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I recently installed Windows 7 and now have an annoying problem. My PC locks up every 10-15 min for about 60 sec.

Here is what is happening:

-Occurs generally during browsing
-CPU usage is minimal (0 - 15%)
-Hard Disk Indicator lights up (however i dont hear the disk chugging along)
-When I look at the resource monitor the hard disk utilization jumps to 100% however I dont hear the hard disk performing a massive amounts of reads/writes.

I am starting to think that this is not a hardware problem on machine (older Dell Precision 9100 with 4GB of ram and P4 3.2).

I am wondering if this could be something with my network?

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Have you recently installed a Solid state drive? –  Tony Aug 31 '09 at 15:53
    
@Tony - No it's the original drive. It has been doing this ever since I updated to vista a year ago, and now with Windows 7. –  Miyagi Coder Aug 31 '09 at 20:23
    
Have you tried booting into safe mode and noticed any improvement (keep tapping F8 just after switching the computer on.) –  Kez Aug 31 '09 at 21:00
    
Ok I ran chkdsk and had no report errors...It seems that this only happens when I have browser window open and am jumping around web pages... –  Miyagi Coder Sep 2 '09 at 13:16
    
I guess the ultimate test to rule out hardware would be to get XP installed again either on a separate disk or get your existing disk repartitioned and dual boot XP. –  Kez Sep 3 '09 at 23:57

8 Answers 8

Sounds more like a failing disk.

Can you go into the command prompt and run a chkdsk ? No switches, to ensure it runs in read only mode. If you find you have bad blocks - NOW is the time to copy off as much data as you can.

EDIT - after your comment about having a fully working copy of XP before 7/Vista, a few more suggestions to try:

  1. As you mentioned it only really happens while browsing, can you install another browser such as Firefox or Chrome and test with that? (if not already tried.)

  2. Try booting into Safe Mode (tap F8 just after switching on) and see if you get the same problem. If not, then it is likely a software related problem. You could then use msconfig to disable all startup programs and turn them on one by one until the problem returns.

  3. Can you try removing all USB devices apart from your keyboard? I assume that your current browser will still let you navigate around and fully test it?

  4. Check the manufacturer's website for your computer for updated hardware drivers or a BIOS update. As it has been occurring since the upgrade to Vista, there may be a component that is not compatible with the newer operating systems, such as the motherboard for example. As I mentioned in my comment above, rolling back to XP would be the ideal test albeit not very practical - understandably.

  5. Disable your network card(s). Click Start | Run | control netconnections | Right-click and Disable to rule it (or the drivers) out as the cause. You would need to have an offline copy of a website to play around with as you would obviously not have an internet connection to fully test the browsing.

  6. Get the memory checked out using the built-in memory tester with Windows 7. Click Start, type memory diagnostics and hit Enter to get to it. This will at least rule it as a cause if it comes back okay.

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@ezwi - I will give it a try... –  Miyagi Coder Aug 31 '09 at 20:24
3  
If it's a failing disk, there may be some Event Log entries. –  bk1e Sep 1 '09 at 6:58
1  
A failed disk quite often only has a little patch of bad blocks. You could quite happily use your computer for ages until the computer went to read/write to that particular area. It might even be a scheduled system task trying to write to a system/temporary file in this very same location that causes the lockup. –  Kez Sep 4 '09 at 0:16
    
+1 memory check, Vista and Win7 are much more sensitive to bad memory than XP due to their more aggressive use of it... I've had that happen where XP 64 worked fine but Win7 hung randomly until I replaced the memory. –  Oskar Duveborn Sep 5 '09 at 11:59

This issue is typically related to hardware failure, however did you get these problems before upgrading to Windows 7?

If the answer is no, can you downgrade to Vista or XP and see if you still get it.

If you no longer get it, it was most likely a driver issue... check for updates and/or go straight to hardware manufacturer sites for better drivers.

do you have any additional weird or unusual USB gadgets or add on cards? I have seen everything from someone using one of those USB battery chargers with incorrect drivers causing a BSOD (driver issue again). Try unplugging everything other than the bare essentials and see if you still get it.

Try installing Process Explorer and keep it running. Next time this happens, go to it and click on any of the three charts at the top. A historical graph window will pop up and you can drag your mouse over any of the peaks to see what was causing it. - just in case something is at 100%

Can you try starting in safe mode and seeing if you get it?

If you never got this in your previous OS, it may just be software / driver related, however all your symptoms relate to hardware failure (typically seen on machines with failing hard drives or blown capacitors.)

Blown capacitors -

alt text

The top should be almost flat (with slight indents out embossed sections depending on specification... look at the middle one) but you do not want to see any big bumps such as the first one or any leakage as the last one.

If your PC is of the P4 generation, there were MANY MANY boards that had this problem which lead to a lot of random failures as you are experiencing now. I had this problem frequently after just 6 months of heavy usage.

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If it's locking up like clockwork in the same time period - no matter what you do (try doing other things) then you might have a hardware problem. If the hard drive checks out fine, take a peek inside the case and make sure you have no:

  1. Blown or bulging capacitors Pics of bad caps here - right side of screen

  2. Heatsinks that have popped off or fans that are not spinning - especially on the CPU itself, or any fans directly on the motherboard.

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I've previously run into this with Vista, and it may well occur in Win7 for the same reasons.

Seems the fancy program to index your files can seriously hammer your system if you have too many files being scanned.

My earlier disk-layout placed my SVN checkouts in \users\salmonmoose\svn which meant literally hundreds of thousands of files to be indexed - on a slow, laptop drive.

If you go into your task-manager and select the performance tag, you can launch the "resource monitor" - this will let you sort your processes by disk-i/o and find anything suspicious.

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It might be worth trying to run Spinrite to make sure there's nothing on the hard disk that's causing it. Sure it costs a few bucks but if there's anything wrong with the disk short of almost complete to total failure, chances are Spinrite can repair your disk to working order.

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As well as Process Explorer, you could try Process Monitor (also from Sysinternals) which will tell you what files have been accessed during the 60 seconds. You will get an lot of files accessed, but there are also summaries (under tools) which should show what process are performing the most disk-accesses and also which files/directories are being hit.

You also need to monitor memory usage. If you are running very low in memory you might be swapping out to disk when switching between tabs/windows. (This could tie in with it starting when you moved from Xp to Visa which would require more memory, especially if aero is enabled)

Also, it it happens mainly during browsing, you could try another browser to see if that helps. If it does, it would probably rule out network errors, but does not necessary prove that it the browser that caused the problem ad it might avoid the problem because the current browser has an addon that is causing problems or because the files it uses are stored on a failing part of the disk etc.

There are some utilities that will display the Smart diagnostics which are present in most drives now, for example ActiveSmart

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

I actually resolved this by updating my driver for my network card.

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Have you tried disabling some visual effects? Control Panel > System > Advanced System Settings in the left > Advanced tab > Settings under Performance.

I would recommend disabling all and try, afterwards enable one by one and check...

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