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Author Topic: can a file or folder structure make a pc crash at random?  (Read 5739 times)

nudone

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can a file or folder structure make a pc crash at random?
« on: January 13, 2007, 03:48:02 PM »
i'm experiencing weird hard drive problems at the moment.

i was convinced that a particular hard drive was on it's way out and making my system lock up or reboot - but the SMART readings for this particular drive indicate it's perfectly healthy.

so, all i can see that might be wrong with the drive is the data that is on it. there's about 150 gig used on the drive and i'm slowly removing what i can from it just in case the drive does die.

therefore, my question is: am i talking rubbish - can something on this drive make my machine lock up or reboot when it feels like it - just data. i'm not running programs from it. the problem only occurs when the drive is being accessed in some way but it's not consistent and i can't see a pattern to it all.

i've spent today reinstalling windows xp and updating all the drivers - i've not really installed any of the programs i'd normally have on the machine. i was expecting this to cure the problem but the machine rebooted itself when i was transferring data from the dodgy(?) drive to a dvd - the machine rebooted as the data on the disk was about to be verified.

i'm prepared to throw the drive out the window if it's dying - how reliable is this SMART stuff?

heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeelp!

mouser

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Re: can a file or folder structure make a pc crash at random?
« Reply #1 on: January 13, 2007, 04:09:51 PM »
it's not that you have data on your hd that is evil and is causing the blue screen, BUT:

1) hardware problems (like with memory chips) can cause these kinds of crazy behaviors.
2) if it's always the same file - then it could be something like an antivirus bug trying to scan a file.
3) it could always be the vd burning software if it only happens with that.

I have learned to take very seriously the possibility of hardware errors when encountering hard-to-pin-down reboots like this.  It's one of the reasons that it's becoming more and more useful to have a 2nd pc around to test stuff and move hds, etc.  Condsider getting yourself a cheap secondary pc if you don't have one yet.

nudone

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Re: can a file or folder structure make a pc crash at random?
« Reply #2 on: January 13, 2007, 04:39:01 PM »
good point. i have other older machines but they don't have sata drive capabilities - maybe i could just get a sata pci card thing.

first, i'll remove all the data, then format the drive and then start again with it. first sign of it playing up and i'll scrap it.

the drive seems to behave perfectly until i start transferring data to or from it. well, that is what i first thought but it really doesn't do it consistently so i can't spot which file could be the problem - it's always something slightly different. no anti virus software is on the machine either - not since i've reinstalled windows today.

i'll leave it until tomorrow and then just carry on removing stuff from it.

jgpaiva

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Re: can a file or folder structure make a pc crash at random?
« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2007, 05:43:26 PM »
I've had a similar problem, only that the computer wouldn't reboot. But explorer would crash when i opened some folders. I never got to understand exactly what it was, but i suspect it was codec-related, since it happened mostly in folders with movie files. I don't exactly remember how it disappeared but i think it was with a codec update.

f0dder

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Re: can a file or folder structure make a pc crash at random?
« Reply #4 on: January 13, 2007, 06:59:40 PM »
NTFS can get slightly corrupted, which can sometimes be enough to cause random freezes or just plain weird behaviour. It's usually fixed by a "chkdsk /f x:", which might require a reboot (ie, for system and paging file partitions). Dunno when/why this happens and why it's not auto-fixed...

Never lost data anyway, thanks to the journaling. (Well, except when playing with drivers and being very reckless, or when having hardware trouble :) ).
- carpe noctem

cranioscopical

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Re: can a file or folder structure make a pc crash at random?
« Reply #5 on: January 13, 2007, 08:16:38 PM »
FWIW here's another weird one.  (XP Pro, SP2, NTFS)

I have 4 on-board HDs in one of my machines:
One drive is for sytem files
One drive has applications only on it
Two drives are for various data and a few key applications.

A week or so ago the drive with only applications on it 'died' and took down the machine.  On reboot I couldn't find that drive anywhere, not in Computer Management/Storage, not even using the drive manufacturer's utility from a bootable floppy.  The rest of the system ran fine without that drive, except there was no longer any network access from this machine.  No problems with cabling, power supply, nothing of that kind.

I decided to fix the network issue first and, as a first step, used Device Manager to delete the network adapters.  A reboot found the network hardware and installed drivers for it.  Voila, the network was back (they should all be so easy).

HOWEVER the missing drive was also back.  A couple of days later I needed to reboot the system for something or other.  The system came back up with same drive missing, and network access vanished again.  Being a firm believer in trying what worked last time I deleted the network adapters and rebooted again -- and back came the network AND SO DID THE DRIVE.

