Question OS/hard drive failures

Jan 13, 2020
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This is a long winded post, but after all this time being at my wit's end and doing a lot of my own troubleshooting, I have no option but hope that someone here can help me.

I've battled with my custom build PC for the last 6 months with constant failures of my hard drives and other hardware failures. It ran great with no hiccups for a little over a year, then I started running into freezing problems and not being able to boot. My asus crosshair 6 has a q code screen on it and it lead me to a CPU failure, so I had to RMA my Ryzen 7 1800x. My problems subsided for a while.

A few weeks later, my pc couldn't boot anymore. I eventually figured out after a lot of troubleshooting that I could get it to boot when the secondary hard drive was disconnected, so I stopped using it. I would have to boot between 2 and 6 times generally to get the pc to successfully boot, as more often than not it would freeze with a black screen with the cursor at the top left corner, or freeze at the logon screen, or right as the pc booted into the desktop. If I used sleep instead of shutting the pc down, it would usually start up the first 2 tries, so it wasn't a huge deal.

Today, I purchased forza horizon 4 for 60 dollars, but the Microsoft store wouldn't let me install it because I had pending updates. A few times a week I would see a blue screen on boot saying "unable to install updates. Undoing changes." I fought with forums and videos trying to get updates to work, and eventually I just tried to reinstall the OS and keep my files. It began freezing 100% of the time before I could get past the logon screen, so I did a full OS installation using a flash drive with W10. It boots to the setup where it asks me what internet connection to use, but the moment I highlight anything it freezes indefinitely. I tried two other hard drives on windows 7, and they also freeze before they fully boot.

I have done mem test86, the cpu is freshly RMAd, I've tried changing ram slots, flashing my bios, reseating my CPU, unplugging extra USB ports, and now I feel that it has to be my motherboard. The q code it reads now is 24, which as far as I'm aware isn't anything significant.

Asus crosshair hero 6
G.skill Trident Z ddr4 ram
Ryzen 7 1800x
 

Darkbreeze

Titan
Moderator
I think your problem is potentially related to your Windows installation. Especially since disconnecting the other hard drive would allow you to boot. That kind of symptom usually tells us that there was a previous OS installation on a secondary drive prior to Windows being installed on a newer, primary drive, so that when disconnected it either won't boot, or when connected has some kind of issue. Anyhow, the variety of problems you have seem OS related and an in place upgrade or refresh are not going to fix problems with the windows boot manager or registry. You need to at least TRY a clean install, and you need to make sure ONLY the primary OS drive is attached to the system when you do it, aside from the USB or optical drive used for installation of course.

Follow the guide EXACTLY as outlined.


Also, if you have not already, make sure you have the MOST recent motherboard BIOS version installed AND make sure that your memory modules are installed in the 2nd and 4th DIMM slots starting at the CPU and going towards the edge of the motherboard. No other slots, IF you have two DIMMs.

 
Jan 13, 2020
7
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I think your problem is potentially related to your Windows installation. Especially since disconnecting the other hard drive would allow you to boot. That kind of symptom usually tells us that there was a previous OS installation on a secondary drive prior to Windows being installed on a newer, primary drive, so that when disconnected it either won't boot, or when connected has some kind of issue. Anyhow, the variety of problems you have seem OS related and an in place upgrade or refresh are not going to fix problems with the windows boot manager or registry. You need to at least TRY a clean install, and you need to make sure ONLY the primary OS drive is attached to the system when you do it, aside from the USB or optical drive used for installation of course.

Follow the guide EXACTLY as outlined.


Also, if you have not already, make sure you have the MOST recent motherboard BIOS version installed AND make sure that your memory modules are installed in the 2nd and 4th DIMM slots starting at the CPU and going towards the edge of the motherboard. No other slots, IF you have two DIMMs.

I appreciate the quick response, the last thing I did was a full reinstall, I had to also do some things in the command line to change the disk from MBR to GPT too. It's upon the start up settings popping up for a new OS that it freezes at now. The ram is correctly slotted, I didn't try another reflash though. Also, only one drive is currently connected.
 
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Darkbreeze

Titan
Moderator
Try the following, before going any further. Code 24 actually IS a problem. It is a pre-initialization memory error.

BIOS Hard Reset procedure

Power off the unit, switch the PSU off and unplug the PSU cord from either the wall or the power supply.

Remove the motherboard CMOS battery for five minutes. In some cases it may be necessary to remove the graphics card to access the CMOS battery.

