A friend built a computer for me a year ago that's been working fine up until now. I had it off for a few days while I was away, and I came back, turned it on, and now it just beeps at me and does nothing. The monitor remains on stand-by while the computer beeps.

Unfortunately I know little about computer hardware, and the friend who built it for me lives several hours away, so I'm hoping people here can offer some insight. The motherboard is an MSI K7N2 Delta, and the D-Bracket 2 was installed so I get the diagnostic LEDs on the back. The pattern of red-green lights shows that the problem is with the "Memory Detection Test." I looked on the MSI site, and the beeping pattern fit in the "RAM problem" category. So it seems that is indeed the problem area.

I tried switching the sticks around (I have two 512MB sticks, one in DDR1 and the other in DDR3) in various patterns and no luck. Tried one at a time, tried them in different slots, nothing.

Any ideas?

Switch off the PC before you open it up. (At the mains power, not just Windows shutdown or the power button.

Try one RAM module in slot 1. Reset CMOS (instructions in your motherboard manual) Boot up and see if it starts.

If not, repeat the procedure using the other module. Make sure both times that the module is firmly and completely seated in the RAM slot. Make sure also that your video card is firmly and completely seated in its slot.

If neither module gives success, take it to a technician for testing. Either your RAM or the motherboard could be damaged.

Hey, thanks. I haven't had a chance to try this yet, and forgive me if this is a silly question, but what does resetting the CMOS do? Will it have any effect on the contents of my hard drive?

Resetting CMOS simply changes BIOS settings back to factory preset defaults. The BIOS settings are merely the settings which identify the various components in your PC and how they are set to operate, in order that they can 'see' and communicate with each other.

Resetting CMOS is a useful troubleshooting procedure for hardware problems.