Diagnose startup/boot hang ups in Windows 7

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angkor

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***********************EDIT***********************

PROBLEM FIXED


I'm editing the 1st post for anybody who stumbles on this thread after researching the same problem.

Flashing the BIOS solved my issue, which was that my new pc would freeze at startup.

Read below for other suggestions concerning the registry, hardware drivers, corrupt system files, etc.

Thanks to everybody, and especially to Schan for his wise counsel !

READ DOWN FOR THE ORIGINAL 1st POST.

**********************/EDIT***********************


Hi,

I'd really appreciate suggestions on how to diagnose boot problems.

I recently bought a new system (specs below) and installed Windows 7.
Everything runs fine, except for occasional hang ups at startup. Occasional but very regular.

More precisely, when I boot the pc, as the 4 color spheres appear and start whirling toward making the MS logo, everything freezes.
I then have to manually shut down and reboot. I am then offered to start Windows normally or let Windows attempt a startup repair.
I have tried the latter a couple of times, but Windows failed to come up with anything.

The pc will boot fine 4-5 times in a row, then freeze 2-3 times, sometimes more, then fine again, and so on...

I have tried to consult the Event Viewer after the problem occurred, but nothing dramatic shows up.
[At the moment, I have 2 warnings: A 1014 (DNS client event) and a 3036 (Application, SystemIndex Catalog).]

As far as I can tell, it could be related to software or hardware, but I don't really know where to start looking and how to troubleshoot.

If anybody would be generous enough to offer advice, I'd greatly appreciate.
Thanks.

............
System specs :
cpu : Phenom 2 555 x2 3.2Ghz 7MB Black
Motherboard : GIGABYTE GA-890GPA-UD3H
ram : Kingston KHX1600C9D3K2/4GX Hyper X
Graphics : SAPPHIRE HD5770 1GIG

Running Windows 7 x32.

Windows and drivers all up to date.

............

PS - I've registered an account with this forum, but haven't received the confirmation email yet.
I've asked for it to be resent, checked my email address and everything, but still nothing...
 

schan

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Hi, I'll try to put in some input as well. As others have mentioned, it could be a few things: services, drivers, start-up programs, etc (if it's software). Correct me if I'm wrong, but I haven't seen any input on hardware tests. I'll start off with hardware checks then we can move onto more complicated software checks.

I could start off by running hard drive diagnostics. I recommend the free Seagate Diagnostic Tool. Your hard drive does not have to be Seagate for this to run. You can download it at www.seagate.com. It's a GUI so it should be self explanatory.

Next, I would do a memory test. Run memtest. You can download the ISO from memtest.org. Burn the ISO to a cd using your favorite burning software. I would use imgburn (since it's free) if you don't have any. This could take a considerable amount of time, but I would cancel the check after 10-15 passes if there aren't any errors.

Another EXTREMELY important thing to check is a BIOS update. You'll need to go to your manufacturer's website and look for a BIOS update specifically for your motherboard. If you don't know what a BIOS is, it basically stands for Basic Input-Output System. In this issue particularly, it can help improve the interactions between your chipsets/ram/hard drive/etc. This can be why it has flaky performances.

I may have left some other hardware checks, but lets move onto software.

1) Try updating video card driver, if you haven't already.

2) The best way, but time consuming is to do a process of elimination. Load up safe mode by pressing F8 before the Windows logo. Open up MSCONFIG and tell it to do the diagnostic startup. This will only load up basic Windows service and drivers. Now reboot and let it load. IF it loads up perfectly, then we know it's a 3rd party and not related to Windows. If it is related to Windows, I would assume one of the previous checks would have resolved it already or install all your Windows Updates. There is a slight chance of corrupt installation, but that's pretty rare. If that's the case then yeah, you'll have to format and re-install preferably with another media.

Anyways, if it did load up smoothly without problems, just open up msconfig again and check services one by one and reboot until you come across one that causes the problem. If none, then do the same with drivers. I'm almost certain you'll run across one that will cause you a problem.

If you need help to figure out how to resolve that issue ...feel free to post the service or driver here and I'll see what I can do.

Good luck and have fun!
 

foscooter

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Could be a driver failing to load.