During that five minutes, press the power button on the case for 30 seconds. After the five minutes is up, reinstall the CMOS battery making sure to insert it with the correct side up just as it came out.

If you had to remove the graphics card you can now reinstall it, but remember to reconnect your power cables if there were any attached to it as well as your display cable.

Now, plug the power supply cable back in, switch the PSU back on and power up the system. It should display the POST screen and the options to enter CMOS/BIOS setup. Enter the bios setup program and reconfigure the boot settings for either the Windows boot manager or for legacy systems, the drive your OS is installed on if necessary.

Save settings and exit. If the system will POST and boot then you can move forward from there including going back into the bios and configuring any other custom settings you may need to configure such as Memory XMP profile settings, custom fan profile settings or other specific settings you may have previously had configured that were wiped out by resetting the CMOS.

In some cases it may be necessary when you go into the BIOS after a reset, to load the Optimal default or Default values and then save settings, to actually get the hardware tables to reset in the boot manager.


It is probably also worth mentioning that for anything that might require an attempt to DO a hard reset in the first place, it is a GOOD IDEA to try a different type of display as many systems will not work properly for some reason with displayport configurations. It is worth trying HDMI if you are having no display or lack of visual ability to enter the BIOS, or no signal messages.




Was your BIOS flash successful? Are you still able to get into the BIOS and verify that you actually have the latest BIOS version installed?

Have you tried creating the installation media again, because we often see problems with corrupted installation media especially if you don't choose the "create media for use with a different computer" option when running the media creation tool, but sometimes even if you do. Try creating fresh media, and maybe try a different flash drive if possible.

Try a different USB port as well.

Try installing Windows with only ONE stick of memory installed, and make sure it is installed in the second slot over from the CPU. It is important that if you have only two memory modules installed, that you do not have them installed in the 1st and 3rd slots over from the CPU. They MUST be installed in the second and fourth, or just the second if using only one. Any other population configuration is prone to creating problems, especially on Ryzen platforms.

If you still have issues, try doing the installation with ONLY the OTHER stick installed, in the second slot from the CPU.

Running Memtest86 for a FULL FOUR PASSES is a good metric for finding physical and configuration issues with memory but it is not infallible and we see a LOT of instances where there are problems with the memory or the memory configuration that are not pegged by Memtest.

And there is more than one version of Memtest, so if you run Memtest be sure you run Memtest86, NOT Memtest86 Plus, which is much older and obsolete.

Memtest86


Go to the Passmark software website and download the USB Memtest86 free version. You can do the optical disk version too if for some reason you cannot use a bootable USB flash drive.

Create bootable media using the downloaded Memtest86 (NOT Memtest86+, that is a different, older version and is outdated). Once you have done that, go into your BIOS and configure the system to boot to the USB drive that contains the Memtest86 USB media or the optical drive if using that option.


Create a bootable USB Flash drive:

1. Download the Windows MemTest86 USB image.

2. Right click on the downloaded file and select the "Extract to Here" option. This places the USB image and imaging tool into the current folder.

3. Run the included imageUSB tool, it should already have the image file selected and you just need to choose which connected USB drive to turn into a bootable drive. Note that this will erase all data on the drive.



No memory should ever fail to pass Memtest86 when it is at the default configuration that the system sets it at when you start out or do a clear CMOS by removing the CMOS battery for five minutes.

Best method for testing memory is to first run four passes of Memtest86, all 11 tests, WITH the memory at the default configuration. This should be done BEFORE setting the memory to the XMP profile settings. The paid version has 13 tests but the free version only has tests 1-10 and test 13. So run full passes of all 11 tests. Be sure to download the latest version of Memtest86. Memtest86+ has not been updated in MANY years. It is NO-WISE as good as regular Memtest86 from Passmark software.

If there are ANY errors, at all, then the memory configuration is not stable. Bumping the DRAM voltage up slightly may resolve that OR you may need to make adjustments to the primary timings. There are very few secondary or tertiary timings that should be altered. I can tell you about those if you are trying to tighten your memory timings.

If you cannot pass Memtest86 with the memory at the XMP configuration settings then I would recommend restoring the memory to the default JEDEC SPD of 1333/2133mhz (Depending on your platform and memory type) with everything left on the auto/default configuration and running Memtest86 over again. If it completes the four full passes without error you can try again with the XMP settings but first try bumping the DRAM voltage up once again by whatever small increment the motherboard will allow you to increase it by. If it passes, great, move on to the Prime95 testing.

