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Hi List

This is my first posting.

Last night I went to start my PC, which hadn't been playing up prior to this (any more than PCs ever do that is) and ... not a lot. The fans were working, the indicator light of the on/off switch was on. The monitor came on for a zillisecond then went into 'going to sleep' mode and its indicator light went from green to orange. The USB hub and wireless thingy were likewise non-operational. I swapped plugs, took off the side cover and blew out some huge dust bunnies, put it all back together again and ... not a lot. The PC is just over 3 yrs old, an HP with an AMD doodah and a GeForce doodah. It is probably pretty obvious that I know a lot about computers, especially mine.

So.... is it 'dead' or just playing hard to get? Is it likely to be the motherboard or the processor or can't you tell unless you're up close and personal?? I am really only concerned to retrieve and re-use my HD since, despite constant backups, it's a pain to reinstall everything and I might have a FEW files and photos that are not saved to disk.

My questions (you must have wondered) are - [1] is it worth replacing a new whatever it is that's broken or just buy a new PC? [2] can I somehow use the existing HD in another PC?

Thank you for listening and thank you even more for thinking of replying, if you are. I feel better already.

Regards, Karen
Dr Karen Francis :eek:
NCCC Cardiff

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Last Post by dcc
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Well if it was me i would simply say get a new PC although computers can last longer then 3 years that is when they start to get sloppy and things start to go wrong.

What it sounds to me like is either one of two things.

1) Your power supply has pretty much had enough and packed it in. It is relitivly easy to tell if this is the problem by making sure that the power supply stays on ( fans spinning and such when you power on the computer) or by swapping the powersupply with a new(or second hand one that you know is working) and seeing if your computer will boot up.

2) Your motherboard has failed. If you could find out the brand and model of the motherboard then you could buy a second hand one off ebay the same model as yours however you will not be able to replace it with a new one unless you know what chip slot your CPU is and it starts to become more effort then it is worth and your better off with a new computer.

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Hi Loppylugs, and welcome to Dani Web.

Does the power go off completely or do the fans or LEDs continue?

If the power goes off entirely this could be a case of over heating. You have told us that the computer had dust bunnies inside, if the heat sink and fan assembly are full of dust the CPU could be over heating. There is a thermistor which reads this temperature, when it exceeds its set point it will shut the computer down.

If the computer isn't shutting down completely please tell us what is still running. Are the fans still running, both case and HSF.? Does you CD-ROM open? Are there any LEDs lit?

A computer of threes years of age is still within its life span, the question becomes how much of your time are you willing to contribute to its repair. You can take the hard drive out and install it in another machine as a slave and retrieve the information on it.

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Hi Lasher

Thanks for your help

Both options sound a pain. I suspect from what you say that it may be the second one. The computer is 'running' in the sense that the lights are on, the fans are whizzing but no-one is at home! Presumably the motherboard has given up - I wondered as much because all the peripherals were dead. Damn! Oh well - I was getting fed up with the thing anyway. I bought it in PC World and it has been a pain. The on/off switch gets stuck, the USB ports long ago gave up the ghost and now this. No more Hewlett Packard for this girl :confused:

Thanks again for replying.

Regards, Karen

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Hi DCC

Thanks very much for your helpful reply

As I have said below (or above!) the fans keep whirring and all seems to be well - the system doesn't power up, the monitor is dead and all peripherals attached fail to work. I left the PC on for about 5minutes and it was quite happy so perhaps not the power supply. It is a shame that the machine has failed when so 'young' but nt unheard of sadly.

I am glad I can piggy back the HD since this is where all the precious stuff is, of course, although most of it is backed up but it is a nuisance to replace it all on a new system and there's bound to be a few files that are NOT backed up simply because I use the PC so much for work and for play.

Whether or not a new motherboard is do-able or even worth it will have to be investigated. Certainly I don't need a new monitor so I would only have to buy the processor which would make it more affordable.

