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Jarrod AdamsFlag for United States of America

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Windows 10 machines "Locking Up" when left idle

I know this is a mountain, but any guidance, expertise or experience with this is appreciated.

I have network computers that are "locking up on a black screen".  The computers are on, even showing online and available to connect with remote utilities, often able to ping them...but once a connection is initiated, it goes into a stall at the final stage that is a formality of requesting the connection from the host.
The behavior on-site is that the computer is "on" but the monitors are blank and no keyboard input is accepted.  Sometimes a mouse can be moved but not clicked.  So, for all practical purposes the computer is unusable.

Once the computer is hard booted, it works normally in every way...printers, network shares, online/local/network apps all function correctly and computer is responsive.  The lockups occur when the computer has been left unattended and idle for a period of several hours or days.  the timing is not the same.  While we have different computers and monitor configurations, and many programs installed, our basic network environment has remained fairly similar from computer to compter and year to year for 10 years and we haven't had this type of issue before.  It seems to be isolated to Windows 10 computers, and mostly tp newer (1-2 years) ssd computers that have pci-E NVME ssd drives rather than traditional SATA drives.  All are Dell computers.  The behavior is intermittent.  If an employee goes home form the office, chances are they can sign in remotely later that night or the next day or even the day after, leaving apps open or closing out of apps and files does not seem to affect the behavior but we may see slightly improved access when folks save/close and log out.  

It's a very busy office so troubleshooting is a challenge, and having people not use 1 of 15 or more programs that they use everyday and waiting 3-4 days to see if their computer locks up is less practical than hard booting and getting back to work.

I am not an expert is the event viewer, but nothing stands out when I check the logs.  the computer doesn't seem to think it has locked up...but if anyone knows of a better monitor or admin tool or troubleshooting routine, I'm happy to try. An event diagnostic tool?
A program compatibility analysis somehow? but it isn't a compatibility issue while all programs are active and being worked on, it's only when the computer is left idle for an extended period.

BTW...all Windows updates, Dell firmware updates have been done and are successful.  Multiple antivirus scans have been done, registry cleaned, sfc scannow and DISM tool run.  Dell tech suggested a BIOS setting called "BlockSleep" sould be enabled.  This seemed to maybe help for a few days but then the behavior returned.  

And many of our computers are unaffected.  This is why I have tried to consider the pci-E NVME ssd drives a possibility.  However, I have other identical or similar machines at other clients with the same never-off power settings that have had no issues with this lockup behavior, and Dell so far hasn't revealed any problems with these drives or hardware configurations.  So, I'm a bit stuck every time I feel I've got something narrowed down via the scientific method, the behavior happens again.

Thanks in advance for your help.
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David Johnson, CD
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it is in the power settings.. where something is being put to sleep after x minutes of inactivity and the driver fails to wake up properly. Typical items to change are: display, usb, network, hard drives.

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I have adjusted changed the power settings multiple times. Is there some perfect balance younare suggesting?  I know computers are more organic than most would think, but any idea why these computers would start locking up in the past 3 months after years of being "always on" through multiple hardware replacements and OS"s?
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Dr. Klahn

"... any idea why these computers would start locking up in the past 3 months after years of being "always on" through multiple hardware replacements and OS"s?"

I don't want to appear flippant, but the answer to that is:  Windows 10.

Microsoft said that Windows 10 would be "the last release of Windows."  To me that statement carried an implicit "So that will be the end of us breaking things in new versions."  Well, in the event this has not proved to be the case.  Microsoft keeps breaking things at every major W10 update, which we should have expected because now a major update is much like a new version of Windows.

<opinion>
Business environments where W10 is used in mission-critical applications should run their own update servers, and not make anything available to the production machines until it has been tested on at least three machines for six months.
</opinion>
I think the problem is with some computers that go into sleep mode, or hibernation mode. There are just some systems that it is impossible to awaken out of hibernation mode once they hibernate, you can press keystrokes or move the mouse nothing seems to wake them up. The way I resolve this issue is to set the computer to never go into sleep mode,  and shut the monitor down after 15 minutes, shutdown hard drive after 20 minutes, this seems to work on my windows 10 systems that I manage.
I'll try anything at this point...especially if it's that simple.to fix.  Nice to see that I'm not the only one who has seen this.
Does having the hard drive shutdown prevent remote access?  I know I have always set the hard drive not to shut down because of remote access, but it was years ago. I will test, but if you know off-hand...
Since these are SSD's is the hard drive setting even going to affect? HowtoGeek article states this only affects spinning mechanical drives...
yes I mentioned it for the fact of having the regular hard drive spinning up all the time will wear them down or could also cause the drive to over heat, if it is running constantly. with the SSD drive you dont have to worry about parts wearing out or over heating.  I just mentioned the fact that I chose this setting because the systems had hard drive with platters.  If  you have ssd drives you can leave the hard drive running you do have to put a number.....  of minutes. I dont think shutting   off the hard drive will affect the ability to wake up the system.  what the computer was working on will be stored in ram memory anyway, unless the user was running lots of applications and the system was using drive space to store memory because there was not enough ram space.
This has become an increasingly disruptive problem.  Could it be Microsoft using hidden power "updates" could manufacturers be "in on it"?
I'm not a conspiracy theorist, but it seems like many devices are becoming "deep sleepers" after years of normal operation. My Brother printer is now "deep sleeping" instead of just sleeping after 2 years sitting on the desk as a normal usb connected device.  There are instructs for changing or possibly disabling this, but we didn't make that setting change...so doesn't it have to be a windows update or some other update?  
this post is from Microsoft Community and backs up my crazy theory.  
https://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/forum/all/why-does-windows10-keep-changing-my-power-settings/285e3540-9042-48de-b453-fa70e9cff75b


At best, changing settings in Control Panel Power Management advanced settings should control things, but even disabling USB selective suspend, does NOT UNcheck the device manager options for USB hubs and Human Interface Devices and System>IEMI Power management options to allow for computer to turn off device to save power.  And worse, after changing all of these settings on the problematic computers, others with none of those settings changed are acting completely fine/normal as they have for years with the normal power settings changes to not hibernate or sleep and to turn of monitor after a few hours...

**How does one troubleshoot something like this?  is there an audit tool for events?  If so, does the OS even believe there is a problem or event, and so would it even bother to document it?  You can probably tell I'm getting frustrated so any help would be great.  I've shared all the things that Dell Techs have offered and internet tech board searches.

I am going to try the "Don't Sleep" utility highly rated by CNET editors to see if I can at least take control via a 3rd party utility.  Please help if you can...
to me it seems that windows 10 is made for handhelds, - that do not have much usb devices - and this is something they "forgot"
it can also be due to the complete OS updates that are applied twice a year
or- since you said all pc's are DELL  - it's a dell setting in bios io softwares
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fred hakim
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while all the above still applies, we seem to have largely solved our lockup problem by upgrading our Malwarebytes applications to their newest Endpoint Protection solution. MWB worked forna decade alongside all of our other programs and now the new program works great alongside all of our apps, but the MWB we had been using up till this one was definitely to blame for this lock up. To their credit they were apologetic and helpful with the upgrade and even discounted a portion of the upgrade. MWB was the last app I would have thought would be the culprit but it was.