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Windows 7: Random freezes, no BSOD: Need 3rd party app advice (compatibility etc)


31 Oct 2011   #1

Windows 7 Ultimate x64 - SP1
 
 
Random freezes, no BSOD: Need 3rd party app advice (compatibility etc)

I've been having random freezes ever since I upgraded my system from XP-SP3 two months ago. I had a stable system for 2 years with XP, the system with XP was the same as in my System Specs; the only hardware change I made was to replace this
A-Data AD31333002GMU, 1x2GB, DDR3-1333, DIMM
with this
A-Data SU3U1333C4G9-B 1x4GB, DDR3-1333, PC3-10600, CL9, DIMM
Supreme Series DDR3 1333 240pin Unbuffered-DIMM Non-ECC Memory, Specifications, Memory Modules, DDR3 1333, Desktop Supreme, DRAM Moudule, Welcome to ADATA

So, upgrading from XP to Windows 7 while upgrading from 2GB to 4GB (and of course upgrading drivers and appz) has caused instability.
- The freezes happen about twice daily on average (longest with no freeze once I get the first freeze on each new installation is 3 days, my PC is on 24/7). Sometimes 4 freezes in a morning.
- Freezes manifest as sudden loss of mouse and keyboard control, screens stay on, sometimes with animated cursor still animated (for about 20 seconds then it stops), and if sound is playing then it goes onto a 0.1s loop (sounds like a machine gun), then I'm forced to hit the reset button.
- Event Viewer shows nothing of interest, the only Critical Errors relate to the fact I've hit the reset button.
- I've never had a BSOD.
- Freezes seem totally random and independent of usage, sometimes when reading a page I'll go to move my mouse and it'll be dead, sometimes during heavy CPU usage, sometimes when I'm absent etc.

I originally posted this here
http://www.sevenforums.com/overclock...ml#post1589458
in the overclockers section as I thought it may be a RAM issue, I got no replies so posted here
Random freezes: Need RAM settings advice - Tech Support Forum
where I've subsequently basically excluded RAM as the problem (the freezing problem persisted when I changed back to the 2GB stick and used different voltages, SPD settings etc).

(There's no reason to read those threads, I've got all the most relevant info here.)

Anyway, I'm on my 3rd clean installation of Windows 7 now, I'll just sum up what I've done so far:-

(I got my first freeze on the day after installation of all hardware and appz.)
FIRST INSTALLATION
1) Installed all Important Updates
2) Installed all Recommended Updates (apart from stuff like languages etc that aren't relevant)
3) Uninstalled ASUS EPU 6 Engine and replaced with Speedfan 4.44
4) Uninstalled soundcard and tablet
5) Unplugged / not used other peripherals (webcam, camera etc)
6) Moved keyboard from PS2 to USB (it has both connectors)
7) Set Windows power plan to High Performance
8) Updated monitor and GPU drivers from manufacturers (even though Windows reported my current ones were up-to-date)
9) Run MemTest86 v4.0 on the 4GB stick, it showed no errors after 8 passes on an overnight test.
10) Upgraded BIOS to latest version (version 1102), upgrade was successful and everything is on defaults
11) Run chkdsk on all partitions
12) Updated Intel chipset etc here
Intel® Driver Update Utility
13) Used the 2GB stick and 4GB stick one-at-a-time (in the correct slot) with various voltages and SPD settings, and both together, no change makes any difference
14) Got a new mouse (was planning on this anyway)

