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Windows 7: Mystery Start-Up Issue - Need Help Diagnosing

07 Dec 2014   #1
SatorriX

Windows 7 - Professional - 64 bit
 
 
Mystery Start-Up Issue - Need Help Diagnosing

Short history:
Built a new rig from parts back in the Spring. It's been running beautifully for most of a year. Then, overnight, it started doing something strange. When I tried to start up, it would hit a BSoD loop. If I loaded the Win7 install disc and did nothing with it, just restarted from that. It would load up fine.

That went on for about a month while I was trying to figure out what the problem was. Then the issue shifted. The computer started loading directly to the BiOS. It recognized that the drives were there in theory, but wouldn't start the OS. I had done several scans and attempted fixes on the OS before this happened (not directly before), and assumed that this was just an escalation, so I decided to cut my losses, reformat the partition where the OS was, and reinstall Windows.

I did this, reloaded the needed drivers and software for my hardware, and everything was fine, for a week. Then one day the computer started up to the BiOS again. This time it didn't detect the HD containing the OS. I did some futzing and found that the problem was inconsistent, and just swapping cables would sometimes solve it. Once it's up and running it has no issues of any kind.

So, here's where I've landed now, and I'm thinking it may be hardware related, but I'm hoping the smart folks here can help me figure out where the hitch is.

When I try to start the computer, one of 3 things happens:
  • The computer goes to BiOS and does not detect the main HD
  • The computer tries to start windows, BSoD's and restarts to System Repair
  • (After swapping some cables around) Computer puts up the WinXP load screen, BSoD's and if I restart from the Win7 install disc, the computer will start up fine

Once the computer has started up, none of the diagnostics are showing a problem. When Option 2 goes to System Restore it sometimes decides that the root cause was a "bad driver" or else says that it cannot find a problem. It can never find a restore point (though I've created ones when the computer started up properly).

It seems like the driver errors are more likely erroneous. It seems to make the most sense that the problem is somewhere with the drive, the SATA cable/handling, or mobo, but I have no idea what to do to trace the problem from here.

Any savvy folks around think they have an idea of what's going on?


My System SpecsSystem Spec
.
07 Dec 2014   #2
Ranger4

Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit sp1
 
 

This could be an indication that your hard drive may have some problems. You can download a diagnostic utility from your hard drive maker & run that to check it. Go to their website to find it.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
07 Dec 2014   #3
SatorriX

Windows 7 - Professional - 64 bit
 
 

Thank you, I'll try that and update!
My System SpecsSystem Spec
.

12 Dec 2014   #4
SatorriX

Windows 7 - Professional - 64 bit
 
 

Update!

I scanned the HDD which has the OS, as well as the secondary drives (one new like the primary, and one older but also from WD). The two new drives, including the one with the OS came back completely clean (and the scan theoretically included a cable check). The old drive came back with corrupted sectors which were repaired by the program.

I also re-upped my virus scans and did an intensive scan of the whole system. It did turn up an inactive virus on that same drive that had corrupted sectors, but that drive has been wired and relatively unused since the new computer was built.

I started the computer up yesterday without issue and wanted to give it a few days of working before I reported that all was repaired.

Today it did the WinXP splash BSoD after saying that it didn't shut down correctly, which it definitely did the night before, from all I could tell.

So there's still a hiccup somewhere in the works. Anyone have any good ideas for another diagnostic or experiment to run?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
12 Dec 2014   #5
Ranger4

Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit sp1
 
 

Have you run a Check Disc test. This tutorial should help you. Don't run it on a SSD only on HDD's.

Disk Check

This one tells you how to read the Event Viewer afterwards.

Check Disk (chkdsk) - Read Event Viewer Log
My System SpecsSystem Spec
12 Dec 2014   #6
MagusMagnus

7 Ultimate SP1 x64
 
 

Disk checking utilities and SMART are great - for ruling out logical errors and failures. They, however, are absolute shite for picking up on electrical or mechanical failures (everything not precluding to the actual disk platters; or, logical).

Primary drive in my laptop back in 2011 suddenly started tossing out PXE's (BIOS attempting to boot to network instead). It wasn't even 2 years old. After that first time it happened (stepped away to make myself a sandwich; black screen when I got back not even 15 minutes later) and after which it then booted just fine, I threw every conceivable utility I could find at it (WD's first) and each and every single one of them reported the drive was 100% healthy (ChkDsk was also squeaky clean). So I ignored it. Thought it was a fluke. Well, six months after that... PXE again (also when I'd stepped away for a few minutes). And that time, it refused to boot into the OS a dozen consecutive times. The one time it finally let me in I grabbed everything I could like a madman and moved it to an external, 'cause you know, it happened even after boot in OS.

