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Black screen with blinking cursor unpon start-up

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Hi there! I have a Dell 4550 workstation that's about 5-6 years old. Went on a 4-day vacation and came home to start-up computer and only see a black screen with a blinking cursor. I can see the Dell start-up screen for a second and it gives me only f and fas options. I'm an end-user with no config experience on home computers so I'll need help fixing this one. I've seen other posts about this situation, but I'm following instructions to start my own convo for me.

notes about the comuter: It has two harddrives in it -- my brother installed the second one about a year ago and it's been running slow for ever since.

Side note -- I recently bought a new laptop and I've transferred all the files I really want a few weeks ago so I'm fine with a total reformat scenario. I don't know how to do that though from this current cursor point.

Help me obi-wan kenobi, you're my only hope...
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Well, if you don't mind going back to the DELL original configuration try this. It's the Dell secret code for restore. You will probably not be able to go to a restore point so the second part applies.

1. Verify the modem or network cable is detached from the computer.

2. Start the computer.

3. When the Dell splash screen appears during startup, press <Ctrl> + <F11> and release them at the same time.

Press the key combination only once. If you press them more than once, a keyboard error occurs. Restart the computer and repeat the steps above.

4. Click Accept when the Symantec|Dell Recovery Environment End User License Agreement screen appears. The Symantec Recovery Disk window appears displaying two options:

* Recover My Computer - Restores your computer to a backup point:
1. Click Recover My Computer.

2. When the Select Recovery Point window appears, click to select the recovery point from which you want to restore, and click Recover My Computer.

3. Follow the onscreen instructions to complete the recovery process.

* Recover My Computer to Original Dell Configuration - Restore your computer to its original Dell configuration:

1. Click Recover My Computer to Original Dell Configuration. The Recover My Computer Wizard window appears.

5. Click Yes and press <Enter>.

6. Click Yes when the Recover My Computer Wizard dialog box appears, and press <Enter>.

The Ghost32 window appears, and the restore process begins, which takes approximately 8 to 10 minutes to complete. When complete, the computer restarts.

If neither of the above works, i would pull the hard drive out of the computer and see if it is seen in another computer.It may be the hard drive has died. A second thing to do is reset the Cmos( usually with a jumper on the motherboard). Does you computer have the lights on the back. heres the dell manual for troubleshooting those lights and also the Cmos setup and beep codes.


It could also be a simple matter of a memory stick not seated good in it slot. I have even seen a heatsink with dried up compound cause this. The cursor says your motherboard is working and the graphics is working( although only in DOS mode), so you need to look for a hardware problem somewhere.


Edited by SRX660, 07 August 2008 - 01:29 PM.

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okay, I tried the <Ctrl> + <F11> and nothing happened -- twice. It still comes back with the blinking cursor. I checked and all 4 of my A-B-C-D lights on back are all green. Per the Dell link, my machine should be operating. I'm not sure what to do or how to remove a hard drive (or even which one would be the problem). Any other suggestions? Could I be looking at a huge paper weight now? :)
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