BIOS voltages are:-
CPU Voltage: 1.22
3.3V: 3.30
5V: 5.18
12V: 12.20

SECOND INSTALLATION
Gave up and did a clean install, and stripped the system back to the absolute minimum, so removed all PCI cards, used no peripherals, and removed one monitor (the older smaller one). Then I installed appz slowly and set restore points, so would hopefully diagnose the hardware/driver or app that was problematic. So it went like this:-
1) Day One - Installed W7U-64-SP1 and all updates. All drivers were Windows defaults, all provided/signed by MS/Windows. No freezes. Set Restore Point.
2) Day Four - Installed Firefox, installed MS Office 2010, installed Speedfan (got sick of the fan noises). No freezes. Set Restore Point.
3) Day Seven - (this was a record, on the first installation I never went 3 days without a freeze). Installed:-
- ZoneAlarm (free one)
- Imgburn
- uTorrent
- AnyDVD
- CloneDVD
- VLC media player
- Foxit Reader
No freezes.
4) Day Twelve - installed WinRAR, and used uTorrent for the first time to torrent (had previously ran it after install to set up preferences but not torrented).
5) Day Thirteen - First Freeze! Uninstalled WinRAR, another freeze a few hours later. Thought it might be caused by torrenting, so uninstalled uTorrent. More freezes (about 5 freezes over a day and a half).
6) Day Fourteen - attempted a System Restore to pre-Day Seven point, it ran OK but on reboot said it had failed as a "file is missing", and gave Unspecified Error 0x80070005. Tried all restore points (mine and a few others created by Windows after updates etc), all had the same fail. So I could not restore. To test whether the System Restore function was corrupted I made a restore point, ran a couple of appz, then successfully restored, but all other restore points from about Day Ten backwards were dead.
7) Day Fifteen - tried this method to 'fix' Windows but it failed (would not let me 'upgrade' to a newer system)
Non-destructive reinstall of Windows 7 | help.artaro.eu
8) Day Fifteen - ran sfc /scannow, all was reported to be OK, it made no fixes/changes. Did a virus scan with Trendmicro Housecall (nothing found).
9) Day Fifteen - hanged self and...

THIRD INSTALLATION
The plan this time was/is use System Images given Restore Points (for me) don't work, or at best, can't be trusted...
1) Day One - Installed W7U-64-SP1 and updates. Created System Image.
2) Installed Firefox and Office 2010. Created new System Image (20GB) although Windows decided to overwrite the older one even though I had 150 GB free on the destination partition (be warned!)
3) Day Four - no freezes yet and this is where I am right now...

CONCLUSIONS
1) Nothing is wrong with my hardware (the exact same hardware was fine with XP for two years)
2) Probably my drivers are all OK (they're all Windows approved)
3) Therefore I have an app that is messing with my system and doing unfixable damage to it, and it's likely to be one of these (which I want to install but am afraid to do)
- ZoneAlarm (free one)
- Imgburn
- uTorrent
- AnyDVD
- CloneDVD
- VLC media player
- Foxit Reader
I am pretty sure one of them is going to screw my system and render it unfixable with anything other than a Restore From Image. I've been perusing the web and sevenforums and found this thread
http://www.sevenforums.com/crashes-d...tml#post291927
saying that it can't really be uTorrent that's the problem.
I've also read that ZoneAlarm isn't the best choice for Windows 7 so won't be using it (router firewall in conjunction with Windows Firewall are meant to be pretty good, and if I want a 3rd party app then Comodo looks like the best bet).

MY QUESTIONS
a) Can anyone give me advice on something I haven't yet tried to diagnose/fix this random freezing problem?
b) Can anyone definitively tell me which applications among those I've listed above (that I want to install) are structurally incapable of freezing my system, i.e., safe to install?

Sorry about the length of this post but I had to list everything I've done so far or I'd be wasting everyone's time...


My System SpecsSystem Spec
.

31 Oct 2011   #2

Win 8 Release candidate 8400
 
 

Several places to look.

First event viewer

There are several ways to find what the problem is. The best is to go into event viewer (type eventvwr in search). Event viewer (local) and look for errors listed in the last day, week, etc. Then go to the windows log>application tab. Finally the windows Logs>system tabs.

You want to look for all errors (they have red in the left column ).

When you find them you want to look for critical errors that say app hang, app crash, or anything that relates to the problem.

When you find them please note the event ID, and the source codes and tell us what they are.



Second Run driver verifier and it "may" tell you the offending driver


Quote:
I'd suggest that you first backup your stuff and then make sure you've got access to another computer so you can contact us if problems arise. Then make a System Restore point (so you can restore the system using the Vista/Windows 7 Startup Repair feature).