Long story short, I bought a $135 replacement (at the height of the drive shortage - just my luck) and no more PXE's. Before that, I couldn't have been absolutely certain if it was the HDD or the Motherboard (IDE Controllers can and do fail). Well, it sure was the HDD - thankfully even.

Moral to this story is, never trust logical utilities to accurately report the 'health' of a drive. Ever. They're wrong more than they're right. And from what I'm seeing, electrical (PCB) and mechanical (Motor etc.) failures are on the increase. Big time. Quality Control, apparently, was very <2007. I blame manufacturing. Everything's now just slapped together ASAP and for the absolute cheapest they can. They don't give a whit for end-quality and longevity anymore.

I'm just damn lucky it let me boot in ONCE to grab my stuff. Very rarely does anybody luck out like that.


Definitely do NOT trust that drive as primary anymore. Swap it out. And if repurposing it, do NOT keep anything on it that you absolutely couldn't stand to lose when it fails entirely.

Reformatting (OS reinstall) should have resolved any logical issues if any were present. Its not a logical issue here.

There's a great price right now on the WD10EZEX 1TB's. Grab one. No reason not to. Dirt cheap IMO.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
13 Dec 2014   #7
SatorriX

Windows 7 - Professional - 64 bit
 
 

I don't want to sound like I don't appreciate any input at this point, but "trash your disk and buy a new one" is the very last thing on my list. I want to fix what I have, or identify what cannot be fixed and replace that smartly. I don't know that the drive's the problem, so even if I replaced it, I may still have the same issue.

The drive was in-use, so I set it to run Chkdsk on restart, while wondering whether it would remember with the startup issue. The system did the "failed to start" => WinXP load screen => BSoD crash restart, I interrupted it with the install disc, and it then went to the Chkdsk run. So it's definitely remembering things from when I shut it down, the interruption is only in the initial starting. When the Chkdsk forced the restart, it did the "fail to start" whole thing again, again I interrupted it with the install disc and it started normally.

Here's the log:
Code:
Log Name:      Application
Source:        Microsoft-Windows-Wininit
Date:          12/13/2014 3:32:31 PM
Event ID:      1001
Task Category: None
Level:         Information
Keywords:      Classic
User:          N/A
Computer:      MuLong-137
Description:


Checking file system on C:
The type of the file system is NTFS.


A disk check has been scheduled.
Windows will now check the disk.                         

CHKDSK is verifying files (stage 1 of 3)...
  170752 file records processed.                                         

File verification completed.
  396 large file records processed.                                   

  0 bad file records processed.                                     

  2 EA records processed.                                           

  44 reparse records processed.                                      

CHKDSK is verifying indexes (stage 2 of 3)...
  223320 index entries processed.                                        

Index verification completed.
  0 unindexed files scanned.                                        

  0 unindexed files recovered.                                      

CHKDSK is verifying security descriptors (stage 3 of 3)...
  170752 file SDs/SIDs processed.                                        

Cleaning up 276 unused index entries from index $SII of file 0x9.
Cleaning up 276 unused index entries from index $SDH of file 0x9.
Cleaning up 276 unused security descriptors.
Security descriptor verification completed.
  26285 data files processed.                                           

CHKDSK is verifying Usn Journal...
  34810360 USN bytes processed.                                            

Usn Journal verification completed.
CHKDSK discovered free space marked as allocated in the
master file table (MFT) bitmap.
CHKDSK discovered free space marked as allocated in the volume bitmap.
Windows has made corrections to the file system.

 380528639 KB total disk space.
  61418332 KB in 141528 files.
    105016 KB in 26286 indexes.
         0 KB in bad sectors.
    283423 KB in use by the system.
     65536 KB occupied by the log file.
 318721868 KB available on disk.

      4096 bytes in each allocation unit.
  95132159 total allocation units on disk.
  79680467 allocation units available on disk.

Internal Info:
00 9b 02 00 91 8f 02 00 76 ea 04 00 00 00 00 00  ........v.......
2d 65 00 00 2c 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00  -e..,...........
00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00  ................

Windows has finished checking your disk.
Please wait while your computer restarts.

