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Clearing BIOS fixes freezes Studio Headphones
Old 15th September 2015
  #1
Clearing BIOS fixes freezes

[History]
Occasionally one or more of my machines has frozen up at some point, either preventing a boot up, or a few minutes after boot up, or when I load my DAW software, a plug-in etc. I do the usual things people always recommend, as I've also recommend to others, and it helps for a while, but will come back after quite some time has passed.
I've done such things as, re-seating/replacing ram, re-seating audio & video cards, replacing a CMOS battery, clearing CMOS, swapping out a power supply, checking connections within the tower (power, HDD cables, motherboard cables etc, etc) all of which have helped at one time or another depending on the issue at hand.

[Currently]
Last week was the most recent incident. Over a few days or so, it gradually began by doing this ...
1) freezing upon loading a project - after DAW software has already been open
2) then would freeze just loading the DAW software itself - without a project loaded
3) then would freeze several minutes after booting - with or without anything opened at all
4) then would freeze seconds after booting - before I could say lipschlitz
5) then would not boot up until after a few attempts - imdeiately freezing
6) then would not boot up at all - after several attempts

I can't recall being as gradual, or as quickly/gradual. Maybe it's just that I've taken note of the way it started freezing this last time. Being fairly familiar, and having experiences with my own machines - which are all pretty much same spec, with Quad core's & Win XP - I've come to know what to do to get them running within minutes... once I get in there. Having said this, what I went straight to do was...
1) kill the power
2) pull out the CMOS battery
3) short out/clear CMOS by it's jumper
4) put the same 'good' CMOS battery back in
5) connect power
6) boot into BOIS
7) re-set up my BIOS
8) reboot - BINGO, been working great for days now.

Admittingly, while in there, I also pulled out my ram sticks and re-seated them...maybe I shouldn't have, just for the sake of doing ONE step at a time to identify the root of the problem, but I've typically have gone & done several known fixes at one go, because I know when I re-boot, it'll work again.

But of all the issues I've encountered, clearing/resetting BIOS on all my machines has been the most common solution....next to re-seating/swapping out ram.

Ok, you're probably thinking I should have re-seated that ram separately too, and that I've solved my own problem maybe, and I'm blowing hot air (again). But I'm now wondering why is it that I've had to clear my BIOS and do a BIOS re-set up a number of times over the last couple of years. Is it a bad BIOS chip thing? A motherboard failing thing? And why do things things I do, seem to fix it for a long period of time if it's something that's bad?

As I recall, I've done the ram trick before on it's own, and at times it didn't do the trick, only to do that BIOS trick and got up & running. Likewise, maybe the BIOS trick didn't do the trick by itself either. However, I can't recall a time where I went in and did the re-seating ram trick and the BIOS clearing/re-set up trick and it hadn't got me running...well, aside from a time or two when it was a loose connection inside (power, HDD cable etc).

It's really been a fairly minor inconvenience, but still I'd rather not have this happen at all of course.

Oh, and I live in a semi-rural area that has power outages..I have noticed that at these times, after my main power has been off, ot that I've purposely tuned it off for a number of hours, problems like this have reoccurred more often than not to where I almost expect it, but not always.

Thoughts?

Last edited by Steve Fogal; 15th September 2015 at 05:41 PM..
Old 15th September 2015
  #2
dio
Gear Addict
 

There is a similar procedure for Macs that may help in some cases, but it shouldn't be something you should do as often as you describe so I can't really say if there's something wrong with your hardware. However, perhaps the power problems that you experience alter your systems settings too often and there is where the problems begin.

BTW The procedure for Macs (as well some additional info) is described below:

https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204063
https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201295
Old 15th September 2015
  #3
Lives for gear
 

Partially corrupted hard drive(s)? Could that be a cause?
Old 15th September 2015
  #4
Hello Dio & Matt,

Regarding the power outages, I can't be certain it has anything to do with it, although I can't disregard this. It doesn't happen to all 3 of my same-spec DAW computers either. Also, this 'funniness' has happened even if I had disconnect the power during storms, just to be safe, so it's not attributed to a surge for sure.
If at all, I'm thinking that when the power TO the computer has been off...even for just a little while (mere hours) that this may be more to do with it than actual surges or other harmful electric occurrences. I had a big surge last year and it blew out the display on my land-line phone system (my DAW's & other music stuff unplugged during that one).
One thing that comes to mind is, if the CLOCK changes...time/date...does this screw with something...?

I also can't say that it hasn't happened when there were NOT any power issues or storms, I'm pretty sure it has. It's random and far in between. I've had months go by without any issues with my machines...other times, less. Not a show stopper, just annoyance, and a little tiff'd that I'm not a MASTER computer guru, just some guy who's had enough issues the past 15 or so year that I've learned a few things along the way, not a bad thing.

