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Computer Won't Respond


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#1 RussellJB

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Posted 11 September 2010 - 03:09 PM

Hi, hamluis referred me to the Internal Hardware forum because my comp became unresponsive on the 9th and he believes it's a hardware problem.

Here's the thread where all the specifics are:

http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/forums/topic346160.html

Dell Dimension 4500, Pentium 4, 2.0 GHz, 1 Gb RAM, XP Pro

You can read it all there -- I first came here because of a virus, then I was missing a bunch of my System Files, but for a summary I'll copy and paste the comp's "final breakdown":

I've been having a problem with my mouse jumping around for a long time (months, maybe a year). I've also had a "Error ! USB device failed to initialize !!!" notice flash during bootup for a long time (I don't know if they started at the same time or if they're somehow connected). The latter might not have anything to do with my current problem but I have a gut feeling the jumping mouse is somehow connected.

I had a WD MyBook plugged in and a couple of programs running. I guess it was the comp's first "stress test" after I restored all the System Files. I'm not sure if it was before or after the first restart but my mouse jumped to the top of the screen a number of times and all-in-all acted flaky. Suddenly the comp restarted. I thought it was just a momentary power failure (my area gets that often). I logged on again and began starting my programs (which took about 5 minutes) my comp restarted a 2nd time. This time neither the keyboard or mouse would work and I was stuck at the Windows User Login page on bootup. So I tried restarting.

I got a black screen. No BIOS, no nothing. Just a black screen. The DVD-RW, CD-RW, and floppy disc lights will flash and the keyboard lights will flash for a sec and it seems like the HDDs start spinning but there's nothing on the screen. The green light on the motherboard also lghts. But nothing I do makes a difference. I tried putting in the XP disc, and the disc I made with M0le but nothing happens. Right now I'm on a comp at the library.

The obvious answer is to buy a new comp but I simply don't have the money right now. The 2nd thing is to bring it to Comp USA and have them fix it but I'm not too thrilled about spending 100s of dollars on an 8 year old comp. I could possibly replace the broken part(s) myself but I don't know how to give it a diagnosis.

So I have a 2 part queston:

1) is there anyway I can get my comp running again, even temporarily -- maybe by DLing something from this library comp (BIOS or something?)?

2) how can I find out what's wrong with it without taking it to Comp USA?

Hopefully I could do both -- get it running for a few weeks and use the time to do a diagnosis. Then I could use the time I gain to save for a new comp.

Thanks for any and all help and advice!

EDIT: I tried to do a new reinstall on Windows XP but nothing happened.

Edited by RussellJB, 11 September 2010 - 03:11 PM.


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#2 MrBruce1959

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Posted 11 September 2010 - 03:31 PM

Hello and welcome to the hardware section of the Bleepingcomputer forums.

I need to ask you what type of video card you have, on-board or add-on card?

At some point I am going to give you directions on how to do a complete break-down of your computer, this will require you to totally disassemble your whole computer and put it back together again piece by piece.

There are trouble-shooting procedures that I will give you as we go along, that have been proven to diagnose problems such as yours.

For the most part I need to know what type of video processor we are working with, so I can diagnose how to restore your video back to the monitor screen. We can't do much without a video display.

Bruce.

Edited by MrBruce1959, 11 September 2010 - 03:33 PM.

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#3 RussellJB

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Posted 11 September 2010 - 03:34 PM

Thanks, Bruce. It's a Raedon 9600. I also have a non-stock DVD-RW -- I'm at the library right now so I can't give you the details -- but everything else is stock.

I should add that I only have the one non-functioning comp at my home, which will no doubt make this harder. :thumbsup:

#4 MrBruce1959

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Posted 11 September 2010 - 09:01 PM

Okay thanks for your reply on the video card you have.

It would probably be better if you were home and near the computer for me to give you a break-down procedure.

I have electronics back-ground, so hardware trouble-shooting is one of my specialties.

Your computer in question seems to have a lot of electronic errors and electrical connection problems.

There are several possibilities that can cause these errors.

They include the PSU right down to the motherboard and the various hardware that is connected to it.

Being that your computer is an older model, built some time ago, many connections can become victims of oxidation and corrosion.

Motherboard and power supply capacitors can leak, bulge and fail over time.

So we will have a lot of ground to cover and work to do, when you have the free time.

I will be willing to walk you through it like a pro.

Please keep me updated as to when you are ready and when you will have some unlimited free time to spend on this computer.

Kind regards.

Bruce.

Edited by MrBruce1959, 11 September 2010 - 09:04 PM.

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#5 RussellJB

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Posted 12 September 2010 - 11:53 AM

Thanks a lot, Bruce! I'm available anytime the library is open here in NY. I'm not working right now which explains why I'd rather fix this than just buy a new comp. :thumbsup: It also means I can bounce back and forth a couple of times a day so it's not all bad.

