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Semi-comatose computer needs help


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#1
peterrex

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So, here I go again with the other computers problems. First I cannot thank you guys enough(Doby, Audioboy and all the others)who helped me so much through the other strange saga and got me up and running on the rebuilt KV7 system.

This one is an AN7 mobo, AMD Barton core 2600 CPU, 2.5gig DDR RAM, ATI 128 All In Wonder 9600 video, Super Flower 12V PSU, Two 160gig Maxtor SATA drives Sony DVD R/CD R, flash card reader in front and floppy drive in a Lian LI case. This computer is connected to a KVM that switches two channels between this system and the other one that you just helped me finally get going.

This situation is different though. When I went away on April 14 I powered it down and (am quite sure) turned it off. It had been performing fine for a year or so since I first built it. When I came home April 25 it was running and no longer accessible other than to power on. To the best of my knowledge no one tampered with it, I cannot get to POST or BIOS. I have reset CMOS numerous times. The CPU and mobo fans both turn but the mobo fan is not predictable, sometimes runs sometimes not (it responded to an insert button suggestion from troubleshooting in the manual) and I really still don't think it's a mechanical problem. The DVD door doesn't open. I have taken out the battery and left it out over night, cleared CMOS so many times I've forgotten how many, left it unplugged and in essence I gave up to focus on the other computer first so as to have a good clean running system to work from.
I have replaced the CMOS battery, blown out all the dust and am stumped. There is no video activity, no POST running on the led on the mobo and it will only turn off or on from the back.
I was told by a friendly stranger at Frys that I needed to get a boot floppy to get into DOS but I haven't done that yet and after looking at the various boot disk web sites I'm not quite sure which way to turn. As these HDD have data on them I hope to preserve, I hope to revive this system without reformatting the drives first if I can help it.
Who can suggest how I might get it to POST or get into BIOS for starters? I assume that is what I need to do first? Anybody? :help
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#2
Samm

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A boot disk is fine but won't help if you can't get the system to POST!
First thing I suggest is, if possible, can you connect one of the drive to your other system & recover your files that way? If so, you may want to do this first before sorting out the other issues.

Also, when you said you had turned the system off before going away, did you turn it off at the wall socket or just on the back of the PSU?
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#3
peterrex

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My failure was to only turn it off at the front. I have never had this happen before. I wish I had unplugged it now. Probably transferring to the other computer is the safest form of bu at this point. I still have a free SATA connector in the new setup as well as IDE availiblilty. I guess I'll put the SATA drives one at a time on the #2 connector and back them up to an IDE I can install for that purpose. Does this sound reasonbly feasable? After all I went through getting this setup to function, I don't want to jeoopardise it. Are there any special settings I need to remember in the BIOS or should I just power down, install the drives and power on again? I still need to get some virus protection and all that stuff as well. Thanks in advance.
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#4
Samm

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Leave the boot drive on the working system in place. (I'm guessing that will be on the first SATA channel?). Shut down & install one of the drives from the defunct system to the 2nd SATA channel as you suggested. Attach the IDE drive to the secondary IDE channel maybe. Boot up & check the new drives are found in the bios.
Load windows in safe mode to minimise the impact that the new drives may have on your windows settings. Copy across from the second sata to ide, do not open any files from the second sata drive in case there is a virus in there.
Shut down the system, disconnect the second sata drive, attach the other sata drive from default system to the second sata channel & repeat the process.

