Computer randomly hangs

Dec 5, 2003
Waterloo, ON
First off, I hope I posted in the right section, since it is equipment related. If not, mods feel free to move this to the appropriate spot.

This one is for the computer techies... I got a new desktop computer a couple weeks ago. Everything works great except I have one problem. It will randomly hang on me, mostly when I first boot up during the day, and there was only one day where no hang ups occurred, and the next day it hung up three times. I can move my mouse cursor but it displays as a circle instead and everything becomes unresponsive. I cannot even ctrl-alt-del and need to do a hard shut down. Doesn't matter what I am doing at the time. Now, I don't want to hear "Vista sucks" because that will not help me at all. Everything I have is Vista compatible and my computer has enough power.

My system specs:
Vista Home Premium 32-bit Service Pack 1 with Rating 5.6
4 GB ram
Intel Core 2 Duo 2.8 GHz
600 GB SATA Hard Drive
SATA DVD/CD Burner/Reader

I decided to take a look in Event Viewer and noticed that every single day, I get this error:

Event ID 11 - atapi - The driver detected a controller error on \Device\Ide\IdePort0.

Sometimes, but not as often, I also get: The driver detected a controller error on \Device\Ide\IdePort2.

I have switched Motherboards and still get the same issues/errors. Could this be a good sign of a failing hard drive? I looked in Device Manager and everything seems fine. Thanks in advance.
Did you start with a fresh install of Vista ? I Would install Vista 64 bit without all the factory bloat and see if that helps
Atapi references the cdrom... my suggestion is unplug everything not needed (dvd player, etc.) and see if the problem persists. Since you have switched mobos, I have a hard time believing it would be the controller on it twice. What brand hard drive is it? Most manufactures have software to do a quick scan of the drive to see if there is issue. Seagate for example has a program called SeaTools. If the HD is the culprit, it should fail some test along the way (be it SMART or a short drive test).

Is this a custom build computer? What brand mobo/hard drive? Sometimes random hangs can point towards a heating issue - say for example the cpu heatsink wasn't seated properly.
Yes, it is custom. I dunno if heat is the issue though, fans work and it is pretty cool in this room.

My hard drive: ST3640323AS ATA

My mother board is an Asus P5QL PRO
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Do you keep the computer room fairly cool? I've experienced HDD and CD-ROM motors that spin up too slowly for the BIOS when cold, causing the IDE interface to hang. After they spin a minute or two the lubricant or whatever warms up.

AHA! Just read your last post, Laura....
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I had a custom built computer with an Asus board once that was doing that a lot. Ended up being the power supply in the computer was only "just enough" in wattage to run the machine, and at times when it would peak that would happen. Not sure how big your PS is, but might be something the look at.
I ran SeaTools and it passed. I also did a Check Hard Disk and Windows found no errors. My power supply has 500 watts.
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Yep... good call on the power supply. I had a PS kill a couple of hard drives before I realized what the culprit was. I finally heard this faint high pitch noise from the PS that was at the same interval as noise from the HD turning on and off.
Hi Laura, I did some research on your issue.

A Search stated the following;;;

This can be:
Your HardDrive (sometimes you may notice that it's noisy, or clunking)
Your IDE data cable (can be just a faulty data cable to the HardDrive)
Faulty IDE0 port on Motherboard (you could try plugging it into IDE1 - where the CD/DVD is)
Faulty Motherboard (Oh dear, no comment)
Sometimes it can even be the CD/DVD drive causing the issue (try unplugging it from the M/b)

I also found:

This error may be received if you have 2 cd-roms on the same ide channel with incorrect jumper settings. In my scenario, the cd-rom jumpers were set to cable select however the IDE cable did not support it. Configuring the jumpers to master/slave corrected this error.

You might also want to google your error which is this link.

There are alot of results which discuss either your hard drive or cd/dvd rom being the issue or in some cases it is the motherboard.

Let me know if you have any luck, I will gladly do what I can to get you going with your new laptop...

Thanks for the responses guys. Gave me a few ideas... apparently my atapi is related to my cd rom, so if I get any more hangs, I will disconnect the cd drive. But the weird thing is, everything is all Sata, nothing is connected via IDE on my system. Could be a setting in bios. The cd rom does seem to function properly, just put a dvd in and it played fine.

Did come across a MS update regarding Sata drives causing hangs, so will let ya know....
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Think I know what the issue is now... my video card's driver/software. We have turned off IDE, disconnected the cd rom, still froze after boot up. Enabled IDE again, but nothing is connected to it, so it shouldn't matter. However, it seems to have taken care of my atapi error in Event Viewer. The last time I received that error was yesterday around noon.

I think my main issue is the video card driver itself... I have an ATI Radeon HD 4850 512 mb card and have updated to the latest drivers. I decided to install my Sims 2 game (lol yeah I am a geek) and figured if it is the video card, there should be some issues with the game. Sure enough, some of the graphics are funky in the game. So I guess I am gonna go try a NVIDIA card instead. My father (who built my system for me) has had issues with ATI cards in the past.
The other thing you can/might try is just disabling the IDE interface completely in BIOS if you aren't using it (if the CDROM and Hard drive are both SATA Drives)

That should at least rule out that bus being an issue. Sounds like if it's locking up, it's hitting a period of 100% iowait. If it crashed it'd typically blue screen.

I just am not really sure a video card would cause you those kind of issues.