Random freezing / stuttering / sound loops in Windows Vista or 7?
I recently had this problem, and since it broke my PC for like 4 hours, and couldn’t find ANY solution online, I thought I’d share. I’m gonna vent the whole process to you, or if you are just wanting the fix, scroll down.
I’ll describe the problem a bit better. So, I was happily playing my new game, Dragon Age: Origins, and had been playing for hours. Suddenly, the game froze, but the sound was looping less than a second of audio over and over. This lasted maybe 5 seconds. then it was fine, no ill effects, and the game continued. I assumed it was just a random glitch.
It happened again, and again. Finally it happened again, and the screen flickered and the game crashed to desktop.
At this point my first thought was to chalk it up to simply an overheat problem. I HAD been playing for hours. Quick check of my temps using SpeedFan showed nothing. I shut down and left it, convinced it would go away. But sitting, reading my book, I became more and more concerned and curious. I powered up to confront what I had feared. It was happening in Windows.
Oh shit. Freezing every few minutes is highly annoying, even if it doesn’t do any real harm. But it was, every few freezes, causing my graphics system to reinitialise. My first clue!
Windows 7 includes a ‘solution solver’ thing, which popped out automatically after the first few graphics crashes. It recommended a driver reinstall for my nVidia graphics card. A sensible idea, for once – MICROSOFT! Needless to say, the reinstall failed miserably. Still there. Crap. Googled it, nothing. plenty of people with a problem that COULD be it, but not enough info to say. It’s actually quite hard to describe, to be fair, but of the topics and threads with even suggested solutions, none were sensible or worked. Most ‘solutions’ were stupid ideas from clearly stupid people.
Next – hardware damage? Since there were no dangers in my temperatures, I was concerned that it started while I was playing a taxing game. Graphics card damage would make sense, which would be seriously shitty. Freaking out, I decided to check anything else I possibly could. Noticed that during the freezes, my hard drive activity light goes bonkers. Event log – saviour! The logs showed some PIECE OF NVIDIA CRUD called nvstor64 was triggering every few minutes.
The cycle was as follows:
- Warning: nvstor64 “Reset to device, \Device\RaidPort1, was issued.”
- Warning: nvstor64 “A request to this device has been cancelled. Device: \Device\RaidPort1”
Now, let me just burst in here with my revelation – I HAVE NO RAID! I’m venting frustration here for literary effect, but this cracked me up. You see, I have an nVidia chipset motherboard. It’s great, apart from nVidia seem to make some poor drivers on occasion. When you are like I am, installing the chipset drivers presents you with the option of installing “nVidia Storage Drivers” which are apparently “better SATA drivers than Windows”.
Translation: installing this will make your hard drives appear as SCSI drives, make Windows / most tools (bar a few – Crystal Disk Info being one) unable to read S.M.A.R.T. status properly, and also enables NCQ (native command queuing). It’ s a mixed bag. NCQ theoretically gives you faster disk access, and S.M.A.R.T. is kinda useless most times. However, in this case, fuck that. It’s dodgy drivers wrecked my week-old Windows 7 installation. Uninstall that.
However, uninstalling the storage driver alone is impossible. Thanks nVidia. The only option is to TOTALLY uninstall the chipset drivers, and reinstall them but not choose the storage driver option. A nontrivial task. Do it wrong, and you end up needing an OS reinstall.
Here’s the solution:
- Check that you are experiencing nvstor warnings in the “System” event logs (event viewer). If you are not, this solution won’t help you.
- Pre-download the latest chipset drivers from nVidia for your chipset (and graphics if you have them)
- Download and install Driver Sweeper. Don’t run it yet!
- Go into Add/Remove programs and uninstall both the graphics drivers (if you have them) and then the chipset drivers. With those two done, proceed to uninstall ANY other nVidia items in the list.
- Go into safe mode. To do this, hammer the fuck outta F8 AFTER your BIOS splash screen but BEFORE the Windows splash. If you miss it, and the Windows logo appears, PRESS RESET IMMEDIATELY. Last thing we want is Windows trying to reinstall the drivers itself. The reset has the added advantage of triggering Windows’ self diagnostic – next time you will get a message “Windows did not boot correctly” with a safe mode option. Pick it.
- Run driver sweeper. It will remove any trace of nVidia from your computer.
- Reboot into normal Windows.
- Install the chipset drivers. Make sure not to choose to install the storage drivers this time around. Reboot when asked.
- Install graphics if required. Reboot.
Solved. Now, your hard drives will still come up as SCSIs, and still support NCQ, but the nvstor is seemingly not in control any more, or at least not causing the freezes and lag spikes. Good.