Solved: The driver detected a controller error on \Device\Ide\IdePort2

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Microsoft Answers PictureMy son and I went through rather painful ordeal with this Event 11 that Windows quietly generates. It took us few weeks to fully work out why Windows suddenly started hanging, misbehaving or even crashing with blue screen. Now that I feel it is fully resolved, I thought I’d share my conclusion (and the process) – hopefully it will help few others out there who are struggling with this. Ridiculously, many people are likely affected by this issue, but unless they open Event Viewer and search for this event id 11, they will not realize that hanging is not “normal” behavior, even for Windows! OS seems to silently recover from this problem 10 to 60 seconds later, which is really strange in my book – considering that user isn’t even alerted to this serious atapi error.

For impatient souls among us, here are my conclusions:

  • First thing – check the SATA/EIDE and power cable connection between your hard-drive and the motherboard. If possible, try another SATA outlet on motherboard or another SATA cable if available.
  • If it still happens, the bad news is that this is likely a disk controller error, which is especially problematic since nowadays disk controllers are built into the Motherboard. If you are in a budget crunch, one potential workaround is to slow down your HD to use different PIO. This may avoid hangs, but will slow overall performance, so no fun solution…
  • Proper solution appears to be to replace motherboard, hence replacing disk controller. There are many motherboards starting at just $50 and in most cases it will improve overall performance and stability for you, even if you keep the same CPU and other components.

I am pretty confident that this is the right diagnosis, as we went through a lot of trial and error investigative work, in a space of few weeks, after it started abruptly. At first, I was pretty much convinced that HD is dying. The system had two hard-drives, and the older hard-drive was seemingly working just fine, even with the same SATA cable and connected to the same slot on the Motherboard. Turns out it was using slower PIO by virtue of it being older HDD. During the troubleshooting process I reinstalled fresh Windows 7 64 Bit multiple times, on various HD drives, only to see the issue start happening almost instantly after clean install. Few days ago a fresh HDD became available (separate long story), so I tried replacing the “dying” HD. Guess what, it being newer HD, it was instantly affected by the same issue, even though I put clean Windows there also. Thus it was concluded that controller was faulty, and I went shopping for a new motherboard. As an aside – DDR3 memory is Ridiculously Cheap. I was able to pick up 8 GB of Gamer grade memory for $25 (after rebate), so that is another bonus with upgrade.

We ended up replacing CPU also (time for upgrade anyhow), but all other components stayed the same. Right now I have 3 Hard-drives happily working flawlessly there, including the “dying” HD, and the rest of the computer is faster and better than ever.

Feel free to leave comments if you are still struggling with this issue, and I will try to answer. Good Luck and Happy New Year!

PS: As a bonus tip – while I was troubleshooting, I had to reinstall Windows 7 couple of times on various HD drives. Did you know you can avoid “tarnishing” your license in such scenario by Skipping product key page during Windows 7 setup? Very handy, and then you have up to 28 days to put your real key in and activate. During that period Windows is fully functional and we had used it like that for over a week while troubleshooting.

Windows 7 and Vista Side by Side Adventures

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It was really straight forward to setup side-by-side Windows 7 and Vista on the same computer, simply put them on separate hard-drives (either physical or separate partitions). Installation was no troubles, and I was happily booting between them back and forth as needed, until I hit a snag last night, MAJOR SNAG!!!

I guess Vista didn’t shut down properly or something, so in the next reboot into Windows 7 it detected problems on my Vista hard-drive and decided to “Fix It”. I was not really concerned, since Windows 7 surely knows how to read/fix Vista partition — OR DOES IT!? An unsettling “Replacing invalid security id with default security id for file” messages popped up, and kept going for thousands of files.

Long story short, after it finished, Windows 7 gave me “Access Denied” error when trying to view Vista drive, and even Vista itself couldn’t boot — just goes into black screen. So much for thinking that Win 7 chkdsk was smart enough to not break Vista partition.

Well, here is how I managed to dig myself out of this, and it wasn’t easy! Boot into Windows 7, right click on the Vista drive (E:\ in my case), and choose Security. First, you need to change Ownership to something public, I decided to change it to “Everyone”. Apply that ownership to all sub-dirs/objects also, obviously. Once you take ownership. Click on Security tab and reset that also, again, I did Everyone Full Control and added Guest full control. Not super secure, of course, but that is old partition I am transitioning away from, so I gather it’s good enough. Voila, after that everything is fine. Although, I did notice that if I “push” files from Vista into Win 7 file system, sometimes they come out with “funny” security. It was just one occurrence, but…

Overall I am still loving Win 7, it’s fast and stable, but I guess I should accelerate my transition away from Vista.

Windows 7 64 Bit – Installation & My First Week

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Win 7 Screen 1 As you may have heard from me in the past, I was very impressed with Beta and RC version of Win 7, so I was among the many people preordering a copy when special $50 offer was available for a limited time. In fact, local MicroCenter store offered $40 preorder option at the time, so I jumped onboard. I also decided to use this opportunity to migrate to 64 Bit and fully utilize my 4Gb memory (which I think I will upgrade to 6 GB or more in the future).

Knowing that 64 Bit Vista and Windows 7 RC don’t like my motherboard, I decided to replace that also. So had it shipped just in time for Oct 22 release date, and set out Friday night to rebuild the whole box and install fresh Windows 7 Home Premium 64 Bit. For those who care, here are some components I updated on my PC, via Newegg, of course: P45 Motherboard, nVidia 9600 GSO and 640 GB hard-drive for clean install. I kept other components, including my 4GB memory and my Intel Q6600 quad-core CPU.