I have to admit that, if anyone else reported this, my first reaction would be that they're mistaken...or nuts.  So, until I can figure this out I'm living in the Twilight Zone.

nudone

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Re: can a file or folder structure make a pc crash at random?
« Reply #6 on: January 14, 2007, 02:40:09 AM »
f0dder, what you describe sounds very likely to me. on one of the reboots the machine started to scan the drive and found lots of bad data - i can only describe it as that as it took several minutes and several screens to finish the clear up task. it has only done this once, my manual scans of the drive either find nothing wrong or have made the machine crash, nothing is ever consistent. so formatting the drive sounds like the best thing to do to me.

cranioscopical, i used to say computers couldn't behave in weird ways but i've 'fixed' too many friends (and friends of friends, etc) machines to think that computers behave in a logical way. you may as well be a shaman of the pc when it comes to pc repair from what i've experienced.

nudone

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Re: can a file or folder structure make a pc crash at random?
« Reply #7 on: January 14, 2007, 06:01:43 AM »
i can now report that running a full scan on the naughty drive (chkdsk /r) will consistently cause my machine to reboot during the scan. SMART still informs me that there is absolutely nothing physically wrong with the drive. other scans on other drives perform perfectly as expected.

i'm now going to run a full scan on an identical hard drive to the problem one - i just need to plug it in first.

nudone

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Re: can a file or folder structure make a pc crash at random?
« Reply #8 on: January 14, 2007, 07:57:03 AM »
the other drive that is exactly the same model did the full scan without any errors. so it looks like it really is the bad drive that is at fault. i was beginning to think it was something else.

it still seems very odd behaviour that the drive causes a reboot when scanning.

f0dder

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Re: can a file or folder structure make a pc crash at random?
« Reply #9 on: January 14, 2007, 08:53:23 AM »
Hm, you only really need /R if you suspect the drive has bad sectors - otherwise /F is enough. But either causing reboots? Creepy!

Usually /F just needs to fix a few minor things, perhaps delete some excess indexes, it's pretty rare I've seen anything beyond that :(. You really should do a "chkdsk /f" on your drives after a BSOD, spontaneous reboot, lock-up requiring you to hard power-off, etc... that way you'll keep problems from creeping up on you.
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nudone

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Re: can a file or folder structure make a pc crash at random?
« Reply #10 on: January 14, 2007, 12:19:04 PM »
the drive will happily get through chkdsk /f but trying the /r switch causes it to lock up during 'stage 4' - something to do with verifying file data, it says.

to be precise it stalls at 0% during this stage, bluescreens, then reboots. if the drive is scanned during the boot process then it also halts at 0%.

i thought the drive might be overheating or maybe it just couldn't sustain a constant period of access/activity, but i successfully transferred a 50 gig DV file off of it that took 1 hour to complete - no trouble at all.

i'm going to format it in a minute and see what happens after that.

f0dder

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Re: can a file or folder structure make a pc crash at random?
« Reply #11 on: January 14, 2007, 12:27:28 PM »
The "verifying file data" means going through each sector of the drive, afaik trying to read from it. If you format the drive, be sure to do a "full format" - see if it locks up during that, too.
- carpe noctem

nudone

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Re: can a file or folder structure make a pc crash at random?
« Reply #12 on: January 14, 2007, 12:41:58 PM »
The "verifying file data" means going through each sector of the drive, afaik trying to read from it. If you format the drive, be sure to do a "full format" - see if it locks up during that, too.


will do.  :Thmbsup:

nudone

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Re: can a file or folder structure make a pc crash at random?
« Reply #13 on: January 14, 2007, 04:24:46 PM »
hard drive now formatted and scanned again (/r switch) with no problems.

i hope this has cured it but i am now almost dreading putting any data onto the drive as i can imagine it acting up again. time will tell.

f0dder

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Re: can a file or folder structure make a pc crash at random?
« Reply #14 on: January 14, 2007, 04:26:30 PM »
Give it a thorough test with the drive-manufacturer's management tool and see what comes up - and watch the S.M.A.R.T data before and afterwards.
- carpe noctem

cranioscopical

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Re: can a file or folder structure make a pc crash at random?
« Reply #15 on: January 14, 2007, 04:35:16 PM »
Quote
nudone: i hope this has cured it but i am now almost dreading putting any data onto the drive
Well, good luck.  I hope your troubles are over!

