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Thread: Cold weather lock up problems

  1. #1
    Newbie theforce's Avatar
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    Cold weather lock up problems

    I'm having issues keeping my car PC from locking up this winter. I was thinking it was the hard drives but I'm not %100 certain they are the cause.

    I should note that I have two 120GB laptop drives in a raid 1.

    When I turn on the PC it will boot fine but once XP is loaded it may take a few minutes but it will eventually lock up. Thinking this might be an OS problem I reformatted and installed XP. In the house it ran for hours just fine but when its outside in the cold car it will lock up. As a test while in the car I let spinrite run on the hard drives and it did not lock up. This test was ran after my car sat in the cold for 2 days.

    So what I'm thinking is that when XP is trying to access something on the drive the cold drive might have difficulty reading something and that causes XP to lock up. This is the only thing I can think of at the moment.

    My question to all of you that have had more experience with car PC's is are the hard drives the cause of this kind of lock up in cold weather or might there be something else wrong?

    If its the hard drives causing the issue would SSD storage fix the issue? If SSD would fix the issue what is the best / cheap SSD to get? Intel X25-E is nice but way too much at the moment. I have read some have issues with stuttering but would this be an issue with a car PC that mostly reads from the disc? Would having a raid 0 fix the stuttering if I went with two of the cheap drives that stutter?

    I don't hang out here much but this site has helped a lot with my car PC project. Thanks in advanced.

  2. #2
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    Bugbyte's Avatar
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    Hmm. The cold seems to be affecting the drives, but it could be something else. Often, when the computer freezes it turns out to be a connector or PCI card or memory and the like. Do you have anything like that in the PC?
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  3. #3
    Maximum Bitrate bratnetwork's Avatar
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    Could possibly be a USB driver issue, but if it ran fine with all the same devices then thats not likely it. If it is in fact the hard drive having problems with the cold weather a SSD drive would cure the problem. Check to see if your hard drive have fluid dynamic bearings bc those seem to be the ones that have issues in the cold the most.

    Also how cold are we talking here?

    I bought a cheap SSD off eBay for $130. Its a Patriot WARP but its only 32gb. Just using it for my OS and I may copy some music over to it just as a backup if my storage drive fails. So far the SSD has been great to me even though its a cheapo.

  4. #4
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    Could also be your power supply in the car. If the processor is not getting all the power it needs it may not be performing optimally. Your power supply's input threshold and this could be affected by your battery's temperature - say it's not not really getting 12v when the battery is at -20C then you could get things going wonky with your pc. I know this because it's happening to my set up right now. For example if I boot up prematurely, my processor will be extremely slow, but if I wait things will be ok. When I start my car I need to run the engine for about 30 seconds then boot up the pc, because my brand new battery at -20C say is not supplying 12v to my inverter - which powers the auxiliary things like my hubs. Could be supplying say 11v. My pc is is powered by another power supply by the way (not the inverter). During this process I'll get weird things happen if I don't wait, all because the power supply thresholds are set to get a higher voltage than is currently being supplied before those 30 secs. Just a suggestion that may be the problem.

  5. #5
    Newbie theforce's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bugbyte View Post
    Often, when the computer freezes it turns out to be a connector or PCI card or memory and the like. Do you have anything like that in the PC?
    No PCI cards, One stick of 1GB RAM. When I reinstalled the OS I removed and reconnected all the cables inside the case just to make sure nothing was loose.

    Quote Originally Posted by bratnetwork View Post
    Check to see if your hard drive have fluid dynamic bearings bc those seem to be the ones that have issues in the cold the most.
    I have the MK1234GSX. After doing a search I think this drive has fluid dynamic bearings unless I did not find the right info.

    Also how cold are we talking here?
    Its currently 25F. Temps around here can get in the teens sometimes but usually stays at or above freezing during the day in winter.


    As far as the voltage goes I just installed a new Optima about a month ago and its a nice healthy 11.5v-12.1v when the car is in ACC mode. When the car is in ready mode its a steady 13v


    I did not have my USB DVD drive, GPS, and hub hooked up in the house. I guess I could just for the hell of it unplug all USB devices just to see if maybe one of them is having an issue in the cold weather and is passing it along to XP.


    I have been looking at the G.SKILL 64GB SSD on newegg.com for the past few days. For the price its very tempting to buy two of them just to play around with. Reviews on this drive seem to be pretty good.

  6. #6
    FLAC
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    Before you go buy an expensive ssd, make sure it isnt the motherboard that is causing the problem. Alot of motherboards use cheap electrolytic capacitors which could be problematic at lower temperatures.

  7. #7
    FLAC
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    Its because its a laptop hard drive. Laptop drives are fluid bearings, they don't work very in the cold weather (below -5*C). You can either get a rugged weather prove laptop hard drive (endurstar series) or get a desktop 3.5" hard drive. Which worked great in the winter (good down to -30*C). Or get a solid state hd.

  8. #8
    Newbie theforce's Avatar
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    Well I don't think its the mother board at this point because I ran spinrite for 20 minutes on my way to work and it did not lock up while scanning the hard drives. Spinrite did not report any errors while scanning the drives either but since they were still in the raid 1 I don't know if it would show any errors or not. Also since spinrite is loaded in memory and does not use the hard drives except for scanning purposes I would not think a read error would lock up the program like XP might.

    Since I was able to get a memory resident OS program running for 20 minutes without locking up the PC I would think the motherboard and all solid state components would be OK. Its only when XP is booted when the lock up occurs and it has only occurred when it started to get cold. This leads me to believe its a hard drive issue or since bratnetwork mentioned USB devices it might have something to do with them. I will try to unplug all my USB devices in the morning before I head to work to see if that makes a difference.

    I wish I had an extra desktop SATA to try out but unfortunately I don't have one. I don't even have a good IDE to use. Some how my stock pile of spare drives have withered down to nothing. If I do end up having to get a new drive I will want to get an SSD for the speed and low power consumption. While I'm at it I might as well buy some spare SATA and IDE drives to have just in case.

    If anyone has more suggestions on how to narrow down my issue please keep them coming. Or if you can tell me its my crappy laptop drives just let me know. Thanks for all the advice so far.

  9. #9
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    Keep in mind most SSD drives don't recommend operating below 0C. I'd get a laptop hard drive made for automotive use that's good for (-30C).

  10. #10
    FLAC
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    I thought that the main reason hard drives dont work in the cold is because they fail to spin up fast enough as the fluid bearings become viscous. Usually if the drive manages to successfully spin up and boot, then the system has no problems after that.

    You can check if it is your drive by taking it indoors and leave your system out in the cold. Then while the drive is still warm, quickly connect it and see if you get any problems. On my old system, that is how I managed to determine that it was my motherboard that was at fault and not the drive.

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