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Windows 7: Random PC Freezing - no pattern

4 Weeks Ago   #91
dsperber

Windows 7 Pro x64 (1), Win7 Pro X64 (2)
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Megahertz07 View Post
DS, sorry to ask, but did you do the basic:
Check disk /f
Sfc /scannow
Memory test
system stress
Good question. The answer is no, at least not in a systematic way.

And while I am suspicious of the ASUS Z170-Deluxe motherboard in what was my original HTPC desktop machine on the LAN, all of my work of late has been specifically on my brand new (not 3 months old yet) Lenovo M910t second HTPC desktop machine running "isolated". I have powered off the Z170 so it doesn't even appear on the network, at least until I can hopefully re-establish 100% 24/7 stability for the M910t running standalone, all by itself, with no other possible LAN-related handshakes to possibly be factors.

Every so often I may fire up one of my two Win10 laptops, but they don't seem to be factors in the freeze story and also seem to be completely immune to ever freezing themselves... despite the fact that they run EXACTLY the same collection of assorted 3rd-party A/V, anti-malware, remote connectivity and hardware monitoring software products as both of my failing Win7 desktop machines do and as do all of the other Win7 machines do that I maintain remotely for friends and family.


On several occasions the re-boot of M910t was forced at such a time that when I came back up there was an automatic CHKDSK. But that was random and very rare, and even then was only on C (which is M.2 NVMe SSD) so it's not going to discover "bad spots on disk" but rather only file system errors if any. And I've not actually ever seen anything fixed, that I can recall.

But for sure, I haven't run CHKDSK on ALL of my partitions of all my physical drives, some of which are also on NVMe SSD and the rest of which are on HDD spinners. However two of my original 2TB WD Black drives (partitioned MBR) that were probably more than 5 years old have very recently been replaced (as part of the general approach on this freeze-eliminating effort) with brand new 4TB WD Black drives (partitioned GPT). Because the M910t doesn't have more than one internal 3.5" bays these two 4TB drives are connected through two eSATA external enclosures.

I've also replaced the Verbatim 2TB external USB/SATA 3.0 drive I use for backups (which itself is also perhaps 5 years old) with another brand new 4TB WD Black drive (partitioned GPT) enclosed in another USB 3.0 external enclosure.

I have one more internal 6TB WD Black drive (partitioned GPT) that is perhaps three years old, and which was not replaced.

Anyway, I have not run CHKDSK systematically across ALL of the partitions C-M on my M.2 NVME SSD and four HDD spinners. But I'll put it on the to-do list.


As far as SFC goes, I have actually run that several times, even though this is a Lenovo-generated new Win7 Pro x64 machine. The log showed that just about anything which needed repair was repaired, other than a very small handful of errors which I didn't fully understand but appeared directly related to Windows Media Center files.

After a second SFC run, these rew WMC-related messages remained. I took this to be "normal", perhaps because of the WMC EHRECVR task that's always active or something like that.

Haven't run SFC very recently, and I'm not sure the log is supposed to be 100% error-free or if the few messages that did appear are "normal and acceptable" or perhaps indicative of possible root cause culprits for the freeze symptom.


Definitely have not run MEMTEST or any stress testing. Again, this is a brand new Lenovo M910t machine with brand new Lenovo-provided 2x8GB=16GB of memory (Samsung DDR4-2400 and Hynix DDR4-2666, both slowed down by BIOS to run at Skylake DDR4-2133 speed). So I have no suspicion that memory is at fault here.

And besides, the freeze symptom was already occurring with the predecessor homebuilt ASUS P8Z77-V Pro HTPC machine (before it died and was replaced by the M910t). There was physically different memory in that older ASUS machine.


Anyway, M910t has now been up about 8 hours since its last re-boot following the uninstall of Team Viewer 14, Malwarebytes Premium 3.7.1 and MSE, and the brand new 1st-time install of BitDefender Total Security.

Fingers crossed.

