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Windows 7: Repeated Freezes When Idle, No Blue Screen or Minidump


16 Nov 2011   #1

Windows 7 Professional x64
 
 
Repeated Freezes When Idle, No Blue Screen or Minidump

Hi,

My computer locks up randomly and the screen turns black and unresponsive, at least once per day, forcing me to do a hard reset. There is no BSOD or Minidump created, although sometimes (maybe 75% of the time) there is a dump file created in the LiveKernelReports folder. The dump files in LiveKernelReports always point to atikmpag.sys. I tried uninstalling all video card drivers and using driver sweeper, and letting Windows use default graphics. I continued to get the same freezes, except no dump files were created at all in LiveKernelReports. I then reinstalled the ATI drivers, and the symptoms persist, now with dump files again pointing to the same atikmpag.sys.

Oddly, this only happens when the system is idle for a while. I never get freezes when actively using the system, but if I return to it after an hour or more, it's just a black screen and I must do a hard reset.

I am running Win 7 professional 64-bit full version, 8 gb ram, 1gb ddr5 msi video card.

Another strange symptom: After the hard reset, the computer has deleted all of my IE cookies. It also has forgotten the IE window size after these hard resets... very bizarre. In fact, if I make any changes to the desktop -- for example, by moving the icons or re-sorting them by name -- Windows doesn't remember this either. On reboot, it reverts to whatever I had on the desktop before making the changes. This does not happen on a normal restart/reboot. If I do not wait for it to crash, and instead I reboot normally, all of my settings/cookies/window sizes are preserved like you'd expect.

I've tried the following:
- ran memtest86, no errors after 9 passes
- ran seatools hard drive diagnostics, no errors found
- ran Hot CPU Tester 4, no errors found
- reinstalled/reseated graphics gard and memory sticks
- running with a single memory stick (same crashes occur with either memory stick)
- the windows memory and hard drive diagnostic tools, no errors found
- When running Driver Verifier, I get the same freezes, and still no minidump or bsod.
- Disabling all power saving options both in Windows and in the BIOS, like sleep mode, hibernate, etc.
- Updating all drivers that seemed out of date and upgrading bios to latest firmware.

Prime95 and furmark run without issue, and do not crash the system (presumably, because the system isn't idle when they are running). Idle temps (~30 degrees C) and temps under heavy load (about 60 degrees C) are well within the normal range.

If I run in safe mode, it does not seem to occur, but I'm not positive because I've never stayed in safe mode for more than a day.

I am out of ideas..... can anyone help? I have attached a zip file after following the instructions in the sticky thread.

Thanks,

Brad


My System SpecsSystem Spec
.

07 Dec 2011   #2

Windows 7 Professional x64
 
 

Sorry to bump this thread, but I'm hoping maybe someone can help me... I'm completely out of ideas.

I have a relatively new PC (about 4 or 5 months old), self-built, that's been crashing for about 2 months, every day at least once or twice. It appears to crash only when idle. In the 80+ times it's crashed, I've never had it crash while I'm using it. When it crashes, the screen turns black and is unresponsive, and I have to do a hard reboot. On reboot, everything seems normal. No Minidump file is generated in the normal minidump directory, but there is usually a dump file in the LiveKernelReports.

BlueScreenView used to always list atikmpag.sys as the cause. Now it still usually lists atikmpag.sys as the cause, but sometimes lists others -- like null.sys and discache.sys, to name a couple. WhoCrashed continues to always list atikmpag.sys as the cause (so it is interpreting the files differently than BlueScreenView). Event Viewer shows nothing unusual around the time of these crashes, other than idle activity (i.e., it doesn't crash unless Event Viewer has logged nothing for a period of time, typically 30 minutes or an hour.)

I've done everything I can think of, including some other things in the last 2 weeks (since my original post). Here is an updated list of everything I did:
- ran memtest86, no errors after 9 passes
- repeated memtest86 with 1 stick of ram individually, no errors
- ran seatools hard drive diagnostics, no errors found
- ran Hot CPU Tester 4, no errors found
- reinstalled/reseated graphics gard, memory sticks (and tried with single stick), CPU (including new thermal paste)
- the windows memory and hard drive diagnostic tools, no errors found
- When running Driver Verifier, I get the same freezes, and still no normal minidump or bsod.
- Disabling all power saving options both in Windows and in the BIOS, like sleep mode, hibernate, etc.
- Updating all drivers that seemed out of date and upgrading bios to latest firmware.
- Replacing the RAM with a different brand (G Skill to Corsair) (problems persisted)
- Replacing the power supply (Thermaltake 850W to OCZ 700W) (problems persisted)
- Replacing any cables I could, including the modular power supply cables, all SATA cables (problems persisted)
- Uninstalling all graphics drivers and using driver remover, then using Windows VGA drivers (problems persisted)
- Disabling Windows Aero and UAC (problems persisted)
- Disabling all non-Microsoft services (problems persisted)
- Toggling every single BIOS option that I thought could even remotely contribute to the problem (problems persisted).

