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Compounded PC Problems


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#1
alexandrazenas

alexandrazenas

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Okay, I'm not sure where to begin, and though I'll try to make this as succinct as possible, I'm sure I'll give too much info & leave out some that's necessary, since I'm not all that "computer savvy." So please bear with me...!!

First Problem: The computer in question is a refurbished Dell Dimension 4300 desktop with WinME. I can't remember the exact processor speed, but I believe it's somewhere in the 800MHz range. Some time ago, my dad was poking around in the box while installing a CD-RW drive and must have mixed something up because ever since, every time the computer starts up, it displays the initial "Dell" screen, and then provides a message displaying:

Secondary hard disk drive 0 not found
Strike the F1 key to continue, F2 to run the setup utility


Though an inconvenience, when you'd hit F1, everything would run normally. Since it isn't the computer I normally use, I didn't bother fixing it, but now, if anyone can guide me through the steps on how to do so, I'd very much appreciate it.

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Second (MUCH more serious problem): This same computer is one my brother uses to play games on. He downloads tons of unneccessary stuff, and has an annoying affinity for putting EVERYTHING on the desktop. After finding the desktop quite literally filled from top to bottom with shortcut icons, I finally decided to try and clean some of his junk up. I deleted numerous files and uninstalled (properly, I believe) several programs (I'm almost positive I didn't delete anything crucial to the system). Then, (and HERE is where things started to go very wrong--->>>) I tried to defragment. The defrag would work for a minute, but then kept restarting over and over and over. Finally, after putting up with an hour of this, a message popped up saying there were disk errors and to run ScanDisk. I tried to do this, but to no avail. ScanDisk behaved exactly the same-- restarting again and again -- until a message popped up saying ScanDisk had had to restart 10 times because some other program (didn't specify which) was trying to write to the disk. Exasperated, I asked my boyfriend (who is SUPPOSEDLY a computer expert) and he said to open taskmanager and end all processes except SYSTEM and EXPLORER, then try again. I did as he said, but it didn't help. As a last attempt at finding the problem, I tried to run Norton AntiVirus (not updated in quite some time) which eventually froze about 3/4 of the way through. THEN, when I tried to restart the computer, it appeared to start up normally until the blank blue (NOT the one that usually displays errors, but the one right before Active Desktop finishes loading) came up, and then...NOTHING. I had a mouse pointer, but absolutely nothing else on the screen. After several restarts and attempts to go into Safe Mode, I finally got a grey screen with "Safe Mode" displayed in the corners, but everything else blank with nothing to click on.

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Other problems:
1. Hard drive almost constantly makes ticking noise.
2. (Before problem #2, all desktop icons were hidden by a HotSync icon---really weird, I thought)

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SO, FINALLY (and I think I definitely failed at the "succinct" part):

1. If anyone has ANY suggestions/info on what might have caused ANY of the above, even if only PART of the answer, I would appreciate it so very much.

2. Is there anything more I can try to get it to start up? (keep in mind possible problems caused by the first problem I described, since all drives may not be in their proper place).

3. What information can be salvaged, if any?

4. If I have to completely reformat, would you suggest installing either Windows 98 or Windows XP since we have had problems with WinME from the beginning?

5. Will I need to replace any hardware?, e.g. hard drive



Thank you so much, and sorry long-- I'm just trying to make everything clear.
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#2
Tyger

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Thank you for NOT being succinct. People usually don't provide enough information.

Item #1 turn off any screensavers, right click on the Desktop, choose Properties, Screensaver, choose None. they are usually what is writing to the disk.

If you can ever get into windows that is! Then try running scandisk first. It will tell you whether your hard drive is right or not. You may need to run scandisk in MS-DOS mode, just hold down the F8 key during boot up and when the option screen comes up choose MS-DOS, then type in scandisk when the command prompt comes up and hit enter. It will also give you a nice visual of any errors on the disk. Defrag doesn't run in MS-DOS.

If you're running applications, games and such ME isn't so good, because it doesn't like MS-DOS mode which many apps use, if only for installation. 98SE would probably better match the speed and size of your computer. But you may need a new hard drive anyway. For your computer one between 40 and 80gb would be plenty.

I'm sure you'll get some more advice that may be more usefull, so don't do anything rash just yet. And good luck.

Edited by Tyger, 16 July 2005 - 09:24 PM.

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#3
alexandrazenas

alexandrazenas

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Tyger:

Thanks so much for your response!

However, I'm starting to feel more incompetant than usual because I tried many times and I can't seem to get into MS-DOS mode. I will keep trying, but here's what happened:

When I first turned the computer on, I held down F8, but it then reported "Keyboard Failure." I repeated the process several times with the same result. Then I tried waiting a bit before hitting F8, and after that, I tried tapping instead of holding it down...still nothing; it would just try to boot up normally and take me to that blank screen.

By going first into Setup, then exiting, then pressing F8, I managed to get a menu that offered me a choice between Normal, Logged, Safe Mode, and Step-by-Step Confirmation....no MS-DOS.

I had read in the forums earlier that the right time to hit F8 is just after the computer finishes listing specs and things of that sort, but this computer provides no list, (just a "splash screen"? Is that right?). Might that have anything to do with the hard drive problem I mentioned in "1"?

I'm so sorry, but what am I doing wrong?
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#4
Tyger

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I don't think you should feel incompetent. I just noticed that you said your hard drive makes constant ticking noises. All too often this means hard drive failure is eminent or has already occurred. Now you need to make a very important decision. Whether you want to try to rescue any data on the old drive. I presume you have another computer, you can make the old drive slave, depending on the configuration of the other computer it may be slave or cable select. Then try to recover the data, or at least see if the drive works as slave. If it continues to make ticking noises and doesn't respond it's probably scrap metal. If it works OK as slave you may have other problems that need troubleshooting.
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