But unless these three software products (or at least one or two of them) are actually the "culprit", I won't have a good feeling until I pass three days of freeze-free operation. Over the past 8 months I've managed to at best make it to just over two days between freezes, with worst case of being unable to even complete a re-boot and making it to a stable Windows desktop before freezing.

So something VERY fundamental is obviously responsible for the freeze symptom. And it has to be a basic common component on three otherwise different Win7 machines both new and old, all of which have multiple internal drives with multiple partitions on each drive, and have Ceton/Hauppauge TV tuner cards and run WMC, and all of which run the same 3rd-party software products, all of which have external USB 3.0 backup drives, and have NVidia GTX 1050ti graphics and two Eizo monitors and use Logitech MX wireless mice and IBM PS/2 keyboards running through an Adesso PS/2->USB adapter.

I'm hoping that by temporarily shutting down my ASUS machine and letting the M910t run by itself on the LAN, that I will at least eliminate possible network-based causes for the moment. Whatever continues to cause the freeze must therefore be "local" to the M910t, making it hopefully easier to chase down... although it's now been 8 months without success.


My System SpecsSystem Spec
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4 Weeks Ago   #92
Megahertz07

Windows 7 HP 64
 
 

I have seen this kind of issue due to chipset failure.
Try to make it simple as possible.
- Detach all drives leaving on only the OS drive.
- If you have overclock, disable it.
- On BIOS, set the main clock from 100MHz to 80MHz.
Run it for a while. If it doesn't freeze, undo the changes step by step.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
3 Weeks Ago   #93
dsperber

Windows 7 Pro x64 (1), Win7 Pro X64 (2)
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by dsperber View Post
Anyway, M910t has now been up about 8 hours since its last re-boot following the uninstall of Team Viewer 14, Malwarebytes Premium 3.7.1 and MSE, and the brand new 1st-time install of BitDefender Total Security.

Fingers crossed.

But unless these three software products (or at least one or two of them) are actually the "culprit", I won't have a good feeling until I pass three days of freeze-free operation. Over the past 8 months I've managed to at best make it to just over two days between freezes, with worst case of being unable to even complete a re-boot and making it to a stable Windows desktop before freezing.

So something VERY fundamental is obviously responsible for the freeze symptom. And it has to be a basic common component on three otherwise different Win7 machines both new and old, all of which have multiple internal drives with multiple partitions on each drive, and have Ceton/Hauppauge TV tuner cards and run WMC, and all of which run the same 3rd-party software products, all of which have external USB 3.0 backup drives, and have NVidia GTX 1050ti graphics and two Eizo monitors and use Logitech MX wireless mice and IBM PS/2 keyboards running through an Adesso PS/2->USB adapter.

I'm hoping that by temporarily shutting down my ASUS machine and letting the M910t run by itself on the LAN, that I will at least eliminate possible network-based causes for the moment. Whatever continues to cause the freeze must therefore be "local" to the M910t, making it hopefully easier to chase down... although it's now been 8 months without success.
Very good news!

M910t:

Z170:

After M910t made it to about 2 1/2 days without a freeze, I got cocky and decided to bring Z170 back up , in order to uninstall the same delete Malwarebytes 3.7.1 and MSE, and install Bitdefender.

And sure enough, it is now about 3 1/2 days on M910t and about 1 1/2 days on Z170, without any freeze or other anomaly. This is truly unheard of over the past 8 months. It honestly looks as if total normal operation and 100% stability has returned... to BOTH machines.

==> After thousands of dollars spent on new and replacement and upgraded hardware (thinking it was failing hardware), and hundreds of hours spent in try to swap things in and out, turn things off and on, etc., trying to determine exactly what single factor made any difference and therefore was probably relevant, it comes down to Malwarebytes which appears to be the culprit.