Make sure you have all the latest drivers for all your hardware, via the manufactures websites. (Even though you say we have 'em.)

Since it's "hanging" at the logo, I don't think its the programs loading at start up. But you could check via running the "msconfig" tool. Careful! Don't disable ANY Microsoft applications from loading at start up, except maybe Messenger.
 

angkor

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So...

Driver Alert informed me that I needed to update 2 components (Realtek PCIe GBE Family Controller & Realtek High Definition Audio Device).
I did, and now Driver Alert tells me everything is up to date.

I restarted the system a few times to see if my problem would still occur.

-At the 4th reboot attempt it hung up, and then again the next 2 times.

So it would appear it's something else...
 

angkor

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Some more info.

Here are the programs that are set to run at startup :

HKCU:Run Sidebar C:\Program Files\Windows Sidebar\sidebar.exe /autoRun
HKLM:Run AVG9_TRAY C:\PROGRA~1\AVG\AVG9\avgtray.exe
HKLM:Run JMB36X IDE Setup C:\Windows\RaidTool\xInsIDE.exe
HKLM:Run NUSB3MON "C:\Program Files\Renesas Electronics\USB 3.0 Host Controller Driver\Application\nusb3mon.exe"
HKLM:Run StartCCC "C:\Program Files\ATI Technologies\ATI.ACE\Core-Static\CLIStart.exe" MSRun

I've just disabled "StartCCC" as it's unnecessary. We'll see if that makes a difference, but I'd doubt it.

Otherwise, as you see, I keep this list fairly clean.

Also, I forgot to mention above that I'm running W 7 x32 (I'll edit the intro post).

Anyways, hoping someone will come up with other troubleshooting suggestions.

Thanks.
 

foscooter

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Anyway, the StartCCC is the Catalyst Control Center for the Radeon GFX card. It's OK to disable it, if you didn't tweak the card.

Else, I'm at a loss. The big thing is it hangs at the MS logo. So it's a driver or MS application. Most programs load once you're at the desktop (i.e. CCC). Sorta.
 

angkor

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Thanks a lot for the input. Greatly appreciated.

I'm wondering if it's due to a corrupt installation then...
Or could it be hardware related ? Say something to do with the RAM ?

(I'm asking about RAM because once, soon after installing the system, I had a BSOD with a warning message related to RAM overheating.
Since then, I've moved a hd away from the sticks to allow better ventilation. I've also done a memtest (8hrs, 10 passes) which came back clean.
I haven't had any BSOD since.)

While browsing different forums, I hit a thread where someone else mentioned he had the same problem, while using the same motherboard as me. Apparently, moving his graphics card from one PCI-E slot to another fixed it.
I haven't tried that yet. Maybe I should...
 

angkor

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How would I do that... Through the BIOS ?
(That's one area I'm not too familiar with...)
 

mhelm1

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Yes, you disable in bios then stop the app from running in start up or services.
apps should say usb3.0 or such. If it doesn't help re enable and go to the next hardware item to try.
Definitly move the video card to test that theory as well. Just do one at a time.
 

angkor

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Ok, thanks.
I'll fiddle with that later and report back.

(Sometimes, when trying to solve such issues, I can come to forget that I bought this computer to do actual work...)
 

angkor

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Soooo...

Moved the card from one pci-e slot to the other.
Still got the freeze.

Turned off usb3 in both bios and msconfig.
Still got the freeze.

...
At this point, would it be smart to attempt a W7 startup repair ?
Or if not, what else ?
 

angkor

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Frankly, I don't have time these days to start backing up all my stuff and reinstall everything.
If a repair doesn't work, I'll just live with this annoyance for a while. Luckily, this startup freeze appears to be the only bug I have.
 

schan

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Hi, I'll try to put in some input as well. As others have mentioned, it could be a few things: services, drivers, start-up programs, etc (if it's software). Correct me if I'm wrong, but I haven't seen any input on hardware tests. I'll start off with hardware checks then we can move onto more complicated software checks.

I could start off by running hard drive diagnostics. I recommend the free Seagate Diagnostic Tool. Your hard drive does not have to be Seagate for this to run. You can download it at www.seagate.com. It's a GUI so it should be self explanatory.

