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Something's wrong. Hard Drive? Motherboard? IDE Connector?


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#1
erndawg101

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Just put together a new PC a few days ago to replace my old store bought E-Machines PC. The new PC is fine, however the old PC, which I was planning to put downstairs for my mother is giving me trouble. About a week ago it stopped booting up, or boots up "when it wants to" during restart or power cycles. I get, at best, a screen telling me Windows XP previously shut down to prevent damage, and I can choose to start normally, go back to the last known good configuration, or start in safe mode. Regardless of which option I choose, my display goes to sleep, but the computer doesn't shut down. It sounds like the hard drive is still spinning but is not transmitting information to the monitor. I've even tried rebooting from my Windows XP CD, but to no avail. Again,the display shuts down right at the beginning of the blue Windows setup screen. I removed the hard drive (IDE) and installed it to my new computer (SATA) to try and get some files from it. That worked fine, so that makes me think that it's not a hard drive problem. After removing the files I wanted and transfering them to the SATA hard drive, I formated the IDE drive and put it back into the old PC. I then tried booting from the windows cd, the way I would any new master hard drive, but ran into the same trouble. I guess my long winded question here is what do I need to replace to get the old PC working again? Is it indeed the hard drive that needs to be replaced? Should I try installing Windows XP to the IDE hard drive using my new PC then trying the IDE hard drive in the old PC? Perhaps it can't boot anymore. Don't know if that's possible, but it's an idea. Is the IDE controller on that E-Machines motherboard fried? Or maybe the whole dang motherboard? I have nothing against spending a few bucks to get this PC up and running for my mother. I just want to make certain I purchase the right thing the first time. LOL. Thanks in advance for your help...


As a side note, if it is indeed the hard drive that needs to be replaced, I'm thinking I'll just slave it back into my new system like I had it, since it interfaced with mine fine. The problem is, from what I can tell my Motherboard only has one IDE controller which is being used by my optical drives. I thought I read somewhere in this forum that an adapter or adapter cable is available to connect an IDE hard drive to an SATA port. Can anyone confirm this? And, if it does exsist, let me know where I can snag one? Thanks again....
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#2
austin_o

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Hi and welcome to Geeks to Go. Lets focus on the eMachine you are having trouble with. When you boot to the windows install cd, do you see any info displayed on the monitor? From your long discription, I get that you initially have options displayed, and no matter which you choose, the video dies. Is that correct? I also understand you took out the hd, transferred files off if it and then formatted it. If you were able to do that, the problem is not the hard drive. When you post back, include the full system specs of that eMachine. This will better enable folks who want to try to help you.
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#3
erndawg101

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Thanks for starting to tackle this for me Austin...

"From your long discription, I get that you initially have options displayed, and no matter which you choose, the video dies. Is that correct?" Yes, that is correct. Same thing happened after the formatting of the drive and booting to the windows cd. Sometimes i don't get anyting to display at all. But I definately still hear fans running, and the cd-drive light switches from solid to blinking green and back again. Meanwhile the hard drive light is a steady orange. I've got the system specs posted below, taken directly from the emachines website. Hopefully that information will help.



CPU: AMD Athlon™ XP 2800+ Processor (2.083GHz) with QuantiSpeed™ architecture
Operating System: Genuine Microsoft® Windows® XP Home
Chipset: NVIDIA® nForce™2
Memory: 512MB DDR (PC 2700)
Hard Drive: 160GB HDD
Optical Drive: DVD +/- RW Drive (Write Max: 4x DVD+/-R, 2.4x DVD+RW, 2x DVD-RW, 16x CD-R and 10x CD-RW disks, Reads 12x Max. DVD-ROM disks, Reads 40x Max. CD-ROM disks); 48x Max. CD-ROM Drive; 3.5" 1.44MB FDD; 8-in-1 Media Reader(USB 2.0, Secure Digital (SD), Smart Media, Compact Flash, Memory Stick, Memory Stick PRO, Micro Drive, Multimedia Card)
Video: NVIDIA® GeForce4™ MX graphics (1 AGP 8x slot available)
Sound: nForce™ 6-channel Audio
Network: 10/100Mbps built-in Ethernet
Modem: 56K ITU v.92-ready Fax/Modem
Peripherals: Premium Plus Multimedia Keyboard, 2-Button Wheel Mouse, Amplified Stereo Speakers
Ports/Other: 5 USB 2.0 ports (4 in back; 1 in Media Reader), 1 Serial, 1 Parallel, 2 PS/2, Audio-In & Out
Dimensions: 7.25" W x 14.125" H x 16" D
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#4
erndawg101