As far as a hard drive issue...maybe, dunno...but to me, that doesn't quite add up. If I freeze, then it get's worse, then I can't boot up at all, no matter how many attempts, then why suddenly would clearing the CMOS and re-setting BIOS magically make my machine boot up fine and run perfect thereafter...?
Same with the connections inside, which I did not touch at all this last time. Also same with the power supply, which I didn't do anything with...well aside from turning it off...which I've turned the PSU off before, restarted to see if THAT helped and it didn't...nor did turning it off and pressing the front power button trick help (Actually I just remembered, I tried THAT 1st the other day, and no go).

Again, I'm no expert, just a tinkerer, but I'm leaning more toward a BIOS thing, and a ram thing as a close 2nd. Unless the two have something to do with each other...which I've never heard of that. Again, I'll often do the clear the CMOS, re-set up BIOS, and re-seat my ram sticks at the same time...this combination always allows me to keep working. And again, I recall re-seating the ram, or changing it out has NOT done the trick...it seems that it's always (?) BOTH tricks (CMOS/BIOS ram tricks) that do it.

If it's an OS thing, and the OS issue is screwing with the BIOS settings...? however I didn't see that anything had changed in the BIOS. The only thing I can think of regarding OS & BIOS shaking hands is say, when changing the time & date within Windows, if I then enter the BIOS that date from Windows made it into a BIOS changed, so there is at least some thing or THINGS that have to do with each other. But, then again, I don't recall doing anything inside Windows before my issues.

PS, I certainly will try some suggestions made here, like swapping out my hard drive anyway etc

Last edited by Steve Fogal; 15th September 2015 at 10:17 PM..
Old 15th September 2015
  #5
Lives for gear
Tried running the machine on a power conditioner?
Old 15th September 2015
  #6
Lives for gear
 

When you say "BIOS re-set up", do you go back and change BIOS settings after having cleared CMOS? If so, what settings are you changing?

If, for example, you clear it, then go back in and tweak RAM settings to something more aggressive I would expect the behavior you're seeing even with a defect RAM module. I.e. it might function under default non-aggressive timings etc.

The reason I suspected the drive was that you had frequent situations of disrupted power, so my thoughts were that perhaps some files got corrupted on improper shutdown. I'm not entirely sure why a CMOS-clear would help that. I suppose again that may depend on just what your OS does that relates to your hardware.
Old 16th September 2015
  #7
@ Gravy, yes, I thought about that or a UPS.

@ Matt, when I clear the CMOS and then re-set up the BIOS, as usual nothing is set aggressively, or overclocked. I had experimented with my ram settings a few times in the past to match my ram (7-7-7-9?), by default it's lower...the default is actually more stable so I leave it at default, as I do with the CPU settings, and most other things...if anything UNDER aggressive I'd say. It's pretty much always been this way. There's actually very little I do in the BIOS in my machines. All I do is set it back the way it was...oh, setting the date/time, disabling on-board audio & the floppy, anything to do with internet connectivity & networking, etc, etc. It takes a few minutes or so, I don't even bother with a BIOS back up, I know quickly what everything is supposed to be set up ...I just save & reboot. Hardest part, and most time consuming is getting down to the floor with a light, lol. All of my machines are set up in the same way.

I have spares of almost everything, or can borrow from my other machines to test (the luxury of having same spec machines) so I can always swap something out to see if it helps. I made swaps before here and there while troubleshooting over the last few years or so. Sometimes I put it back, other times not.... can't remember everything but mostly swapping ram, audio cards, video cards, HDD's to test ...but on which machine I did what over time, beats me.

If at some point I put in another HDD, reinstall the OS to test, that will take a while...or I could use an image I've made some time after original set up, I get the feeling at some point the issue would still be there...who knows.

I've got several spare sets of used ram laying around, maybe I should buy some brand new sticks to try. Thing is, anything I do could take weeks or months before I know if it helps.
Old 16th September 2015
  #8
Lives for gear
 

My only thought is that it's very interesting that this is a possible solution. I've never heard of that, so it's just one more "idea" for me to arm myself with if something comes up in the future.
Old 16th September 2015
  #9
Steve, our systems only seem to lose their BIOS settings if there is a power issue (seems to depend on the boards used). This could be an outage or a powered USB device (usually cheap powered hubs, sometimes an actual connected device) actually putting load ON the motherboard.
The latter may be recognized by LEDs lighting up or fans slightly moving while the system is shut down.
Not every outage causes this, but if your area is affected, it is certainly wise to use a UPS to protect your gear and save your projects.
Old 16th September 2015
  #10
Quote:
Originally Posted by DAW PLUS View Post
Steve, our systems only seem to lose their BIOS settings if there is a power issue (seems to depend on the boards used). This could be an outage or a powered USB device (usually cheap powered hubs, sometimes an actual connected device) actually putting load ON the motherboard.
The latter may be recognized by LEDs lighting up or fans slightly moving while the system is shut down.
Not every outage causes this, but if your area is affected, it is certainly wise to use a UPS to protect your gear and save your projects.
Amazingly, I can't recall a single time where the power actually went out while I was working on music, although that doesn't have any bearing on acquiring a UPS, I've been meaning to, I just haven't worked out how I'm gonna make use of it due to having 3 PC's (planing for a 4th as my last), and 4 monitors, and a lot of other stuff. I'm thinking I may need more than one UPS

