failing power supply will also cause your computer to freeze.

How old is this PC? you may have got your money's value out of it.
web_trackerComputer Service TechnicianCommented:
The problem could also be due to a failing hard drive. A failing drive can corrupt some of the system files as well as application files, causing the system to freeze. Bad memory can also corrupt system files. The Dell pre boot assessment can test the cpu, memory, and hard drive. If there is still a diagnostics partition on the hard drive you can run more through diagnostic tests on the computer. If the system is clogged with dust it can cause freeze ups as well.  I agree with ve3ofa that a powersupply that is starting to fail can also give you problems.

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unrinoceronteAuthor Commented:
Garycase: Well recently i have not updated the Video Drivers, i am not even sure if i ever did...but there might be a chance i did.. if so, was long ago...

But now that you mention, JUST ONE TIME, a very strange happened besides Freezing, and is that at the same moment the computer Frooze, all the Screen looked weird, with LOTS of Dots very similar to "dead pixels" ...

ve3ofa: How can i monitor the Motherboard Temperature?.  And also how can i test if the Power supply is Failing?
The PC is pretty old, it turns 6 years this month....and definetely i have got many times more its money value, but besides this, if the computer doesnt freezes for the first 5 minutes when it logs into windows, then i can use it normally, and i can even do long rendering tasks (8 straight hours renderings...) and keep working after that...

I just bought a new computer to replace this, but it will be a transition process because i am used to XP, and i have to set it up in the way i am used to for work...I still have to use this computer for some more weeks, and is very important right now that i can use it since i have very close deadlines with work.

I will do right now the BIOS test, and leave it on in the BIOS and see if it freezes...

As of yesterday, one other strange thing is happening, and is that when i Turn on the PC or reboot it, it takes like 5 minutes or more just to go from the first screen (DELL LOGO) up to the Windows Boot Manager screen (where i get the boot manager options to choose from Vista and XP)  , then when i select the XP option, it takes another 5 minutes or more to LOG onto Windows. (Windows XP logo with a progress bar moving very slowly)...  Sometimes is reacting like this, and some other times it just Logs a normal PC... (The same happens if i boot into VISTA... it takes a looooong time)

I just remembered one more thing, I dont know if it is related, but i think that things got worse since a few days ago i was saving a file on 3ds max because there was a blackout, and the UPS didnt had enough power, and the computer shutted down in the middle of the saving process... When the power came back, i restarted, and 3ds Max was corrupted... I had to re install it, and then i kept working... but maybe that corrupted more things on the system?
David Johnson, CD, MVPOwnerCommented:
have you a spare hard drive that you can image the xp hard drive and then put the image on the spare hard drive and see if that fixes things?

in your event logs do you have any disk events?

Temperature monitoring..

from your hard drive manufacturer get the disk test utilities and test the hard drive.
unrinoceronteAuthor Commented:
By the way, i have ithe WINDOWS RECOVERY CONSOLE installed (for many years ago), i dont know how to use it, i installed it because an expert here on EE told me to do it and with that we solved a problem back then... Can this Recovery Console be useful in this case (unless it is hardware related of course...)

Webtracker:  Interesting you mention Dust... i have not dusted it in a while, i try to do it once a year, but perhaps the last time was more than a year....

About a possible harddrive failure and other Hardware failure, i have opened this other Question, so perhaps that option can be dealt there. Please take a look: Question 2: How to Check HARDWARE FOR PROBLEMS

I have just runned MEMTEST86, and everything turned out OK... (i might not know how to use it or configure it correctly tough...) It did some passes and after a while the test finished and it said everything was Ok...
Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
"...  It did some passes and after a while the test finished and it said everything was Ok... "  ==>  MemTest never actually finishes ... it will just keep running until you stop it.

But if you did several passes, then your memory is probably fine.

