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Old 05-12-2012, 08:08 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Weird problems regarding laptop. Help!

System: 1 year old HP dm4-1125x, 2.5Ghz core i5, 4GB RAM, Switchable graphics between Radeon HD 5470 and Intel.

Ok so this part of the problem is a bit weird. All avi files, whatever player I use (KMPlayer, VLC, WMP) all stutter now for some reason I can't explain. As far as I can see, its not happening in other formats. What I can see though is that they behave pretty well if played from an external storage system, like a flash drive or external hard drive. They only crap up when played directly from hard drive, so I don't think its a codec issue. (Tested with copies of the same file played from different locations).

There is a general slowness of the whole system. I mean even an empty folder takes like 3-5 seconds to open, when its not been like that. Heck even choosing a font in an empty MS Word document now lags, and even sometimes gets me a "not responding" moment. Several other programs act that way too, like Corel Draw. Several instances as well, Windows Explorer needs to load despite only few contents in the folder.

Startup now takes forever. My computer opens to the HP OS for 5 seconds before it closes to start windows. Now, after the 5 second timer finishes, instead of starting windows immediately, I have to stare at the frozen HP OS (mouse does not respond after 5 seconds) for anywhere between 5-10min before it blacks out so Windows eventually loads.

A couple of times, or three, I had a "bootable device not found" error on startup. Google says this is a hard drive failure symptom or somesuch similar like a disconnection, but my hard drive works, so I have no idea what it could be. What are the signs of imminent failure anyway?

I ran a defrag a couple of weeks ago but not much help.

Any ideas? Thanks in advance.

EDIT: A question: I basically spent a year lugging this around, travelling via public transpo for twice a week or more, and public transportation in a third world country isn't really the smoothest of rides. Could it have caused problems with the hard drive mechanically?
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Old 05-12-2012, 08:30 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Weird problems regarding laptop. Help!

Try running a chkdsk on the drive.

Open command prompt (Start > type in cmd and press Enter) > type in (without quotes): "chkdsk /f /r c:" and press Enter > It will say that it cannot lock volume or something like that, and ask to schedule on next reboot > type in Y and press Enter > Reboot and let it run (may take 45min to at least an hour; varies from system to system). After that, see if it still gives you troubles.
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Old 05-13-2012, 12:55 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Weird problems regarding laptop. Help!

One thing about hard drives is how they handle bad sectors. A hard drive will always have a region of space that is reserved for sector relocations, but is on the outter end of the drive map. Basically, a sector goes bad, the map for that actual sector now points to the outside of the drive instead of closer to the inside. Over time, you could have dozens of bad sectors in random locations that all now point to that region instead. This will cause significant disk slow downs, chkdsk is what does this relocation of sectors, though some times it does speed up disk reads/writes, once you hit a certain point, the drive is somewhat crippled. I see this happen far more on laptop hard drives than desktop drives because of people moving the laptop quickly or dropping them while on, the higher heat also doesn't help.

Let me give an example, you have 100 regions in an area, a straight line basically, 60 of them are ones you actively see, the rest are reserve regions. Lets say you put some files on that, you use 40 of the 60 sectors, idealy you want the data fast, so its the first 40 closest to you. Now, lets say half of that 40 in random patterns is damaged and can't be used to store data. You have 20 random spaces that have data, and needs to be stored elsewhere. The logic of the drive will set those 20 regions to the out side edge, in the reserve. It is much further to get block 1 that is out at the end, then block 2-4, then jump back to the outside to get the next block. This causes a drive that will appear perfectly healthy to slow down over time and at that point, chkdsk becomes useless.

Not saying this issue, but I see it very often with "slow" laptop drives that take longer and longer to load over a long period of time, also, check your power settings, if you forced your laptop into a low power only mode, it can cause similar issues as the system won't speed up a lot for what your doing.
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Old 05-13-2012, 06:40 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Weird problems regarding laptop. Help!