Apparently, in my opinion, the "Win7 freeze" problem with the product which started late last year seems to have been much more applicable to my own unique WMC Win7 machines than to other people's machines. When Malwarebytes claimed that after one month of research they had finally isolated and corrected the underlying defect they themselves had given birth to in a version upgrade which came out late last year, my guess is that they didn't test this on a WMC machine. My guess is that the same (or unwittingly remaining) bug wasn't completely fixed after all, and it is this which has been the source of my own "freeze" symptoms for the past 8 months.

At least that is the theory I'm now operating under. And all I can say is that with Malwarebytes (and MSE) now completely uninstalled on all four of my machines, and Bitdefender Total Security 2019 now installed (on both my Win7 WMC desktops and both Win10 laptops), I have now been freeze-free for almost 4 days. Unheard of over the past 8 months.

I had honestly thought Malwarebytes to be "above reproach", and that when the software vendor claimed "it is fixed"... that this was true. Apparently not so much.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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3 Weeks Ago   #94
Megahertz07

Windows 7 HP 64
 
 

The main problem with Malwarebytes is that it's a memory resident program.
The free version is the same as the paid one but it isn't active. And it can conflict with other antivirus.

I have Avira free antivirus and I have superantispyware free that I run regularly.
SUPERAntiSpyware Free Edition
My System SpecsSystem Spec
1 Week Ago   #95
dsperber

Windows 7 Pro x64 (1), Win7 Pro X64 (2)
 
 

Just wanted to post an update...

M910t continues to run freeze-free ever since installing Bitdefender to replace MBAM + MSE. It's now been ALMOST 20 DAYS of uninterrupted 24/7 100% stable operation. Obviously I finally discovered the culplrit for my unique Win7 desktop HTPC/WMC machines, and that culprit was MBAM.

I started a thread on the Malwarebytes Forum to talk about this freeze symptom and my discoveries. and appear to have attracted one of their technicians who invited me to help shoot this bug if I was willing, by temporarily uninstalling Bitdefender and reinstalling MBAM + MSE on my ASUS machine and hopefully recreating the freeze. Since I'd already established stability on M910t which is my production HTPC, I had no problem turning my ASUS machine into a lab animal for a while, in order to really get to the bottom of what is causing the freeze.

He provided me with instructions on how to produce a forced BSOD and resulting complete memory dump when a freeze occurs, and sure enough within 12 hours of reinstalling MBAM I had a freeze event occur from which a dump was produced that I sent to him. I also was able to produce two more freezes (with different circumstances), and passed along the additional two dumps for his analysis. So we've been working on this for a week now.

Turns out his analysis points to Macrium Reflect and its CBT technology as very much involved with the freeze and the likely culprit, as opposed to MBAM being at fault. He had seen this clue before, but now with my new dumps he was really convinced.

So I opened a ticket on the Macrium Reflect site, and was very fortunate to have a lead programmer from their CBT development team get assigned to handle the ticket. I provided him with the same three dumps I'd given to Malwarebytes, for his analysis. Although he was initially somewhat confused about exactly what the Malwarebytes people had found that pointed to Macrium Refllect as the culprit, he dove right in to see what the dump revealed.

Lo and behold, he is sure he's discovered what was going on:

"After performing analysis on the crash reports that you sent, it appears that your system has processed a rather complex series of events that has lead to a race-condition between the Malwarebytes product and our MRCBT.SYS driver during a file-system TRIM operation.
We are still performing analysis, but in the mean time, we have implemented a workaround for this situation and I am pleased to provide links (below) to an updated driver that should stop your computer(s) from freezing."

There are still many questions that need answering, but for now there does appear to be a genuine temporary software fix for Macrium Reflect, for something it is doing that appears "in conflict in some way" with something that MBAM is doing, which ultimately is responsible for the freeze. By sidestepping in some way the perceived incompatibility, the expectation is that the freeze symptom should disappear completely.