The VERY slow access sounds like your disks may have reverted to PIO mode.    Check the BIOS for the disk access method -- see if there's a DMA setting, and if so be sure it's enabled.
We can also check this in Windows ... but a Windows issue wouldn't explain the very slow initial boot process, so check the BIOS first.
Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
"... As of yesterday, one other strange thing is happening, and is that when i Turn on the PC or reboot it, it takes like 5 minutes or more just to go from the first screen (DELL LOGO) up to the Windows Boot Manager screen "

Okay, boot to the BIOS, and change the boot settings so you don't get the logo.   Probably something like "Silent Boot" or "Show Logo" ... in any event, disable that, so you'll see the underlying messages at this point.

I suspect that what it's trying to do is boot from a network, and then finally giving up and booting from the local disk.     Check you Boot Order setting in the BIOS to be sure your hard drive is the first thing it tries to boot from.
☠ MASQ ☠Commented:
I see temperatures have been mentioned but no one got back to you on testing.
Have you given the case and cards a good dusting yet?  Also check your fans especially on the graphics card are running OK.

Hardware Monitor

Can check what's happening in terms of component temperatures in the case.

If you're getting thermal cut outs to protect the system then there's a chance that each time that's happening you're getting errors left on the drive from files locked in use at the time and you may be getting some cumulative effect of these errors becoming apparent.

If you've run a stress test or Memtest for multiple passes it's less likely temperatures are at fault though.

The time taken to POST - for the Dell logo to go off the screen - is a more fundamental issue - this is probably a hardware issue and the BIOS is struggling to deal with either a change or a component that's not responding to its start-up check as it should.
As web_tracker says
I also believe it a HDD problem, especially as your running dual boot mentioned in your other question
~>my SPECS i have to CLARIFY, or correct, that i have a Dual Boot system with VISTA and XP,
 but i almost only use XP all the time... Also i only use my 3D and CAD software in this computer,
Is space a problem?
HAve you run a disc cleanup and defragged the drive.
How old is the drive?
What is loading with XP
Running in the back ground?
Which is installed first? XP or Vista?
Any events errors?
unrinoceronteAuthor Commented:
Hi everybody, i am back after almost 48 hours of testing and leaving the computer ON.

So, everyday i see this problem is getting more and more complex, so i decided to take it one step at a time.

Right now, what i want to solve first is the issue of the VERY SLOW BOOTING... I think GARYCASE was onto something, he mentioned that my drive might have gone to PIO MODE. I dont know anything about this thing, and i looked up on the BIOS but i didnt find any option where i could choose DMA or PIO...Also on the BIOS, there is no Boot Settings that mention "SILENT BOOT or SHOW LOGO"... What can i Do?

I have looked up a little more, and under DEVICE MANAGER / IDE ATA/ATAPI controllers / Secondary IDE Channel (double click) / ADVANCED SETTINGS :
Device 0
Device Type: Auto Detection
Transfer ModeL: DMA if Available
Current Transfer Mode: Not Applicable

Device 1 (All the same as above)


Can you guide me on how to check if effectively i have the PIO mode problem, and how to solve it?


IMPORTANT NOTE: As of today, (but perhaps it happened 2 or 3 days ago), i have just checked on Windows / MY COMPUTER, and my 2nd Harddrive has DISSAPEARED!!!! of the system..., it was named with letter G or H, and now there is none... There Only appears the FIRST HDD which contains the partitions for  C: for WINDOWS VISTA , D: RECOVERY (VISTA), F: WINDOWS XP.  I have checked this also on COMPUTER MANAGEMENT/DISK MANAGEMENT, and the drive has disappeared....

MAYBE this happened because like 30 minutes ago i went on to the BIOS Settings and i selected "REVERT TO DEFAULT SETTINGS" ...   Now i have logged into the BIOS again, but i dont see a way or an option to ENABLE or DISABLE this Second HDD.... Could this be the reason?

