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Dell Dimension 8200 blinking cursor problem.


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#1 Ken-in-West-Seattle

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Posted 26 March 2010 - 11:33 AM

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.html
http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/237351-4...arge-hard-drive

Ok then.

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.)
Sigh.

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.

So. Options?

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.

Comments welcome

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#2 cryptodan

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Posted 26 March 2010 - 01:07 PM

Did you use the preparation CD from the drives manufacture to prep the drive?

#3 Drovers Dog

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Posted 26 March 2010 - 01:09 PM

Just to test my theroy of it, try using an old CDRom, after disconnecting all other DVD/CD ROMS to use your Windows Disk?

Whatever it is seems to affect Onboard DVD/CdRoms. It is not showing up in any AV, nor anti Spyware.

Just my own experience. I got it to work, after doing the above.

Ray.

Edited by Drovers Dog, 26 March 2010 - 01:12 PM.

What ever you give to others, you will get back doubled, Just make sure you only give Nice Things?......DD saying

There is a saying, "You just can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear" it means "to be happy with what you have and not look for the impossible"......DD saying

The "Spirit" of the people who died, on that terrible day 9/11 will NEVER REST until such time as the "Imbeciles" that caused it, are eliminated through out the World.....DD saying

What is a Dog?

#4 cryptodan

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Posted 26 March 2010 - 01:40 PM

Just to test my theroy of it, try using an old CDRom, after disconnecting all other DVD/CD ROMS to use your Windows Disk?

Whatever it is seems to affect Onboard DVD/CdRoms. It is not showing up in any AV, nor anti Spyware.

Just my own experience. I got it to work, after doing the above.

Ray.



Say that again?

Since when were dvd and cd drives integrated?

#5 Drovers Dog

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Posted 26 March 2010 - 01:48 PM

Machines can have either DVD's or CDRoms fitted together, intergrated?

Either will work, seperatedly or together.

My suggestion was based upon my own experience where the DVD/CDRoms were taken out on the Machines worked on. I have no idea why it happened.

Ray.

Edited by Drovers Dog, 26 March 2010 - 01:56 PM.

What ever you give to others, you will get back doubled, Just make sure you only give Nice Things?......DD saying

There is a saying, "You just can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear" it means "to be happy with what you have and not look for the impossible"......DD saying

The "Spirit" of the people who died, on that terrible day 9/11 will NEVER REST until such time as the "Imbeciles" that caused it, are eliminated through out the World.....DD saying

What is a Dog?

#6 cryptodan

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Posted 26 March 2010 - 01:51 PM

You mean a Combo Drive such a DVD/CD Burner?

#7 Drovers Dog

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Posted 26 March 2010 - 01:59 PM

No.

I mean that I know that some DVD/CDRom Drives can lead to this Problem.

Simply put, the DVD/CDRoms get screwed up. If there are two, that is even worse.

Introducing another CDRom, whilst disabling them, seems to correct it. I would Love to confirm that.

JFYI, I have spent over 4 months on this.

Ray.

Edited by Drovers Dog, 26 March 2010 - 02:13 PM.

What ever you give to others, you will get back doubled, Just make sure you only give Nice Things?......DD saying

There is a saying, "You just can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear" it means "to be happy with what you have and not look for the impossible"......DD saying

The "Spirit" of the people who died, on that terrible day 9/11 will NEVER REST until such time as the "Imbeciles" that caused it, are eliminated through out the World.....DD saying

What is a Dog?

#8 Ken-in-West-Seattle

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Posted 26 March 2010 - 11:25 PM

Did you use the preparation CD from the drives manufacture to prep the drive?


No. And with good reason. They (DDO's) fail in similar fashion and often require a partition restore utility to fix and recover data. MBR fix would eat any DDO as will any thing that damages the mbr.

Award bios used on the DElls of this era also had a 48bitlba bug that miscalculated the LBA so the actual 137gb limit became about 127gb.

#9 Ken-in-West-Seattle

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Posted 26 March 2010 - 11:44 PM

DVD/CDRoms can cause issues with anything else on the ide chain when they go bad. Usually it causes one or more devices on the chain to become undetectable in the bios or detectable with odd looking asci characters in the id string.

Follow the troubleshooting chain.

The drive looked fine and could read and write normally under ubuntu which does not use the bios info directly for hardware access to the drive, it ask the drive what it wants to be :thumbsup:

The cd and dvd drives worked fine both under linux and xp.

#10 cryptodan

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Posted 27 March 2010 - 05:07 AM

I still say you should try the drives prep disk software. I had to do that on my 1.5Terabyte drives to get Vista to format it during install. I also had read that somedrives must be prepped. Nothing wrong with using the prep cd from the drive's manufacture.

#11 Ken-in-West-Seattle

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Posted 28 March 2010 - 08:10 PM

Unless it is in your bios, there should not be a "hard" limit until drives reach 2TB.

http://scottmueller.net/viewtopic.php?f=6&...=935&p=7636

And you should have been able to format the 1.5 natively with the right sata controller firmware and drive firmware.

http://social.answers.microsoft.com/Forums...e7-1a99ce876597

You can keep trusting the drive makers overlay if you like, but I have seen too many data recoveries buggered to do so.

Drives over 500 gb per platter are going to be really hard to recover files from anyway with the areal density read write system.

I mirror every >500g DATA drive in production environments and do offsite and cloud backups too. I have 6 dead 750g seagates packed in a box at my feet to go back to seagate tomorrow.




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