Remember to disconnect both the secondary sata drives & the IDE drive before booting windows normally. When you have a virus scanner up & running, you can then reconnect the ide drive & scan for viruses.
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#5
audioboy

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so, we meet again...
uh oh! you got another doozy of a problem! it sounds like your power supply might be the cause of the issues here.
as for backing up your data, first want to make sure you didnt have the 2 sata drives as a raid 0. most likely you just had them as 2 separate drives, but I want to be certain.
you can leave the second drive out of the system for now, it shouldnt have any boot or system info on it. for your main drive, you can pop it in your new PC (hows it running, btw?) on the 2nd sata channel. no jumpers, or bios settings to worry about on that. windows will recognize it.
on your newer system, did you install any IDE hard drives? I seem to remember you wanted to put 1 in for storage only. in either case, make sure in bios that the IDE channels are set to auto to recognize the drives, and that HDD is not an option in boot priority- I believe we got you set up that way already.
then you should be able to b/u your data no problem.

check out zonealarm for a good free firewall, and microsoft anti-spyware is free and works quite well. I believe there are some free antivirus options listed under the pinned topics in the malware section of the forum.
I use zonealarm firewall + antivirus, and have had zero problems since installing.

*edit*- samm beat me to the post! her instructions are a safer way to go for copying needed files.

Edited by audioboy, 06 May 2005 - 03:20 PM.

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#6
peterrex

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Well, thanks again. No there was no RAID or mirror type set up for this one. So, I'll just plug the number two drive into the number two slot on the fresh setup and I can copy to storage. I actually also have an external firewire drive for these purposes and I may find that is the easier way. I'll let you know. But then there's the number one drive. You don't think the new setup would like it as a #2 hd due to the presence of the OS on it? I'll keep you posted (no pun).

I have learned to try to slow myself down a bit as I have the urge to just keep going with everything I need/want to do and strangely begin to find myself not working well; oops, I forgot to eat for the last eight hours while I problem solved everything. Thanks
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#7
audioboy

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as long as you connect the old #1 drive to the #2 slot in the new, it will be fine, will not try to boot from that.
again, you should only need to do a b/u on the old #1 drive, since that will be needed in the old pc for troubleshooting. you can leave the old #2 out for now, and it will be safe.
that firewire drive will probably be the fastest way to go.
I am exactly the same way when absorbed in a project/problem. like you said, sometimes ya gotta slow down, take a break, etc.
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#8
peterrex

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So I did take out the #1 drive and put it into the #2 SATA slot. Everything was there and I copied desktop and other files to the external firewire. I was wondering about the backing up of any of the programs or if that was futile or pointless. There are some, for instance Registry cleaners that I found useful before (though of course that could be some of the cause of the current meltdown I guess) So the comatose (AN7 Barton AMD) system still is unresponsive and I'm not sure how to proceed. Is this a revivable state or am I looking (again) for a new mobo and/or cpu or PSU? :tazz:
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#9
audioboy

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you can only back up data within programs. in a worst case scenario, and the drive got wiped (unlikely given your situation), as long as you have the installs for programs, then you can re-install them, and move any data back into them.
my general rule of thumb, especially for anything programs I downloaded, is to save the install file, so if something weird happens, I can re-install it. its easy to save the install files onto CD, etc. so they dont take up space.

at this point, I would strip the old PC down to essential components only. mobo, video card (if no onboard video), hard drive, CD. see if it can you can at least get into BIOS, if not a full boot, with a lighter load.
if not, unplug HD and CD (power and cabling to mobo), leaving only the mobo and video. see if you can post and get to bios.
this should narrow it down to if its the PSU or the mobo.
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#10
peterrex

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OK, so there's no POST response to power up without any drives or peripherals. only video card. If I swap out the PSU can I use for testing the older 300watt I just removed from the other unit? I know it really requires a more robust unit and the current one in question is 450watt made by TTGI. Should I just go and replace the PSU from Surplus Computers (for instance) where they are pretty inexpensive? I think I'll be having a flea market sale after all this to clear out the no longer relevant stuff I have. I want to get the AN7 up and running as I have a lot of video files to deal with and that is the designated purpose for that system. I am your humble servant, etc, etc.... :tazz:
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#11
Samm

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If you do as Audioboy suggested & strip out everything except for CPU, hsf, RAM, Video & a ps2 keyboard, then you should be able to boot from a 300W PSU into the POST test, assuming everything else is working of course. Make sure all external devices (except krd & monitor) are removed. Also make sure that you unplug all the drive cabling from the mobo - it's not enough to disconnect at the drive end.