Thanks again for your thoughts - this is evidently a very pleasant and helpful list. By the way, they weren't really dust bunnies, more like hares - where does it all come from?

Cheers, Karen

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Hi Loppylugs,

HP computers should have a beep code in the BIOS which will beep in a specific pattern if there is a failure in the POST and another pattern if it passes the POST. These patterns will vary depending on the model and its BIOS. If you let me know what the model of your HP is I will provide you with the beep codes.

Your failure could be the CPU, motherboard, RAM, HDD, or your video card. Or it could be a loose connection. This is why most repairs are made by replacing parts until they have a repair.

It is rather amazing how much and what can accumulate inside your computer. Between having two indoor cats and a wood stove that adds dust I need to clean my computer a couple times during the winter. I'm thinking of adding a filter in front of the intake fan.

Dust bunnies are a small problem, and hares are definitely worse. Just be glad that you don't have one of these.

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Hello again

Thanks for additional input and the big rabbit - there isn't room in the PC cabinet for one of those!

OK. A beep would be nice. I can tell you that the computer, along with everything else that isn't happening, is mute - not a beep or a squeak.

Not because I have had a sudden rush of blood to the head and know the specs of my machine (when I didn't before) but rather that I have copied it from the label on the front.... I have an HP Pavilion (is that embarassing? I don't know).

AMD Athlon 64
3200+
512 DDR
80G HD
ATI Radeon 9200 (128Mb video RAM)

As long as I can recover the data on the HD I am not sure how much time and/or effort I can make toget it all up together again. If this involves buying and replacing each piece at a time it could be expensive could it not? Is there anything that I could myself to identify the culprit??

Thanks again - I really appreciate your help and the fact that I can actually understand your answers ;)
Karen

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Hello again,

There are some other things we can try if you're up for it. The first thing to try is to observe the LED on the keyboard, there is a built in diagnostic tool that uses the LEDs. When the computer is first powered up there should be one or a couple of quick blinks of the LED and another after a few seconds. If the second one doesn't happen this mean that there has been a failure in the POST.

Another thing to try would be to replace the CMOS battery on the motherboard. Unless you have already replaced it you should have replace it by now anyway.

My first inclination here was that you have a bad video card, try removing and re-seating it a couple of times. You can identify the video card from the rear of the computer where the monitor is attached. You will also need to remove the screw that is holding the card in place.

One last thing to try, if you have more than one module of RAM try removing one and restart the computer. If that works then you have a bad module, if not replace the module and remove the second one and try again.

When you open the page to troubleshooting dead machines there is a "read me" article titled "My PC won't start-read this first!". This may have some information that you could benefit from.

Let us know how it goes.

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Hi

I forgt to mention in response to an earlier question - apart from fans (I opened the case and BOTH fans are working) the HD amber light is, a light 'round the back' is on and the CD/DVD trays both open and close.

Cheers, K

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Hi

We must have crossed in the post! I could try some of those things. If I knew where my CMOS was I would remove the battery etc but I don't. It's not that I'm not keen to try things but that I don't know how and, as I said earlier, a tad afeared at the notion of replacing stuff that might be costly but turn out to be unecessary.

There is no blinking light on the keyboard either - it is wireless and the doodgie that sends it a signal is dead as a doormat, along with everything else. The mouse isn't squeaking and the USB is 'on' but not operational so all other peripherals connected by USB are dodo-like as well. The monitor comes on for a moment and then hibernates. Having looked into the PC case I can see no obvious evidence of loose connections and even blowing on things didn't help (it usually works for car mechanics so I was rather disappointed).

Again, thank you. I will investigate what I can - if I never post here again it will probably be because I have electrocuted myself.

Cheers, Karen

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One last post and then I have to go earn my keep.

The CMOS battery is located on the motherboard, it is about 3/4 of an inch in diameter, silver in color, and should be easy to see. It should be the only bright round silver item on the motherboard.

Do you have a PS2 keyboard that you could try?

