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When moving large files (700MB+) to an external drive formated in NTFS via USB 3.0 I've noticed strange things about explorer.exe (I am using up-to-date Windows 7)

  • Sometimes after moving the file Explorer gets stuck (it can happen after a few files when moving several large files) - moving window freezes and I am unable to kill explorer (via taskmgr or cmdline TASKKILL). In command line I've got something like this (taskmgr shows that explorer.exe is still running - I get the same PID every time I try to kill it and no diagnostic message):

C:\Windows\system32>TASKKILL /F /IM explorer.exe

SUKCES: proces "explorer.exe" o identyfikatorze PID 6296 został zakończony.

C:\Windows\system32>TASKKILL /F /IM explorer.exe

SUKCES: proces "explorer.exe" o identyfikatorze PID 6296 został zakończony.

  • If I try to run another explorer.exe process at this point, I get desktop icon and start bar back but I cannot open any explorer window

  • After a few minutes explorer.exe finally dies and I am able to rerun it without rebooting

  • File that I moved has two copies - one local and one on the external drive (the original file isn't deleted after move); Both copies seem to contain the same data (same length and CRC info)

  • If this happens during move of multiple files, only some files are moved and one of them has two copies (both local and on the external drive)

What can I do to fix those explorer freezes?

Added:

  • The same problem exists when copying files, it hangs up between large files

  • Similar problem exists when I tried to use TotalCommander (x64): copying paused at 80% of one of files, TC didn't hang up (but clicking cancel in copying dialog box didn't have any effect). During this pause I can't kill TotalCmd.exe just like Explorer.exe

Added (2):

  • This problem seems to disappear when I use 32 bit applications (like TotalCommander (x86) ), but I need to do more testing to be sure of this

Added (3):

  • There are several errors in the event log, source: disk, id: 11, qualifiers: 49156, task: 0, level: 2, keywords: 0x80000000000000

  • (This may be important, and I forgot to mention this): Main disk is encrypted with Truecrypt (boot-in password)

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If you right-click on My Computer and then click on Manage then in Computer Management view the System event logs, do you see any errors being logged? I wonder if you are getting any errors reading your hard drive or writing to the USB drive. – HeatfanJohn Oct 11 '12 at 0:44
    
1. Check your drives (both internal and external) for errors. 2. See if updates are available for your USB 3.0 drivers. 3. Run sfc /scannow from an elevated command prompt. 4. Does the same thing happen with a new user account? – Karan Oct 11 '12 at 1:01
    
@HeatfanJohn, there are several errors in event log, source: disk, id: 11, qualifiers: 49156, task: 0, level: 2, keywords: 0x80000000000000 – PiotrK Oct 11 '12 at 2:57
    
@Karan, CHKDSK /R found no errors on both drives, SFC /SCANNOW reported "no integrity breach" (in Polish). How can I check for update of my USB 3.0 drivers? – PiotrK Oct 11 '12 at 3:08
    
@PiotrK: Check your PC manufacturer's site or wherever it is you got the drivers from. – Karan Oct 11 '12 at 20:27

All of the symptoms you are describing point to a problem with the drive. When Windows tries to read or write to a drive that has a problem, instead of failing and returning an error immediately, it will wait for a while until it times-out, before returning an error. That is causing the hang and why Explorer cannot be killed for a while.

(I asked about reducing the time-out a while ago, but the only information I could find was for Windows Server, but since you are having the problem regularly, you can try it out to see if it reduces the delay, and thus eliminates the hang.)

There are several errors in event log, source: disk, id: 11, qualifiers: 49156, task: 0, level: 2, keywords: 0x80000000000000

This is further evidence of the drive having problems.

Before you throw out the drive, check that the problem is not simply with the cable. External drives, like all USB drives tend to have these kinds of problems when there is a bad connection. A few things to try include:

  • Plugging it into a different USB port.
  • Cleaning the pins in the drive’s USB connector and in the USB port.
  • A different USB cable.
  • A different enclosure (or try putting the drive directly into the system).

You can also check the drive’s SMART data to see if it is giving a warning about the drive failing; it may have a physical defect. However, because it’s an external drive, you will probably not be able to read it unless you take the drive out of the enclosure and put it in the system.

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