Solved Hard drive randomly stopping (HD light goes out - laptop crash)

UPDATE: Uninstalled Avast on the 15th of November and installed Avira, not had a single crash yet which is great!

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I need some advice/help please :)

Ok so this laptop is nearly 8 years old but she's my baby and has lasted too long to let go yet. Recently while using my machine the hard drive has randomly stopped spinning and the hard drive activity light goes out - PC freezes and no BSOD. I have to force restart the machine which takes me to the black screen to boot normally/into safemode.

This has been happening for about 3 months now and mostly every day, sometimes twice a day (seems to be getting worse I think).

I think the problem is related to Firefox and Google Chrome, the PC doesn't seem to crash when running any other programs. For example I'll be on YouTube, I'll pause the video and it may just crash, I click a link in Google search it may crash, I open the Firefox menu and it may crash, but not always. It doesn't seem to crash when left alone running a program or idling away.

Troubleshooting:
I've tried reseating hard drive/ram/clearing all vents (not a heat issue)/defrag.
Reinstalled Firefox and Google Chrome
Checked PC temperatures - no problem here
I have no Vista repair disc and nobody else seems to use Vista anymore to lend me one.

SFC:
Windows Resource Protection found corrupt files but was unable to fix some of them.

CHKDSK:

0 Bad sectors

Apologies for the long post, PC specs below.
2.00 GB RAM - Windows Vista™ Home Premium
Version 6.0.6002 Service Pack 2 Build 6002
Intel(R) Pentium(R) Dual CPU T3200 @ 2.00GHz, 2000 Mhz, 2 Core(s), 2 Logical Processor(s)
 
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virtual6

Vista Pro
What brand/model is your laptop?

It's interesting you were able to run a defrag, a HDD-intensive task.

Do you have a way to back up your system?
There is a thread on this forum under the General Discussion topic where you may be able to request a link to a genuine copy of Vista, which you could use to reinstall the system. This could tell you broadly whether you have a hardware or software problem.
(The size of that thread tells you how many people just don't seem to have recovery discs, or never created discs, can't find them, etc.)
 

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Thanks for replying, I always keep a backup of my files

It's an Advent 5431 model and device manager says the hard drive is Toshiba MK1652GSX ATA, the only upgrade I have ever done to this PC is upgrade from 1GB of ram to 2GB and that was done on the second year of owning the machine.

The defrag never fails and windows search has no problem finding files (I don't store personal files on this machine anyway).

Thanks for suggesting the thread, I actually found that thread after making this one and I now have a copy of Vista, I might be brave enough to do a reinstall but was hoping that was a last resort.
 
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Update:

I ran Auslogics optimize and defrag and let the defrag complete, however I had to cancel the optimization after 40 minutes because I estimated it would take around 7 hours to complete. Followed this with a normal defrag, then a quick defrag to be 100% sure the optimization didn't move too much around while it was running.

This is probably the longest my PC has gone without crashing, I've also disabled UltraMon (taskbar program for each monitor) as that is the only program I can remember installing before the crashes started happening.

In a few days I'm going to enable UltraMon again to see if that makes any difference, looks like my OS was very fragmented.
 
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Update 2:

I've re-worded the above posts to better explain my issue.

I just had 2 crashes within 10 minutes of each other, and had to force restart. The laptop runs perfectly fine for its age and has no other problems except the crashes. I would like to add that these crashes are occuring while using Firefox and Google Chrome and there is no pattern to what causes the crash, but it happens at random when I try to interact with a webpage or the UI of Firefox or Google Chrome.

Update 3:

Crashed again. All 3 crashes were me attempting to browse Facebook which I never use, was just checking messages for the first time in months. Starting to believe this is definitely not a hard drive issue. I'm thinking of using Google Chrome for a week to see if the crashes are more/less frequent and if they are, I'll download Opera to see if that has any crashing problems.

This is a really weird and very annoying problem.
 
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virtual6

Vista Pro
The browser program can use a lot of RAM.
Stressed/bad RAM can certainly cause system to crash.
I think if this were my computer, I would run the Vista built-in memory diagnostic and stress the RAM as much as you can.
We need to determine if this is a hardware or software problem.
You could re-install Vista and basically eliminate software as a cause, but this RAM test is certainly easier to perform right now.