nudone

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Re: can a file or folder structure make a pc crash at random?
« Reply #16 on: January 15, 2007, 03:10:34 AM »
f0dder, good idea about using the manufacturer's tool - i'll go and find it now.

and thanks, cranioscopical.

nudone

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Re: can a file or folder structure make a pc crash at random?
« Reply #17 on: January 15, 2007, 08:18:59 AM »
just to keep the sorry saga going...

i did a full format on the drive using the format command in windows - didn't use the command prompt as i thought it would be just the same as using the properties panel, etc. you can get to with windows explorer.

anyway, after this full format i thought everything was okay as the scan i did afterwards completed without a problem.

copying the data back onto the drive from a backup dvd caused the machine to reboot. oh dear.

so, i formatted the drive again using partition magic - from the diagram that partition magic displays it's clear that it formats the drive in a different way to what the operating system does. i've now copied back the data from the backup dvd and restored several other folders/files that were originally on the bad drive. it appears to be working fine now.

the different formatting procedure looks like it did the trick (for the moment, at least).

i haven't been able to test the drive with the manufactures drive util as it doesn't recognise the drive when i use it. this is kind of weird because i used the very same util a few months ago when i had an identical model hard drive start to die - the util worked as expected.

f0dder

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Re: can a file or folder structure make a pc crash at random?
« Reply #18 on: January 15, 2007, 09:15:09 AM »
Manufacturer tools can be pretty picky about where the drive is connected - being part of a RAID is usually no-go, sometimes those "extra IDE ports" can be problematic, and I dunno even what the siutation is with SATA support >_<
- carpe noctem

nudone

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Re: can a file or folder structure make a pc crash at random?
« Reply #19 on: January 19, 2007, 02:27:11 AM »
seems the problem hasn't gone away. the machine still reboots itself when this bad drive is accessed - still no pattern to the behaviour.

going to take the drive out and hit it with a big hammer later. if that doesn't cure the problem i'll take the big hammer to the rest of the machine.

f0dder

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Re: can a file or folder structure make a pc crash at random?
« Reply #20 on: January 19, 2007, 03:37:43 AM »
Which brand is the drive?

You might at least be able to get it RMA'ed...
- carpe noctem

nudone

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Re: can a file or folder structure make a pc crash at random?
« Reply #21 on: January 19, 2007, 04:13:06 AM »
it's a samsung, just over 12 months old. i had to replace an exact same model drive a few months ago, that drive was only 6 months old (it's discussed somewhere on the forum).

the drive that i've already replaced did show overheating using SMART so there wasn't any problem getting it replaced (it only took 48 to send and get a new drive sent out to me which i thought impressive).

this current faulty drive doesn't show any SMART faults and without getting the manufacturers drive util to test it further i'm not going to have much chance getting it replaced (i shall try again later to get the drive util thing to work on the drive).

could the problem i've been having with this drive be related to other parts of the machine? the problem definitely only occurs when accessing this drive (i've 4 drives in the machine 2 of which are in raid 0), could the problem be due to RAM or simply because of the data on the drive.

i've defragged the drive - no problem, done a virus scan - no problem, copied data to and from the drive - sometimes a problem sometimes not. formatted it twice, oh dear, there's just no point going on with this thing.

if the drive is at fault then i'm definitely not buying samsung again - and i wouldn't want it replaced with yet another samsung.

the computer 'appears' to work perfectly well - excep for things related to this drive.

to be honest, i'm not too concerned about the drive being faulty - i'm more worried that the symptom indicates there is something else wrong with the machine. i don't want to have to start swapping out ram or the motherboard - things i've nothing to compare with anyway.

f0dder, thanks for still showing an interest.

f0dder

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Re: can a file or folder structure make a pc crash at random?
« Reply #22 on: January 19, 2007, 04:17:18 AM »
Hmm.

I'd try moving the drive to another controller, and see if the problems still show up. Also, I'd try putting another drive on the controller your "faulty drive" is on - better be a spare drive though; even if I think it's unlikely that a flaky controller could damage a drive, you don't want to take any chances.
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nudone

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Re: can a file or folder structure make a pc crash at random?
« Reply #23 on: January 19, 2007, 04:30:41 AM »
i'd thought about the controller idea - i don't have a none crucial sata drive i can test it with. at the moment all the important stuff that was on the faulty drive has been moved to the other (identical model) 250 gig drive. i'm going to have to start backing everything up to dvd - hate to think how long that's going to take, but it's got to be done. damn.