Possible HDD going bad-maybe?

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J. PUPSTER

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I've got an old Dell desktop computer (~12-13 years old); and in the last couple of weeks been having an issue of it hanging up. It's Windows 7 Pro and has been a very solid machine. I believe the HDD in it is a 5,400 rpm WD. It will start giving me one of those little blue circling busy signals while operating various programs and it will just be solidly hung. This happens now about once or twice daily. I've sometimes waited hours to see if it would resolve, but most times it doesn't and a Control Alt Delete (sometimes allowing me to end various open programs) won't even fix it. I end up having to do a hard reboot. After a late afternoon hang yesterday, I just shut it down, and this morning when I rebooted it; the start up went into a check disc routine. Seems it didn't really find anything, and it has booted normally. I've ran a couple of virus checkers and Defrag checks also, and didn't find anything unusual. I've also done some research online, but of course that stuff's all over the place.
I'm hoping it's just some buggy program I can root out, but not sure there either.

I've really enjoyed Win. 7 and hate to lose it for an updated Win. 10 (which I have on a networked NUC.) I've thought about just seeing if I can get a large SSD installed on it to replace it, but it would be Win. 10.

This is an important machine for me, as I listen to my surround titles (5.1) from it as my work station.

Anyone have any similar issues and suggestion, other than just 🙏ing???
 

humprof

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I've got an old Dell desktop computer (~12-13 years old); and in the last couple of weeks been having an issue of it hanging up. It's Windows 7 Pro and has been a very solid machine. I believe the HDD in it is a 5,400 rpm WD. It will start giving me one of those little blue circling busy signals while operating various programs and it will just be solidly hung. This happens now about once or twice daily. I've sometimes waited hours to see if it would resolve, but most times it doesn't and a Control Alt Delete (sometimes allowing me to end various open programs) won't even fix it. I end up having to do a hard reboot. After a late afternoon hang yesterday, I just shut it down, and this morning when I rebooted it; the start up went into a check disc routine. Seems it didn't really find anything, and it has booted normally. I've ran a couple of virus checkers and Defrag checks also, and didn't find anything unusual. I've also done some research online, but of course that stuff's all over the place.
I'm hoping it's just some buggy program I can root out, but not sure there either.

I've really enjoyed Win. 7 and hate to lose it for an updated Win. 10 (which I have on a networked NUC.) I've thought about just seeing if I can get a large SSD installed on it to replace it, but it would be Win. 10.

This is an important machine for me, as I listen to my surround titles (5.1) from it as my work station.

Anyone have any similar issues and suggestion, other than just 🙏ing???
Assuming it's readable, your local computer shop should just be able to clone your existing drive, Win 7 and all, onto a new drive.
 

winopener

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Second the suggestion. Clone the drive as soon as you can, especially if you still can.
Otherwise, you can always install good old w7 on a new drive.

What is really useful on these cases is a disk image; for win* machines i've had good results with Macrium Reflect, so if anything bad happens, i can restore back the system as it was when imaged.
 

J. PUPSTER

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Assuming it's readable, your local computer shop should just be able to clone your existing drive, Win 7 and all, onto a new drive.
That would be great, I've considered that as well, it was a top of the line computer (for a Dell) that I custom picked all the most up to date build options for it at the time, it is a studio XPS 9100 with a 1 TB HDD, Intel i7-930 processor, 12 GB memory a BD writer and lots of ports, even a USB 3, which was pretty new for that time.
 

furui_suterioo

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That would be great, I've considered that as well, it was a top of the line computer (for a Dell) that I custom picked all the most up to date build options for it at the time, it is a studio XPS 9100 with a 1 TB HDD, Intel i7-930 processor, 12 GB memory a BD writer and lots of ports, even a USB 3, which was pretty new for that time.
Time for SSD!
 

J. PUPSTER

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I figured the next thing I'd try in the mean time, is look at all the junk set to start on OS start up, and turn off what's not essential. I guess the thing I also need to find out is can the main board support modern SSDs?
 