In Windows 7 you can make a Startup Repair disk by going to Start....All Programs...Maintenance...Create a System Repair Disc - with Windows Vista you'll have to use your installation disk or the "Repair your computer" option at the top of the Safe Mode menu .

Then, here's the procedure:
- Go to Start and type in "verifier" (without the quotes) and press Enter
- Select "Create custom settings (for code developers)" and click "Next"
- Select "Select individual settings from a full list" and click "Next"
- Select everything EXCEPT FOR "Low Resource Simulation" and click "Next"
- Select "Select driver names from a list" and click "Next"
Then select all drivers NOT provided by Microsoft and click "Next"
- Select "Finish" on the next page.

Reboot the system and wait for it to crash to the Blue Screen. Continue to use your system normally, and if you know what causes the crash, do that repeatedly. The objective here is to get the system to crash because Driver Verifier is stressing the drivers out. If it doesn't crash for you, then let it run for at least 36 hours of continuous operation (an estimate on my part).

If you can't get into Windows because it crashes too soon, try it in Safe Mode.
If you can't get into Safe Mode, try using System Restore from your installation DVD to set the system back to the previous restore point that you created.

Feel free to pm me if you need help


Ken
My System SpecsSystem Spec
31 Oct 2011   #3

Windows 7 Ultimate x64 - SP1
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by zigzag3143 View Post
Several places to look.

First event viewer

When you find them you want to look for critical errors that say app hang, app crash, or anything that relates to the problem.
I mentioned in my 2nd paragraph that the only Critical Errors were in relation to the fact that I'd pushed the Reset button (which logs a Critical Error). So the freezing I was having was not logging a Critical Error (this is consistent with other non-BSOD freezes I've read about on these forums, they do not generally log Critical Errors, or any error apparently).

I just checked now in Event Viewer and there are no Critical Errors logged (my system hasn't frozen since my clean install four days ago).
Quote:


Second Run driver verifier and it "may" tell you the offending driver
Thanks, I didn't know about Driver Verifier. I'll keep this one in mind if/when I add other applications and the freezing starts again.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
.


31 Oct 2011   #4

Windows 7 Ultimate x64 - SP1
 
 

OK I think I'll run Driver Verifier tomorrow; even though my system hasn't frozen since the last O/S installation it would be good to find out how stable it is in it's current stripped-down state (before installing any other appz). I'll report back when I have some results.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
01 Nov 2011   #5

Win 8 Release candidate 8400
 
 

Does it do the same thing in safe mode (F8)

Can you run this latency checker to check your drivers. DPC Latency Checker
My System SpecsSystem Spec
01 Nov 2011   #6

Windows 7 Ultimate x64 - SP1
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by zigzag3143 View Post
Does it do the same thing in safe mode (F8)

Can you run this latency checker to check your drivers. DPC Latency Checker
I've never tried to see if it freezes in Safe Mode, I didn't see the point as I'd have to go for a week without a freeze in safe mode to demonstrate that it doesn't freeze in safe mode (I wasn't prepared to do that). In normal mode it could go 3 days with no freeze (it did on a couple of occasions).

Anyway, Driver Verifier has been running for half an hour now, I guess I'll leave it running for 36 hours...

I'll try that Latency Checker when Driver Verifier finishes.

Thanks for the advice.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
01 Nov 2011   #7

Win 8 Release candidate 8400
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Aptenodytes View Post
Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by zigzag3143 View Post
Does it do the same thing in safe mode (F8)

Can you run this latency checker to check your drivers. DPC Latency Checker
I've never tried to see if it freezes in Safe Mode, I didn't see the point as I'd have to go for a week without a freeze in safe mode to demonstrate that it doesn't freeze in safe mode (I wasn't prepared to do that). In normal mode it could go 3 days with no freeze (it did on a couple of occasions).

Anyway, Driver Verifier has been running for half an hour now, I guess I'll leave it running for 36 hours...

I'll try that Latency Checker when Driver Verifier finishes.

Thanks for the advice.
RE: safe mode. I hear what you say, just narrows the focus a bit if it did crash immediately.

