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World's. Slowest. Boot-up.


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#1
rch427

rch427

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My computer seems to be failing, and I'm hoping that someone here might have an idea why, and what can be done. It's a system that was cobbled-together about 2 years ago by a guy who works for a national PC magazine, and is comprised of the following:

Intel mobo
P4 cpu
160gb HD
256mb RAM
XP-Pro

About 9 months ago, I had a SMART failure with the former HD, so I hired a free-lance tech to help me replace it with a new Seagate HD. I should mention that both HDs have been housed inside a special aluminum case with forced-air cooling("CoolDrive") that's intended to keep it cooler than just ambient airflow inside the case. And the case already has 4 fans, so I wouldn't've thought that heat would be an issue.

Everything was fine until about about 3 months ago, when I started getting what I call the "red stripe of death". This would sometimes appear after using the computer for a few hours (or just having it turned on), but the results were the same: the computer would freeze up with the hourglass running and no programs responding. Then, a red stripe about 50 pixels tall would appear across the top of the screen, and the only way I could get out of it is to unplug the computer, wait a half-minute, and plug it back in.

I downloaded a freeware utility ("ActiveSMART") that tests and monitors the condition of the HD, and the only info that it gave me that was suspicious was that the HD was running a little hotter than it should. I removed the HD from the "CoodDrive" housing, and put it back in the case. The cooling case looks like it's been working properly, but I wonder if it just couldn't deal with its job, and was retaining more heat than it was dissipating.

I dealt with the "red stripe of death" as best I could, but starting a few days ago, the computer got far worse. Now, it would get the red stripe when booting, or it would just take forever to boot. For example, this morning when I turned it on, it took 40 minutes just to get to the regular desktop. And for the last few times I've tried to boot, it has popped up windows saying "The system has recovered from a serious error" and "Dr. Watson Postmortem Debugger has encountered a problem and needs to close". Also, it's now saying "ActiveSMART detected attribute changing in the HD". And now, the computer pretty much refuses to do anything. When I turn it on, it just goes to a black screen that says "Disk error. Press CTRL+ALT+DELETE to restart".

Any ideas?

Edited by rch427, 11 November 2006 - 02:50 PM.

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#2
rch427

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Thank you for the insightful response, Sian.

When booting, I just get the usual single, short beep; nothing out of the ordinary there.

It's entirely possible that some of the fans aren't hooked up correctly, although I know that the one on the side panel is sucking air into the case, and there are a couple of open slots in the back of the tower that must let some air out. And, of course, the CPU and PSU have fans that are functioning correctly.

I misspoke re. the RAM -- I just checked and I have 512mb (two Kingston KVR800X16/256). I don't know if it could make any difference, but both sticks have stickers on them that say "evaluation". Does that mean that it's not for retail sale, or that it may not have all the kinks worked out?

Anyway, I don't know if this gives you anything more to go on. The fact that I'm getting a "disk read error" message on boot worries me. It's hard for me to believe that the new HD could fail so quickly, and without the disk checking utility or SMART system giving me any warning.

-- Robert



Hello rch427, (a nice concise/informative post btw). I am thinking a obvious overheat issue and a possible HDD failure. During the initial boot up 'post'(power on self test does your comp' emit any beeps at all? if so could you post back exactly as possible how many/duration etc.

Also a thought did occur to myself after reading your post and the mention of 4 fans installed in the case, it is possible they have been installed incorrectly and rather than circulating air they are in fact extracting thus the red stripe of death you mentioned(good description btw) is causing the graphic card / and or mobo to over heat excessively, so if you could check that out and post back please.

Note: A tip mate tho Microsoft state versions of XP will run happily with 128mb RAM it is best to have at least 512mb installed.


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#3
happyrock

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try booting in safe mode

if you can ever get it to boot again ...backup anything you can't live without..
then ...

Run a Chkdsk. Start... Run... type: Chkdsk /f/r then hit OK. You will have a message that it can't be run now, would you like to run at boot (Y/N) type: Y then Enter. Restart your computer and let it run.
You can also right click your Local Disk (C:) in My Computer and select properties. Tools tab, Error- Checking > Check Now button. Check the boxes and hit Start.

running chkdsk can have bad effects on your data but can fix some errors that can cause booting problems...
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#4
happyrock

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I would still run chkdsk before pronouncing it dead...wont hurt anything to do it...
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