I temporarily fixed a computer issue, but I don't understand how or why.
November 1, 2014 7:34 PM   Subscribe

My newish home-built desktop PC stopped sleeping/hibernating and restarting/shutting down in most cases. I recently installed a program that allows it to do these things, but only while the program is running. I'm looking for a permanent fix if possible. Details within.

About 3-4 months ago, a friend built a new PC for me. For the first week or two, sleep/hibernate and restart/shut down worked normally. There were issues with hard drive partitions, but other than that the PC worked fine. Windows Update prompted me to install updates every couple of days, as it does, until I got approximately 50 updates related to Windows 7 Service Pack 1, which is when my problems started:

Within 3-10 minutes of boot, I can put the computer to sleep/hibernate or restart/shutdown without a problem. After that, if I try to sleep or hibernate, my monitor and keyboard turn off (as normal) but the desktop stays powered on and will not sleep; if I try to restart or shutdown, I get the “Shutting Down” screen but it stays on that screen indefinitely and the desktop does not reboot or power off. In either case, I need to hold the Power button on the desktop itself to restart it.

I figured the drive partition problem had something to do with it, so I wiped the drives and started over with a fresh install. Again, everything worked fine until Service Pack 1 installed and I could no longer use sleep/hibernate or restart/shutdown. I have adjusted every conceivable Power Options setting (Wake on LAN, for example), adjusted BIOS settings, updated USB drivers, etc. Nothing worked, except for 2 things:

When I install a new version of AMD Catalyst Control Center and update the drivers for my GPU (AMD Radeon HD 7970), I can usually sleep/hibernate normally and restart or shut down once, but only once. The next time the computer boots up, it's back to the same old problems.

While seeing if I could update the drivers for my monitor (ASUS VH236H), ASUS listed a utility that I thought might let me update drivers. It turned out to be a program named ASUS MultiFrame, which is designed to manage a multiple-monitor system. Here's where it gets strange: I've found that I can sleep/hibernate or restart/shutdown only while ASUS MultiFrame is running. If I exit the program, my problems start again.

Problem solved, right? I mean, why can't I just run this program whenever I need to leave my computer? Or why can't I leave it running 24/7 just in case? I suppose I can, but 1) it makes an annoying browser flash whenever I mouseover the title bar, and 2) I'd like to find out the real cause of my computer issue and fix it permanently.

I'm sorry about the question length but I felt that precision is best in these strange cases. Any answers would be greatly appreciated!
posted by Woodroar to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Is the motherboard an ASUS as well by any chance? Were any actual motherboard drivers (not just USB) updated/installed after the re-install?
posted by quinndexter at 12:15 AM on November 2, 2014

Response by poster: The mobo is an ASRock Z97 Extreme4. I actually had some issues installing their drivers and other software on the first installation. On the re-install, everything went smoothly. They even include a program (ASRock APP Shop) to update drivers, BIOS, etc. which I did maybe a month ago. I checked it now just in case and it says that everything is up to date.

(As an aside, their method of updating BIOS is very modern. Just like any other program, it says there's an update and asks if you want to install it. You click "yes", there's a progress bar in the Windows app, the PC restarts, there's a progress bar in BIOS, the PC restarts again. And voila.)

I should also mention that the monitor driver is just the current "Generic PnP Monitor" driver.
posted by Woodroar at 12:38 AM on November 2, 2014

Best answer: Since the troubles start when SP1 is installed separately, and assuming you have a valid key, you could try grabbing an iso from digital river for your version of Win7 with SP1 integrated, and installing from that. Even if it doesn't cure the issue, it may make narrowing down which update is breaking things easier. Here's a list of direct links to the digital river downloads. You want the 'SP1 Media Refresh' version appropriate for you (ie. product version, language, 32/64 bit).

Another passing thought was a flaky power supply causing the power state issues - less likely, but if it's easy enough for you to do, you could swap that out as well for completeness.
posted by quinndexter at 1:14 AM on November 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I hate to say it, but another re-install at this point isn't worth it from a cost-benefit standpoint. It may fix the problem, but the time needed to re-install (especially bookmarking download URLs, saving program data and migrating that data after installation) would far exceed the time lost over time by restarting the computer. (It boots off an SSD, so startup time is negligible. It's more of an annoyance than anything.) And now that I have the 2-3 second "fix" that guarantees proper sleep and shut down, I'd do that unless I was sure of a permanent fix.

If I do need to re-install, though, I'm absolutely going the Digital River route, if anything to avoid the hundreds of updates needed to get Win7 past SP1.

When I ran this by my friend who built the computer, he also mentioned the power supply as a possibility. It's a Corsair RM850 which normally gets terrific reviews, but of course there's always that chance. It's under warranty and I shouldn't have any issues RMAing it if it shows any other signs of being bad. Something to keep in mind, at least.

(I'm sorry, I don't mean to disregard your suggestions and I do thank you for your help. It's just more work than I'm willing to put into it.)
posted by Woodroar at 1:47 AM on November 2, 2014

This may be of some help:

Run this at an admin command prompt:
powercfg /requests
posted by WillRun4Fun at 1:08 AM on November 2, 2014

No worries, Woodroar - I can certainly see cost/benefit not working out. If WillRun4Fun's tip doesn't reveal anything of interest, I'd just suggest putting a shortcut to ASUS MultiFrame in the Startup folder (or being a monitor utility, it probably has a setting to run at startup), and hiding it from the notification tray so you never have to think of it again.
posted by quinndexter at 1:23 AM on November 2, 2014

Response by poster: I didn't mention it earlier, but checking powercfg /requests was one of the things I'd tried and unfortunately it never shows anything. I've also tried command line sleep, hibernate, etc. and nothing. I'm generally good at tech-support-by-Googling—I worked in TS for a major cell phone provider for years and fixed most outside-the-box random issues thanks to Google—but this one just has me stumped.

Oh well. I figure I'll leave this open for a few days in case anyone else has any bright ideas. And if not, just rely on ASUS MultiFrame when I need it. Thanks again!
posted by Woodroar at 1:37 AM on November 2, 2014

Best answer: I would look to your GPU and the older monitor. I've got an ASUS HD 7770-2GD5 on an ASUS Z87 MB in my self-built rig and it has caused me no end of similar sleep/hibernation/no display issues in my Windows 8.1 partition with an old monitor. Busted out an even older backup monitor, which was slightly better for some reason and then one automatic update seemed to make everything peachy keen. Until some other automatic update borked that for a bit.

Currently seems to be solved with the latest update, but who knows in the future. Santa has me down for a new modern monitor for Christmas which I am hoping eliminates this little on/off problem completely. (I should really go back to manual updating, but peeling a rambunctious toddler off the walls while pregnant means I am horribly distracted, so it stays for now...) But it's been enough of a pain in the ass that I still haven't gotten around to installing Ubuntu and Mint on another two partitions almost a year later because the idea of having to mess with this shit all over again with spotty *nix driver support...yeah, not right now.

Maybe try taking out your video card, disable/uninstall any related drivers programs and see if just using your MB's onboard graphics allows you to sleep/hibernate normally.

Also FYI one of the ASUS programs totally overrides whatever Windows power settings are - I think it's AI Suite. Dunno if you have that installed, but I was ripping out my hair trying to figure out why my personalized settings would reset every time I rebooted.
posted by romakimmy at 6:10 AM on November 2, 2014

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