As far as USB devices, hmmm...I had to really think about this. The only thing I leave connected (to all machines) with USB is my 4 port (adapter powered) KVM switch, with it's USB leads from it, to the rear of my PC's keyboard/mouse ports. To this KVM, I connect my wireless keyboard & mouse USB receiver (but use a wired mouse because the wireless mouse is jumpy through it).
My KVM itself does have a hub/port, in which I only occasionally connect a USB stick, or external HDD, but I always leave my externals unplugged from USB connectivity & power until I need to use them. I don't even use USB for any of my other equipment that has it, including my YouRock midi guitar controller, etc, and my Motu MTV AV's, which I use their 5 pin midi DIN's Out to my DAW's Aardvark sound card midi In, and the Motu's are powered down most of the time. As a practice, nothing in my set up is ever powered up until I need them either. In addition to my wire mouse to all PC's via the KVM, I also have a wireless mini mouse with a tiny USB receiver, it stays directly connected to the front USB port of my 'audio only' PC pretty much full time...THIS PC is actually the most stable, and least affected by all issues though. The 'only' time I'll plug my mini mouse to another PC, is when I need it as a transport remote when recording with my eKit some feet away from my VSTi machine. I can't imagine it draw's any power to be concerned about either.

Once again, all PC's are the same spec - which by the way they all have ASUS P5K-C motherboards with DDR3 ram, and Thermaltake 600 watt PSU's, with an exception difference of using either an Intel quad Q9300 or a quad Q9650 CPU which I have the 'proper' BIOS version for - and each do not suffer from the same issues, nor are affected at the same time by anything...like power issues etc.

Good to hear about losing your BIOS settings getting lost, being typically a power or USB issue in your experience, this kinda makes me really think hard that, especially the power issue may be a culprit here. But speaking of BIOS, as I've said previously, I didn't see anything in the BIOS that changed before I cleared the CMOS and reentered all my settings...which got me running, and always seems to work for me....that & re-seating ram sticks.

In addition, oddly one or more of my PC's CR2032 system battery's need to be replaced more often than I'd expect...especially if we're having a storm system come through, and I unplug EVERYTHING in my home studio for several day's straight. I keep spare batteries on hand, and it's only close to a year before I need to ever change a battery...but another PC's battery may last a few years or more.

As much of a tinkerer that I am with computers, I don't have a full grasp on how or which components may have an affect on other components. I DO know that for many things in this world, "the knee bone IS connected to the shin bone"

Last edited by Steve Fogal; 16th September 2015 at 03:29 PM..
Old 22nd September 2015
  #11
Gear Addict
 

What kind of power supply is in your PC ?
Old 22nd September 2015
  #12
Quote:
Originally Posted by thrustman View Post
What kind of power supply is in your PC ?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Fogal View Post
all PC's are the same spec -
Thermaltake 600 watt PSU's
I was just thinking about this, and what passed through my mind just before seeing your reply was a power supply. I use the same unit in all my machines & they've always provided enough power.

Last edited by Steve Fogal; 22nd September 2015 at 03:58 AM..
Old 22nd September 2015
  #13
Gear Addict
 

I only ask because twice I had PC issues that seemed impossible to solve and the power supply was the problem. Ive found that a couple of external drives, a couple of audio midi interfaces a printer etc etc can add quite a load on the cheesy 250-300 watt power supplies that come standard on PCs these days. I don't have any favorites I just use whatever premium power supply Micro Center has on sale. OSC, Antec, Thermaltake, or whatever.
Old 26th June 2016
  #14
CMOS to the rescue!

I just wanna add to this thread as I've experienced hell the past 9 months. I did all the standard avid / sweetwater optimization and all the regular stuff 7200rpm drives, trash prefs, disable wifi/Bluetooth etc but the problem...BIOS and the fix....flush the CMOS.

I changed the jumper and did the CMOS reset, hey presto stable machine.

The cause could have been from whoever tested the motherboard they didn't reset the bios which is configured to their hardware and throws up overclocking errors (even when not overclocked).
Old 27th June 2016
  #15
I'm not clear if you mean reset the BIOS, or reinstall the BIOS? But simply clearing the BIOS has helped me out on more occasions than I can think of. Sometimes when I have issues, and I have to open the case, I may as well do a number of tricks at once...while I'm "down there"
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