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PC not booting up


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#1
john545

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Hi, and thanks in advance for the help.

Dell 8400 desktop running Win Xp. Immediately after the Dell spash screen, but before the Windows screen, I get the message "Floppy diskette seek failure". Odd since I dont have a floppy disk. It gives me the option of F1 (continue) or F2 (setup). F1 does not work, but IF2 does get me into Setup. Nothing looks unusual there, but I probably would not recognise a problem :)

Thanks again.

John

Edited by john545, 18 September 2010 - 12:20 AM.

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#2
makai

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Hello,
Perhaps your motherboard battery is dying or dead and has reset the bios back to default... which may include booting from a floppy as the first boot device. Boot up, hit F2 to enter bios, and check the date and time to see what it says. Not sure this is the problem, but something to check out.
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#3
john545

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BIOS date and time are current, Sept 17, 11:40 PT.

Not sure if this is relevant, but the boot sequence shows SATA amd Cd-ROM drives ok, but IDE drive as "not present". That doesnt seem right.

John

Edited by john545, 18 September 2010 - 12:41 AM.

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#4
makai

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Is your hard drive IDE or Sata? I guess it must be IDE if you think something is not right. Have you checked the boot order or tried resetting the bios to default settings?
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#5
john545

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Hi, sorry for the delay in responding. I've been out of town for a few days.

The drive is a Maxtor SATA. There are a couple of yellow lights on the cabinet, and according to the Dell manual, I shold reseat the power and data cables on the drive. I did this, but no change.


I can no longer get into the setup menu with F2, so I cannot check the boot sequence. But if I recall correctly, there were 4 items in the boot sequence: #1 and #2 were the SATA drive and something else(maybe USB flash), then #3 and 4 were the IDE and floppy. The first two showed something like "not present", and the last 2 showed "default".

John
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#6
makai

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Your Dell does have an IDE connector according to the manual, but the fact that it's not listed in the bios may be because nothing is connected to it. This is not normally the case with bios' I've seen, but maybe this is how the Dell bios works for your computer.

I can no longer get into the setup menu with F2

What exactly does this mean? Does the computer appear to be running? Does it boot up as far as to give you the floppy error and you just can't get into the bios? Or does the computer appear dead? Do you hear any beeping when you power up the computer?

If the computer appears to be booting up but you can't access bios by hitting the F2 key, then try reseating the keyboard or replacing it altogether.
If the computer just appears dead, you might have a power supply problem, in which case, we now have a bigger challenge.
The first thing I would do in this case is reaseat everything and make sure everything is connected correctly. All cables, cards, connectors. Your power supply is ATX which means it always supplies power to the motherboard, even when the computer is off, so be sure to unplug the AC cord if you're going to do any work in the computer.
Also, while you're at it, you may as well try to reset the bios by pulling out the bios battery for about 5 minutes and reinstalling it. Look in the manual if you don't know where it is or how to remove it.

There's a lot to troubleshoot if we can't even get into the bios.
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#7
john545

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"the fact that it's not listed in the bios may be because nothing is connected to it."
I am not 100% positive its not listed, but I can no longer get into the setup menu to check the boot sequence.

"What exactly does this mean?"
When the Dell splash screen comes up( and before the window Logo), in the top right corner is says F2 = Setup, and F12 = Boot Menu. At first I was able to get to the setup screen via the F2 key. But now I cant get to setup at all. I simply get the next screen saying "Floppy diskette seek failure".

I did reseat the keyboard, and power seems to be fine. But I did check all the connections that could find.

The manual says I should record all the screens before pulling the battery so I can return to the original settings. I cannot see the seetings but I pulled and reseated the battery anyway.

Now I get a screen saying "Invalid configuration - run setup program". The next line says the same "Floppy diskette seek failure".

Next line says "performing automtic IDE config...
Drive 0: Disk Drive
Drive 4: CD-ROM
Drive 5: CD-ROM
Time-of-Day not set -please run SETUP.

I assume I need to reboot and hit F2 for Setup, but I havent been able to get to get F2 to work so far. Now rebooting no longer shows the invalid config screen, but goes back to the seek failure screen.