Out of curiosity, I booted into the BIOS a couple of days ago and left the computer on overnight, to see if it would lock up even outside of Windows. When I woke up, there were weird characters all over the screen (symbols like the paragraph symbol, etc -- just gibberish) rather than the normal bios text. I had to do a hard reboot again just to get back into the BIOS.

I'm totally stumped and I'm completely out of ideas. I can't really afford to buy a new hard drive, mobo, or cpu just for the purposes of testing it out -- at least not all three. I've eliminated the graphics card, memory, and PSU (by replacing all 3), graphics drivers, and non-Microsoft Windows services as causes.

If you were me, would you sooner suspect mobo (GA-Z68X-UD3-B3), CPU (i7-2600k), or hard drive (WD 1.5TB 7200rpm)? Every diagnostic tool I've run finds no errors. I also appreciate any other advice. This is the most persistent problem I've ever encountered. Although I'm not a total computer expert, I've built about 10 computer systems and never had a problem like this.

Thanks so much for any advice.

Brad
My System SpecsSystem Spec
07 Dec 2011   #3

Windows 7 Professional x64
 
 

Sorry, just to clarify, I replaced the video card with another ATI card last week, though I didn't include that in my updated list. Problems persisted.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
.


07 Dec 2011   #4

Win 8 Release candidate 8400
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by bradnyk View Post
Sorry, just to clarify, I replaced the video card with another ATI card last week, though I didn't include that in my updated list. Problems persisted.
Nice troubleshooting. Most of the work you have done seems to be directed towards hardware and it seems to have passed. Perhaps its time to start focusing on software. I dont kow how many passes you ran in memtest so I am giving you those instructions as well.

Lets start with driver verifier and a system file check

These crashes were caused by memory corruption (probably a driver). Please run these two tests to verify your memory and find which driver is causing the problem.

If you are overclocking anything reset to default before running these tests.
In other words STOP!!!



1-Memtest.
Quote:
*Download a copy of Memtest86 and burn the ISO to a CD using Iso Recorder or another ISO burning program. Memtest86+ - Advanced Memory Diagnostic Tool

*Boot from the CD, and leave it running for at least 5 or 6 passes.

Just remember, any time Memtest reports errors, it can be either bad RAM or a bad motherboard slot.

Test the sticks individually, and if you find a good one, test it in all slots.

Any errors are indicative of a memory problem.

If a known good stick fails in a motherboard slot it is probably the slot.

RAM - Test with Memtest86+



2-Driver verifier

Quote:
I'd suggest that you first backup your data 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.
Driver Verifier - Enable and Disable


Further Reading
Using Driver Verifier to identify issues with Windows drivers for advanced users





Please also type the following in a cmd prompt. powercfg -a and tell us the results.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
07 Dec 2011   #5

Windows 7 Professional x64
 
 

I left memtest86+ on for a long time, and it completed 9 passes without error. I also switched out the RAM and tried with 1 stick instead of 2. I also alternated the ram DIMM slots. Nothing changed the problem, unfortunately.

I am currently running driver verifier with the settings you listed. However, before I did that, I tried doing it with "low resource simulation." When I check low resource simulation, I get a crash about 5 or 6 minutes after booting into Windows, and the symptoms are identical to those I get with my crashes (black screen, forced to do a hard reboot, no regular minidump file created, no BSOD). I'll continue to run driver verifier without the low resource simulation for the next couple of days and I'm expecting the system to crash when I leave it idle.

Does the fact that I can duplicate these crashes with low resource simulation suggest anything?

Thanks again for all your help.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
08 Dec 2011   #6

Win 8 Release candidate 8400
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by bradnyk View Post
I left memtest86+ on for a long time, and it completed 9 passes without error. I also switched out the RAM and tried with 1 stick instead of 2. I also alternated the ram DIMM slots. Nothing changed the problem, unfortunately.

