Dell Dimension 8200 blinking cursor problem.
After windows update 3-10-10 (the last item in the eventviewer) the system rebooted and stopped at the blinking cursor just after the Dell bios splash screen.
Since this is a classic "can't find the hard drive" blink. I checked the bios. Drive detected ok.
( I installed this drive (320gb ide) in July of 09 and rebuilt it with a fresh install and backups)
So the first move logically is to boot from xp cd and open the repair console.
So. chkdsk /r twice. Still blinking cursor.
fixboot. Still blinking cursor
fixmbr. Still blinking cursor
repair install. Still blinking cursor
(repair install did not reboot at the "starting windows" point, and apparently hung the repair install)
Further research time: http://www.plex86.org/dell/Dimension-8200-...re-Problem.htmlhttp://www.tomshardware.com/forum/237351-4...arge-hard-drive
So the original google search that indicated that bios versions for this model (according to Dell support forums circa 2006) starting at A5, fully supported large drives in the bios.
(current bios is A9)
That apparently was not correct. Either that or marketing was answering support questions on the Dell forum. It supports large drives as long as the boot partition is less then 137gb. There is a small chance that either service packs or hotfixes could have conflicted with and invalidated some firmware/bios patch from the lowest bidder at Dell back in 2006. No way to know now.
Test hypothesis: Since everything worked ok until something (windows update) wrote data above the 137gb limit, the only ways to test this would be either to change the partition size or defrag the drive to move data back to below the limit.
so. Mount the drive as a second drive on the system with a bootable xp disk as primary. Run defrag. (Insert rant as Microsoft stopped the defrag, installed a "security update" and forced a reboot.)
Started defrag again...
ran defrag twice.
Returned the drive to primary position for test.
Success, sort of.
It booted to the unfinished repair install screen.
So hypothesis, confirmed yet potential for disaster still lurking.
No way I know of to stop a repair install...
So I watched it continue... until it stopped.
Hung again as soon as the repair install wrote to some part of the disk above the 137gb limit.
Boot to linux (Ubuntu 9.10), run gparted. The program reports dozens of errors (orphan clusters?)
Ok then. Back to secondary drive configuration, run chkdsk. Run it again.
Back to primary and power on. Boot xp cd and run chkdsk /r.
Load Ubuntu cd. Back to gparted. This time the drive is ok and I change the primary partition to 126gb. Expand the second partition into the resulting space. Expand the extended partition to fill the expanded secondary.
Next: The test.
Well the thing booted up fine. Sorta.
It was still in the middle of the repair install so I let that finish, Loaded up my service pack dvd and ran sp3. Then downloaded the 65 updates and ie8. Tested installed software enough to show it still opened and there was no data loss or buggered registry hooks.
Called client to tell him his computer wanted to go home.
I don't need help with this system but felt I should post it here since there are still hundreds of older p4 systems out there with this problem and IDE drives less than 130g are getting harder to find.