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Inconsistent hardware problems


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#1
S.O.A.D.A.

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Hello,

A friend's computer has started freezing. He asked me to have a look at it. I started it, Windows 7 lead me to a screen where an option to do a system restore was displayed and selected (there was an option to boot normally). I let it do the restore, especially since it wasn't responding to the keyboard at the time, and it did so and loaded fine. Avast was malfunctioning, so I re-installed it. All seemed OK. Then, after awhile, it froze again. I did a reset, and it won't boot - the screen was blank. I decided, just as a test, to switch the screen (had a spare) and the keyboard with different ones that I knew were working. Booted (all worked). Then I ran MemTest, 5 passes, no errors. Rebooting after MemTest the computer stopped at the "detecting IDE" phase of POST, and became irresponsive. I tried several more times (doing a cold reset each time). Once it booted into Windows, then froze.

The computer has a Gygabyte motherboard (I forgot the brand) with on-board video (no video card) and an Intel Quad CPU.

My question: is it the CPU of the motherboard? how can I tell for certain?

Thanks,
SOADA
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#2
SpywareDr

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Sounds like it may be the hard drive.
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#3
123Runner

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I agree about the hard drive since you already tested memory.

Run hard drive diagnostics: http://www.tacktech....ay.cfm?ttid=287
Make sure, you select tool, which is appropriate for the brand of your hard drive.
Depending on the program, it'll create bootable floppy, or bootable CD.
If downloaded file is of .iso type, use Burncdcc Link is in my signature below

NOTE...do not put a blank cd in until burncdcc opens the tray for you
1. Start BurnCDCC
2. Browse to the ISO file you want to burn on cd/dvd ....
3. Select the ISO file
4. click on Start

NOTE. If your hard drive is made by Toshiba, unfortunately, you're out of luck, because Toshiba doesn't provide any diagnostic tool. If you are unsure of the drive manufacturer then you can try seagate diagnostics It sometimes works on other manufacturers. Hitachi diagnostics is also known to work on Toshiba drives.
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#4
S.O.A.D.A.

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Sometimes I can't even get to the part when I can try and boot from CD - it gets stuck detecting IDE devices in POST. Sometimes I can. Does that still implicate the HD?
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#5
phillpower2

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While it could be the HDD itself it could also be a loose
power to HDD connection, loose or bad lead/ribbon from the
HDD to the MB or a bad *IDE or *SATA socket on the MB.
If you are unable to follow the advice given by 123Runner
I would check out all the internal connections, make sure to
remove the power cord from the wall & to take anti static
precautions before touching anything inside the case (touch
a bare metal part of the case).
This will also enable you to check other things inside the
case are as they should be + see if inside needs a clean.

*Dependent on what type of set-up
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#6
123Runner

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The hard drive check does not need the OS. It is done with a bootable diagnostic CD.
I would also rerun the memtest (longer than 5 passes).
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#7
S.O.A.D.A.

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123runner - I cannot boot from anything, man. Once every 10 attempts I can, maybe, but usually I can't even get to the part when I can open the boot menu. Can't enter CMOS settings as well.

phillpower2 - so you recommend that I carefully clean & reassemble the computer and try to replace all SATA & IDE cables, to rule out the possibility that they could be bad? I'll check all is connected well, then if I manage to boot, I'll run a disk diagnostic programme and maybe re-run memtest for longer than 5 passes?

If I still have problems booting, maybe I should try plugging the HD into a different socket?

Plus - if I cannot even get into BIOS on boot, doesn't it implicate the motherboard?

Thanks,
SOADA
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#8
phillpower2

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Yes I would now recommend an inspection of all the internal
connections & components, I would do this before purchasing
any new leads.
A spring clean is always a good idea + trying the HDD in
another socket makes sense, this is of course if you don`t
identify the problem as a loose connection or something else.
If the HDD is connected using an IDE ribbon the plastic
connection on the end can sometimes come away from the ribbon.
Good luck & if you require any assistance with the above please
post back.
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#9
S.O.A.D.A.

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OK, spring cleaning & thorough inspection is the next step. Then I'll see if it works.
Then - I'll try moving the HDD to a different socket, then replace each of the cables in turn with a new one - SATA & IDE, though I think they'v got all SATA in there.
Then I'll see if changing CMOS battery works (someone suggested that to me as a possible cause).
I'll also try to fit in a disk test (is SpinRite a good choice?) and an overnight memtest (though - are 5 passes really not enough?).

Will report back.

Thanks for all your help : )
SOADA
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#10
phillpower2

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I would hold off purchasing new SATA leads unless you identify it
being the problem, not sure about the CMOS battery being the problem
as you would normally get a checksum error on boot up + have to reset
the time & date etc but for peace of mind & process of elimination yes replace it.
Spinrite has good reviews but don`t you have to pay for it! I would use checkdisk
instead.
For me I would do it in this order;
Clean - Inspect - Swap leads around - Checkdisk - Between 5 & 8 runs of Memtest.
Hope this is helpful
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#11
S.O.A.D.A.

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I bought a copy of SpinRite : )
Just to make sure: 'leads' means the information cables of the drives - either the IDE ribbon or the SATA cable?
I have a bunch of spare ones, & so does my friend.

Edited by S.O.A.D.A., 14 July 2010 - 10:13 AM.

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#12
phillpower2

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Just to make sure: 'leads' means the information cables of the drives - either the IDE ribbon or the SATA cable?

Yes you are correct.
It is always helpful having spare leads so well done for that.
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#13
S.O.A.D.A.

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OK, now I'm set.
Will report as soon as all tests are done.

Thanks : )
SOADA
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#14
S.O.A.D.A.

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Alright,

Here is what I did: first, I put the computer back together again, cleaning everything as I went (seeing as I had previously taken it all completely apart and packed the mobo neatly in its box for returning it to the store). Started it, hit F12 a few times with SpinRite's bootable in the CDROM, then did a 5 hour deep test of C. I only tested partition C, and decided not to waste all day and probably all of tonight too on deep tests for the other partitions and do a ScanDisk instead. So I booted into windows, ordered a scandisk and rebooted. POST got stuck at the message: "Detectin IDE drives....". I tried hitting reset and entering CMOS setup, but it would then get stuck at the same phase with "prepare to enter setup" displayed at the bottom.

I've replaced IDE & SATA cables with new ones, also that blasted CMOS battery, tested again - the same. Plugged the HD SATA connector into different sockets on the board, and for the finale I even left the HD unplugged altogether - same results.

It now seems to prefer to hang at "detecting IDE drives...." and go no further. I assume that every now and then it might log into Windows, but rarely. Once it got stuck while loading the system (with those four coloured dots joining to form the W' logo).

Now, I say we've eliminated memory (those 5 Memtest passes from before), bad connectors or loose connections (dust included), HD and, of course, the CMOS battery.

Which, I think, leaves us with just the motherboard itself and possibly the big boss - the CPU. Though I'd go with mobo.

What do you think?
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#15
phillpower2

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This could take you some time so prepare and be patient,
Try moving the jumpers on the MB to force a factory reset
of the BIOS, set time and date, boot order CD then HDD &
then save and exit.
Format the HDD and then do a fresh install of the OS other
than this the only other suggestion I could think of would
be to get a SATA to IDE MB converter connection and try it
in an IDE slot!
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