Please help diagnose my problem - Computer Sometimes Slow to Access Drives or Boot, Motherboard dyin

Apr 6, 2017
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0
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#1
Recently, my PC (about 7 years old now, but altered/upgraded many times since) started experiencing some serous issues. One day, I suddenly had to disable USB booting in BIOS or it wouldn't recognize my hard drives. It is often slow to boot and/or shut down - though it will almost always boot or shut down eventually if I wait long enough (10-40 minutes approximately, I never timed it), but that's obviously not normal or healthy (it used to boot in ~2-4 minutes) .

After booting and starting Windows successfully, it will often be slow to access files or recognize drives - the easiest way to tell is if I use my file manager - an antiquated version of ACDSee: v2.41 - which I prefer over windows explorer. If my computer is working properly, ACDSEE 32 2.41 will start properly (in ~3-5 seconds) and I see my normal mouse cursor and full file directory after it loads. If not, then the hourglass shows up and never goes away, my file directories don't fully show up, and ACDSee hangs. I can force close it but it doesn't solve anything.

Even if I don't try to start ACDSee, it's clear that something isn't right. While most of Windows seems to work more or less properly, files/drives in general are slow to load or be recognized. If I try to play an AVI file on my hard drive (with Windows Media Player), it won't load. And programs that open files (like Virtualdub) often have the same problem as ACDSee, though only when I try to open a file.

I'm going to call this state a "buggy boot" for the purposes of this thread. The strange thing is, if my computer has a good boot, none of these problems occur and ACDSee loads and works properly. With a good boot, my computer will, for the most part, function properly until I shut it down or reboot it. It is possible that it is slightly slower to access files than usual even with a good boot (like 5-15% slower), but it's nowhere near as bad as it is with a buggy boot.

One possible exception is that, once, when I left my computer idle for a very long time, the ACDSee bug happened even though it was initially a good boot. This has only happened once (so far), and is odd because I have my power management set to NEVER shut off hard drives and only shut off my display after 20 minutes of inactivity.

So, my current focus (besides figuring out what's wrong and what part to replace) is how to avoid buggy boots and get good boots. This is very problematic for me because I like to reboot very often. First, I have a dual-boot setup - one boot (on one hard drive) is Windows 7 64 bit, and the other (on another hard drive, the master drive) is Windows 7 32 bit. I use 64 bit 95% of the itme. Second, when I run certain programs/games and swap my monitor settings (I swap to an Aero theme to record video, then back out of it when I'm done; I have my TV as my second display for when I want to use my TV with my PC - I swap out of dual display when I'm done witht that) around, it makes some games more prone to crash - this is a quirk that has existed for years, which is probably unrelated, and which I never considered an issue before since I easily resolved it by rebooting. Also, running some games would make other games more prone to crashing afterwards.

From what I've figured out so far, rebooting always results in a buggy boot (though I'm not 100% sure of this). Cold booting is the only way to achiveve a good boot. Force shutting down my PC via the power button will always result in a buggy boot afterwards. After a buggy boot, I have to shut it down properly - I click shut down and wait for 15-40 minutes for it to finish shutting down.

All of this started about 2 weeks ago. I didn't make any major hardware or software changes at that time, nor have I done so recently.

I've done a full virus scan with Malwarebytes Anti-Malware, and it's very unlikely that i have a virus in the first place - I don't use any pirated software. I never run any third-party executables unless it's either open-source or VERY thoroughly vetted (to a ridiculously obsessive extent). I never visit pirate/warez or other shady web sites. I only browse with Noscript. I never click on suspicous links. My OS/browsers have the latest security updates. So while it's always possible malware is responsible, I think it's highly unlikely.

I ran diagnostics on all of my internal hard drives (I have 4 external hard drives which programs don't run off of - I use them only for storage of video files and file backups) with Western Digital Data Lifeguard Diagnostic and all of them were good.

I have not run diagnostics on my RAM yet, but I plan to do so soon.

The most significant change I've made to my computer in the recent past is that about one year ago, I replaced/upgraded my motherboard, CPU, and power supply. I replaced/upgraded my RAM shortly before that. That motherboard, since I wanted one that was compaitble with my old CPU (even though I ended up having to replace my CPU as well), was a very old model that looked refurbished when I got it.

Below are my system specs. Please help me figure out what's wrong with my computer and how to solve it (and what part to replace, if necessary). Let me know if you need more information.