Next, I would do a memory test. Run memtest. You can download the ISO from memtest.org. Burn the ISO to a cd using your favorite burning software. I would use imgburn (since it's free) if you don't have any. This could take a considerable amount of time, but I would cancel the check after 10-15 passes if there aren't any errors.

Another EXTREMELY important thing to check is a BIOS update. You'll need to go to your manufacturer's website and look for a BIOS update specifically for your motherboard. If you don't know what a BIOS is, it basically stands for Basic Input-Output System. In this issue particularly, it can help improve the interactions between your chipsets/ram/hard drive/etc. This can be why it has flaky performances.

I may have left some other hardware checks, but lets move onto software.

1) Try updating video card driver, if you haven't already.

2) The best way, but time consuming is to do a process of elimination. Load up safe mode by pressing F8 before the Windows logo. Open up MSCONFIG and tell it to do the diagnostic startup. This will only load up basic Windows service and drivers. Now reboot and let it load. IF it loads up perfectly, then we know it's a 3rd party and not related to Windows. If it is related to Windows, I would assume one of the previous checks would have resolved it already or install all your Windows Updates. There is a slight chance of corrupt installation, but that's pretty rare. If that's the case then yeah, you'll have to format and re-install preferably with another media.

Anyways, if it did load up smoothly without problems, just open up msconfig again and check services one by one and reboot until you come across one that causes the problem. If none, then do the same with drivers. I'm almost certain you'll run across one that will cause you a problem.

If you need help to figure out how to resolve that issue ...feel free to post the service or driver here and I'll see what I can do.

Good luck and have fun!
 

angkor

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Thanks a lot for all the input guys.
Sorry I haven't answered in a few days : I haven't received email notifications, so I assumed the thread had died out.

...
Schan,

Over the next few days, I will attempt the different tricks you suggested. I'm familiar enough with all of them.

-I have been doing overnight memtests 4-5 times since the last few weeks. So far everything is fine on that front.
-I have updated all my hardware drivers just last week, including my video card's.

So, these next few days I will try :
-the Seagate test
-flashing the bios
-the msconfig diagnostic startup tool

...
I'll keep you posted.

Thanks immensely for taking time with this.
 

angkor

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A quick report :

1) I used SeaTools on my drives, both "long drive self test" and "long generic" tests. I got a "Pass" verdict everywhere.

Should I also perform other tests ?

2) I attempted a "diagnostic startup" from MSCONFIG.
It froze like it does usually at the 4th restart attempt...

...
I guess this indicates that my problem is either related to BIOS or a corrupt Windows installation.

So, unless someone has another suggestion, I figure I'll 1st attempt to flash the BIOS, and if that doesn't solve it then a startup repair procedure from a new Windows 7 installation cd.

[If all of that fails, then I'll just live with it for the time being. I simply cannot afford the time needed to backup all my data, format and reinstall from scratch right now.
-I already lost nearly 2 weeks of work when my old system blew up and I had to order and install this one.]

Thanks.
 

schan

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Which service or driver did it start doing that or did you mean it even did that on diagnostic startup? If so, then yes I would say flashing the BIOS would be the next thing. If it still does that, then you are already aware of the next step.
 

angkor

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Yup: It froze while booting on diagnostic startup; no other service or driver loading.
 

schan

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Ah, wells that sucks. I guess the remaining things are to flash the BIOS, try running a registry software cleaner (CCleaner...I've seen people used it but I haven't tried it), and yes...formatting which you don't have the time for.

If it persists even through diagnostic start-up, I'm afraid that are the options you have. Feel free to keep us posted when you have time to format. If it still does that even after formatting, it's clear enough that it's a hardware issue...although the tests says everything is fine it's not always accurate. I've had to replace the memory or the hard drive several times although tests said they were working.

But yeah good luck with the rest!
 

angkor

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Thanks Schan,

My only worry, if it's hardware related, is I may not be able test it thoroughly before a few months. Hopefully, I'll get to know before the warranty expires...

...
One question :

How is it possible that it boots fine sometimes, but jams other times ?
Shouldn't whatever causes the problem act more consistently ?

(These days, the pattern is as follows : the system will boot w/o problem 3-4 times in a row; then it will freeze 2-3 boot attempts in a row; then fine again, and so on.)
 
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