Forum Thread

Blue screen of death/hard drive failing?

slickness123 1,679 1,322 January 1, 2012 at 05:13 PM
I think the hard drive of my 7 year old desktop is starting to fail. I get the blue screen of death about once a day and am forced to reboot. If I format the hard drive, will this fix it? Or is there a simpler solution? Or do I need to replace the entire hard drive? If I do replace the hard drive, will the computer work like new? Would you recommend removing the dust from inside the tower? Also I lost my Windows XP recovery disc, so what should I do about that? Or should I just forget all this and buy a whole new desktop tower? Thanks!

19 Comments

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#2
Have you run chkdsk on the drive?
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/315265
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#3
BSOD's are caused by hardware or software, but it's not very common to get one from a hard drive going bad.
Your hard drive has to be worn out to a certain extent and nothing you can do will bring it back, but there is a chance that reinstalling your OS could stop the BSOD's and that would be the logical and easy place to start, if it weren't for you no longer having the recovery disc.
That being the case, you could go through all the hardware possibilities, removing internal peripherals, cleaning the contacts, and reinstalling, be it a GPU, sound card, Ethernet card, ram, and all other connectors.
I doubt that you'll resolve it this way but it is free and not difficult to do and it's the only option you have until you have an OS installation disc at your disposal.
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#4
buy a new machine. its a good excuse
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#5
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#6
Quote from RockySosua View Post :
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#7
Along with doing a chkdsk c: /f from the command prompt, go to eventvwr from the Run line and check the System logs to see if there are any events that may point to what may be causing the blue screen at the approximate time it occurs. This might help narrow your focus.
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#8
Iagree or you can also just right click on "my computer" then click manage/system tools/ event viewer
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#9
Quote from RockySosua View Post :
BSOD's are caused by hardware or software
BSOD is caused by a hardware failure or a driver problem (software that directly interfaces with hardware). Software shouldn't cause a BSOD unless it is connected, somehow, to the function of hardware. For instance, a BSOD may occur with a specific video game, but it's more than likely caused by a faulty video card driver, or trying to copy data to a USB drive may cause a BSOD because the USB drive is broken.

Quote from RockySosua View Post :
but it's not very common to get one from a hard drive going bad.
I recently replaced a desktop in my office that was getting BSODs from a hard drive that was failing intermittently.

Quote from RockySosua View Post :
Your hard drive has to be worn out to a certain extent and nothing you can do will bring it back
HDD wear isn't the only issue that causes an HDD to fail. Corrupt sectors can also cause a failure. You can run the manufacturer's tools on the HDD and possibly skip over the corrupt sectors. However, it's best to replace any HDD that has such an error.

Quote from RockySosua View Post :
but there is a chance that reinstalling your OS could stop the BSOD's and that would be the logical and easy place to start, if it weren't for you no longer having the recovery disc.
That being the case, you could go through all the hardware possibilities, removing internal peripherals, cleaning the contacts, and reinstalling, be it a GPU, sound card, Ethernet card, ram, and all other connectors.
I doubt that you'll resolve it this way but it is free and not difficult to do and it's the only option you have until you have an OS installation disc at your disposal.
Or, OP can analyze a dump and the event logs to see what's happening immediately before failure.
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Last edited by kakomu January 2, 2012 at 10:04 AM
#10
Quote from kakomu View Post :
BSOD is caused by a hardware failure or a driver problem (software that directly interfaces with hardware). Software shouldn't cause a BSOD unless it is connected, somehow, to the function of hardware. For instance, a BSOD may occur with a specific video game, but it's more than likely caused by a faulty video card driver, or trying to copy data to a USB drive may cause a BSOD because the USB drive is broken.

.
For starters, a driver is software, as is an operating system and a damaged corrupt OS can cause BSOD's.
Software is always connected to hardware, as it takes a processor, ram and a hard drive, etc, to operate it.
Some software can simply be highly incompatible with a given machine and it can cause a BSOD.

When I told the OP that a BSOD can be caused by hardware or software, it was in case he didn't know that. I presumed that he knew that hardware is the physical material stuff that his computer is built of, and that software is everything else.
Somehow, you have developed an interpretation that some software is not software, such as drivers and maybe some other things, but that would be incorrect.
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#11
Quote from kakomu View Post :

I recently replaced a desktop in my office that was getting BSODs from a hard drive that was failing intermittently.
As I mentioned, it is not common, but not impossible either.