Edited by john545, 22 September 2010 - 10:09 PM.

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#8
makai

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Bad to worse, however, the good news is the bios is "alive". If it states the date is wrong, then we know it's at least running.

Have you tried another keyboard?
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#9
john545

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--------
UPDATE: After typing the paragraphs below, I again tried F2, and this time I do have the Setup screen. Not sure where to begin, but now BIOS date is set back to Jan 2005. Boot sequence is 1. SATA Drive, 2. CD-ROM, 3. IDE (not present), 4. Floppy drive (not present).

Also in the maintenance log, I see that on 9/17, there was a CMOS checksum error.

---------



I do believe bios is runing since one of the times I was able to get into setup, the bios date was current.

I have no other keyboard, so I'll have to borrow one in the next couple days. But I dont think it is setup since at least once I saw read "activationg setup" or something similar. That tells me the F2 key is working.

Is it possible that hard drive has simply failed ? That would seem unlikely without some kind of warning symptoms. Theonly other thing I can think of that might have hapened was that the case was sitting on the floor abd bumped by a vacuum cleaner while the PC was off. That makes we worry about static damage.

Once in a while, I get past that 'seek failure' screen, and a different one comes up giving me the option to boot windows in "normal" or "safe mode". Of the 2-3 dozen times I've rebooted, I've seen this screen twice. I tried 'safe mode' but got the seek failure screen again.
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#10
makai

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Unfortunately, I don't have a Dell computer anymore, so I can't guide you in the menus. Normally, the Dell bios screen is divided into a left and right section. I truthfully cannot remember how to navigate it but I can ask the Tech board to see if there's anyone that can step in to help you with the screens. We'll have to wait till someone arrives, but it shouldn't take too long.

As for the cmos error, this could be caused by anything. Even a bad date can flag a CMOS error. Let's hope it's not serious, but lets address resetting the bios options first.

As for bumping the computer the other day, it's possible you dislodged something. I would take a visual check to make sure all the cards, ram, cables/connectors are seated correctly. You need to look closely and if you see anything that looks a little crooked, it might be that it's not making a very good connection. CAUTION... Before doing any connecting/reconnecting, or reseating, make absolutely sure you unplug the AC cord. Your computer has an ATX power supply that supplies the motherboard with power even when the computer is off. Please unplug it!

Yes, the hard drive could be failing, or failed. This can happen without warning. The fact that the computer may be searching for another boot device may be a clue. Do you have another computer you can slave this hard drive into? You may need to do that to back up your data. If you don't have another computer, you may need to buy or borrow a hard drive enclosure.

I will address the Tech board and someone will step in to assist with the bios screens shortly... (well, as soon as they can).
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#11
john545

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Fortunatley it seems that all BIOS settings have been returned to default factory settings, so I dont think anything needs changing except the current date/time. I know how to navigate the menus, and each section tells you what the default settings should be.

Everything I see on CMOS checksum error points to a failing battery as the cause, and I've read that 5 years is a typical life. Mine is now 5 years old. Im just not sure if a bad battery would cause the seek failure problem.

The bump to the case was very slight and although I would be very surprised if it knocked anything loose, I did chack all the connections I could find.

I do not have another drive, nor do I know how to set up a slave even if I did have one.

As I read somewhere, I will leave the PC running for 24 hours to recharge a possible dying battery. If that doesnt work, I'll replace it.

Edited by john545, 23 September 2010 - 12:02 AM.

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#12
makai

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Not sure where to begin, but now BIOS date is set back to Jan 2005

I assumed from this that you didn't know how to navigate and change the bios settings. So, have you corrected the date?

I too don't think a bad battery is the cause of the floppy seek problem. It may be your hard drive has died. I'm hoping that's not the case.

Setting up a Sata Drive in another computer as a slave is not too difficult. There is a caveat though, which I'll cover later. Sata drives only have 2 connectors and you already reseated those connectors during your troubleshooting so you already know what they look like. The wide connector is the power cable, and the smaller one is the data cable. Those connectors can also only go on one way so there's no way to put them on backwards... unless you use a hammer! :D But seriously, connecting Sata drives is no more difficult than what you already experienced.

