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intermittant boot fail


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#1 granny

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Posted 25 September 2004 - 06:27 AM

I have had this computer about 2 years. It is a Gateway 2000 with 98SE. About this time last year I started having trouble turning it on. I will get the DOS screen showing checking NV RAM. Then up pops the primary master and secondary master IDs. Then, instead of a'beep' and the configuration screen it shuts itself off. I have restarted as many as 8 or 9 times before Windows loads. But it doesn't happen ALL the time and I am worried that one of these days it won't start at all. Anyone got a clue?

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#2 phawgg

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Posted 25 September 2004 - 08:47 PM

Hi, granny Welcome to BC. I'm no expert, but learn everyday here.

Fact one (1):

I have had this computer about 2 years. It is a Gateway 2000 with 98SE.

Fact one (2):

a 2 GB hard-drive, monitor, keyboard, mouse, HP Deskjet 612C, and NOTHING else.

Fact one (3):

I started getting 'things' for my computer. First, I got a GE minimouse that needed a disk to install. Then I got more RAM. I now have 256 instead of 64. Then I got a faster modem that needed a disk to install.

Fact one (4):

A tech person at my ISP suggested that this type of problem is usually hardware, but the only other hardware I added was in May of 2003 when a friend got me an external Iomega 100 drive

Fact two (1):

I will get the DOS screen showing checking NV RAM.

Fact two (2):

Then up pops the primary master and secondary master IDs.


Ok, the Gateway 2000 [laptop or desktop?][model no.?] is probably 3-4 years old. You've upgraded the memory (good move). Added a modem [dialup?][model no.?]. Your problem began after you started using the external drive, and the other upgrades. The problem being intermitant boot failure.

You are describing the boot screen, and it is displaying your BIOS information.

Fact three (1):

Then, instead of a'beep' and the configuration screen it shuts itself off.

Failure to boot has just occurred.

I have restarted as many as 8 or 9 times before Windows loads.

That's frustrating and worrisome, I'll agree. One thing I've learned here is, when scratchin' my head, I google, by golly.

I simply cut & pasted your Fact two(1) sentence (complete) into the search field. 422 responses.
Next, I deleted the "I will get a DOS screen showing" part. 9,300 responses.
Then, I deleted the "checking", leaving only NV RAM. 325,000 responses. Hey, we're goin' the wrong way, I thought.
Remembering what a more saavy tech person once said, "change the search parameters around...use quotes if you must"
I put "checking NV RAM" in the search field and got: 48 responses. Good.

Half were in foreign languages and some of those google offers to translate. Been there, done that. Limited success, still working on a better option. (Opera Browser, probably). Of the remaining, I've edited some excerpt Q & A's for you. Full information you can repeat the steps for.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Four year home built computer running Windows 98. Never had a problem until today. Tried starting computer and after my bios version I got a line saying "checking NV Ram. Then nothing happens. Help.

(Tech) on Wednesday, October 16, 2002

What motherboard and also bios&version number?

Memory details? How many sticks, what type, how much?

What other type of cards do you have installed?

Have any changes been made lately? (Hardware or BIOS updates?)

If your computer is four years old, has it had a new battery installed?

Without knowing any details to seach further, basic trouble shooting is to make sure the battery is good, clear the CMOS memory with a jumper (or however your manual instructs you to do it).

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Q. I have an assembled PC with the following configuration. My OS is Windows 98.
Whenever I switch on my PC, it shows the message "Checking NV RAM...Wait."
This message remains for about 30 to 40 seconds and then it shows, "Press F1 to resume." On doing so, it says, "Insert diskette in A:, Drive not ready." Then I have to reset my computer. I have to face this problem each time I switch on the PC.

A. In order to solve your first problem, please load all setup defaults in the BIOS settings. This should solve your problem. Now regarding your second problem...

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

hi...as i switch my pc on it gets to the very first thing you see on the monitor which is a black screen with "checking nv ram..( if ive got that right ) but then it stops there and wont go any further...any ideas please...many thanks

(tech) Could be a lot of things...sometimes an error can take time to appear so maybe power on and leave the PC for 10 minutes or so and see does anything hop up. After that you should remove any peripherals and remove any hardware additions you have made before the problem started.Then if there are still problems pull the plug out of the PC and open the case up...check you internal connectors are seated correctly.Remove the keyboard and mouse and see can you get any further (or a different error).

