Computer slow and messed up after power failure
October 3, 2012 2:47 PM   Subscribe

I am tired of this damn computer and its numerous problems. Before this, I've had to replace newly bought RAM and a new HDD, a motherboard and oh so much more. Anyway, moving on. After a power outage I had while running my computer, it has never been the same.

First off, starting up it is relatively normal, however the problems begin when I actually log in. Everything takes a few minutes to start up, this NEVER use to happen, and Rainmeter and Firefox would starts seconds after starting up.

I had a previous problem where no programs would start at all due to ram, and I almost thought I had this issue again since nothing was loading for a while.

My 2TB HDD is now running very slow, it takes much longer to navigate through files, often freezing windows explorer when I try to simply open a folder. I would understand if all of these folders were huge, but many of them are small, and as before I used to be able to open them up in a millisecond.

I did chkdsk /r, chkdsk /f, I used HDTune to check if all my drives were in good health -- they are, I even used a western digital diagnostic tool, all of the drives passed.

Certain programs barely work at all now, like VLC video player, which now won't even open video files or play them without glitches.

My often used Steam gaming application has had new issues, which only started after the power outage.

A lot of other small problems have been happening since the power outage too, and they are getting increasingly annoying.

So I'm wondering, any suggestions? I am running Windows 7 64 bit and my specs can be found below. Please read everything above.

ASUS Black Blu-ray Drive SATA Model BC-12B1ST/BLK/B/AS - OEM

XFX HD-697A-CNFC Radeon HD 6970 2GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.1 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card with Eyefinity

COOLER MASTER HAF 932 Advanced Blue Edition RC-932-KKN3-GP ATX Full Tower Computer Case with USB 3.0, Black Interior and ...

Intel Core i7-2600K Sandy Bridge 3.4GHz (3.8GHz Turbo Boost) LGA 1155 95W Quad-Core Desktop Processor BX80623I72600K

CORSAIR Enthusiast Series TX750 V2 750W ATX12V v2.31/ EPS12V v2.92 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Active PFC High Performance Power ...

Intel 320 Series SSDSA2CW080G310 2.5" 80GB SATA II MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) - OEM

Western Digital Caviar Black WD1002FAEX 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive

ASUS P8Z68-V PRO LGA 1155 Intel Z68 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard with UEFI BIOS

Crosair RAM
posted by johnx to Computers & Internet (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Since this happened following a power failure, I'd take a close look at your power supply. It's possible it was damaged but not enough to fail completely.
posted by tommasz at 2:54 PM on October 3, 2012

Power supply was my first thought as well. See if you can swap it out for another just to test. It's very possible that it's running at reduced power since the surge.
posted by Verdandi at 2:57 PM on October 3, 2012

I am also getting the occasional I/O device error. But my drives checked out okay, any help?
posted by johnx at 3:16 PM on October 3, 2012

The errors are getting annoying, i/o device error downloading torrents and vlc cannot read file.
posted by johnx at 3:26 PM on October 3, 2012

Seconding the Power Supply, as suggested.

Are you booting from that SSD? If so, you shouldn't have to use the word "minute" when referring to bootup.

Check out Soluto to figure out what's taking so long at current boot-up. Defrag your hard drive. Update your graphics-card drivers to the latest. Sweep for malware and spyware.
posted by Sunburnt at 3:30 PM on October 3, 2012

Don't defrag your SSD, that's a wasted effort and generally bad for the drive.
posted by iamabot at 3:35 PM on October 3, 2012 [2 favorites]

A power supply isn't going to cause "slowness". If it was locking hard or rebooting, I'd lean in that direction.

In order of probability:

1- Virus/malware/tons of start up programs. There is one virus (or malware?) out in the wild that puts up errors that mimic hardware failures. People always confuse it for the computer telling them they have bad hard drives. Especially considering you dabble in the torrent world. Like napster of days past, this is a HUGE vector for unwanted executables.

1.5- Perversely, you could have a virus checking program that has gone haywire. Use Microsoft Security Essentials. The rest are crap. But for sure don't use two at the same time. That's a recipe for disaster.

2- Bad memory. Run memtest86+. Any failures are almost guaranteed to be bad ram.

3- The hard drive(s) are going bad, but haven't triggered any warnings yet. Load up a linux live dvd and run smartctl -a on the drives and see if you have any reallocated sectors. Anything but zero means the HDD is going bad and needs to be replaced and restored from backup. Have you run both the Western Digital short and long tests? I've seen drives pass a long but fail a short.

4- Bad motherboard. Look for bulging capacitors.

If you're sure the trouble began after the power outage, then I'd lean towards the ram or the board being bad. There can be some pretty ugly spikes in AC power when things get restored, and they can creep into components and blow out things that are weak.

And get a proper UPS (like an APC SmartUPS, not a BackUPS). They aren't that expensive, and they really do work to protect equipment from yucky power. Don't depend on surge protectors unless you replace them after every power event. They wear out, and when that happens, all protection goes out the window.