I've installed their temporarily patched MRCBT.SYS on ASUS, and it's now about 7 hours in and no freeze. I won't have any real confidence until at least 2-3 days have gone by, or even 7 days. But it does appear that rather than "failing hardware" causing the freeze, it seems to have been "conflicting software product recent engineering changes" (from both products) which is why I first saw the freeze starting about 8 months ago when significant changes were made to both products. This makes a great deal more sense (since I used both products on all three of my Win7 desktop HTPC/WMC machines) that coincidental failing hardware on three separate machines.

I will still likely go back to Bitdefender on ASUS when this is all over, rather than MBAM + MSE, since I've already bought a 5-pack licens for my machines and I'm completely satisfied with its fault-free performance on M910t. But at least it looks like whatever it was in Macrium Reflect that was incompatible with MBAM will be fixed.

Freeze gone. Happy days are here again.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
2 Days Ago   #96
dsperber

Windows 7 Pro x64 (1), Win7 Pro X64 (2)
 
 

Final postscript on this issue. For me, it has now been 100% resolved based on either (a) using Bitdefender instead of MBAM + MSE, or (b) installing the test fix to MRCBT.SYS provided by Macrium Reflect support. This test fix has now been confirmed to solve the problem through almost two weeks of freeze-free experience with Bitdefender getting uninstalled and MBAM + MSE reinstalled.

So there was a genuine software conflict on SOME Win7 systems (all three of my HTPC machines were super-vulnerable for some reason, probably not just a coincidence) between how MBAM works and how Macrium Reflect's CBT technology works. And it turns out Macrium was able to make a simple but obviously significant change to their CBT driver which eliminated this conflict completely.

So, case closed. I've now once again uninstalled MBAM + MSE and reinstalled Bitdefender, which I have decided to go forward with on all of my own personal Win7 and Win10 machines having purchased a 5-seat license.

For technical closure, here is the detailed explanation from Macrium Reflect about what they discovered from the freeze-dumps I sent them, and what they did to overcome the potential conflict with how MBAM works.

=======================================================

Firstly, taking everything into account, I can see no flaw in what you have been advised by Malwarebytes, however; we have never seen this issue arise in any of our testing, nor has it been reported to us by any other customer. As such, we can only go off the information in the dump files you sent.

Basically, the state of your system at the point the dump file was generated, show that the Malwarebytes product had asked Windows to Unload a Registry hive (database of Registry key/value pairs). This in turn had caused Windows to delete (or move) a section of the Registry file, which in turn had generated a TRIM operation on a volume that CBT was tracking.

At this point, CBT needed to access some settings that are normally stored in memory (cached), however; for some reason (I can only guess that it needed the resources), Windows had elected to discard this memory. At this point, CBT tried to re-read the settings back from the Registry, but it can't because Windows is holding a global lock on the Registry in response to the request from the Malwarebytes product.

Malwarebytes and our CBT driver are now waiting for each other to complete before either of them can move forward.

Normally, this would be detrimental to both products, but would not cause the system to freeze, however; a further 45 requests to access the Registry (from various processes) come in and all of these now block, waiting for the global lock on the Registry to be released. I presume that one or more of these is a critical Windows component and this is what results in the freeze.

Our solution to this, was to read these particular settings at driver start-up, then store them in memory that Windows cannot discard. This removes all possibility of CBT needing to access the Registry during a TRIM operation.

Without access to the Malwarebytes product source code, I am not entirely sure what their product is doing, but I do not believe that they are doing anything wrong per se, and while it is a rare occurrence - I believe that our CBT driver should be able to cope with these circumstances.

I have attached the output of the analysis that we performed on the dump file. It is intended for software developers, but it is quite easy to see which other processes were also waiting to access the Registry and why.

I hope that this goes some way to explaining our findings.

=================================================

NOTE: Macrium Reflect is scheduling the official release of this fix to MRCBT.SYS sometime in the next few weeks. Since the latest version is 7.2.4156 (which still contains the "defective MRCBT.SYS") I assume whatever the next higher released version is will from that point going forward now contain the corrected MRCBT.SYS.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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