After that the only other step would be detach all interal components (bar the graphics card), you'll probably find taking the power cables out of the back of the drives easiest and then power back on. Assuming it gets further then you've isolated your problem. If not then the last step is to do something called resetting the NVRAM and involves moving a jumper on the motherboard, it should be documented in the manual.

I would suggest though if you're not comfortable with any of this advice, you should get someone else to help - no sense in making the problem worse.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

SNGX1275
A friend of mine came to me with this problem. He has an American Megatrends motherboard and can't get it to boot past the Checking NV RAM.. part

Here is what is on the screen when it freezes
:

"American Megatrends
AMIBIOS
TYAN TSUNAMI AT V2.00.01 012520001800
Intel 440BX AGPset

P II, 400Mhz
Checking NVRam..

then down at the bottom of the screen it says
62-0101-00999-0010111-071595-440BX/GX-51830001-5"

What we have done:
Switched PCI video card to another PCI slot. Disconnected everything but the floppy/cd/harddrive. Reseated the RAM, switched RAM slots, and tried different RAM modules with ones that are known to work. He says 1 time it made it past checking NVRam (where it counts the RAM) and then froze when it first said hit del to enter BIOS.

Edit: He also remembered that when he first booted he had 3 RAM modules in and all it would say is American Megatrends with the logo and that was it, so he removed 2 and left 1 and thats where we are now.

2nd Edit: When I asked him what happens when he tries it with no RAM he says "nothing, it beeps".

Anyone have any ideas on what to try next? Could it just be that the motherboard is bad where the RAM fits?

SNGX1275
Alright - I just recieved word that it now works. Which leads me to believe that even though it appeared we had the RAM set properly it wasn't.
Now it boots into Win98 and just gives the usual errors when you don't have proper drivers installed and such.

(tech)
Then remove all cards (except video card) and memory sticks except for one memory stick. Try it again. Switch memory sticks around if no luck.
(tech)
Can do some more looking for your particular setup if you post some details. It might be minor (bad battery) or any number of other things. (Also, try gently cleaning the contacts with distilled water or isopropal alcohol before reseating the memory. Make sure nothing has loosened (well seated) and check for loose connections, screws, etc, that may be causing a short.)

NVRam Advice (general)

Turn off the power to the computer. Unhook all the drive cables.
Check to see that the CPU/fan assembly, video card, RAM, and power cables are firmly seated on the motherboard. Make sure the video cable is firmly secured to the video card and monitor. With the case off, boot the computer. You should have video. If you don't, turn power off and inspect motherboard for grounding.
Once you get video, plug your drive cables back in and boot DOS or Windows. Check for viruses.


----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I've taken the liberty of boldfacing some items that you may have in common with these others. I've deleted other info not relative. It sounds like you need to open up your case and eliminate dust. Your motherboard seems to be experiencing intermitant phawgg. Perhaps unplug your memory stick and clean the contacts. Change the battery. It's worth a try. You've got this far, and we're learnin', huh?


:thumbsup: Seems like it's all good advice, but read through it thoroughly and try the repeat google if you're not confident with the edited version.

Edited by phawgg, 25 September 2004 - 08:55 PM.

patiently patrolling, plenty of persisant pests n' problems ...

#3 cowsgonemadd3

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Posted 25 September 2004 - 09:57 PM

Well until you fix it dont shut it off! Then you know it will start...

#4 granny

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Posted 26 September 2004 - 01:05 AM

Dear cowsgonemadd3, if I leave it on it gets awfully hot, there is only one small fan up by the power source over the heat sink and I fear fire or fry so I turn it off in hope of future use. Thank you for the suggestion.

Dear phawgg, this is a desktop that was once a system work station terminal recycled from a company that was upgrading and the disk was reformatted and Windows 98SE clean install (I have a disk but no manual) a new battery put in at that time (January 11, 2002) and they should last about five years (so I heard). The shut down occurs before the bios screen comes up. If I get the screen with the American Megatrends bios (dated 7/15/95) then Windows loads. When I opened the case to install the two DIMM 128MB (PC100) replacing the two 32MB there was nothing else but a modem I later replaced with Best Data model 56SF-92, more than I needed but I got it on sale at Best Buy because dial-up is also becoming obsolete. There is no separate video or sound card. I have no speakers. I didn't need them and don't miss it. Later I did add a Belkin USB 2-port PCI card, the number on the box is model number F5U005. This was after the problem started and I dusted out the inside of the case at that time and made sure modem and ram chips(?cards?) were firmly seated. Do they loosen from some vibration? I opened it up again when I got a fan that slips in drive slot but it didn't fit so I took it back. Everything was in tight then. I won't have time to open it up until Tuesday because I just got a job and that's my day off. It is such a nuisance to haul this thing out of the cubby in the computer desk I've got, with all the wires in back, and unplug then work on the floor. I much appreciate your taking the time to search and edit info. When I tried something similar (ask Jeeves) I couldn't understand what I found. MUCH above my level. In learning what I have so far I find an auto analogy useful. The monitor, keyboard and mouse are the things I actually work with like the steering wheel and shift lever, the CPU the motor and the motherboard and hard drive like transmission and carburetor. Thank you for your time and I will be back later this week with a more detailed report of what I have under the hood.

