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Background

My computer freezes often. I am using Windows 10, most recent updates. It does not blue screen, it does not shut down, it just freezes. The windows I had open stay open, I can move my mouse, but nothing else works. It seems random - I cannot identify any causes or commonalities relates to the error.

I assumed the easiest way to solve this would be to reset the system completely with a clean reinstall of the OS. Everything is backed up, so that's not an issue. However, both the built in "Reset this PC" option and reinstalling from an ISO file both fail. I suspect the freeze might be occurring during the reset and causing it to fail, but cannot verify this.

My question

How can I correct, or at least diagnose, the issue?

Update

To be perfectly clear, it works a lot of the time, but after a while it just freezes. I am using it as we speak with no problems. When it is not freezing there is no slowdown or anything.

Update 2

Running ScanDisk on my main drive does not reveal any errors. I did this in an attempt to verify the theory proposed by commenters that my HDD was at fault.

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    Remove as many HW parts as you can. Just MB/CPU/cooling/1xRAM. Does it work or does it freeze is you try to boot from USB? Add a HDD, run SMART check. Try again, does it fail with the HDD? ... Etc etc. – Hennes Nov 10 '16 at 21:37
  • When you say that "reinstalling from an ISO file" failed, how so? Did you try deleting all of the partitions first? – Run5k Nov 10 '16 at 21:37
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    If you can move your mouse around, that means your computer isn't frozen, it just means its waiting on HDD I/O. replace the hdd – Ramhound Nov 10 '16 at 21:37
  • To clarify, it works fine for quite a while before freezing sometimes. I am posting from it right now. But when it feezes, it will stay that way indefinitely. Commenters so far seem to be assuming it is a hardware problem and nothing something with the OS. I'm not disagreeing, but is there any particular reason for that assumption? – nhouser9 Nov 10 '16 at 22:00
  • @Ramhound if it is the HDD that is fine, why does it work a large percentage of the time? Again, not disagreeing, just trying to understand. Why do you think that it must be a hardware and not a software problem? – nhouser9 Nov 10 '16 at 22:01
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After months of dealing with this, I finally took it somewhere to get it fixed.

Interestingly, most of the commenters were wrong. It had nothing to do with my hard drive.

It was an issue with the OS installation. Reimaging the machine fixed it. However, reinstalling the OS directly would not work, as the freeze would occur during the reinstall. It was necessary to apply a new image using Dism / Windows PE or similar.

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    If a computer is freezing during an OS installation, that almost certainly points to a hardware problem. That will be cool if the problem is genuinely gone, but I remain skeptical. – Charles Burge Feb 28 '17 at 21:07
  • @CharlesBurge Problem has been gone for a week now when before it was happening multiple times per day. I will update this again if the issue comes back, but I don't think it will – nhouser9 Feb 28 '17 at 21:12
  • Can you define "reimaging?" Did they store an image to a secondary drive or network path and then put that image back on the same HDD? The thing is your description matches exactly with what happens with large areas of bad sectors, and the apparent "freezing" is just the retry process. This can take hours to recover from, and is the reason why @run5k suggested chkdsk with a full surface scan, fix and mark process. Scandisk does not do this. The marking process helps to allow the OS to avoid those sectors. – Yorik Feb 28 '17 at 21:16
  • Pretty sure it was not an issue with the OS. Scandisk is not conclusive. – jiggunjer Feb 28 '17 at 21:37
  • @jiggunjer ok... so given that i did not replace any hardware and the issue was fixed after reimaging, what do you think the problem was? – nhouser9 Feb 28 '17 at 22:08

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