If it still fails, try once again bumping the voltage if you are still within the maximum allowable voltage for your memory type and test again. If it still fails, you are likely going to need more advanced help with configuring your primary timings and should return the memory to the default configuration until you can sort it out.

If the memory will not pass Memtest86 for four passes when it IS at the stock default non-XMP configuration, even after a minor bump in voltage, then there is likely something physically wrong with one or more of the memory modules and I'd recommend running Memtest on each individual module, separately, to determine which module is causing the issue. If you find a single module that is faulty you should contact the seller or the memory manufacturer and have them replace the memory as a SET. Memory comes matched for a reason as I made clear earlier and if you let them replace only one module rather than the entire set you are back to using unmatched memory which is an open door for problems with incompatible memory.

Be aware that you SHOULD run Memtest86 to test the memory at the default, non-XMP, non-custom profile settings BEFORE ever making any changes to the memory configuration so that you will know if the problem is a setting or is a physical problem with the memory.
 
Jan 13, 2020
7
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10
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Try the following, before going any further. Code 24 actually IS a problem. It is a pre-initialization memory error.

BIOS Hard Reset procedure

Power off the unit, switch the PSU off and unplug the PSU cord from either the wall or the power supply.

Remove the motherboard CMOS battery for five minutes. In some cases it may be necessary to remove the graphics card to access the CMOS battery.

During that five minutes, press the power button on the case for 30 seconds. After the five minutes is up, reinstall the CMOS battery making sure to insert it with the correct side up just as it came out.

If you had to remove the graphics card you can now reinstall it, but remember to reconnect your power cables if there were any attached to it as well as your display cable.

Now, plug the power supply cable back in, switch the PSU back on and power up the system. It should display the POST screen and the options to enter CMOS/BIOS setup. Enter the bios setup program and reconfigure the boot settings for either the Windows boot manager or for legacy systems, the drive your OS is installed on if necessary.

Save settings and exit. If the system will POST and boot then you can move forward from there including going back into the bios and configuring any other custom settings you may need to configure such as Memory XMP profile settings, custom fan profile settings or other specific settings you may have previously had configured that were wiped out by resetting the CMOS.

In some cases it may be necessary when you go into the BIOS after a reset, to load the Optimal default or Default values and then save settings, to actually get the hardware tables to reset in the boot manager.


It is probably also worth mentioning that for anything that might require an attempt to DO a hard reset in the first place, it is a GOOD IDEA to try a different type of display as many systems will not work properly for some reason with displayport configurations. It is worth trying HDMI if you are having no display or lack of visual ability to enter the BIOS, or no signal messages.




Was your BIOS flash successful? Are you still able to get into the BIOS and verify that you actually have the latest BIOS version installed?

Have you tried creating the installation media again, because we often see problems with corrupted installation media especially if you don't choose the "create media for use with a different computer" option when running the media creation tool, but sometimes even if you do. Try creating fresh media, and maybe try a different flash drive if possible.

Try a different USB port as well.

Try installing Windows with only ONE stick of memory installed, and make sure it is installed in the second slot over from the CPU. It is important that if you have only two memory modules installed, that you do not have them installed in the 1st and 3rd slots over from the CPU. They MUST be installed in the second and fourth, or just the second if using only one. Any other population configuration is prone to creating problems, especially on Ryzen platforms.

If you still have issues, try doing the installation with ONLY the OTHER stick installed, in the second slot from the CPU.

Running Memtest86 for a FULL FOUR PASSES is a good metric for finding physical and configuration issues with memory but it is not infallible and we see a LOT of instances where there are problems with the memory or the memory configuration that are not pegged by Memtest.

And there is more than one version of Memtest, so if you run Memtest be sure you run Memtest86, NOT Memtest86 Plus, which is much older and obsolete.

Memtest86


Go to the Passmark software website and download the USB Memtest86 free version. You can do the optical disk version too if for some reason you cannot use a bootable USB flash drive.

Create bootable media using the downloaded Memtest86 (NOT Memtest86+, that is a different, older version and is outdated). Once you have done that, go into your BIOS and configure the system to boot to the USB drive that contains the Memtest86 USB media or the optical drive if using that option.


Create a bootable USB Flash drive:

1. Download the Windows MemTest86 USB image.

2. Right click on the downloaded file and select the "Extract to Here" option. This places the USB image and imaging tool into the current folder.

3. Run the included imageUSB tool, it should already have the image file selected and you just need to choose which connected USB drive to turn into a bootable drive. Note that this will erase all data on the drive.



No memory should ever fail to pass Memtest86 when it is at the default configuration that the system sets it at when you start out or do a clear CMOS by removing the CMOS battery for five minutes.