Bell laboratories have used a technique for a couple of decades, occasionally there will be a connectivity problem, by removing the card and reinstalling it a couple of time you will score the surfaces where the motherboard and the card mate. Try it on your video card.

One other thing you could try is to test the output of the PSU. If you have a voltage meter and know how to use it try this, with the PSU unplugged disconnect the 20 pin PSU connector from the motherboard. You will need a short piece of wire, place it in the socket of the green wire, and the other end in the socket of any black (negative) wire. Plug the PSU back in and your PSU should now be on, the fan inside of it should be spinning. To read the different rail voltages place one of the lead from the volt meter in the socket of a black wire and use the other lead to take readings from the other colored wires.

Color code:

Orange +3.3 VDC
Red +5.0 VDC
Yellow +12 VDC
Blue -12 VDC
White -5 VDC
Black Negative

Don't bother with the purple and gray wires. Your readings should be at least the indicated voltages, typically they are just a little higher. If they are below the indicated voltages you may have found your problem.

I'll check this thread when I get back this afternoon.

Good luck,

Dan

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Hi

Thanks again

I'll try changing the battery - it sounds easier. If that doesn't work I will try and borrow a voltmeter. I will report back.

Bye for now
Karen

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Me again

Now here's a funny thing... I went to PC World, which is just round the corner from my home. I asked the 'Tech Guys' about the CMOS battery and they laughed at me and said that the only thing that it would affect would be the date and time but not the start-up. I didn't like their tone much but then I'd never found them to be that helpful. They said that for £29.99 they could do some diagnostics. I said "No thank you" and wandered away to look at the new stuff.

Anyway, whilst I was browsing, I was approached by a man (I know how fishy this sounds) who said he'd overheard the conversation and thought he could help. He did have a wife and child with him, which gave him some credibility.

Long and short is they all trooped around to mine and he tinkered. He at least managed to get it to boot up but it died halfway through Windows loading. He says it may be the graphics card or a loose connection or something but nothing too serious in his opinion. He's taken it away and says he will phone me tomorrow. I trust him because he was a nice fellow and we exchanged all sorts of details so I am quite confident that all will be OK.

In case you're at all curious I will post the 'solution' if he gets it going again. In return I am looking up his wife's family history so we're all busy and happy.

Funny old world.

Thanks again for all help and suggestions.

Karen

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I'm glad that you have found some local help, it's frustrating to be a half world apart and try to guess what could be a half dozen things.

Replacing the battery would do two things, other than the obvious of providing a new battery it would also clear the CMOS taking the BIOS back to their default settings. It's the equivalent of take two aspirin and call me in the morning.

It is gratifying to hear that he thinks the same as I do in regards to the computer's problem, a loose connection or the video/graphics card.

Let us know how it turns out.

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It's too late to edit my last post so I will add this here.

The reason that I suggested replacing the battery wasn't really related to your current problem, it was more of an observation that at three years it should be replaced just for general principals, after all you did have the case open already.

The person who told you that the battery would only effect the date and time obviously forgot, or didn't know that if the battery goes it will also reset your BIOS to their default settings. There are some settings like enabling USB devices that would make you wonder what was wrong.

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Hi DCC

Being an ex-police officer I feel, when writing to you, that I might be addressing the deputy chief constable which definitely has me sitting to attention :eek:

I am very grateful for your input. In a funny sort of way you solved the problem by an almost miraculous route. If I hadn't removed the CMOS battery and gone round to PC World I wouldn't have met Phil and his wife and I wouldn't now have some really nice, knowledgeable chap working on my PC (unsolicited too) without charging me anything. He obviously knows what he's about, as do you. When he managed to induce my machine to boot up and briefly enjoyed sight of the Windows startup screen even I realised that my problems had halved into something more manageable.

The chap who told me so little about the CMOS battery was, incredibly, the 'techie guy' (as the sign above their office says) at PC World. Obviously, it is all about money - they're going to hook you in and make you pay through the nose for the diagnostics and even more for putting it right. Or, best case scenario, the sharp intake of breath and a recommendation to buy a new PC (which I was seriously thinking about).