Sonik Wiz

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I've got an old Dell desktop computer (~12-13 years old); and in the last couple of weeks been having an issue of it hanging up. It's Windows 7 Pro and has been a very solid machine. I believe the HDD in it is a 5,400 rpm WD. It will start giving me one of those little blue circling busy signals while operating various programs and it will just be solidly hung. This happens now about once or twice daily. I've sometimes waited hours to see if it would resolve, but most times it doesn't and a Control Alt Delete (sometimes allowing me to end various open programs) won't even fix it. I end up having to do a hard reboot. After a late afternoon hang yesterday, I just shut it down, and this morning when I rebooted it; the start up went into a check disc routine. Seems it didn't really find anything, and it has booted normally. I've ran a couple of virus checkers and Defrag checks also, and didn't find anything unusual. I've also done some research online, but of course that stuff's all over the place.
I'm hoping it's just some buggy program I can root out, but not sure there either.

I've really enjoyed Win. 7 and hate to lose it for an updated Win. 10 (which I have on a networked NUC.) I've thought about just seeing if I can get a large SSD installed on it to replace it, but it would be Win. 10.

This is an important machine for me, as I listen to my surround titles (5.1) from it as my work station.

Anyone have any similar issues and suggestion, other than just 🙏ing???
You might see if disabling virus checker makes a difference. Or see if it's scanning in the background. Take a look at msconfig> start up & see if anything seems it shouldn't be there. And while your there see if there's any programs starting up that you really don't need.

Great suggestion from the Prof to clone a back up. If your having problems and can't do it yourself you might need to take it to a shop as he said. I clone my C drive a couple of times a year just in case something goes bad I can just switch out. This is what I do anyway when I upgrade or change an SSD/HDD. The only draw back is some apps know the change & you need to re-enter activation codes. I might also suggest you get a big ass xTB drive for data & use an SSD for Windows & apps. Many benefits.

For grins try running a HDD benchmark test such as:


I've used this when needed for years . It's easy, reliable & free. Keep us informed how this all shakes out.

Edit: I see you beat me to in regards to start up.
 

steelydave

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I agree with the post above - I use the software called Crystal Disk Info to get the SMART data (this is info about the physical condition of the hard drive stored on a chip on the drive itself) to help keep tabs on my drives.


If you run that and post a screenshot of the results here, we can probably diagnose if the drive is going/has started to go bad, or if it's something else.

A lot of the time if old computers are sitting there "thinking" it's because of a lack of RAM rather than a hard drive issue, but it's good to rule the possible causes out one at a time.
 

Hamilton59

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If you're worried that your hard drive may be having problems, you can look at the Windows Event Viewer System Log files to see if you are getting hard drive errors. To launch the Event Viewer, just hit Start, type “Event Viewer” into the search box, and then click the result. In the Windows Logs, select the System log file. You can scroll down through the log files looking at any Error files you find. Click on the error log and look at the information about the error. You will probably find quite a few errors that are not related to your hard drive. You should be looking for any errors that mention Disk. If you find a lot of errors related to Disk, then you should backup your data / hard drive to another disk immediately. Here's an example of Disk errors that you are looking for.

Event Type: Error
Event Source: Disk
Event Category: None
Event ID: 7
Date: 2/1/2011
Time: 11:47:35 AM
User: N/A
Computer: Name of your computer
Description:
The device, \Device\Harddisk0\D, has a bad block.

For more information, see Help and Support Center at Microsoft Support.

If you look through your System Log and don't find a lot of these errors, I would look for other software problems.

David
 

atrocity

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I guess the thing I also need to find out is can the main board support modern SSDs?
I don't remember when the change was made from IDE to SATA, but assuming that your current computer connects to drives via SATA, your main board won't care if it's an SSD or spinning rust. And if you still have IDE, I've seen references to the existence of IDE SSDs but have no personal experience or opinion.