I recommend that you clear the Bios after removing the components & before you attempt to boot up, as a lot of stuff that the bios thinks is installed, suddenly won't be. Obviously, make sure the PSU is connected to the mobo only, no drives etc.
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#12
peterrex

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So here's my plan for the day to get this over with and if my esteemed advisors all think it wise. I'm going to swap the new power supply from the previously restored system to test the viability of that. Then I will remove all the RAM and use the one DDR stick I'm using in the restored system. If these tests all fail I am left needing to test the cpu. My question is: can I take the cpu from the AN7 (the Barton CPU) and test it in the newly built KV7 and like wise test the AN7 board using the model 4 Thunderbird 1400 to test the AN7 mobo?
These are my test plans for the day. If the movbo is bad I can get an RMA and drive it to Fremont and swap it out as I have owned it less than a year and have the receipt.
God knows I need some structure today, in the midst of writing this I was interupted by a phone call telling me my oldest childhood friend had died of cancer a few days ago so I think I plan to stay busy today. :tazz:
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#13
Samm

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Hi
I'm sorry to hear about your friend, I have lost quite a few people myself in the last few years to either cancer or suicide, so I know how you feel.

Ok, on to the computer. I agree that testing the PSU from the working system on the dead one, would be a good idea. But do this on it's own - ie, swap only the psu for now, not RAM etc. (Remember to connect the 4 pin CPU ATX connector as well as the 20 pin main connector to the mobo - it's easy to forget this one!).

I've just had a quick glance through the manual for the AN7. It says there is a diagnostic POST display in the bottom left corner of the mobo. This display registers every stage of the post test, so that if the test fails, you can see what it failed on.

When you fit the other PSU & power up the system, have look at this display & let me know what, if anything, it says.
Theres also 2 LEDS on the mobo, next to each other along the bottom edge of the mobo. Let me know if one or both of these are lit when you power up the system.

If the PSU idea doesn't work, then try this next - remove ALL ram sticks from the mobo & then power it up. Let me know if you hear any beeps.

Don't start swapping CPUs about yet. I think this has to be a last resort & theres plenty of other stuff yet to try!
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#14
peterrex

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When I swappped the PSU, I put the new one in the AN7 and although I had hooked up the appropriate minimum of connections, power came on but no fans, not in the PSU or on the board. I quickly turned it off. I tried a few times and no change. The only thing I did see different was that the POST display in the lower left corner which has been reading 88 (no activity I can discern) read 00 for the moments that the power was on. I gave up and returned the PSU to the good sys. I plugged the old PSU back in and tried it without RAM. I get no change at all. This is the one thing that is consistent since this began, no activity on the POST read out and both led lights in the lower right lit. With the old PSU the heatsink fan runs and with the newer PSU it didn't seem to and I wasn't comfortable leaving it on. I did try the AN7 with the known good DDR RAM from the good sys and no difference. Now I'm running the KV7 with some extra RAM. So, where do I go from here?
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#15
Samm

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According to the manual, post code 88 means CPU core voltage ready. So this will be the last successful check it runs I guess.

If you want to try the CPU swap, then thats up to you. I can't advise you to do that because it could be risky but I'll tell you the safest way of doing it, then you decide if you want to try.

The best way probably is to place the current CPU (Barton) into the KV7. Don't put the 1400 cpu into the suspect board because if the board does have a major fault, its possible that the working CPU could be damaged. If the KV7 is set up to autodetect all the CPU settings, then fine otherwise you will need to change them to auto to make it recognise the faster CPU.

Be very careful - if the heatsink becomes detached from either CPU in the transfer (which is likely), you will need to remove all traces of the original thermal compound & apply new paste before reinstalling. Otherwise you may experience problems with overheating.

If the Barton chip works OK in the KV7, then you should probably RMA the motherboard.
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