I wasn't quite correct in my last post. Here's what I changed on the comp besides the video card:

Western Digital 500GB EIDE 100MB/s Hard Drive 16MB 7200 RPM 3.5IN Caviar Blue (as a 2nd hard drive)
TWO 512MB Crucial DDR PC2700 cards
Panasonic DVR-116DBK (DVD-RW)

Everything else, except for the mouse (and I think keyboard) is stock. Here's the info I got for my comp from Dell.com by using my service tag:

1 4P615 Assembly, Card, Planar, Dim4500, Audio
1 9K795 Processor, 80532, 2.0G, 512K, 400FSB, Socket N
1 7N242 Keyboard, 104 Key, UNITED STATES..., Silitek, LC, MIDNIGHT GRAY...
1 3K113 Dual Inline Memory Module, 256, 266M, 32X64M8K, 184
1 4N567 Kit, Speaker, 120V, HK206, NMB..., DELL AMERICAS ORGANIZATION...
1 2P509 Compact Disk Read Write, 680M, IDE, 5.25 Inch Form Factor, 40X, NEC CORPORATION..., Chassis 2001
1 5740C CABLE..., AUXILIARY..., INTERNAL..., MODEM..., 4C
1 8F217 Modem, V.92, INTERNAL..., DATA/FAX/VOICE..., Soft, Z Dimension
1 9M556 DISPLAY..., CATHODE-RAY TUBE..., 17, DUAL..., E772C, MIDNIGHT GRAY..., DELL AMERICAS ORGANIZATION...
1 9K099 Card, Graphics, 32MB, ATI TECHNOLOGIES INC..., Full Heigh, 2nd (this is my original one which I replaced with the Raedon 9600)
1 2D067 Floppy Drive, 1.44M, 3.5" FORM FACTOR..., 3MD, NO BEZEL..., SONY..., CHASSIS 2001..., W3
1 7J379 Hard Drive, 80G, IDE (INTEGRATED DRIVE ELECTRONICS) ..., 1N, 7.2K, 40G/P, Maxtor Viper
1 6K223 Kit, Software, WKS-STE2K2, F5 OEM, English
1 3R352 Kit, Software, Overpack, WXPH CDWD, English, A02
1 7C712 Card Network, Ethernet, 10/100 CNET, REVISION...

One thing I never mentioned -- when I got rid of the virus last month I tried to de-fragment my C drive (the 80 Gb one). I tried "everything" but it just wouldn't defragment. Plus it was at a ridiculous 34% fragment rate. That was the 2nd reason why I re-installed XP.

I took a look inside my comp yesterday. I found that the (intake) grate for the power supply unit was literally clogged with dust. I THINK the fan in there might be sounding a bit weird but it might just be me. hamluis said that the 2 major causes of old comps screwing up is dust and PSUs so maybe I'm just keying in on that. I also noticed that one of the memory cards wasn't seated properly although it always showed up on the comp. Everything else looked normal to my untrained eye.

Oh yeah, seeing how you asked about the video card I tried switching back to my old video card but that didn't do anything. If it was only that easy!

I have to admit I've never done anything more than put in a HHD and some cards so I'm not on solid ground here but I can take directions, and I can make print outs here, and when it comes time I can burn and DL here too.

Thanks again. Your help means a lot to me. :flowers:

#6 dc3

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Posted 12 September 2010 - 12:04 PM

You have multiple symptoms, some of these you've already mentioned that you are going to be addressing. A good place to start would be with the purchase of a can of air to blow out the insides of your computer.

Remember that you body has static electricity, so you need to touch the metal of the case to discharge yourself before handling any of the components inside. Static electricity can kill integrated circuits.

How much free space do you have on that your primary hdd? If there isn't enough swap space the hdd can't defrag.

Family and loved ones will always be a priority in my daily life.  You never know when one will leave you.

 

 

 

 


#7 RussellJB

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Posted 12 September 2010 - 12:06 PM

There was at least 25% space, maybe close to 40%, so it wasn't that.

EDIT: and with the clean install of Windows XP I must have a solid 80% now. I only have Office 2003 and a couple of small programs on it.

I just bought a can of spray before I came here, lol.

Edited by RussellJB, 12 September 2010 - 12:08 PM.


#8 MrBruce1959

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Posted 12 September 2010 - 12:18 PM

Okay we need to get that dust out of this computer, yes this can cause issues with computers crashing because heat is the number 2 factor for computer freeze up and crashes.

You need to purchase a can of compressed air and blow all that dust out of the case, power supply and any heat sinks you see inside the computer.

You can purchase a can of compressed air from most electronics or computer shops.

Lets get this part done asap.

I believe you may have to go through this computer re-seat and re-connect all data cables between the hardware and the motherboard.

Over time oxidation builds up on connections and connectors, we need to disturb this by dis-connecting and reconnecting all cables, add-on cards and memory modules.