If you're thinking of trying an SSD and you're comfortable getting into the guts of the computer, I'll mention that I've converted two different W*nd*ws boxes from traditional HDDs to SSDs using the software Samsung supplies with their SSDs. While all other cloning software I've ever seen has to be booted from a CD or some other media, Samsung allowed me to boot normally after attaching the SSD and fully cloned the boot disk while the computer was up and running. I thought that was impossible, but it worked perfectly both times.
 

furui_suterioo

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I figured the next thing I'd try in the mean time, is look at all the junk set to start on OS start up, and turn off what's not essential. I guess the thing I also need to find out is can the main board support modern SSDs?
I installed a Samsung 500gb ssd in my ancient hp 8440p, which is definitely older than your Dell so I would assume it should work.
 

timbre4

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Lots of good advice above, especially the event viewer to see what’s going on. Task manager she was running and using up your CPU cycles. Maybe some errant program or service is causing your spinning Circles. I have an XPS 8500 from 2012. I’m thinking you meant XPS 8100?
 

Sonik Wiz

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I don't remember when the change was made from IDE to SATA, but assuming that your current computer connects to drives via SATA, your main board won't care if it's an SSD or spinning rust. And if you still have IDE, I've seen references to the existence of IDE SSDs but have no personal experience or opinion.

If you're thinking of trying an SSD and you're comfortable getting into the guts of the computer, I'll mention that I've converted two different W*nd*ws boxes from traditional HDDs to SSDs using the software Samsung supplies with their SSDs. While all other cloning software I've ever seen has to be booted from a CD or some other media, Samsung allowed me to boot normally after attaching the SSD and fully cloned the boot disk while the computer was up and running. I thought that was impossible, but it worked perfectly both times.
Sheesh, my first computer build was on a Gigabyte board with P4 CPU & Win XP. Way bcck then it had SATA. Older MOBO's may not optimize SSD usage the way modern ones do but it will still be an improvement over old HDD. The Pupster says the Dell is about 12 years old. Thats a LOT of mileage on a spinning disc.

I have used Acronis for disc cloning. Like your Samsung software you just clone & switch out.
 

J. PUPSTER

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Lots of good advice above, especially the event viewer to see what’s going on. Task manager she was running and using up your CPU cycles. Maybe some errant program or service is causing your spinning Circles. I have an XPS 8500 from 2012. I’m thinking you meant XPS 8100?
Yes, all excellent advice from everyone, much thanks!

Yes it is an XPS 9100 model.

I've been shutting off startup programs and looked at the System Log Event Viewer suggested by @Hamilton59, the only thing that popped out at me was a Schannel source event error ID 36887 that I tracked back to an McAfee app called Web Advisor that had two events recently (I thought I'd purged all of McAfee off about 2 years ago, but found it in System Programs - now deleted :).) Not seeing anything in the way of Disk errors.

Task Manager at the present time doesn't show much happening at 99% Idle processes. Only time will tell, but yeah would love to go to a much faster SSD.
 

J. PUPSTER

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I agree with the post above - I use the software called Crystal Disk Info to get the SMART data (this is info about the physical condition of the hard drive stored on a chip on the drive itself) to help keep tabs on my drives.


If you run that and post a screenshot of the results here, we can probably diagnose if the drive is going/has started to go bad, or if it's something else.

A lot of the time if old computers are sitting there "thinking" it's because of a lack of RAM rather than a hard drive issue, but it's good to rule the possible causes out one at a time.
You might see if disabling virus checker makes a difference. Or see if it's scanning in the background. Take a look at msconfig> start up & see if anything seems it shouldn't be there. And while your there see if there's any programs starting up that you really don't need.

Great suggestion from the Prof to clone a back up. If your having problems and can't do it yourself you might need to take it to a shop as he said. I clone my C drive a couple of times a year just in case something goes bad I can just switch out. This is what I do anyway when I upgrade or change an SSD/HDD. The only draw back is some apps know the change & you need to re-enter activation codes. I might also suggest you get a big ass xTB drive for data & use an SSD for Windows & apps. Many benefits.

For grins try running a HDD benchmark test such as:


I've used this when needed for years . It's easy, reliable & free. Keep us informed how this all shakes out.

Edit: I see you beat me to in regards to start up.
Does this Crystaldiskinfo actually scan the HDD, I opened the exe and it seems to read out instantly; also says my drive is 7200 thought it was 5,400 rpm?

HDD SCAN.jpg
 
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jimfisheye

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If you keep a clone for a backup volume you can clone back the other way for a restore if you think you got into something "funny". It's a simple solution in that we're not trying to figure out what we did to screw up. We're copying back the known good system bit for bit identical.