Best method for testing memory is to first run four passes of Memtest86, all 11 tests, WITH the memory at the default configuration. This should be done BEFORE setting the memory to the XMP profile settings. The paid version has 13 tests but the free version only has tests 1-10 and test 13. So run full passes of all 11 tests. Be sure to download the latest version of Memtest86. Memtest86+ has not been updated in MANY years. It is NO-WISE as good as regular Memtest86 from Passmark software.

If there are ANY errors, at all, then the memory configuration is not stable. Bumping the DRAM voltage up slightly may resolve that OR you may need to make adjustments to the primary timings. There are very few secondary or tertiary timings that should be altered. I can tell you about those if you are trying to tighten your memory timings.

If you cannot pass Memtest86 with the memory at the XMP configuration settings then I would recommend restoring the memory to the default JEDEC SPD of 1333/2133mhz (Depending on your platform and memory type) with everything left on the auto/default configuration and running Memtest86 over again. If it completes the four full passes without error you can try again with the XMP settings but first try bumping the DRAM voltage up once again by whatever small increment the motherboard will allow you to increase it by. If it passes, great, move on to the Prime95 testing.

If it still fails, try once again bumping the voltage if you are still within the maximum allowable voltage for your memory type and test again. If it still fails, you are likely going to need more advanced help with configuring your primary timings and should return the memory to the default configuration until you can sort it out.

If the memory will not pass Memtest86 for four passes when it IS at the stock default non-XMP configuration, even after a minor bump in voltage, then there is likely something physically wrong with one or more of the memory modules and I'd recommend running Memtest on each individual module, separately, to determine which module is causing the issue. If you find a single module that is faulty you should contact the seller or the memory manufacturer and have them replace the memory as a SET. Memory comes matched for a reason as I made clear earlier and if you let them replace only one module rather than the entire set you are back to using unmatched memory which is an open door for problems with incompatible memory.

Be aware that you SHOULD run Memtest86 to test the memory at the default, non-XMP, non-custom profile settings BEFORE ever making any changes to the memory configuration so that you will know if the problem is a setting or is a physical problem with the memory.
I reflashed the BIOS by removing the battery and configured it, tried to use one of the RAM sticks at a time, and tried reinstalling the OS again. Still showing a code 24 and freezing within seconds of booting, unfortunately.

I should probably also reiterate that I have tried three different hard drives, two windows 7 drives and this windows 10 drive. And none of the three can make it past the logon screen without an indefinite hang.
 
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Darkbreeze

Titan
Moderator
Removing the CMOS battery is not "flashing" it, it is just doing a hard reset, IF you also press the power button on the case while for at least 30 seconds WHILE the CMOS battery is out to discharge any residual charge being held in the capacitors.

Flashing means updating to an entirely different BIOS firmware version.

Have you at ANY point removed the motherboard to make sure there are no motherboard standoffs pinned against the bottom of the motherboard because they are installed in a location where the motherboard does not have a standoff hole for mounting? This happens fairly frequently when people do not first verify that all of the standoffs have an identical location matching mounting hole in the motherboard. Especially if the standoffs came preinstalled and standoffs were included for all form factor types.

Short of that, I'd try to bench it.

 
Jan 13, 2020
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Removing the CMOS battery is not "flashing" it, it is just doing a hard reset, IF you also press the power button on the case while for at least 30 seconds WHILE the CMOS battery is out to discharge any residual charge being held in the capacitors.

Flashing means updating to an entirely different BIOS firmware version.

Have you at ANY point removed the motherboard to make sure there are no motherboard standoffs pinned against the bottom of the motherboard because they are installed in a location where the motherboard does not have a standoff hole for mounting? This happens fairly frequently when people do not first verify that all of the standoffs have an identical location matching mounting hole in the motherboard. Especially if the standoffs came preinstalled and standoffs were included for all form factor types.

Short of that, I'd try to bench it.

I'll take it apart tonight if I can find the time. This is the third PC I've built so I don't think I messed up on the standoffs, but it will be good to check. It confuses me how it would boot and hold up fine until I decided to reinstall the OS; it makes it hard to determine where the fault lies. I really appreciate your help!
 

Darkbreeze

Titan
Moderator
Except it didn't. You've been having problems since practically day one according to your initial post. That indicates a hardware problem that influenced you to reinstall the operating system. The fact that it got worse after that doesn't change the fact that you had problems to begin with.

What is your EXACT power supply model number? Can't believe I didn't already ask that.