OS: Windows 7 64bit / Windows 7 32-dual-boot on two separate drives
CPU: Intel Core i5-2550K @ 3.4 GHz (NOT overclocked and was never overclocked)
MOTHERBOARD: Intel Corporation DZ77BH-55K
RAM: CORSAIR Vengeance 16GB (4 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Memory Kit Model CMZ8GX3M2A1600C9R
PSU: CORSAIR TX Series CMPSU-650TX 650W ATX12V / EPS12V SLI Ready CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Active PFC Compatible with Core i7 Power Supply & New 4th Gen CPU Certified Haswell Ready
Video Card: EVGA SuperClocked 02G-P4-3662-KR GeForce GTX 660 Ti 2GB 192-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 3.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card
Sound Card: Sound Blaster X-Fi XtremeGamer
Case: Antec Three Hundred Two Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case with Upgraded 2 x USB 3.0
 

aigomorla

Cases and Cooling Mod PC Gaming Mod Elite Member
Super Moderator
Sep 28, 2005
17,059
22
126
#2
I have a couple of questions which can help us help you out.

1. Does the system hang when you turn it on and not go into post right away?
That means, when you turn on the system, it will usual either display a motherboard logo, or system info with ram loaded.
Does it try to load up windows right away and you have that long windows load time your talking about? or does it hang in bios for a bit and then struggle to load windows?

2. Temps...
Go here and download this:
https://www.cpuid.com/softwares/hwmonitor.html
Run it and try to take a screen shot of it as much as possible to let us see values its giving.
It will help us diagnose if you have a temp issue, or a voltage issue in most cases.

3. Do you have a spare drive to install a fresh copy of an OS on?
You can download windows 10 trial here:
https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/software-download/windows10

and then see if the issues your having is still persistant.
If you dont see the issues your talking about, it could be a corrupted OS and you may need to redue the OS.

After you've done 1 @ 2, please come back and we can proceed from there.
You dont need to do 3 yet until we see nothing wrong with 1 and 2.
 
Apr 6, 2017
14
0
11
#3
I have a couple of questions which can help us help you out.

1. Does the system hang when you turn it on and not go into post right away?
That means, when you turn on the system, it will usual either display a motherboard logo, or system info with ram loaded.
Does it try to load up windows right away and you have that long windows load time your talking about? or does it hang in bios for a bit and then struggle to load windows?

2. Temps...
Go here and download this:
https://www.cpuid.com/softwares/hwmonitor.html
Run it and try to take a screen shot of it as much as possible to let us see values its giving.
It will help us diagnose if you have a temp issue, or a voltage issue in most cases.

3. Do you have a spare drive to install a fresh copy of an OS on?
You can download windows 10 trial here:
https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/software-download/windows10

and then see if the issues your having is still persistant.
If you dont see the issues your talking about, it could be a corrupted OS and you may need to redue the OS.

After you've done 1 @ 2, please come back and we can proceed from there.
You dont need to do 3 yet until we see nothing wrong with 1 and 2.
My system doesn't hang when I first start it up - POST is always very fast. Ironically, it's a lot faster now than it used to be - ever since I disabled USB boot POSTing has been much, much faster. POST used to take a minute or two. Now it takes like 15-30 seconds or so. After POST, it pretty quickly goes to my boot menu, because as mentioned, I have dual boot set up, and after I make a selection there or the 30 second time out, it tries to load up Windows. It then hangs at the Windows starting screen for a long time, after which I either have a buggy boot or a good boot.

I've downloaded HWMonitor and I'll get back to you with info as soon as I can.

I don't have a spare drive at the moment but I can get one - if I have to do that though, it'll be a while (until my next "dirty task" window) before I can try that diagnostic step, and due to my OCD/hygienic protocols, for efficiency's sake, I'll need to have a replacement motherboard/PSU/whatever on hand at the same time. Otherwise, if I do need to replace the motherboard/PSU/whatever, it would have to wait for the next dirty window after another month or two.
 

DAPUNISHER

Super Moderator and Elite Member
Moderator
Aug 22, 2001
20,752
18
126
#4
For troubleshooting pull the soundblaster and uninstall its software and drivers. I know, I know, but just do it. :) Definitely make a memtest boot stick and test the ram. When you try windows on another drive, install it completely independently of all the others. You have to eliminate every variable you can sometimes. So isolate it completely. And if ram, temps, etc all fail to resolve the issue, start flashing firmware, even if you have the newest version.

And given who you are, do not sweat a little dirt, just wear your sand trout suit. ;)
 

Ketchup

Elite Member
Sep 1, 2002
14,322
13
106
#5
So are all these external hard drives connected through USB? And if so, are you using a hub (model) or motherboard ports? Do these external drives rum off us power or do they have their own power source (s)?
 

LetoAtreidesII

Junior Member
Apr 6, 2017
14
0
11
#6
All my internal hard drives are perfect according to HDTune. First system drive, second system drive, and third hard drive (storage) are all OK all the way down the board for Health, and a full error scan for all three revealed nothing but green squares. That matches up with the results from WD Data Lifeguard diagnostics.