It installed without a hitch, besides minor snag where it wouldn’t activate right. During the install, I disconnected my Vista hard-drive, as I didn’t want it to touch that boot loader (it has dual Vista/Ubuntu boot). When I later came to activate Win 7, even with fully licensed Vista right there on the other HD, it complained. Luckily there is simple fix for this bug.

Since I used mainstream components, it seems that 64 Bit drivers was mostly non issue. I had strange issue at first with my Motherboard embedded networking card. It worked, but then stopped. I later found that Windows Update decided to “update” networking driver to OLDER version. Once identified, a simple “rollback driver” button click resolved the problem.

I was happy to discover that Zune software has 64 Bit flavor, and so does iTunes (though it’s only drivers, I think. iTunes itself runs as 32 bit, blah). Steam works great, and this is again why I love steam, as I was easily able to reinstall games I wanted and purchased in the past. World of Warcraft works great also! In fact I saw FASTER FRAMERATES, on what is essentially the same hardware (but 64 Bit and newer drivers, faster HD).

Another HUGE improvement – SILENCE!!! This is both when it runs, the HD is not overused and generally fans are running low also. And Hibernate works GREAT! I can just walk away, it goes to hibernate after 30 minutes and I can just turn it back on when needed, entire resume is under 30 seconds.

I am still installing software and bringing over my documents, etc. I am reluctant to put Office 2007 on, and rather wait for Office 2010 (betas are planned soon?). Did you know that iTunes can sync contacts Directly with Yahoo! Address Book?! And Plaxo can sync directly with Yahoo! Get the picture, folks!?

To summarize, so far – very stable and fast! I am enjoying it!!! I’ll report more in the future!

The Next Series: Part 1 – Simulated Past

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I have decided to have a few posts focused on discussing what’s next in the world of computing. The idea is to look at progression thus far, and see what makes sense to be researched and improved next. This simple formula can be surprisingly effective, due to collective “creationism” that defines computing industry. In other words – we create our future (just like in real life) by focusing research efforts (aka: wishes) on particular things. Thus, we can foresee now what will the future bring, simply by assuming that our research pans out.

And now, the actual point – For a while now, everyone agreed that a lot of our collective progress was often hindered by the infamous “backwards compatibility” syndrome. The base dilemma thus, for engineers not just of operating systems, but of many core technologies, was “Do We Make It Faster and Break old software” or “Do We Keep it slow, but not Break anything”. Traditionally, Microsoft preferred not to simulate old software standards fully, probably because it would end up being too slow to properly run older software.

But now, with faster CPU’s and built-in virtualization on chip level, they can finally move forward and just run that old Windows XP stuff inside “Virtual PC” – a full computer simulator running a “real” copy of Windows XP SP3. This “magic” finally allows the developers to Revolutionize, as we often like to do.

This magic comes to Windows 7 officially now, though I used Virtual PC in Vista as you all know, happily running Windows 98 and some 1995 software in it, without a hitch. Even in Windows 7 it feels like an “add-on” to me, hopefully in Windows 8 and beyond, the engineers will fully realize the potential “simulating” past, and allow themselves to Rethink every layer of the Operating System! What will result is prettier, faster, better technology. But where would we want to take it? Stay tuned, we’ll discuss that in the next parts of the series!

[via Within Windows blog]

Windows 7 – Cool, but no 64 Bit for me?

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I think as any responsible techie, I downloaded both 32 Bit and 64 Bit editions of Windows 7 beta, the first day it came out (naturally). Got 2 keys also (one for each edition).

screenshot_clear Shortly thereafter I installed 32 Bit version, on 2 very different computers. One was old Athlon 64 processor, 1gb ram, barely alive computer that my daughter insists that she still likes. The other was good Quad Core system. The new optimizations really shine, as old Athlon 64 computer felt as snappy as the new shiny quad core system! My daughter loves it now, and discovered several favorite features already, like that rotating desktop wallpaper (kitties galore!) and the sticky notes on the desktop. Most software she tried so far, worked properly and performed very well! We hit few minor bugs, but it’s beta after all, so we promptly reported them.

In light of this positive experience, I finally got the courage to install 64 Bit version of Win 7 on my Primary computer with 4gb of Ram, as dual boot, of course. However, most strange thing happened, sad thing, annoying thing or even Disturbing thing.

DVD with 64 Bit Windows 7 booted fine, though seem to take longer to reach first screen than I remembered on other installations. And from there, it only got worse. Win 7 Setup took 10 or 15 minutes between each “installation” step, and on screens where I had to type something, I would press a button and see it reflected on screen only 20 seconds later.

7 Hours later, it was still on First install step!!! Though, it wasn’t stuck, you could see percentages going up, I think it was as high as 80% by then, so I left it running overnight.

In the morning, the whole computer was completely “Off”, for whatever reason. Trying to boot into Win 7 (which now appeared on dual-boot menu), did nothing, just black screen. Safe startup mode was no help, hanging at some driver that didn’t seem related to my hardware…

I didn’t give up, wiped that partition and tried again… After second time, I gave up.

Strangest thing is that I don’t even know how to report this to MS. They have crashes and Feedback reported from within Windows 7, everywhere. But what if it is a case like mine, where Installer doesn’t even work?! I wonder if there is some log somewhere.

Another strange thing is that Windows Vista and Ubuntu work flawlessly on that same computer. Go figure…

But, it’s beta, so I am not holding it against folks at Redmond. I’ll keep trying to figure out how to submit a Setup log or something like it, in hopes that they will find time to analyze this issue.

Final words on Windows 7 – I think it is critical that in these hard times Microsoft prices Windows 7 properly. It should be cheaper, have LESS “editions” and allow for multi-PC license for home (like Mac does!).