I'm no repair expert, but my advice is free and worth every penny.
 

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I think I've run RAM test before but I'll try again tomorrow and let you know what the results are, I have found someone who has almost the same problem on Vista Business here.

We both experience full-system-freeze using Firefox and Google Chrome.

Thanks
 

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ilikefree

Vista Guru
Gold Member
When you say crashing do you mean the computer freeze's
If so there is a Microsoft article advising to remove the following updates
KB2982791
KB2970228
KB2975719
KB2975331
I have looked at my updates and I though don't even have the listed updates installed, you might.
 

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System One

  • Manufacturer/Model
    Lenovo Thinkpad T400
    CPU
    Intel Mobile Core 2 Duo P8700 @ 2.53GHz
    Motherboard
    LENOVO 64734VM
    Memory
    2.00GB Single-Channel DDR3 @ 531MHz
    Graphics Card(s)
    Intel Mobile Intel 4 Series Express Chipset Family
    Sound Card
    Conexant 20561 SmartAudio HD
    Monitor(s) Displays
    15 inch
    Screen Resolution
    1280 x 800
    Hard Drives
    1x 180GB Intel 530 series SSD
    1 x 120GB Hitachi 5400rmp
    1 x 650GB Western Digital Elements 5400rpm
    1x 1Tb Western Digital Elements 5400rpm
    Internet Speed
    Medium for New Zealand
    Other Info
    Weakest part of my computer is the graphics chipset.
    Only ever used a laptop.
    Also use USB Freeview TV Card
    Lenovo Docking Station
    External Speakers
    Other bits a pieces as needed
Thanks for replying

There are no memory/RAM problems showing. Yes the PC completely freezes and hard drive seems to stop spinning/show no activity.

I couldn't find any of those updates but I do keep the system up to date with all the Windows Updates.

I have been using Google Chrome for about 5 days now and it only crashed the PC 2 times, Firefox usually crashed every day at some point. So I'm wondering what technologies/resources that Firefox uses causing it to crash more often and somehow find out exactly where the issue is, I'm hoping that reinstalling Vista is the VERY last thing I will do and I really don't want to do that yet.

Firefox updated today, so I will try it out again for 1 - 2 days and see what happens then.
 

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ilikefree

Vista Guru
Gold Member
Try Firefox with add-ons disabled see if it is one of them causing it by enabling them a couple at a time.
Do you get freezing when you run Vista in safe mode?
 

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System One

  • Manufacturer/Model
    Lenovo Thinkpad T400
    CPU
    Intel Mobile Core 2 Duo P8700 @ 2.53GHz
    Motherboard
    LENOVO 64734VM
    Memory
    2.00GB Single-Channel DDR3 @ 531MHz
    Graphics Card(s)
    Intel Mobile Intel 4 Series Express Chipset Family
    Sound Card
    Conexant 20561 SmartAudio HD
    Monitor(s) Displays
    15 inch
    Screen Resolution
    1280 x 800
    Hard Drives
    1x 180GB Intel 530 series SSD
    1 x 120GB Hitachi 5400rmp
    1 x 650GB Western Digital Elements 5400rpm
    1x 1Tb Western Digital Elements 5400rpm
    Internet Speed
    Medium for New Zealand
    Other Info
    Weakest part of my computer is the graphics chipset.
    Only ever used a laptop.
    Also use USB Freeview TV Card
    Lenovo Docking Station
    External Speakers
    Other bits a pieces as needed
Update:
After leaving Firefox for over a week and using Google Chrome with (mostly) no problems, I decided to go back to Firefox and haven't had a crash in about 3 days (it needed updating when I opened it).

Google Chrome didn't crash as often as Firefox, but it still crashed sometimes, Google Chrome was crashing on average every 4 - 5 days and Firefox was crashing every day and sometimes more than once a day.

I've had no problems with Firefox after 3 days using it, and Google Chrome seems to be behaving better than it did before.

Update 2:
Crashed twice within 20 mins, I was trying to look at various wikipedia articles and had about 5 tabs open.
 
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Problem could be fixed!

Uninstalled Avast on the 15th of November and installed Avira, not had a single crash yet which is great!

I honestly thought this was a hardware problem, I will update in the coming weeks if it happens again but I don't think it will!

Thanks for your suggestions :)
 

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