I haven't had time to install hwmonitor yet, but I already had speccy installed, and according to it, temps are around 40 idle and 70 under load for both the CPU and motherboard. I believe, but I'm not sure, that that's normal for the cooler I have installed.

For troubleshooting pull the soundblaster and uninstall its software and drivers. I know, I know, but just do it. :) Definitely make a memtest boot stick and test the ram. When you try windows on another drive, install it completely independently of all the others. You have to eliminate every variable you can sometimes. So isolate it completely. And if ram, temps, etc all fail to resolve the issue, start flashing firmware, even if you have the newest version.

And given who you are, do not sweat a little dirt, just wear your sand trout suit. ;)
I ran into some issues with my flash drive being recognized by front USB ports so my RAM test has been held up. I did find a way to get it to work, but it also prevents windows from starting if the drive is plugged in. This doesn't prevent me from running memtest, but it makes it difficult so it's going to take a while.

Lol, I would need some sand trout first. The closest sand trout are on Arrakis, and we're stuck on Terra. Besides, it's more about protecting my environment (mainly my keyboard and mouse) than protecting me from the dirt.

So are all these external hard drives connected through USB? And if so, are you using a hub (model) or motherboard ports? Do these external drives rum off us power or do they have their own power source (s)?
Three out of four of the external hard drives have their own power sources (AC adapter or some such). Only one draws power from the USB port. I'm using motherboard ports.
 

Ketchup

Elite Member
Sep 1, 2002
14,322
13
106
#7
A USB-powered drive will do that. Start leaving it unplugged when you aren't using it, especially when booting, and see if the issues persist.
 
Apr 6, 2017
14
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11
#8
A USB-powered drive will do that. Start leaving it unplugged when you aren't using it, especially when booting, and see if the issues persist.
Tried that - I unplugged all USB devices except my mouse and keyboard. Didn't fix it. I also tried flashing my BIOS - no effect.
 

Ketchup

Elite Member
Sep 1, 2002
14,322
13
106
#9
Event viewer, stem events. Look for error messages in red around the time of your slownesses.
 
Apr 6, 2017
14
0
11
#10
Event viewer, stem events. Look for error messages in red around the time of your slownesses.
I'll do that next time I get a bad boot. Generally, if there's a good boot, I try to avoid rebooting if at all possible. And after a good boot, there are no slow downs.
 

LetoAtreidesII

Junior Member
Apr 6, 2017
14
0
11
#12
FYI I swapped out my motherboard about two weeks ago and it solved ALL of my problems. I appreciate the time and effort everyone spent trying to help me but, honestly, I'm glad I didn't waste more time and resources on pointless diagnostic steps when my first hunch was 100% on the ball. It is also somewhat disappointing that all the knowledge and wisdom here didn't so much as suspect what the real problem was when I did.
 

UsandThem

Super Moderator
Super Moderator
May 4, 2000
10,110
234
136
#13
FYI I swapped out my motherboard about two weeks ago and it solved ALL of my problems. I appreciate the time and effort everyone spent trying to help me but, honestly, I'm glad I didn't waste more time and resources on pointless diagnostic steps when my first hunch was 100% on the ball. It is also somewhat disappointing that all the knowledge and wisdom here didn't so much as suspect what the real problem was when I did.
Really? You thought writing this was necessary after people tried to figure your problem out over the internet, for free? :eek:
 
Aug 8, 2001
23,729
0
136
#14
FYI I swapped out my motherboard about two weeks ago and it solved ALL of my problems. I appreciate the time and effort everyone spent trying to help me but, honestly, I'm glad I didn't waste more time and resources on pointless diagnostic steps when my first hunch was 100% on the ball. It is also somewhat disappointing that all the knowledge and wisdom here didn't so much as suspect what the real problem was when I did.
Glad you solved it. :)

As for the suggestions you received, no
one intelligent is going to recommend doing the most time consuming and involving process first, which replacing a motherboard is. I'm pretty sure you wouldn't have appreciated it if replacing the motherboard or CPU was the first suggestion here and you did that without it solving the problem.

Ruling out software and other component issues first is usually the safest route, for the same reason a doctor isn't going to immediately recommend heart surgery if you go in with the symptom of chest pain (which sometimes turns out to be bad heartburn, not a heart attack). Always rule out the easiest to fix and most likely causes first. The "do no harm" mantra isn't as hard a rule in fixing computers, but it does somewhat apply.

Also, trying to diagnose and isolate computer problems is very difficult in person, nevermind just based on information provided by someone on a forum. As much information as you think you are giving us, you have access to more concrete data and experience with your own system, so yes, you are in a better position to fix the problem yourself if you can, which was the case here.
 
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