Also, Firefox has also been sucking for me lately too. Don't use it as a reliable indicator of computer misbehavior.
posted by gjc at 5:02 PM on October 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

If my RAM really is the problem, this REALLY sucks, since I literally just replaced bad RAM not a couple of months ago.

I scanned for viruses no issues detected.
posted by johnx at 5:26 PM on October 3, 2012

Don't defrag your SSD, that's a wasted effort and generally bad for the drive.

The general slowness seems to me like you've just got a bunch of crap running in the background that you don't need. These things won't necessarily be picked up by an antivirus scan. Start up your computer in safe mode and see if you still experience the same sluggishness. If you do, then it's likely a hardware problem. If you don't, then it's probably software.

Can you move your non-replaceable files to the HD and do a clean sweep of your SSD and reinstall Windows? (Uninstall any programs that are installed to a drive other than the SSD, too.)
posted by clorox at 7:46 PM on October 3, 2012

What did you scan your computer with, and when was the last definitions update?

RAM could be the problem - but not a "bad RAM" problem. If you're comfortable, check your BIOS for your RAM settings. Sometimes the autodetect doesn't work great with all brands of RAM.

In Win7, right click MyComputer -> properties to see if your OS is seeing the same amount of RAM that you know if in your box.

Left field - check your page file; make sure it isn't on your SSD and that it's static (same minimum/maximum size).
posted by porpoise at 8:29 PM on October 3, 2012

Previously. One plausible scenario that ends up where you are now is that the power outage caused some data corruption on the hard drive, manifesting as uncorrectable read errors; Windows reacted to those by dialling back DMA speeds on each retry until it hit rock bottom at programmed I/O; the uncorrectable read errors were subsequently fixed* but Windows is still stuck with using PIO on that drive. Using Device Manager to delete the affected IDE channel and letting Windows reinstall it should restore DMA at the highest available speed.

*When the underlying cause of an uncorrectable read error is a burst of written noise caused by dying power, as opposed to physical media damage, rewriting the affected sector will often make the error go away completely without even requiring that sector to be reallocated. After this has happened, the only trace the drive's SMART information would show of this would be an error log entry for the original read error.
posted by flabdablet at 12:15 AM on October 4, 2012

Ok I ran the western digital diagnostic tool extended test and the 2TB drive failed, I haven't had time to check my SSD (operating system) or my other 1TB yet with this tool, hopefully they aren't also done for.

I've started backing up everything from the 2TB drive to the 1TB drive in the meantime, I'm also going to try the things suggested above.
posted by johnx at 7:59 AM on October 4, 2012

Does that WD diagnostic tell you exactly what failed? Because if it's just that the drive now has a handful of bad sectors, that's absolutely repairable (just rewrite the affected sectors, then use CHKDSK to fix any ensuing filesystem problems) and not a cause for panicky drive replacement.

If sectors fail without the drive ever having experienced a power outage, and/or there are more than several tens of bad or reallocated sectors, then replacing the drive would be the right thing because the most likely cause is physical media failure and this is often progressive; but a small number of reallocation events is to be expected over the life of most drives and isn't anything to worry much about.

Backing up is of course a good idea anyway.
posted by flabdablet at 8:23 AM on October 4, 2012

Hmm, I suppose I did imply, by association, that you should defrag your boot drive, but no, I just meant the hard drive, the spinny one for which defragmenting makes sense. I was referring to the 2TB drive that is "running very slow."
posted by Sunburnt at 8:33 AM on October 4, 2012

Do you have a surge protector? Battery backup UPS? It's possible an undervoltage condition messed up your power supply, or an undervoltage passed through your power supply and messed up your motherboard somehow. Power is finicky. These things arent that expensive.

I'd first try a different / new power supply and see if that fixes anything. You seem to be having problems all over the place though, so motherboard would be my next guess.
posted by dobi at 10:58 AM on October 4, 2012

>I did chkdsk /r, chkdsk /f, I used HDTune to check if all my drives were in good health -- they are

No application can tell you if your hard drive is dying 100% of the time. I've had some luck with this, but at the end of the day its a crapshoot. HDTune doesn't do much. It reads smart errors. Does a scan. Big deal. There might not be anything usable in smart for you. Heck, if we could accurately predict HD death, it would revolutionize the industry. Instead we use RAID, backups, and hope for the best.

I think at this point you can only do things via the process of elimination. Wipe your PC and install Windows from scratch. See what starts breaking again. My guess is that 2TB drive is dying or maybe the controller on the MB. Unfortunately, power outages go hand in hand with power surges.
posted by damn dirty ape at 12:23 PM on October 4, 2012

Another possibility: the power hit caused your bios to reset to the safest settings. Your CPU, Memory, and disk interfaces may be running too slow.
posted by Good Brain at 8:27 AM on October 5, 2012

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