Windows 7 freezing - Firefox, Flash, Nvidia
June 4, 2010 7:13 AM   Subscribe

How can I troubleshoot computer freezes in Windows 7? Possibly Flash and Nvidia causing problems.

I've got a pretty new HP Windows 7 64 rig. I've been having trouble with it freezing up. Specifically Firefox since that is what I use for my everyday browser, but IE and Chrome will freeze as well.

I thought for sure it was because of Flash and or my Nvidia drivers. Today I installed FlashBlock addon in Firefox and it still crashed. I can not duplicate the freeze, meaning I can't simply just revisit the last page I started to load and have it do it again.

I don't get any error messages when this happens. Only a frozen screen. I can drag and click my mouse around the screen for about 10 clicks then it too stops in place. Only solution is to hold the power button down and reboot (why don't they make reset buttons anymore?)

Anyway, do you think the event viewer has a record of what happened the second before the freeze? Is there anyway to get the computer to dump that into a .txt file for viewing?

Thanks! This one has this computer guy stumped.
posted by Jackie_Treehorn to Computers & Internet (12 answers total)
Real question? Pretty sure it does not.
posted by Jackie_Treehorn at 7:24 AM on June 4, 2010

How long has this been happening? Reason I ask is because the few days I have been dealing with the same symptoms (on Windows XP). Poking around the system log in the event viewer lead me to believe it may be related to my Nvidia drivers as well. Wondering if this is a coincidence or if there is some recent software update that is causing this.
posted by tommccabe at 7:33 AM on June 4, 2010

Personally, I doubt that's the cause. Your three main culprits in random freezes are normally a bad stick of RAM, a flaky HDD, or rampant malware. I would recommend you attempt to run simple freeware hardware diagnostics on your machine and see if they report anything. If nothing is reported, the fastest resolution would be a malware scan via Malwarebytes. If nothing is found there, it's time for an OS reinstall, but this sounds like hardware. Windows 7 is usually pretty graceful with handling individual application crashes.

Anecdotally, I've been running Minefield (the nightly builds of Firefox) and the Chrome Developer channel with overridden addons/plugins running ever since I started using Win7 betas months ago, which causes all manner of crashes within the applications but has yet to affect Windows as a whole. This is probably about as volatile a browsing experience as you can get, so I don't think your problems are going to be tracked back to browsing specifically unless you've caught some malware out there. In addition, I would say it's likely not the nVidia drivers causing that issue either (again, anything's possible!) because 7 is also pretty handy at recovering from video driver crashes--the screen will blank out, then come back a few seconds later telling you the video subsystem's been restarted.

To summarize, it sounds like bad new hardware rearing its head. Probably RAM or the HDD. Run a diagnostic of some kind.
posted by Phyltre at 7:41 AM on June 4, 2010

I have that symptom just about every day with 64 bit Windows 7. On my laptop, it's McAfee. When McAfee updates it locks my system for 1-4 minutes. I do get control back by waiting out the McAfee update. Other people in the office with Win 7 don't have the problem, and I've given up trying to solve it. I look at it as a forced mental break every day.
posted by COD at 7:55 AM on June 4, 2010

See Testing for Hardware Problems Using Hardware Diagnostic Tools in Windows Vista. Especially the section about testing from the Recovery Partition without Windows. HP sounds like Dell, there's a normally hidden partition full of diagnostic tests that you can access by pressing a function key during boot. See if it has a loop tests option and let it run for a night or such.
posted by zengargoyle at 9:01 AM on June 4, 2010

You said the machine is "pretty new" and the failure happens randomly, regardless of browser running so I'm betting hardware. It might have bad RAM or something might have been unseated during shipping.
posted by chairface at 4:39 PM on June 4, 2010

Yeah ... I get that too ... it isn't hardware on my PC (I have checked it) ... but, for me, if I leave the computer alone for 5 minutes it will generally come good.

I got a dell xps m1330 with NVidia graphics, and win 7.

One thing that made it better was turning off 3d settings in the nvidia control panel (adjust for performance).

Another thing that made it better was reinstalling Win 7.
posted by jannw at 5:05 AM on June 5, 2010

As an update for those following. I've run HP's diagnostics at boot. Hard disks passed and so does the memory. Tonight I'm going to run memtest86+ for an extended memory test.

Today I found a newer version of my GTX 260 NVIDIA driver on their website, so I've downloaded and installed it. We'll see how that goes.

I'm still of the opinion that the problem lies not with the hardware, but rather with flash and/or NVIDIA. The freeze only appears when running a browser (any browser) and I'm pretty sure it only happens when visiting a page with flash on it. The only problem is that I can not reproduce the problem. It happens when it happens. Now I think the only thing in common at this point is the hardware, which I believe to be ok, flash and my NVIDIA driver.

I will update. Stay tuned.
posted by Jackie_Treehorn at 10:46 AM on June 7, 2010

Memtest86+ ran....

All night long (all night), All night (all night)
All night long (all night), All night (all night)
All night long (all night), All night (all night)
All night long! (all night), Ooh, yeah (all night)

with no errors reported at all.

As mentioned in my previous post, I'll be testing the new Nvidia driver. So far, so good.
posted by Jackie_Treehorn at 4:48 AM on June 8, 2010

as a small update ... since my post I downloaded the most recent Nvidia driver direct from nvidia (not dell) ... and there has been an improvement.
posted by jannw at 3:03 AM on June 9, 2010

Had one freeze yesterday. Less than I had been having, but still something is wrong.

FYI, in reading back at the replies, someone suggested reinstalling Windows 7. I had done that already, 3 times in fact.
posted by Jackie_Treehorn at 4:40 AM on June 10, 2010

Hi There ... I was in the same boat as you and I am back to comment.

Ok ... I think I have fixed it on my PC. (Fingers crossed)

Seems it was the temperature of the laptop CPU and especially the GPU temperature.

I was running the following software:
and good old task manager.

and waiting for it to sow down. Whenever it did the temperatures were being reported as real high ... especially the GPU temp.

So ... I upgraded the bios, set my internal fans on high when the temp was getting high (through the first utility above) and it seems OK now

I also set up an externally powered cooling pad (not USB powered as running power over USB creates heat at the connector on the motherboard) ... and have now set my fans back to normal ... and it is all looking OK.


posted by jannw at 6:12 AM on July 6, 2010

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