#5 thatman

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Posted 26 September 2004 - 01:42 PM

Hi granny

If your comper bios has passed the memory check,looks like the memory is ok
If it was the memory it would fail. OK

Next it checks you hard drives then you get the problem, it looks to me that one off hard drives is slowing down IE slow spin up, put your ear near the hard drives
and listen you may here one of the drive trying to start.
Depending on the age and usage shelf life three to five years.

next you can try this turn computer off.
disconect ide cable from your D: drive
Now turn on the computer again listen to the drive on boot up.
Turn off the computer disconect c: drive then conect the D: drive up
I does not matter having no OS on the drive then listen for that drives boot
I will check back. Tuesday

all the best

thatman

Edited by thatman, 26 September 2004 - 01:43 PM.


#6 phawgg

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Posted 26 September 2004 - 03:37 PM

Great tip, Thatman, and thanks for checkin' on this.

The shut down occurs before the bios screen comes up.


Having said that, granny, I wondered what that clue pointed to exactly, so I asked the question "what exactly happens between power on & the display of the BIOS screen" I'm happy to say, the question has been answered here, and you have an invitation, granny :thumbsup:

BTW we'll help interpret the answer for you, should it raise questions itself, if need be. :flowers:

Edited by phawgg, 26 September 2004 - 03:40 PM.

patiently patrolling, plenty of persisant pests n' problems ...

#7 granny

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Posted 28 September 2004 - 12:20 AM

Thank you, Thatman you found a clue!

Thank you Phawgg for following up this clue. The following is cut&paste from the site you went to. If I hear the beep then everything comes on. If it doesn't beep, it shuts down. From this information it seems there is some error in POST. The schedule at work was changed and I have to work Tuesday but I'm off Wednesday, so I can find about three hours to get under the hood and check things out. I wish I were more familiar with forums and stuff. As you can see I am just keyboarding and copying as though this were word processing. Please bear with my clumsiness.

3. The BIOS performs the power-on self test (POST).
If there are any fatal errors, the boot process stops.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
If not, and POST is successful there should be a single short beep.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

#8 phawgg

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Posted 28 September 2004 - 03:17 PM

After checking around for clarification of what I'd do under the same circumstances, granny I would "open the hood".

The POST is Power On Self Test. If there is something not-quite-right, it's designed to say "no go" to the boot operation.

Your power supply unit is designed to provide the right voltages to the right places. We can not test it without a meter. (the one I have cost more than my basic computer, to use on automobiles as well) It probably is OK. If it wasn't, there would likely be more problems in evidence.

So, what needs to be done is a logical "process of elimination" test. By eliminating components that the POST encounters in it's test, we should be able to find out which one of them is at fault. Since the faulty one may not always be malfunctioning, it is not absolutely conclusive, however. It remains the best way to check, though.

Disconnecting the various components is the task. Simply do it one at a time, and remember which wire connects to what. If you like, small bits of masking tape and a sheet of paper & pencil will assist you. A sequence will be helpful to avoid confusion. You may find wire connections that are not plugged in to anything. (provided for expansion purposes). It's best to identify them at the start. No problems to your mainboard or sub-components will result from not having these plugged in. No problems to yourself will occur as long as you handle the parts & disconnections carefully. Touch the metal of your computer first, before removing the wires/cables/cards. This will dissipate any static electricity. Handle the cards by the edges and avoid the contact points or printed circuits so grease/oil from your skin doesn't contaminate them. You can additionally use isopropyl alcohol & cotton on them if you like. (Keep the power off and don't rub your feet back-and-forth rapidly on carpet each time you unplug somethin' ). Take your time.