Quote from kakomu View Post :
HDD wear isn't the only issue that causes an HDD to fail. Corrupt sectors can also cause a failure. You can run the manufacturer's tools on the HDD and possibly skip over the corrupt sectors. However, it's best to replace any HDD that has such an error.
Explaining to him that hard drives wear was not an insinuation that it caused BSOD's.
You're reading a bit too much in between the lines, that simply isn't there.


Quote from kakomu View Post :
Or, OP can analyze a dump and the event logs to see what's happening immediately before failure.
Some folks don't have the knowledge to do so, which is why they are posting here for help.
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#12
Don't run Windows on it now because an unstable machine can write junk to the hard drive. I'd run some self-booting diagnostics (Ultimate Boot CD has several), like MemTest86/MemTest86+, Seagate SeaTools, Western Digital Data Lifeguard Tools (both of the latter can do generic tests on any brands of hard disks), and MHDD. If the hard disk shows problems, test it in a known good machine because an unstable computer (or unstable Windows installation) can cause disk trouble. I'd prefer to clone the drive.

Have you looked inside the computer? A little dust won't hurt, unless you have a super-fast or overclocked CPU. If you clean it out with canned air or a compressor, protect the floppy and optical drives because few are sealed (removal may be best). But if you use a vacuum cleaner, hold any fan blades still so they don't spin wildly, and don't let the vacuum brush touch anything but heatsinks and fans beause it can destroy electronic components on contact with static electricity.

While you have the computer open, look at the electrolytic capacitors around the CPU, AGP or PCI-E slots, and memory slots. Any bulging or oozing ones are definitely bad, but many fail without showing any outward signs. BadCaps.net has information about this problem in its FAQs and forums.

Capacitors also affect power supplies, so I'd try another one, preferrably without spending money. If your computer is a Dell, you may have to cut a hole in the back of the case to fit the on/off switch most power supplies have.

Who stole the spare Windows recovery disk that was taped to the inside of your computer? Of course you had one in there. laugh out loud Manufacturers can supply replacements, or find someone who owns an identical computer.

I'd probably try another power supply (preferrably without paying for it) before doing any hardware repairs, but if this is a Dell machine, you'll likely have to cut a hole in the computer case to accommodate the rear on/off switch.
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#13
Quote from RockySosua View Post :
For starters, a driver is software, as is an operating system and a damaged corrupt OS can cause BSOD's.
Software is always connected to hardware, as it takes a processor, ram and a hard drive, etc, to operate it.
Some software can simply be highly incompatible with a given machine and it can cause a BSOD.

When I told the OP that a BSOD can be caused by hardware or software, it was in case he didn't know that. I presumed that he knew that hardware is the physical material stuff that his computer is built of, and that software is everything else.
Somehow, you have developed an interpretation that some software is not software, such as drivers and maybe some other things, but that would be incorrect.
Most operating systems nowadays have an abstraction layer between the actual hardware and the software that the user runs and interacts with. A video game, for instance, runs in this abstraction layer, typically known as "User Space [wikipedia.org]". Drivers, on the other hand, run in an abstraction known as "Kernel Space", which controls drivers, kernel stuff and hardware. While drivers are software in the sense that they are bits of data, they are not the same as running a program like MS Word or Battlefield 3.

Software in User Space is by no means connected to any hardware whatsoever. Software in user space does not connect to the hardware directly. Rather, software will interface with the driver, which will connect to the hardware. This is the distinction I make between regular software that users use and a driver. Moreover, when a piece of software crashes, it tends to just hang or pops up an error dialogue, requiring you to force the software to end or close. This is contrasted to when a driver fails, which tends to bring the entire system down, requiring a reboot.

The above distinction is important. If a user is playing Battlefield 3 and their computer comes up with a BSOD, they may blame Battlefield 3 at first. However, with the knowledge that a BSOD is essentially a hardware fault (including faulty driver connected to said hardware) they will realize that the more likely culprit is either their hardware (faulty or overheating video card, memory or processor) or the driver (faulty video card driver).

Quote from RockySosua View Post :
As I mentioned, it is not common, but not impossible either.

Explaining to him that hard drives wear was not an insinuation that it caused BSOD's.
You're reading a bit too much in between the lines, that simply isn't there.

Some folks don't have the knowledge to do so, which is why they are posting here for help.
Maybe you're trying to dumb down some of the information, but the problem is that what you're discussing is either false or misleading; neither of which is beneficial to solving the OP's problem.
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#14
Quote from kakomu View Post :
Most operating systems nowadays have an abstraction layer between the actual hardware and the software that the user runs and interacts with. A video game, for instance, runs in this abstraction layer, typically known as "User Space [wikipedia.org]". Drivers, on the other hand, run in an abstraction known as "Kernel Space", which controls drivers, kernel stuff and hardware. While drivers are software in the sense that they are bits of data, they are not the same as running a program like MS Word or Battlefield 3.

