Resolving Issue Which Seems Due to Too Many SATA Devices

Hey Guys -

For the past 2-3 months, I've had a huge issue with my primary PC at home which I couldn't nail down.  I think I may have found a clue this morning so wanted to describe what's going on, what I'm thinking, and get your opinion on a few questions I have, please.

I use the PC for any use you can imagine from gaming to VMs and have a 28tb drive pool in it where a total of 12 SATA devices are connected (full specs below).  Often (not every time) when logging into Windows as well as at sporadic times, the PC has frozen up 100%.  The only fix was a hard power off / power on as restart button usually didn't even work.  I have tons of experience and am in the IT field, but this issue has driven me crazy.  Below are some of the things I've tried to resolve it - none of which worked:
- Complete OS Reinstall (Secure Erase SSD dedicated to OS then reinstalled 8.1)
- Installation of Windows 10 (also Secure Erasing first)
- Updated drivers if possible
- Reset BIOS to defaults
- Checked Thermal - 100% normal
- Upgraded to 1000W power supply which had built in monitoring - 100% normal
- Safe mode seems to work 100% fine / During normal boot, PC doesn't lock until after logon (Ctrl-Alt-Del)

Earlier today, I was installing Logitech Gaming Software/Drivers so I could program the extra buttons on my mouse.  Half way during installation, it froze again with the same charachteristics of no logs, etc.  Thinking this may provide a clue, I looked to see what caused this issue for others and most of them said the fix was that they unplugged their opitocal drive or moved it to a different SATA port.  This makes me think that it is related to the number of drives I have again

As you'll see below, I have x9 drives plugged into my motherboards and x3 into expansion cards - cards which I was told were known for reliability.  Even though I didn't have issues before when running a large pool, I'm wondering how much this configuration has to do with it and wonder if there's maybe too much load on the motherboard.

My System Specs
- Intel i7-3770k CPU / 16gb RAM
- Windows 10 x64 Enterprise
- Nvidia GeForce 660 GPU
- Storage
   - C:\ - 256gb Samsung 850 Pro SSD (OS & App Installs only)
   - E:\ - 1tb Hybrid Disk for App Installs and App cache folders
   - Y:\ - 24gb Paging File partition (Sliced from 850 Pro disk - probably doesn't help, but why not:))
   - Z:\ - DVD Burner / Optical Drive
   - D:\ - 28tb Drive Pool
        - x8 SATA Disks (3tb - 4tb each)
        - x1 256gb Samsung 840 Pro used for pool cache (all pool writes go here and cache to SATA later)
    - SATA Port Specs - x13 total
        - On Motherboard (GA-Z77X-UD5H) - x9 SATA Ports Total - x2 Marvell 88SE9172 chipsets
        - x2 SYBA SI-PEX40094 PCIE cards which offer x2 SATA ports each

Currently, I have my OS SSD plugged into one of the SYBA cards with the other port on it empty, The other Syba card has the pool's SSD and hybrid drive connected.  The optical drive and 8 other SATA disks are connected to the motherboard

My Questions
1. Should I replace my "x2 SATA Port cards" with one or two "x8 SATA port cards" and take as much load of the motherboard as possible?

2. Most data on the pool needs to be accessable 24/7.  I'd love to move many of the drives over to a NAS, but getting one with that many bays which would support some form of pooling would be pricey.  Any suggestions for an alternative to my current setup which won't break the bank? (Next question may answer that)

3. I currently use StableBit DrivePool for the pool and it does a great job.  I'm considering building a workstation out of old parts and migrating at least part of the pool it where it stays on 24/7.  If so, I'd prefer using Linux for it's stability, but would have to convert from one pooling technology to another as Stablebit doesn't support Linux and don't currently know what's available.  In your opinion, would migrating to Linux be worth all the hastle or not?  If so, what software would you use?  Note:  RAID really isn't an option due to the number of drives and no redundancy currently :(

So, what do you think?  Sorry for the long read.  Thanks for taking the time to help!
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David Johnson, CD, MVPOwnerCommented:
why you're not using storage spaces I'm not sure probably the storage pool software you're using has additional benefits. With normal everyday hard drives if there is a drive error the disk will keep retrying until it gets it and then map out that block.  Have you looked at the disk queues in performance monitor while this is going on. It could be your drive pool doing its duplication functions.  I have 8 drives myself and have encountered slow downs but never a total freeze which a CTRL-ALT-DEL which 99.99% of the time will bring up the security screen (there is the extremely rare time it can't bring up the screen) and I will see 1 or more drives with a higher than 15 disk queue.

Is your hard drive light on full red during this experience? I have noticed that handbrake when encoding will cause a BSOD and I never get a BSOD otherwise.. and it is not consistent.

Have you looked at the event logs after this freeze up and does anything jump out at you..  The problem with something being intermittent is that it is not easily reproducible.  are you using the storeport driver or the miniport driver.. storport doesn't show smart but miniport does.
i suppose you checked device manager - and no errors there?
i must say, freezing can happen from either device - so - because you have a lot, it is difficult to find the cause, unless you can run without some for testing?
otherwise, i would suggest you swap out parts, like you started to do with the PS :
ram disk, cd drives..etc

maybe you installed the bad firmware, as suggested here ?
BzowKAuthor Commented:
I ended up purchasing a SAS card which had 2 SAS ports.  Using fan-out cales, I was able to attach x8 sata disks which seems to have resolved my issue - THanks

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BzowKAuthor Commented:
It was the answer to the issue
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