Question Need Hardware Diagnostic Tool

Aug 30, 2019
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I need some recommendations for a massive PC system diagnostic tool.

I would like a tool which can do all of the following in one long test.

Test all drives for bad sectors.
Test the overall drive performance for mechanical malfunctions.
Test the power supply for low or irregular voltage.
Test RAM for dead or malfunctioning address ranges.
Test the BIOS and boot sector.
Test the Windows image for missing critical updates, services registry entries.
Test complete motherboard diagnostics.

Basically my problem is as follows:

SYMPTOMS:

This is my third PC build and it has performed perfectly for about five years.
but now strange things are starting to happen.

Applications which use to run perfectly such as Visual Studio 2017 are now taking minutes to load a project.
Operations in Visual Studio which use run fine are taking longer such as builds and opening files.

Booting the entire PC is now failing at different points.

Sometimes the boot does not even make it into the BIOS,
but freezes with a black screen and a flashing cursor in the far upper left corner.

Sometimes the boot makes it through the ASUS Bios screen into the Windows boot graphic,
but freezes when the little Windows icon is displayed.

After five or six attempts I can usually get it to boot completely.

Operations which require little or no disk access such as surfing the web run fine and are not impacted.

Anything requiring disk access is slower or freezes.

PLAN:

Normally when this happens to a five year old build I simply rebuild the entire PC from scratch using the same case.

However, I can't afford to do that at the moment.

So I need to somehow locate the guilty component(s).

My experience in the past is that a bad power supply can impact everything,
so currently there is no way for me to know if the problem is with the power supply,
disk drive(s), RAM, CPU , or simply the CPU to Socket connection, etc.

I'm looking for a big diagnostic tool that can test everything and give me some clue as to which component should be replaced.

Many thanks for any ideas.
 
Aug 30, 2019
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No, but I did a Windows System Restore to an earlier date when everything was working perfectly and the problem did not improve.
 
Aug 30, 2019
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Yes, but I need to know if it is the hard drive or the voltage being supplied to the hard drive or the motherboard connection to the hard drive.
 
Aug 30, 2019
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OK, that makes sense, and it is helpful to know that.

Another strategy might be to just start replacing stuff one by one starting with the hard drive, then the power supply and stop when the problem is fixed. If that doesn't work then reinstalling the CPU. Then if all else fails replace the motherboard and RAM.

The reason I think it might be the power supply is because the problem is occurring on multiple drives, some of which are relatively new.
 
Aug 30, 2019
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CPU Intel core i7-5820K 3.3 GHz 6 cores
PSU Corsair HX1200i 1200W
MBO Asus Rampage III Extreme
HD C: WD Velociraptor
HD D: WD My Passport
HD E: WD My Passport
NVidia GeForce GTX 980
Windows 7 Pro SP1 64 Bit

Condition started about 6 months ago and has been growing steadily worse.

Problems booting.

Sometimes boot freezes before the ASUS Bios Splash Screen
Sometimes boot makes it past the ASUS Bios into the Windows Splash and then freezes.
Sometimes boot completes succesfully (usually after 3 attempts).

Booting into windows check disk never works.

Attempting to repair Windows never works.
It just says "Windows can not repair this partition".

Operations which require disk access which use to work hang or stop completely such as opening files, opening windows explorer, or loading projects into Visual Studio.

Operations which do not require any disk access such as surfing the web or playing audio do not seem to be impacted at all. Nothing is slow when visiting web sites.

Only things requiring disk access seem impacted especially anything requiring windows.

Tried system restore to earlier date when everything was working fine but this did not fix it.

Disk problems occur on multiple drives and drives which are less than a year old, meaning that it is not limited to one drive.

PSU is almost 5 years old and PC is often kept on form weeks at a time (I turn off only the monitors).
 
Aug 30, 2019
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What utility is best for diagnosing drive sectors?

I tried the one that comes with windows and the WD tools, but neither of them can check the drive while it is in use with windows up and running on it.
 
Aug 30, 2019
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I just wanted to give a full status update for this issue so if anyone hits the thread in the future they can see what the final conclusion was and hopefully avoid the same issues.

It was indeed my hard drive. It’s dead. Files are listed in windows explorer but can not be opened and when attempting to open them windows reports the file can not be found.

This is not just a simple indexing or frag problem, the files were actually corrupted.

The reason I reached this conclusion is that I ran a full chkdsk on the drive (which took over 24 hours since it was a 4TB drive which was over half full) and after chkdsk ran it made no difference.

Why the drive bit the dust, I’m not sure. It could have been the drive itself but I suspect it was not a mechanical failure since it was a relatively new drive and it was never moved, not even from one room to another during it’s (short) lifetime.

What I strongly suspect happened is that I was using this drive for all my software development including VmWare running a Mac OSX virtual machine. It is the only drive in my system that went down and I suspect it might have been caused by VmWare somehow writing to disk outside the allocated space of the virtual machine.

The VmWare Mac OSX image itself was corrupted in addition to other files on the drive.

So the conclusion is that I replaced the bad drive and I also replaced my power supply.

I know replacing the power supply might sound like an over-kill, but I’ve had experience in the past with parts going down because of the power supply not the parts themselves. The old power supply was about five years old and I often leave the system on for weeks at a time turning only the monitors off, so it would not be surprising if the psu was on the edge.

This is my development PC for my company so having the peace of mind of a new power supply is worth the cost.

I had to upgrade to Windows 10 anyway, so I replaced both my OS drive and the bad drive and started everything from scratch with a new Windows 10 drive. All the applications I need are not that many so re-installing everything only took a day or two, not a big deal. So now I have completely new system software with Windows 10 and Visual Studio 2019.

Fortunately I am meticulous about backing up all my source code so there was no loss there.

However I never thought to back up my VmWare Mac OSX partition and the virtual machine file is corrupted and could not be recovered after chkdsk. I am running “Recoverit” on the drive to see if it can recover the virtual machine file, but I’m not hopeful. So my Mac Sierra virtual machine might be a total loss, and I may have to start from scratch with Mojave.

Also, I am never again placing a VmWare virtual machine on the same drive as anything else. From now on I am using a separate physical drive for any VmWare machines.

Lessons learned:

  1. Don’t forget to back up VmWare virtual machines.
  2. Always place VmWare virtual machines on their own physical drive.
 

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