I recently replaced a defective hard disk with a new one [ Windows 7 - "A disk read error occured. Press Ctrl + Alt + Del to restart" ]

I have been using the new hard disk with a Windows 7 installation for about 4 days. Now it has started freezing frequently. Sometimes every 2 minutes and sometimes every 10 seconds.

The freeze lasts for anywhere between 10 and 30 seconds during which time the hard disk light is constantly on.

UPDATE: I found lots of this error in the system event log:

The driver detected a controller error on \Device\Ide\IdePort1.

The source is mentioned as "atapi" and the Event ID is 11.

These things happen randomly:

  • Explorer alone freezes and restarts by itself
  • Firefox alone freezes and becomes responsive randomly
  • Half the open windows freeze and become responsive randomly
  • All windows freeze and become responsive randomly

My Efforts

  • I scanned my computer using Microsoft Security Essentials and found nothing malicious.
  • I did a chkdsk /r and found no problems.
  • I did a memory diagnostic and found no problems.
  • When I go into safe mode, it doesn't freeze and I am able to use it normally for longer periods of time.

What other steps can I take to locate the problem?


There is lots of software installed - I am a developer and my PC is full of IDEs, database servers, web servers, developer tools, testing tools, all browsers etc..

BUT my hardware is more than capable of handling the load - Dual Core 2.7GHz, 2GB RAM, GeForce 9400GT and I think a fast and big enough hard disk.

My windows is up to date as of now. I have installed ALL updates including optional drivers etc. All my installed software is up to date.

  • What's the hard disk? – Shinrai Feb 8 '11 at 15:26
  • Seagate 500GB 7200RPM - "ST3500418AS ATA Device" – user57813 Feb 8 '11 at 15:28

Any errors reported in the system event log? It is possible the new drive has issues.

  • I am getting LOTS of this - The driver detected a controller error on \Device\Ide\IdePort1. Source: atapi; Event ID: 11; – user57813 Feb 8 '11 at 16:16
  • 1
    Maybe your drive wasn't bad, but the controller is? Might be time for a new system board, or at least a new IDE controller card. – DCookie Feb 8 '11 at 16:20
  • 2
    Don't throw the old drive out yet ;-) – DCookie Feb 8 '11 at 16:21
  • Does that error confirm that the problem is not with the DISK? Is it a problem with the motherboard (or the card) for sure? – user57813 Feb 8 '11 at 16:24
  • Sure sounds like a controller component issue to me, perhaps even a motherboard issue. You could try adding an IDE controller card to see if that fixes the issue (they're pretty cheap). That's why I said don't throw away the old drive (the one you replaced) yet. Perhaps the issues with it were actually the controller. – DCookie Feb 8 '11 at 16:35

I had this fault. PC would be fine next hard disk light would go on then the PC would lock up. A hard reset was then required. I re-installed the OS and got the same fault. Tried a new hard disk n checked the memory and still the same. Tried colourful language and a good punch to the front of the box but I had given up with it. The PC won. New PC time it was...

I gave the quad core AMD CPU to my girlfriend from this PC and two weeks later she is now getting the same fault. Most help I have seen on the web is for memory/motherboard/disc controller or new disk but in the end for me it was the CPU.


try using resource monitor ("C:\Windows\System32\resmon.exe"). Look especially at the disk tab, which will show all disk activity sorted by application.


Try using the System File Checker tool. At a command prompt, type 'sfc /scannow' This will check for problems with corrupted system files. (You may need your installation disk).

Secondly, try checking the RAM with Memcheck86.


Was happening to me for couple months now. Couldn't stand it anymore: it got me late couple times for important appointment.

Turns out an instance of rundll was the problem. The process itself was consuming a mere 4700 kb memory. I turned off the instance with the most memory consumption and the drive light went out immediately.

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