Unplug these:
1. HP Deskjet 612C
2. GE minimouse
3. Best Data model 56SF-92 modem
4. Belkin USB 2-port PCI card
5. (1) DIMM 128MB (PC100) memory sticks (leave one plugged in)

then unplug the power cables leading from the Power Supply Unit to:
6. hard drive one
7. hard drive two
8. floppy disk drive.

then unplug the data cables that run from each of these to the mainboard itself... at the board end
9.. hard drive one
10. hard drive two
11. floppy disk drive

At this point I imagine this:

Your computer is out of it's cubby hole on the floor in front of your desk. The power is still plugged in, but the switch is off. The cover is removed. The cable from the Deskjet is coiled and laying on top of it. The mouse is not on the desk. The modem, USB PCI card & one stick of RAM are sitting nearby. All the wire connectors & the (2) data cables have a small piece of masking tape attached to them with a letter penned in on them. Your piece of paper provides the key. Each of them is outside the case at one end, and perhaps taped to different places to the outside of the case. The monitor and keyboard remain as they were, plugged in and functional.

Press Power On (both PC & monitor)

Observe the action. Does it pass the POST? If NO, the mainboard itself without all the components is at fault. If YES, then turn the PC off.

Plug in the data cable to:
12. floppy disk drive.

Press Power On (both PC & monitor) (optionally you can leave the monitor on, since it is plugged in to another socket at the wall, and passes data to the computer, not power.)

Observe the action. Does it pass the POST? If NO, the cable/where it connects/the unit is likely at fault. If YES, then turn the PC off.

Plug in the power cable to:
8. floppy disk drive.

Press Power On (PC & monitor if it's off)

Observe the action. Does it pass the POST? If NO, the cable/where it connects/the unit is likely at fault. If YES, then turn the PC off.

Plug in the data cable to
10. hard drive two

Press Power On (PC & monitor if it's off)

Observe the action. Does it pass the POST? If NO, the cable/where it connects/the unit is likely at fault. If YES, then turn the PC off.

Plug in the power cable to:
7. hard drive two

Press Power On (PC)
Observe the action. Does it pass the POST? If NO, the cable/where it connects/the unit is likely at fault. If YES, then turn the PC off.


As you can see I am just keyboarding and copying as though this were word processing.



Word Processing is more difficult to some than methodically following steps like these, granny. :thumbsup:

You can see the reverse process involved. Once the drives are done, (11) through (6) in the logical order outlined, even if the numbering was awkward, you'll be at step
(5) the memory stick (RAM card). You might choose to unplug the one you left in and put the other one in. Then both. Otherwise continue through the reverse steps until the machine is back together.

If it fails to POST at any time during the tests, note the details but continue on. Depending on the circumstances, if it does fail at a step, ie: inserting the 2nd RAM, I would probably go a couple more steps. If it continues to fail, I'd likely reassemble it all and continue to try to boot, as it has been intermittent anyway. (instead of going the rest of the step-by-step) At very least I'd know which part is most likely the cause of the "checking NV RAM" message.

I know of no software test that will reveal the cause of your problem. If it is a malfunctioning motherboard, and not one of the components that are added, then you will be needing to replace it eventually, anyway. The test can be considered valuable training. After having done it, you'll be miles closer to actually building a new one yourself, which is much less expensive than buying a new one. You can also consider buying a used one. They are often very cheap at garage sales, and you could test them yourself using the skills and CDs you have. :flowers:

"Keep us posted"
patiently patrolling, plenty of persisant pests n' problems ...

#9 granny

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Posted 29 September 2004 - 11:54 PM

my dear friend phwagg, I did print out the procedure suggested and actually started to disconnect things. However, events intervened and I sit on the floor after my return home and reconnecting the necessary to let you know that I will do this. I WILL TOO! (s*** happens) If I could do without sleep it would be now. Thank you! and I will keep you posted SOON! Tomorrow I hope.

#10 phawgg

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Posted 30 September 2004 - 12:50 AM

You're a dear, granny and a hardy, brave soul as well. Thank you for keepin' us posted. We're here. :trumpet:

In fact, the Chat tab at the top of the page will enable you to "speak" with us "live" and I'll try to monitor it closer tomorrow... get your rest, and I will too. I think we're only a couple time zones apart. :thumbsup: Don't worry, computers are easier than cars to work on. The fact that you reconnected to get back here gives me great confidence in your abilities. :flowers:

Edited by phawgg, 30 September 2004 - 01:07 AM.

patiently patrolling, plenty of persisant pests n' problems ...




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