If you make a disk image file of your initial system install for a master copy backup in case your backup gets corrupt, you can restore from that.

Tips moving forward if nothing else.

Just shotgunning...
A 5400rpm (slow to begin with) spinner that old?
Swap it out!

A 1TB SSD is only around $100 nowadays. You want SSD for your system drive.
Use 7200rpm spinners for big data archive or NAS.
 

Sonik Wiz

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Does this Crystaldiskinfo actually scan the HDD, I opened the exe and it seems to read out instantly; also says my drive is 7200 thought it was 5,400 rpm?

View attachment 65957
There is various bits of meta-data stored on the HDD's chips to identify things like RPM. The Cystal Disk Marker writes & reads various bits of data to determine how fast your drive is actually going. My suggestion was based on the premise that if something was really bad, it would be really slow or not even able to complete the test. The Crystal Disk Info that I have never used evidently gives a lot of info on the disk operations.
 

steelydave

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Does this Crystaldiskinfo actually scan the HDD, I opened the exe and it seems to read out instantly; also says my drive is 7200 thought it was 5,400 rpm?

View attachment 65957
All your numbers look good - those blue circles at the left will go yellow, or red, if you're in the danger zone. This is an example of a bad drive:

1618344805854.png


The only cause for concern I see is that your "Power On Hours" is approaching 30,000 - the odds of a drive failure usually starts around 50,000 hours and they just increase exponentially from there. Usually when you buy hard drives they have a "MTBF" - 'Mean Time Before Failure' and this is what it's referring to, the number of hours the drive has been powered on.

The last drive I had that started to do so failed around 57,000 hours - I only noticed because it started to make a ticking sound, obviously from the read/write head retrying over and over from when it couldn't accomplish its task.

If/when your computer locks up, I would suggest opening Windows Task Manager/Resource Monitor (either ctrl+alt+delete or right click on the taskbar and pick 'task manager') and try and diagnose the problem from there - it seems to me it would most likely an application or service hogging either your memory or your CPU.

ETA: Regardless of whether the hard drive is healthy or unhealthy, replacing a mechanical HDD with an SSD will drastically improve the speed of an old laptop. I did that with my old circa 2011 HP laptop in about 2016 and I got a further two years of use out of it - it made the laptop feel like it was twice as fast.
 
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Sonik Wiz

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All your numbers look good - those blue circles at the left will go yellow, or red, if you're in the danger zone. This is an example of a bad drive:

View attachment 65958

The only cause for concern I see is that your "Power On Hours" is approaching 30,000 - the odds of a drive failure usually starts around 50,000 hours and they just increase exponentially from there. Usually when you buy hard drives they have a "MTBF" - 'Mean Time Before Failure' and this is what it's referring to, the number of hours the drive has been powered on.

The last drive I had that started to do so failed around 57,000 hours - I only noticed because it started to make a ticking sound, obviously from the read/write head retrying over and over from when it couldn't accomplish its task.

If/when your computer locks up, I would suggest opening Windows Task Manager/Resource Monitor (either ctrl+alt+delete or right click on the taskbar and pick 'task manager') and try and diagnose the problem from there - it seems to me it would most likely an application or service hogging either your memory or your CPU.

ETA: Regardless of whether the hard drive is healthy or unhealthy, replacing a mechanical HDD with an SSD will drastically improve the speed of an old laptop. I did that with my old circa 2011 HP laptop in about 2016 and I got a further two years of use out of it - it made the laptop feel like it was twice as fast.
I have never used the Info app before. Thanks for the tip! I will keep it in my tool box. Since you posted an example of a bad drive I'll post mine for Pupster to compare also:

1618345386190.png


I'll also take this opportunity to suggest that Belarc Advisor is a very handy tool. It does a great analysis of your PC set up... all the little things you can not remember or lost after writing it down:

 

winopener

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I figured the next thing I'd try in the mean time, is look at all the junk set to start on OS start up, and turn off what's not essential. I guess the thing I also need to find out is can the main board support modern SSDs?
No problem with SSD on older machines: when you have a sata port you're set
 
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