What BIOS version is currently installed?
 
Jan 13, 2020
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Except it didn't. You've been having problems since practically day one according to your initial post. That indicates a hardware problem that influenced you to reinstall the operating system. The fact that it got worse after that doesn't change the fact that you had problems to begin with.

What is your EXACT power supply model number? Can't believe I didn't already ask that.

What BIOS version is currently installed?
The PSU is a Corsair AX760, it says model: 75-001304. I'll have to put some of the parts back together to see what the bios version is on, but I can do that. The PC worked fine for at least a year, it's just began giving me problems in the last 6 months. I have had an issue with fast boot from day one, but the reinstall was due to not being able to apply updates to the PC
 
Jan 13, 2020
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And how long has that AX unit been in service?
Honestly I've been bouncing around with the idea that it needed to be replaced after the last failure, it's been in service for probably around 8 years. It ran my old build too. I've been meaning to try to test it somehow, but after things started running again I just assumed it was good
 

Darkbreeze

Titan
Moderator
Even though that was a very good unit when it was new, 8 years is way too long. 8 years ago, they weren't making any power supplies that were intended to last 8 years that I know of. I think 7 years was the longest warranty available on any of the high end power supplies, even those in the upper tiers from Corsair, Seasonic and EVGA/Super Flower. Not event he Flextronics built units had more than 7 year warranties back then I do not think.

In any case, it's a long time and could certainly be or be part of the issue. Personally, no matter how good a unit is, after five to six years, I'm retiring it to a secondary system or as a backup and putting a brand new high quality unit in it's place BECAUSE even when a unit is still apparently working fine, after a long period of use it is likely that is has developed increased ripple and noise, or some degree of increased voltage fluctuation or even out of spec voltage that while still working is not good for the rest of the hardware.

I don't want that in my primary system since that is generally going to be my most recent, and most expensive hardware. For an older system, or a backup to be used temporarily in the event of a failure or as a stopgap, I am not AS worried about that.

I never make assumptions when it comes to the power supply since without exception it is the most important part of the system. Nothing else, not motherboard, not memory, not CPU, not graphics card, NOTHING else works OR works CORRECTLY, if the power supply does not work AND work correctly. It is the heart of the computer, much as without the heart pumping blood, hands, feet, brain and lungs don't work.

Well, as the old joke goes, there is a case to be made for the a$$h*(& being the most important part of the body since if it closes up the rest of the parts tend to lose their minds and stop working, but that's another story. LOL.
 
Jan 13, 2020
7
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Even though that was a very good unit when it was new, 8 years is way too long. 8 years ago, they weren't making any power supplies that were intended to last 8 years that I know of. I think 7 years was the longest warranty available on any of the high end power supplies, even those in the upper tiers from Corsair, Seasonic and EVGA/Super Flower. Not event he Flextronics built units had more than 7 year warranties back then I do not think.

In any case, it's a long time and could certainly be or be part of the issue. Personally, no matter how good a unit is, after five to six years, I'm retiring it to a secondary system or as a backup and putting a brand new high quality unit in it's place BECAUSE even when a unit is still apparently working fine, after a long period of use it is likely that is has developed increased ripple and noise, or some degree of increased voltage fluctuation or even out of spec voltage that while still working is not good for the rest of the hardware.

I don't want that in my primary system since that is generally going to be my most recent, and most expensive hardware. For an older system, or a backup to be used temporarily in the event of a failure or as a stopgap, I am not AS worried about that.

I never make assumptions when it comes to the power supply since without exception it is the most important part of the system. Nothing else, not motherboard, not memory, not CPU, not graphics card, NOTHING else works OR works CORRECTLY, if the power supply does not work AND work correctly. It is the heart of the computer, much as without the heart pumping blood, hands, feet, brain and lungs don't work.

Well, as the old joke goes, there is a case to be made for the a$$h*(& being the most important part of the body since if it closes up the rest of the parts tend to lose their minds and stop working, but that's another story. LOL.
I've been really busy lately, sorry for the delay again. I tested my hard drive on a different pc and it hasn't had a single problem booting, I managed to get the new os set up on that for now. So with that, it's definitely between the mobo/bios, or the psu I'm imagining?
 

Darkbreeze

Titan
Moderator
Honestly, since the PSU probably NEEDS to be replaced anyhow, I think that's where I would start. If it was a newer unit, then perhaps not, but in this case you don't lose anything by going after the most likely culprit anyhow since in reality that is something that I'd recommend replacing at it's age whether it was bad or not.
 

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