Also inspect all capacitors for leaking or bulging.

Here is links to diagnose this possibility.

http://pc-medic.blogspot.com/2006/10/leaking-capacitors.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capacitor_plague

http://www.capacitorlab.com/visible-failures/

I will leave the power supply diagnosis for another post.


Bruce.

Edited by MrBruce1959, 12 September 2010 - 12:20 PM.

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#9 RussellJB

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Posted 12 September 2010 - 03:54 PM

Guess what? I'm posting from my comp! It's still acting really flaky tho'.

But after cleaning it and re-seating all the motherboard and device connectors like you said, I left out my network card and one of my memory cards (the memory card from the slot where I thought I had the card seated incorrectly the other nite). I think that memory card is shot -- funny tho', it was at least showing until the comp went down.

After fiddling around I have the network card in and a 256MB memory card in the slot instead of the "old" 512MB (for a grand total of 768MB).

But my mouse is still jumping around (usually to the top of the screen) and the comp seems sluggish and the HDD sounds like it's working overtime.

What should I do now?

EDIT: I checked the capacitors but there was no dried fluid on the board and I didn't notice any bulging ones (although I have to admit it's hard for me to tell). There was some brown stuff on the tops of 3 of them, all of the same type but I couldn't tell if it is there by design.

EDIT: another potential (stupid) problem -- the computer does a short beep when I change the volume via the desktop. Maybe that's a feature w/ Pro? I went from Home to Pro when I re-installed.

I'm starting to feel like a poster boy here! lol :thumbsup:

Edited by RussellJB, 12 September 2010 - 04:40 PM.


#10 MrBruce1959

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Posted 12 September 2010 - 04:48 PM

Its Okay, look at the Internet friends you have gained though this experience that care! :thumbsup:

I think we are making progress here, although you may not think so.

So lets not give up with so much already accomplished.

Bruce.

Edited by MrBruce1959, 12 September 2010 - 06:09 PM.

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#11 RussellJB

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Posted 12 September 2010 - 04:56 PM

Yeah, at least it keeps me out of the bars. lol

Oh, I'm happy with the progress I've made. I didn't think I'd see the Windows screen until I had replaced the motherboard or something.

#12 MrBruce1959

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Posted 12 September 2010 - 06:14 PM

LOl yeah I have 400 channels of cable tv and don't watch anything, hey it comes with high speed Internet. :thumbsup:

So basically I spend most of my time on one of my 4 computers, sometimes all 4 at the same time, looks like NASA at my desk, which is C shaped, so I can multitask very quickly here.

I love it!

Bruce.
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#13 dc3

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Posted 12 September 2010 - 06:24 PM

Err... I'm just guessing here. You're a single guy? :thumbsup:

Lost my phone last year, gained a girl friend and life. Amazing how these things go together.

Family and loved ones will always be a priority in my daily life.  You never know when one will leave you.

 

 

 

 


#14 MrBruce1959

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Posted 12 September 2010 - 06:33 PM

Hang in there, we are going to bring this computer back to top running condition.

I mean why toss it if it has potentual.

We are now going to move onto the Dell web site for more trouble shooting and support.

http://support.dell.com/support/edocs/systems/dim4500/

You said the system has an issue with the mouse pointer jumping around at the top of the screen.

This could be an issue with the mouse, what type of mouse is this, a PS2 or USB mouse?

Do you have another mouse handy that you could use?

Also try re-plugging the mouse into its port.

If this mouse has a ball that rolls around on the desk top when used, those can accumulate all kinds of lint on the bars that the ball turns as it rolls.

I've retired most of those types of mouse in favor of track-ball stationary mouses. These have leds and photo diodes that track the rotation of the ball, they are also space savers as well.

You may have to open the mouse and check for lint on those plastic bars.

Bruce.
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#15 MrBruce1959

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Posted 12 September 2010 - 06:47 PM

Err... I'm just guessing here. You're a single guy? :thumbsup:

Single as in married yes.

But I do have two girls I date and hang out with here and at their house as well.

Besides my cat Oreo (the cat in my avatar picture) Yes I live alone.

Girls love Iphones and computers so I get a lot of dates because I fix things for free, that's the way I am.

Other than that I am attending (at age 51) Eastern Connecticut State University for my AS in "Computer Science Technology"

I am there to learn computer programming languages.

I use NetBeans for Java programming

Microsoft Visual Studio 2010

And Python 3.1

Of course I have to take all the subjects with it.

I am also updating my 3-D programming skills, I used to make computer games years ago, but now I'm too busy playing them. The Final Fantasy game series has been my favorite lately.

Don't laugh, I am re-discovering Final Fantasy VIII. This game came out in 2000 for computers, I'm running it successfully on Windows 7 Home Edition 32 Bit.

Bruce.

Edited by MrBruce1959, 12 September 2010 - 06:49 PM.

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