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Problem With Dell Dimension 5150 - Help Needed!


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#1 Peterabott

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Posted 09 March 2008 - 08:50 PM

First of all, if this is the wrong section, I'm sorry, but it seemed like the most appropriate section to me.

The problem started completely randomly. It was maybe 4 or 5 months ago when it started.

One night I was on my computer doing whatever, and the next morning this happened:

I booted my computer up. I logged in to my Windows XP file thing. I waited for everything to load. And waited. And waited. It loaded the desktop background, all my desktop items, my taskbar, and 1 or 2 system tray items then stopped. I could move the mouse and click, and the start button was responsive when I rolled over it, but I couldn't bring up the start menu. Ctrl+Alt+Del didn't do anything. I Could click and drag and make the grey box, and my desktop icons would turn blue when selected, but nothing would open. Nothing more would load, not even an empty folder. (yes, I tried opening up an empty folder that I had on my desktop.) I left my computer on for about an hour, and when I came back to check on it, there was nothing on the screen but my desktop background.

I found out a few things:

Safemode has never worked on my computer, so if there's a way to make it work please tell me. Remember, though, the computer with the problem is completely unusable.

It will also freeze on the log-in screen. (The blue screen with the Windows XP files.) The icons light up when I mouse over them, but clicking doesn't do anything. I can't view my password hit, or even use the button to shut down my computer.

It takes a little while before my computer freezes. About a minute I'd say.

I'm almost 100% certain it isn't a virus, because I had 2 free antivirus programs (Avast! Antivirus and AVG Free) and I also had McAfee Total Protection. Besides, the problem was happening before I logged in to my Windows XP File, and can viruses start up at that screen?

If I had to make a guess, (and remember, this is a TOTALLY unprofessional guess and is probably completely stupid and wrong) I would guess that my computer is overheating somehow, due to a fan problem. The reason I thought of this is because it seems to have a certain amount of time before it freezes.

Any help is appreciated, and I just thought of unplugging and plugging my computer back in. (Although I have no idea how it might help.)

Just remember, the computer that is messed up is COMPLETELY unusable, so any solutions requiring me to use that computer are pretty much useless, unless someone knows how I can get on to safe mode. Right now when I try safemode on that computer I just get a black screen with a ton of drivers in white letters, and it basically stops there.

I would GREATLY prefer a solution that doesn't need me to wipe my harddrive. I'm not even sure where my recovery disks are.

I've heard of Live Discs for Linux, but I'm not sure which are good and how to even use them, and the only reason I see to use them is to check if I have viruses.

I have posted this on techsupportforum.com and the Dell Support forums, and this is the feedback I have gotten:

"It could be hardware:

1. Overheating as you suggest. However, I would expect to hear the fan speed up. Check for dusty/dirty fan heatsink. Make sure the heatsink is properly attached.

2. Something is loose. I would reseat all RAM, cards, cables.

3. Other hardware issue. Can you boot to diagnostics and run them? Run the extended tests. If it locks up here, you have a hardware problem.

If none of that helps, I would strip it down to the bare minimum (no extra RAM, cards, peripherals).

Those things I suggested are fairly simple.

You can run the diagnostics by pressing F12 at boot and selecting the diagnostics. Run the extended tests (particularly for memory).

For the others you need to open the case. Push the big button on the top rear and the side panel should come loose.

The CPU fan is at the middle front and hard to miss. The heatsink is right behind it. Make sure it looks clean and is not clogged with dust/dirt. Check the heatsink to make sure it is secure (shouldn't feel loose).

To reseat the RAM, just pull it out and put it back. Same for the cards and cables. It may sound simplistic, but this
simple act can fix many machines that crash and hang.

Your service manual at support.dell.com has lots of useful details if you need more.

If you start pulling stuff out, make sure:

1. the computer is unplugged and you pressed the power button to drain any residual charge from the PSU (the charge is not dangerous to you, but you don't want to destroy the RAM or other components).

2. you touch the metal part of the case before working inside (to discharge any static)

Peter"


I'd just like to make it clear that SAFE MODE WILL NOT WORK. It goes to a black screen filled with a bunch of driver names, and it basically freezes there. I've left it on that screen for about 20 minutes with no change.

Thanks in advance!

Edited by Peterabott, 09 March 2008 - 08:54 PM.


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#2 hamluis

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Posted 10 March 2008 - 08:40 AM

How much RAM is in the system?

Since you mention the possibility of overheating...have you bothered to open the case and examine the insides for dust and ensure that all fans are operating properly?

http://www.techmindset.net/2007/09/12/reme...-your-computer/

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#3 garmanma

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Posted 10 March 2008 - 09:24 AM

So did you follow any of their suggestions? Especially F12 for the Diagnostics. You mentioned 3 different anti-virus programs. I hope not at once
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#4 DaChew

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Posted 10 March 2008 - 09:45 AM

shutting down avg from booting and running resident was a little challenging

avast more so, some malware is easier to handle

I wouldn't even attempt to try that with McAfee Total Protection, turning off a little of it at best

This really is a hard one to call, were the antivirus programs fighting for control so much they let something thru or just corrupted the system on their own or both more likely
Chewy

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#5 Peterabott

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Posted 10 March 2008 - 06:32 PM

Yeah, I knew they said to uninstall all others, although I was very doubtful it could seriously harm my computer. (I thought it was just something to ensure that I was using THEIR antivirus program and not others, probably not a good choice.) Is it possible that running multiple antivirus programs can actually have caused this?

And as for the diagnostics, I pressed F12 and selected the diagnostics, I got one message saying it was successful and to press a key to return to normal boot up. Maybe I did something wrong, I'll try again the next chance I get.

For opening up my computer, I did open it up briefly, but honestly I was afraid to touch or move anything in case I messed something up. I'll probably ask one of my friends for help with that. And yes, I do know the precautions. (Unplug the computer, press the power button after it is unplugged, and remain in contact with the metal case.)

Just to be sure, would everybody agree that cleaning out the inside of my tower has a good chance of resolving my problem? If it's because I had more than one antivirus, I'm basically going to have to pay my parents for the computer. :/

Thanks for the help so far, anyways.

EDIT:

shutting down avg from booting and running resident was a little challenging

avast more so, some malware is easier to handle

I wouldn't even attempt to try that with McAfee Total Protection, turning off a little of it at best


I'm sorry, but I have absolutely no idea what you're talking about. Could you please explain what you mean? :/ (Sorry if that was offensive or rude, I don't mean to be.)

Edited by Peterabott, 10 March 2008 - 06:38 PM.


#6 DaChew

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Posted 10 March 2008 - 06:52 PM

Not too long ago having just one antivirus running was enough to totally hose a program install, render a computer unbootable when trying to apply a service pack(just had the same problem testing sp1 on vista).

Running 2 or 3 is suicidal

Could you please explain what you mean?


I was hinting that you would not have been able to have 3 antivirus programs installed and have 2 of them dormant.

Most people can't even get them completely uninstalled

Edited by DaChew, 10 March 2008 - 06:54 PM.

Chewy

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