Now if you had another computer, all you would have to do is move the drive over to it and connect the cables... (remembering the CAUTION about the AC plug.) If the power cable is long enough where you could rest the drive on the side of the computer and still connect it, you wouldn't even have to install the drive into the case. As long as the drive is not sitting on any metal that can short circuit it, you could then just connect the data cable, power up the computer, and the drive would be read. I normally set the drive on a book or something to help give it a little height off the table and also make sure there's no metal it has to sit on.

However, here's the caveat... Sata doesn't require jumpers like IDE drives do to tell the computer which drive is Master and which is Slave. However, depending on which Sata port the drive is connected to, it could still confuse the bios and would require you go into the bios to specify the boot order. A lot depends on how the host computer was set up, so YMMV as to how much trouble you can run into while trying to slave the drive.

In any case, if charging the battery works, I'll be very surprised, but then stranger things have happened! Let me know how it goes.
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#13
happyrock

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go here and get the manual for your computer....its the top link (a PDF)...download it the bios settings are near the bottom
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#14
john545

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Happyrock - I still have the Dell manual showing bios settings, but thanks for the link. :D

Makai - Yes I was able to reset the bios date and time. In setting up a slave drive, I do know the 2 cable connectors you mention. The data cable is easy because I can simply move it to the 2nd port on the new machine. But not sure how to connect the power cable since that is tied down and not movable. In any case, I dont have a 2nd machine so its' a moot point.

Sounds like Im at the stage where I'll just have to take it to the shop. An 80MB drive replacemnt shouldnt cost too much. Assuming the problem is a drive failure, would you expect that the data can be recoverable ? If so, should I expect to pay about $200 or so for the recovery ?

Edited by john545, 23 September 2010 - 10:13 AM.

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#15
makai

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Thanks happyrock! Much appreciated!

But not sure how to connect the power cable since that is tied down and not movable.

The power cable comes from the power supply of the computer. If you slave the drive in another computer you would use the power cable from that computer. Not sure if I answered your concern here.

A couple of options for you to think about...

Sata drives are cheap nowadays. You can get a 320gb hard drive for under $50. I personally only use Seagate drives in my desktop, and only Western Digital drives in my laptops. Why the different vendors? I really don't know, its just that I like the drive offerings for these applications. Seagate, Western Digital, Hitachi, IBM, and a few others are all good manufactures, so its up to you what vendor to choose. Newegg.com has very good prices and is where I shop for all my computer hardware. HERE'S a page full of Sata hard drives that should work fine in your computer.

As for data recovery, I really don't have any idea what a shop would charge. But, besides slaving the drive in another computer, you could also purchase a Sata USB external hard drive enclosure and install your hard drive into and read it on whatever computer you're typing on right now via a USB port. Newegg also carries MANY offerings. Just make sure you purchase an USB enclosure for a Sata 3.5" drive. The first Vantec hit for $24 should work fine for your purposes if you choose to go this route.
Personally, I would rather purchase a $24 enclosure to see if I access the drive first rather than take it into a shop.

Another option is to download and run your hard drive manufactures diagnostic software...normally free. CAUTION: You must be sure to use the correct software so you don't wipe whatever data is on the drive. If you want to try this, I can help you locate the software if you let me know what manufacture hard drive you have. Since you don't have a floppy, you would need to be able to burn a CD so you can run the program on the Dell... providing the manufacture offers software for CDs, which most do nowadays.

Ideally, you should try to slave the drive in another computer. If you know someone that can slave the drive for you in their computer, that would be good. If not, a USB enclosure is the next best thing. And then, if those two options aren't available, then run the diagnostic software. I tend to always want to protect the clients data and so I never run diagnostics first just in case something goes wrong. Me, I'm just paranoid that way when it comes to data. What you do is of course up to you.

By the way, did you ever try swapping the Sata cable with another cable, or at least swap to another Sata channel? You might want to try that first.
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