Fairly certain it is a driver of some sort and its just a case of finding which.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
02 Nov 2011   #8

Windows 7 Ultimate x64 - SP1
 
 

OK, the O/S has been installed 6 days now, and Driver Verifier running for 24h. There've been no freezes since install or anything else to suggest anything is wrong with my system. I'll keep DV running for another 24h just to be safe.

I'm gonna hazard a guess that my system is not going to freeze or crash or BSOD because it's completely stable with no software or driver clashes, and that that's because I have yet to install whatever it was that was destabilising my system (and hopefully I never will install it again).

I've learned something in this thread (thanks, zigzag); I previously thought that all drivers appeared in Device Manager (didn't know about Driver Verifier), so was surprised to see e.g., a SpeedFan 'driver' listed (that makes sense, as it does change the way hardware operates).

So I guess my approach now (from tomorrow when I finish running Verifier) would be to install my remaining appz from this list:-
- ZoneAlarm (free one)
- Imgburn
- uTorrent
- AnyDVD
- CloneDVD
- VLC media player
- Foxit Reader
one at a time using Restore Points and/or System Image backups, then run Driver Verifier again after each one and hope to get a quick BSOD, then Restore if I do?

If so, are there any that should be dead safe to install (i.e, no drivers), I'm guessing uTorrent and Foxit are probably the only 'safe' ones from that list? I won't be touching Zone Alarm again, this guy (an MS-MVP) suggests it's not compatible with Windows 7 (although that was 2y ago).
__while installing zonealarm on Win 7 ultimate, system incurred a - Microsoft Answers
My System SpecsSystem Spec
04 Nov 2011   #9

Win 8 Release candidate 8400
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Aptenodytes View Post
OK, the O/S has been installed 6 days now, and Driver Verifier running for 24h. There've been no freezes since install or anything else to suggest anything is wrong with my system. I'll keep DV running for another 24h just to be safe.

I'm gonna hazard a guess that my system is not going to freeze or crash or BSOD because it's completely stable with no software or driver clashes, and that that's because I have yet to install whatever it was that was destabilising my system (and hopefully I never will install it again).

I've learned something in this thread (thanks, zigzag); I previously thought that all drivers appeared in Device Manager (didn't know about Driver Verifier), so was surprised to see e.g., a SpeedFan 'driver' listed (that makes sense, as it does change the way hardware operates).

So I guess my approach now (from tomorrow when I finish running Verifier) would be to install my remaining appz from this list:-
- ZoneAlarm (free one)
- Imgburn
- uTorrent
- AnyDVD
- CloneDVD
- VLC media player
- Foxit Reader
one at a time using Restore Points and/or System Image backups, then run Driver Verifier again after each one and hope to get a quick BSOD, then Restore if I do?

If so, are there any that should be dead safe to install (i.e, no drivers), I'm guessing uTorrent and Foxit are probably the only 'safe' ones from that list? I won't be touching Zone Alarm again, this guy (an MS-MVP) suggests it's not compatible with Windows 7 (although that was 2y ago).
__while installing zonealarm on Win 7 ultimate, system incurred a - Microsoft Answers
While the new Zone Alarm is not incompatible with win 7 it is a known cause on some systems and doesnt really offer IMHO any real benefit over the built in firewall.

I am somewhat concerned about utorrent as well. The almost "safe" ones include VLC, Imgurn, Foxit.

Good luck and yell if you need help

Ken
My System SpecsSystem Spec
04 Nov 2011   #10

Windows 7 Ultimate x64 - SP1
 
 

Driver Verifier went 48h with no issue at all, so I stopped it this morning.

I installed VLC, 7-Zip, uTorrent and Foxit this morning. According to the driver list in Driver Verifier, none of them contain 'drivers', so I guess there's no purpose in running DV again at this stage. I'll install nothing else for the next two weeks and see what happens under normal use. I guess I won't need help again as it's come down to trial and error now, with each 'trial' taking a week or so (unless there's a freeze).

I'll post back with a conclusion if/when I have one.

Thanks for your help, Ken.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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 Random freezes, no BSOD: Need 3rd party app advice (compatibility etc)




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