When Phil got the animal going he was holding the back of the on/off switch and it worked which does suggest loose connection but the fact that it died relatively quickly suggested the video/graphics card because everything failed at that hurdle. Fine, I'll buy a new card (and a new CMOS battery :lol:).

It's nice to know that in this world there are still people who selflessly give up their time to help others because it gives them pleasure. So - thank you for your help. I WILL let you know the result........

......that's if Phil hasn't left the country with my machine

K

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Hi Floppylugs,

I'm glad to hear that you have fallen into such good fortune, it restores your belief in humanity when this sort of help occurs. Usually by time I've done my shopping and returned to my rural home I've had my fill of humanity.:lol:

I apologize if I come across as imposing, it is unintentional. It sounds like the relationship I had with my father when I was growing up. When he retired he was chief of staff of the Anesthesiology department at a campus in the University of California system, your description matches my attitude when conversing with him.

That's quite a transition going from a police officer to a physician, and I'm assuming a specialization in Oncology since you are with the National Collaborating Centre in Cardif.

Best,
Dan

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Hi

Thanks for your email. The reference to a chief constable was not to do with your tone - it was your moniker 'DCC' which in police speak is the deputy chief!

Yes, my faith in humanity, long since dormant, is tentatively re-awakened. The chap called me this evening and reported a partial success. He replaced a few items with those of his own and managed to boot up in safe mode. Apparently, almost as soon as he had done that an error message popped up saying 'unable to load keyboard drivers' and then the whole system crashed again. He's still working on it! I will brief you further when I know more.

Best wishes

Karen

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Hi

Last missal on the subject

My new friend tells me that it si something to do with the BIOS on the motherboard (!) and he is getting a new one and will then rebuild accordingly. As long as I get my HD back with everything on it I don't care really. At least I have met a nice couple and talked to some good people on here too so all worth the inconvenience of being without the infernal machine for a while.

Thanks again to those who responded.
Karen

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I would be interested to know exactly what the problem was with the BIOS. Usually clearing the CMOS or in a worse case scenario flashing the BIOS will take care of any problems with it. I've never heard of having to replace the EEPROM, but I suppose anything is possible.

Best of luck

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Hi all

I am getting my PC back tomorrow and apparently all is now well. My new best friend tells me that the problem was the motherboard which he has replaced and by some technical means which he has confounded me with, has managed to get the whole system up and runnung. He had to 'tweak' something to get around a unique number which had something to do with verifying the motherboard but knows his onions.

I'm sorry I don't know a better technical answer to those who are interetsed in the nuts and bolts of it all. I am very happy that I will have my PC back and all for £30!

Thank you again for being such a nice forum.

Karen

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Hi Karen, I'm glad to hear that you have it working again. After not hearing back I had thought perhaps it had become ammo for the trebuchet.

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Hi

Sorry about the long delay in replying - I've been busy up in the smoke.

I live on a caravan park so using a trebuchet would be very risky. In fact, when I moved in, I had to lose the trampoline.

The PC is wonderful, I always said it. My new best friend fixed it. The beast required a new motherboard. I removed all my data and he reinstalled XP. I still had a few teething troubles and the blue screen of death appeared but fortunately held information that allowed me to tweak a setting in the Device manager - something to do with VIA and the graphics settings, I don't remember it now. Anyway, I made the suggested change and all is very well. My bloodthirsty games (not that I play them obviously) all work better and faster than before and the graphics certainly look better to me. So I am once more in love with my machine and determined, now I have a new clean slate, not to fill my hard drive with useless clutter (I wonder how long that will last?!).

Thanks for your messages. Adieu

K

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Hi Karen, glad to hear that you have a working machine again. I have loaned my backup computer to a girl friend and if my new build went down I would be over there borrowing it back. I don't know what I would do without it now.

It's been a pleasure, as they say where I was born ...yall come back an visit now ya hear?

Dan

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