NOTE: I have runned the DELL TESTS (Long Tests for around 24 hours straight, and it passed all the TESTS OK... Last night before going to bed it was doing the last test and it was almost on the 100% with everything OK, but this morning i woke up and the computer was FROZEN....  Today i  have left the PC on inside the BIOS, for around 8 hours, and it didnt frooze....
David Johnson, CD, MVPOwnerCommented:
it would appear that your secondary drive has bit the dust.  It was mentioned here or in one of the other spin off threads for this problem to check the hard drive (s), UBCD was mentioned.  You could check and reseat the cables to the second hard drive and then turn on the machine and see if the drive shows up in the bios.
unrinoceronteAuthor Commented:

So, i just found out that my 2nd Harddrive is DEAD... As i mention, in some moment from 3 days ago to today, the drive dissapeared from windows (I just noted that it dissapeared 2 hours ago).  Since some Experts suggested that ALL THIS PROBLEM regarding the Slow BOOT and FREEZING might be Harddrive related, i decided to DISCONNECT the 2nd HDD, and suddenly the FREEZING and SLOW BOOT PROBLEM DISSAPEARED....  


ALTOUGH i disconnected the 2nd HDD and everything started working properly, i also did the following things BEFORE disconnecting it: (altough i do not thing they had an impact on the solution...)

- Disconnected the GPU (NVIDIA 8600 GT)
- Removed CMOS battery (CR 2032e) (it had the letter "e"
- Installed a NEW battery (CR 2032) (without the "e"
- Restarted the Computer
- While starting, an ERROR message appeared saying that there was a problem with the Battery, or something like that.
- Removed the NEW battery and i installed another NEW Battery
- Same error appeared
- Reinstalled ORIGINAL OLD battery
- REMOVED 2nd HDD and 1st HDD
- Tried to Start the computer, but it got stock in the First boot screen, where it says press F2 for ... and F12 for.... But nothing happened, it stayed there. I pressed F2 and F12 and nothing happened.
- I rebooted 2 or 3 more times and the same behavior
- Reinstalled the NVIDIA GPU
- Reinstalled the 1st HDD
- I turned ON the computer, and it inmediately booted and logged into windows FAST...
- Now i have rebooted around 6 times, and the computer is logging into windows FAST and in the normal usual way CONSISTENTLY.
- It is not freezing at the moment, but i will have to test it for some more hours to see if the Freezing dissapeared.

I have to mention that this 2nd Harddrive was ONLY for STORAGE, the OS and programs are installed in the 1st HDD. Since i removed this 2nd HDD, i installed in an External DOCKING STATION (ThermalTake BlacX), and the First thing i noted was a Strange Clicking Noise... Ihave heard that noise before in other drives, and i am almost sure that that sound means that the drive is dead.... (I will open a new question on this, to see if there is a way to save the information on this dead drive because i didnt had a Backup...(I know, this was very stupid...)...


So, i will keep the computer ON for all night long, and tomorrow morning if it has not FROOZE, i will close this question.

As a Conclusion, does this explanation of the Dead Drive makes sense as the origin of the problem?  Was it definetely the BAD drive which was causing ALL this trouble? being it a 2ND HDD... I would guess if a 2nd HDD was turning bad, it would just STOP working, but never i would imagine it could mess the BIOS and booting and freezing issues...

Please let me know your final toughts.

Thanks in advance.
Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
Yes, a failed drive can easily cause what you've described -- it seems very likely that was the cause of the issue.    The drive simply failed in such a way that it was electrically overloading the bus, and making all disk-related access VERY slow (in fact it likely had caused DMA transfers to fail, and they were being done in PIO mode -- which is very slow).

As for the error you got with a new battery -- that's normal;  it will warn you that you have a bad CMOS checksum because the battery has been out for a few seconds (while you replaced it).    All you had to do was reboot and it would have been fine.
web_trackerComputer Service TechnicianCommented:
Also due to removing the battery the date settings will be changed, and since the computer is now displaying an unusual date and time you will be getting the bios errors you have suggested until you enter a valid date and time. Also removing the battery will set the bios settings to default, which means items such as booting up to floppy drive as the first device. This may slow the boot up time because it is checking the boot order of the devices for the default settings. You may need to change the default settings to look for the hard drive as the first boot device.   I would also turn off booting to a network device. Have you dusted out your computer as suggested previously. I like to clean out my computer at least once per year. If you live in a place where it gets dusty or if people who smoke... the computer can accumulate a lot of dust and crud from cigarette smoke. Cigarette smoke is not only unhealthy for people but it is detremental for computers as well.
For info of other experts, the issue seems to have been a failing 2nd hard drive:
unrinoceronteAuthor Commented:
GaryCase: very interesting and comprehensable explanation.  The WEIRD thing is that i never got a ERROR MESSAGE regarding this HDD going bad.....