I am currently running driver verifier with the settings you listed. However, before I did that, I tried doing it with "low resource simulation." When I check low resource simulation, I get a crash about 5 or 6 minutes after booting into Windows, and the symptoms are identical to those I get with my crashes (black screen, forced to do a hard reboot, no regular minidump file created, no BSOD). I'll continue to run driver verifier without the low resource simulation for the next couple of days and I'm expecting the system to crash when I leave it idle.

Does the fact that I can duplicate these crashes with low resource simulation suggest anything?


Thanks again for all your help.


If it crashed there should be a DMP. Please upload it.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
09 Dec 2011   #7

Windows 7 Professional x64
 
 

All right, so... I've had a couple of crashes since I last posted, all following the same pattern (freezes when idle, requires hard reset). The last two dump files blame a couple of different drivers, but I don't think the drivers are to blame, as they blame different ones each time. Here are the latest couple of DMP files as a ZIP. It also crashed a third time in the last 24 hours, but did not generate any DMP file (not even in LiveKernelEvents).
My System SpecsSystem Spec
09 Dec 2011   #8

Win 8 Release candidate 8400
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by bradnyk View Post
All right, so... I've had a couple of crashes since I last posted, all following the same pattern (freezes when idle, requires hard reset). The last two dump files blame a couple of different drivers, but I don't think the drivers are to blame, as they blame different ones each time. Here are the latest couple of DMP files as a ZIP. It also crashed a third time in the last 24 hours, but did not generate any DMP file (not even in LiveKernelEvents).
These were blamed on your video driver and since the video driver and sleep state are closely intertwined re-installing it might be a good first step.

Use this method


When upgrading your graphic driver you MUST remove all traces of the current driver. In order to do that we recommend using


Phyxion.net - Driver Sweeper


When it is removed then download and install the fresh copy.





The BCC116/117 indicates this.
Quote:

"It's not a true crash, in the sense that the bluescreen was initiated only because the combination of video driver and video hardware was being unresponsive, and not because of any synchronous processing exception".

Since Vista, the "Timeout Detection and Recovery" (TDR) components of the OS video subsystem have been capable of doing some truly impressive things to try to recover from issues which would have caused earlier OSs like XP to crash.


As a last resort, the TDR subsystem sends the video driver a "please restart yourself now!" command and waits a few seconds.


If there's no response, the OS concludes that the video driver/hardware combo has truly collapsed in a heap, and it fires off that stop 0x116 BSOD.


If playing with video driver versions hasn't helped, make sure the box is not overheating.


Try removing a side panel and aiming a big mains fan straight at the motherboard and GPU.


Run it like that for a few hours or days - long enough to ascertain whether cooler temperatures make a difference.


If so, it might be as simple as dust buildup and subsequently inadequate cooling.


I would download cpu-z and gpu-z (both free) and keep an eye on the video temps Let us know if you need help
STOP 0x116: VIDEO_TDR_ERROR troubleshooting
My System SpecsSystem Spec
09 Dec 2011   #9

Windows 7 Professional x64
 
 

I did the Driver Sweeper and reinstalled the graphics drivers. I used an older version of the drivers, just in case the newer ones have something in them that was causing the freezes. (I had been using the newest version before I did the reinstall today.) I also have the installation CD from MSI (manufacturer) with even older drivers, but for some reason the MSI software can't recognize its own video card. I get an error that the card is not detected..... Meanwhile, I used the CD just a few weeks ago when I installed the drivers initially and it detected it fine. So there is clearly something very strange.

I also tried two other things this morning: (1) disabling all non-essential windows services, and (2) installing MSI Afterburner (which, unlike my install CD, does detect the video card) and underclocking the video card. I've never overclocked any of the components, but someone on another forum suggested underclocking.... Afterburner also seems to log lots of video card related activity, so maybe it will show something. I haven't had a crash yet today, but I also havent't left the computer idle for too long, so it's hard to say whether any of this has helped (driver sweep, disabling windows services, underclocking).

Thanks for your help... I'll post again when I figure out more about whether any of this has helped!
My System SpecsSystem Spec
13 Dec 2011   #10

Windows 7 Professional x64
 
 

Well, I went a few days without a crash, which is a record for me. Unfortunately, just had another one.... Here is the dump file in case you see anything interesting. Once again, there is nothing in event viewer that is unusual.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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