Event Xml:
<Event xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/win/2004/08/events/event">
  <System>
    <Provider Name="Microsoft-Windows-Wininit" Guid="{206f6dea-d3c5-4d10-bc72-989f03c8b84b}" EventSourceName="Wininit" />
    <EventID Qualifiers="16384">1001</EventID>
    <Version>0</Version>
    <Level>4</Level>
    <Task>0</Task>
    <Opcode>0</Opcode>
    <Keywords>0x80000000000000</Keywords>
    <TimeCreated SystemTime="2014-12-13T20:32:31.000000000Z" />
    <EventRecordID>2759</EventRecordID>
    <Correlation />
    <Execution ProcessID="0" ThreadID="0" />
    <Channel>Application</Channel>
    <Computer>MuLong-137</Computer>
    <Security />
  </System>
  <EventData>
    <Data>

Checking file system on C:
The type of the file system is NTFS.


A disk check has been scheduled.
Windows will now check the disk.                         

CHKDSK is verifying files (stage 1 of 3)...
  170752 file records processed.                                         

File verification completed.
  396 large file records processed.                                   

  0 bad file records processed.                                     

  2 EA records processed.                                           

  44 reparse records processed.                                      

CHKDSK is verifying indexes (stage 2 of 3)...
  223320 index entries processed.                                        

Index verification completed.
  0 unindexed files scanned.                                        

  0 unindexed files recovered.                                      

CHKDSK is verifying security descriptors (stage 3 of 3)...
  170752 file SDs/SIDs processed.                                        

Cleaning up 276 unused index entries from index $SII of file 0x9.
Cleaning up 276 unused index entries from index $SDH of file 0x9.
Cleaning up 276 unused security descriptors.
Security descriptor verification completed.
  26285 data files processed.                                           

CHKDSK is verifying Usn Journal...
  34810360 USN bytes processed.                                            

Usn Journal verification completed.
CHKDSK discovered free space marked as allocated in the
master file table (MFT) bitmap.
CHKDSK discovered free space marked as allocated in the volume bitmap.
Windows has made corrections to the file system.

 380528639 KB total disk space.
  61418332 KB in 141528 files.
    105016 KB in 26286 indexes.
         0 KB in bad sectors.
    283423 KB in use by the system.
     65536 KB occupied by the log file.
 318721868 KB available on disk.

      4096 bytes in each allocation unit.
  95132159 total allocation units on disk.
  79680467 allocation units available on disk.

Internal Info:
00 9b 02 00 91 8f 02 00 76 ea 04 00 00 00 00 00  ........v.......
2d 65 00 00 2c 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00  -e..,...........
00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00  ................

Windows has finished checking your disk.
Please wait while your computer restarts.
</Data>
  </EventData>
</Event>
Which I read to say "no issue."

So, SFC and Chkdsk both say no issue, a HDD manufacturer utility scan finds no hardware issues.

I feel like this should be pointing to something very specific. That the system fails to start when started fresh, but when restarted from the install disc (with install disc ejected) succeeds, which to me seems like it should be the same as starting it fresh...

That should point to some specific thing, no? *I* don't know enough about the operations, but what is different between those two scenarios? Could this be some thing on the mobo? Some operation of the RAM that is being written differently on the shutdown when restarting from the install disc different from being written by the OS on the computer? Something that would persist through a fresh install of Windows? Is that even possible?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
13 Dec 2014   #8
Mellon Head

Win 7 Pro x64/Win 10 Pro x64 dual boot
 
 

It could be a flaky boot drive, or it could be a flaky SATA controller, it's difficult to tell, but I think your problem is hardware based.

If you have a spare drive (or can borrow one), install Windows on it and see if it gives you the same problem. If it does, you're looking at a bad SATA controller/motherboard. If it doesn't, you have a bad drive.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
14 Dec 2014   #9
SatorriX

Windows 7 - Professional - 64 bit
 
 

I will experiment with that.

One big question though, would either of those options be side-stepped by restarting from the install disc?

The one thing that is consistent now is that the computer does the [fail to start] => [WinXP load screen] => BSoD, and I can get the computer to start normally just by putting in the Win7 install disc, hitting 'next' at the language screen, then cancelling and restarting, removing the disc before it gets to the BIOS or boot sequence. (Weird side note, if I cancel at the language identification screen, it *doesn't* start properly.)

This has been consistent for this whole week.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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 Mystery Start-Up Issue - Need Help Diagnosing




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