Software in User Space is by no means connected to any hardware whatsoever. Software in user space does not connect to the hardware directly. Rather, software will interface with the driver, which will connect to the hardware. This is the distinction I make between regular software that users use and a driver. Moreover, when a piece of software crashes, it tends to just hang or pops up an error dialogue, requiring you to force the software to end or close. This is contrasted to when a driver fails, which tends to bring the entire system down, requiring a reboot.

The above distinction is important. If a user is playing Battlefield 3 and their computer comes up with a BSOD, they may blame Battlefield 3 at first. However, with the knowledge that a BSOD is essentially a hardware fault (including faulty driver connected to said hardware) they will realize that the more likely culprit is either their hardware (faulty or overheating video card, memory or processor) or the driver (faulty video card driver).



Maybe you're trying to dumb down some of the information, but the problem is that what you're discussing is either false or misleading; neither of which is beneficial to solving the OP's problem.
Sounds good, but is all incorrect. You put your own definition on the word software and it is not accurate.
Google is your friend and you can research the definition of the word software, and then you'll know how the rest of the world defines it.
.
Here is an example.

http://www.openprojects.org/softw...nition.htm

Software is a generic term for organized collections of computer data and instructions, often broken into two major categories: system software that provides the basic non-task-specific functions of the computer, and application software which is used by users to accomplish specific tasks
System software is responsible for controlling, integrating, and managing the individual hardware components of a computer system so that other software and the users of the system see it as a functional unit without having to be concerned with the low-level details such as transferring data from memory to disk, or rendering text onto a display. Generally, system software consists of an operating system and some fundamental utilities such as disk formatters, file managers, display managers, text editors, user authentication (login) and management tools, and networking and device control software.
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#15
Quote from RockySosua View Post :
Sounds good, but is all incorrect. You put your own definition on the word software and it is not accurate.
Google is your friend and you can research the definition of the word software, and then you'll know how the rest of the world defines it.
.
Here is an example.

http://www.openprojects.org/softw...nition.htm

Software is a generic term for organized collections of computer data and instructions, often broken into two major categories: system software that provides the basic non-task-specific functions of the computer, and application software which is used by users to accomplish specific tasks
System software is responsible for controlling, integrating, and managing the individual hardware components of a computer system so that other software and the users of the system see it as a functional unit without having to be concerned with the low-level details such as transferring data from memory to disk, or rendering text onto a display. Generally, system software consists of an operating system and some fundamental utilities such as disk formatters, file managers, display managers, text editors, user authentication (login) and management tools, and networking and device control software.
I now know how openprojects defines it. However, I doubt they're the overall authority on computation definitions. Wikipedia defines it as:

Quote :
Computer software, or just software, is a collection of computer programs and related data that provide the instructions for telling a computer what to do and how to do it. In other words, software is a conceptual entity which is a set of computer programs, procedures, and associated documentation concerned with the operation of a data processing system. We can also say software refers to one or more computer programs and data held in the storage of the computer for some purposes. In other words software is a set of programs, procedures, algorithms and its documentation. Program software performs the function of the program it implements, either by directly providing instructions to the computer hardware or by serving as input to another piece of software. The term was coined to contrast to the old term hardware (meaning physical devices). In contrast to hardware, software "cannot be touched". Software is also sometimes used in a more narrow sense, meaning application software only. Sometimes the term includes data that has not traditionally been associated with computers, such as film, tapes, and records.
There are two things to note:
A) The definition is flexible. Some people (e.g. you) define it more narrowly
B) Some definitions include the accompanying data attached to the programs, which basically accounts for anything you can put on a physical medium (meant to contrast against the hardware).

Here's the deal: The Windows BSOD is connected directly to a hardware problem. This includes actual faulty/broken hardware or drivers sending improper or problematic instructions to said hardware. These are the two things that will cause a BSOD. If you get a BSOD when a specific user space application runs, it's still going to be the underlying driver or hardware that is causing the problem, not the user space program.

As such, generically referring to "software" as a cause of a BSOD is incorrect. The distinction between User Space and Kernel Space software is important for diagnosing a BSOD. As I mentioned above, if you're playing Battlefield 3 and you get a BSOD, the underlying culprit is most likely your video card driver or video card (or memory or an overheating CPU and in less common cases a faulty CPU). Typically such a situation is rectified by updating one's video card drivers.
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Last edited by kakomu January 3, 2012 at 05:30 AM
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