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I have a strange problem with my W7 machine. Sporadically the application freezes for up to 30 seconds. then it wakes up and things continue to look normal.

I've seen it happening with many apps including Visual Studio, Firefox, IE, etc. It also can happen when I am unlocking my computer after it was locked by password protected screen saver - it can take up to 30 sec for the 'enter password' dialog to appear after pressing the alt-ctrl-delete buttons.

When an app is frozen, it seems that other apps already running can be used, but if you try to launch another one - it will not show up until the freezing is over,

Another thing - all this time the hard drive activity light is on solid.

This is not just me - other members of my team suffer the same problem.

Any suggestions on troubleshooting this problem?

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migrated from May 9 '11 at 15:53

This question came from our site for system and network administrators.

Either you all have HDs that are going bad (all computers bought at the same time with HDs from the same batch?) or you've got network issues, as mgjk suggests. – Chris S May 9 '11 at 15:46
up vote 1 down vote accepted

In addition to what has been already said please have a look at the event log and look for system error events. In case your HDD is going bad and causes read timeouts there should be an entry produced for such a critical event. However usually in such event you often even get a BSOD but you did not state that there is any BSOD.

Regarding the network share: Of course you could have network shares which are unreachable and therefore causing some apps to "freeze" until a timeout has been reached. Try to run net use * /delete /y on command line to disconnect all network drives for a trial.

Also check your startup applications at: - Registry HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run - Registry HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run - Registry (64-bit only) HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run Or do it the "easy" way using msconfig utility and temporary disable all services which you don't know for sure that you need them.

You might also want to run a virus and spyware check (e.g. running Spybot Search And Destroy). If you want to run an antivirus tool without installing software try Microsoft Safety Scanner.

In general such "hiccups" are most often related to unresponsive hardware devices such as disk drives. For example if a disk drive does not respond so Windows blocks the process until the data is written. Non-Multithreaded applications often appear to "hang" then. Other applications which do not access the same device appear to run normally then unless they access the same unresponsive hardware component. You might also try to use the built-in Resource Monitor (included since Windows Vista) or Sysintenals ProcessExplorer to get some information about specific processes and their activity.

Updating device drivers might be a good idea as well. For example if you have an Intel chipset update to latest Rapid Storage Technology driver. Or update your LAN driver.

Disconnecting all peripherals (mainly USB/Firewire/eSATA storage) could help identifying the faulty device too. Just don't think something like "well, this old USB HDD cannot be the cause, I am not using it" since Windows or applications might enumerate these devices at random causing some of them to spin up and making Windows wait for the device until ready.

If nothing helps it might even be a hardware defect. Use Memtest86+ to diagnose memory errors. If all is clean you might try different SATA ports (or even PCIe adapter if available) to identify the broken device. The Intel bug on series-6 SATA-3 ports have shown that not even new hardware is absolutely sure not to be broken. The Intel bug was causing high error rates on SATA ports which could cause re-transmits and transmission errors which could cause such effects too.

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I'd look for a broken network share in the path.... then maybe in the Most-recently-used, or an install-time icon from some pushed software deployment. The light being on solid is a bit strange though. If it weren't multiple machines, I'd be tempted to lean towards a hardware problem. Good luck.

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Sounds to me like a power management thing. System powers down the hard drive, something goes for the hard drive, it gets stuck while the hard drive spins up to service the request.

Make sure you don't have a really short 'Turn off hard disk after' setting in advanced power settings. Or, if they're desktop machines, set it to zero so it never turns off the hard disks.

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The other has offered helpful advice, one other thing will also cause this issue is DNS timeouts. Make sure you can resolve names when this happens ... if not then that's it.

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