Shouldnt it had there been some error messages stating this?   this is troubling me so much... i dont understand why i did not got any indication the drive was failing, and i have had this FREEZING problem for several months, and always checking EVENT VIEWER...

Web_tracker: Just to clarify, i am not getting the Battery ERROR anymore. I am using the old BATTERY and it dindt gave me any error. Also i changed the Time and i Disabled the FLOPPY DRIVE as a 1stt device... When i got the Battery Error was because i Installed a NEW battery. And even i changed the Time, it still gave the battery error... I tried this with 2 new SONY CR2032 batterys, so my guess is that this batterys have a deffect....The OLD BATTERY that i am using, and i thjink was the original Battery on this computer is a MITSUBISHI Brand, and is a CR2032e (with an " e" at the end.... Maybe is that i need a NEW battery that ends with an e?

In the BIOS ther is no option to Turn Off Booting to a Newtwork device... at least none that i have found.. (There is one option named ONBOARD LAN BOOT ROM which is DISABLED (This is under the ADVANCED OPTIONS on INTEGRATED PERIPHERALS...)

Sorry i didnt mentioned it, but i DUSTED the computer last night, Before all this removing of GPU, battery and Bad HDD... It had plenty of Dust and dust bunnies....And the 2nd HDD had DUST around the Circuit Board, DUST that looked like it was attracted by magnet...

To wrap this up, so far the PC is behaving perfectly now. It seems all is good and working since i removed the Bad HDD...
second position hdd dont give a bad error, I had a slaved HDD that died and the windows xp wouldnt boot removing the drive solved it back then that's why I agreed with Web_tracker
remember Web_tracker mentione it first http:#a39451369
Good news and sad maybe.
If you have data on there try get data back
unrinoceronteAuthor Commented:
Thanks Merete, but how come does a Second HDD " Dont give a bad error"... That freaks me out... Is that right, do you other experts agree on this?  And if so, Why does thsi happens, why a 2nd HDD will not report Bad errors?

I am with you that Web_tracker was the first to hit the nail. I am sorry i didnt try inmediately to remove the drive..perhaps if i did i would have saved some of my information on the Drive..

All your opinions here have been usefull in one way or another, and i have learned quite a few things. I want to take my time and reread all this long Thread and close the question as soon as i do. In the meantime, Thank you all...
David Johnson, CD, MVPOwnerCommented:
why a 2nd HDD will not report Bad errors?

Is SMART checking enabled in your bios? (in the hard drive section).. I've have limited success in detecting a failing drive with s.m.a.r.t. checking.  Many times its telling me something I already know.
From my own experience with this I believe it is because windows being installed on the master C drive doesnt see the second drive as any type of threat for booting as the master boot record is intact on the master drive.
also windows doesnt access this secondary drive directly at boot.
Strange as it is but the bios and the system board does come in to play here, when you consider how power works on the mobo circute board, once it detects a break in the flow
( put simply) break in the transfer electricity no matter how minor it wont allow any hardware to start since there is a break in the circute and windows cant run either as the master HDD is not running
 So the mother board rules. lol
After all windows is  just a programmed GUI built on an image on the HDD

The motherboard is a printed circuit board that is the foundation of a computer and allows the CPU, RAM, and all other computer hardware components to function and communicate with each other.
unrinoceronteAuthor Commented:
Thanks everybody, sorry for my delay closing this question. I have been using this computer for all these days and i have not had any other freezing problem again.

As concluded, the problem was a failing HDD, and after i removed that drive, everything got back to normal, so it seems that there was not any other complimentary cause to it.

Thanks again very much for your advice and companion in such a moment of despair! ... i hope i can save the files on that drive someday....
web_trackerComputer Service TechnicianCommented:
Thanks for your through answers to the post, and going through all the steps recommended you were a pleasure to trouble shoot with.
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