And here I am berating myself why I thought of a defrag and not a check disk. LOL. It worked as far as I can see, everything's much faster and the avi files don't stutter anymore, at least the one I tested. Thanks carnageX

I do have a question though, when I entered the CMD command instructed, it gave me an "access denied" error and that I needed elevated privileges to invoke it. There's only one user on the computer and its admin, so I'm not sure why I got that error. I managed to trigger the check disk by going to My Computer and using the Tools tab in the Properties menu of Drive C.

So the problems with the disk could have also caused the "no bootable device" error? I'm just a little scared regarding the possibility that my HDD is failing.

@corrosive - mine sped up significantly after the check disk. Do I have to be worried that I may need to get a new hard drive? This more recent laptop of mine has a 500GB drive, and I haven't made an image backup of it yet since I don't have a drive with a big enough space to as of the moment (and imagine the number of DVD's I need for that because I've used up 400GB).
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Old 05-13-2012, 02:27 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Weird problems regarding laptop. Help!

Quote:
Originally Posted by chanchan05 View Post
And here I am berating myself why I thought of a defrag and not a check disk. LOL. It worked as far as I can see, everything's much faster and the avi files don't stutter anymore, at least the one I tested. Thanks carnageX

I do have a question though, when I entered the CMD command instructed, it gave me an "access denied" error and that I needed elevated privileges to invoke it. There's only one user on the computer and its admin, so I'm not sure why I got that error. I managed to trigger the check disk by going to My Computer and using the Tools tab in the Properties menu of Drive C.

So the problems with the disk could have also caused the "no bootable device" error? I'm just a little scared regarding the possibility that my HDD is failing.

@corrosive - mine sped up significantly after the check disk. Do I have to be worried that I may need to get a new hard drive? This more recent laptop of mine has a 500GB drive, and I haven't made an image backup of it yet since I don't have a drive with a big enough space to as of the moment (and imagine the number of DVD's I need for that because I've used up 400GB).
Even though you're the only user on the computer, you're not the system Admin. You're only a power user on the computer. The system admin account is hidden by default (not recommended to use). If you would have run the command prompt as Admin it wouldn't have given you the access denied message.

If you're still worried about your drive, I would find out what brand of hard drive it is (SeaGate, Western Digital, etc.) and go to their website. They should have a tool in their downloads section to check your drive's health. Usually you burn it to a disc, and boot off of it, and let it run a few tests to see if the drive is healthy still or not.
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Old 05-13-2012, 08:27 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Weird problems regarding laptop. Help!

How do I set account as Admin? Going to Control Panel>User Accounts>Change Account Type>I'm already set as admin?

Oh, ok, its a Toshiba HDD. I'll check that out.
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Old 05-13-2012, 08:53 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Weird problems regarding laptop. Help!

The only way is to use the system administrator account. But, it's highly recommended against enabling and using the system Admin account for normal use. If something gets corrupted in that profile, then you have no way of be able to fix something if all of your other accounts don't work. hat's what UAC is used for: so all accounts on the computer can request Admin privileges when needed (Linux/Mac use a similar scheme; requires you to type in your password if you want to perform a system change that requires root permission).

If you want, you can lower UAC notifications or disable them (also not recommended, as UAC is used as a safeguard against something accidentally or maliciously changing system files/settings on your computer).
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Old 05-13-2012, 09:52 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Weird problems regarding laptop. Help!

Ok, I won't enable it then. This is the first time I encountered that error and there's a work around so its fine.

As for the diagnostic tool, the Toshiba site only has links for Fujitsu branded Toshiba drives. I have a Toshiba MK5056GSY, which isn't among those listed. What tool can I use? Preferably free stuff.
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Old 05-13-2012, 09:52 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Weird problems regarding laptop. Help!

Ok, I won't enable it then. This is the first time I encountered that error and there's a work around so its fine.

As for the diagnostic tool, the Toshiba site only has links for Fujitsu branded Toshiba drives. I have a Toshiba MK5056GSY, which isn't among those listed. What tool can I use? Preferably free stuff.
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Old 05-13-2012, 10:11 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Weird problems regarding laptop. Help!

Try running the tool anyway.

Either that, or try SeaGate's SeaTools program.
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