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If it turns out to be an issue with the video card, do you think I can get away with buying a new AGP video card for the open slot I have?
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#5
WinCrazy

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First off, just because you were able to get files off the old hard drive doesn't mean the drive doesn't have problems such as bad sector dat or a physical problem.

Get the drive back on the new system use Hitachi's Drive Fitness Test. You will need to download the ISO disc image file and burn it to a blank CD. Programs such as Roxio and Nero can burn ISO disc image files as well as the free program CDBurnerXP Pro. Restart your computer while the CD is in the drive and the program will automatically run if your BIOS is configured to try to boot from CD/DVD before trying to boot from the hard drive. You may have to enter the BIOS on a restart and change the devices' boot order.

If DFT confirms hard drive problems you will need to install a new hard drive and reload XP. Hard drive's "master" and "slave" settings are configured by moving a jumper to particular positions on metal posts next to the cable connector on the back of the drive. Almost all drives nowadays have a diagram on the label on the top of the drive. Another positve note is that disk drives are getting cheaper by the week.

Once the old drive is checked oy OK (or replaced) then you can try to debug the system. A very good RAM test is Memtest86 which is also available as an ISO disc image. It also run by letting it boot off the CD on a restart. The test should run for 3 complete series without any bad locations. If f the test fails and you have only one stick of RAM then it needs to be replaced. If there are more than one stick the Memtest86 must be run with only one stick installed at one time in order to isolate the bad RAM module. Another bit of good news is that RAM is coming down in price by the week, also. However, PC100 and PC133 memory is getting increasingly expensive since it is continuing to go obsolete.

At this point you have a "known good" hard drive and known good memory. The other major components to test are the motherboard, the power supply and the optical drive. Borrow the optical drive from your new system since is presumed to be "known good". If the old computer is not an OEM build (Dell, HP, E-Machines, etc) then borrow the power supply, too. You need as many known good components as possible in order to be able to isolate anyremaining bad components. f you can't temporarily replace the power supply you must presume it to be OK, at least for the time being.

Now try to install XP. If the installation process gets stuck at the same point it did before then for certain its
either the motherboard that's bad or possibly the old power supply if you couldn't replace it. There's no way to fix a motherboard. If the processor is a Socket-A (AMD Athlon or Duron) then it may be difficult finding a replacement. Intel Socket-478 motherboards are still in good supply.

If XP installs all the way and you are still using the old power supply, immediately download and install Everest Home. Look at the CPU temperature and the 3.3, 5 and 12 volt supply readings. The CPU temp should not ever be above 55C. The power supply outputs should always be in this range:

+3.3: 3.135V to 3.465v
+5: 4.75V to 5.25V
+12: 11.4V to 12.6V

If the CPU temp is too high, check that its fan is still spinning freely. If it is then you will have to redo the hestsink-to-CPU contact with new thermal paste. Remove the heatsink+fan and carefully clean off any existing thermal paste or rubber contact pad. I recommend Arctic Silver 5 for the new thermal compound but you can use the cheap stuff from Radio Shack if need be. Carefully replace the heatsing by clipping it back into place. Start the system up and check the CPU temp in Everest again to see that it is cool enough.

If the power supply outputs are out of range the the power supply will have to be replaced. OEM models will be a real challenge to find. Non-oem types are readily available.

I hope this helps you fix your system. Basically this procedure is about replacing each piece of hardware untill your system starts working properly and then putting back all but the last (bad) piece of hardware.

Edited by WinCrazy, 30 April 2006 - 05:28 PM.

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