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Problems with startup

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As far as hardware is concerned, I'm afraid I'm pretty well clueless, so let me share the tale of woe and frustration that you knew was coming when you came to this thread.

My parents's computer won't start properly most of the time, and when it does start, it won't stay on. When first plugged in, nothing will happen when I push the power button. When left plugged in for a few minutes, the lights will come on and it'll make a few sounds, but nothing else will happen. If left in for ten minutes or so, it will start normally and run fine for a couple of minutes before shutting off again, when it will either try to restart, or just stay off. The oddd thing is, it will occasionally start up and run just fine until the next time it needs to be shut off for any significant period of time. I know this seems like a hardware problem, but I don't even know which parts to suspect. Any ideas?

Edited by sjsparky, 13 November 2005 - 12:57 AM.

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The first thing that comes to mind is a faulty power supply unit (I can't guarentee it though), luckily this is one of the cheapest and easiest parts to replace.

If you do choose to replace it, it is simply a matter of (after earthing yourself) opening up the box, unplugging all the power connectors (making a mental note of where they go) and unscrewing the unit from the case. Then take it to your local computer shop and buy a replacement (generic 400W ones would cost about $25US) and reverse the steps to put it back in.
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