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Unplugged bios memory help


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#1 genuisintraining

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Posted 28 February 2014 - 12:31 PM

First thing's first.
My mom brought me a computer that she wanted me to crack. It is a dell inspiron 910 that was running Windows XP, home edition I believe. It had a startup password, and I could not even go into the boot options. So I located the BIOS and unplugged it. However I'm not sure if it was the BIOS. (a bit of research came up with I unplugged the BIOS battery)

I figured afterwards I would just boot into my little flash drive with windows and reinstall. negative. Windows was forever stuck at Examining startup environment. Endlessly.

Tried numerous things and always get stuck, there is definitely a hardware problem, and I'm not a hardware guy.

I can't get to chkdsk, but I can boot into Unbuntu burned into my flash drive, but I can't install. I get a problem writing to /dev/sda I believe. I can fix partitions and hard drive problems as soon as I can get into cmd.exe.

Right now my only resources are two flash drives that I can create bootable disk from iso's and MS-DOS, and freeDOS.

I can download anything, even if it costs money. I can use any tool you want me to and follow any instructions, as I am tech savy, just not through school yet.

Also Unbuntu has me staring down the files in my file system. A group of folders like bin, boot, mnt, root, etc. I've never seen these files and I know they're the files behind my OS.

My computer specs:

Memory:990.4MB

Processor: Intel Atom CPU N270 @ 1,600GHz x2
Graphics:Unknown

OS type:32-bit

Disk:519MB left after installing Ubuntu, was 7.5GB or something like that before

 

Wow! After reviewing these stats, this laptop's definitely gonna be a linux junkie.
I would just install, but it has error writing to /dev/sba...
I can run Ubuntu on the flash drive, boot from there! But nothing could be saved. Hard Drive appears to be dead, but I know I have unfinished problems with the BIOS



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#2 genuisintraining

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Posted 28 February 2014 - 12:54 PM

And just so everyone knows, NO I can't re-install! I would have done that a while ago, but there is still a problem preventing any OSes from being installed.



#3 dls62

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Posted 28 February 2014 - 01:18 PM

You don't say that you have replaced the CMOS (BIOS) battery, but I'm assuming you did.

 

When you boot the netbook, press F2 when you see the Dell logo.  This should take you into the BIOS settings.   I haven't seen that specific BIOS setup but one of the settings should be Reset to Default Settings, or something similar,  select that and then Exit and Save.

 

The netbook should restart.  Has this resolved the issue?


Edited by dls62, 28 February 2014 - 01:18 PM.


#4 genuisintraining

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Posted 28 February 2014 - 01:23 PM

You don't say that you have replaced the CMOS (BIOS) battery, but I'm assuming you did.

 

When you boot the netbook, press F2 when you see the Dell logo.  This should take you into the BIOS settings.   I haven't seen that specific BIOS setup but one of the settings should be Reset to Default Settings, or something similar,  select that and then Exit and Save.

 

The netbook should restart.  Has this resolved the issue?

PheonixBIOS setup utility. I looked there and haven't found one yet, I'll keep looking for the reset option. And yes, I assume it is the cmos. I look at google images of cmos and it looked like that, only it was wrapped in black plastic. I just unhooked it and waited a minute, then rehooked it.

I did it to reset the password on boot, which was the initial problem. The BIOS setup utility says the password on boot is enabled, and the option to change this is disabled. Maybe it didn't fix it?

I keep looking here and don't see a restore to default option.



#5 genuisintraining

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Posted 28 February 2014 - 01:31 PM

I'll keep posting error codes and such to locate the problem if it's something bad.
Error Code: 0F00:1344
Msg: DISK_0 - Block 14854950:. Can't read, replace disk or remove Write Protection.


Sounds like a bad hard drive? Should I nuke it?

Wow I'm getting blocks of bad data in a row, from 4950 and beyond


Edited by genuisintraining, 28 February 2014 - 01:33 PM.


#6 zingo156

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Posted 28 February 2014 - 01:48 PM

"Msg: DISK_0 - Block 14854950:. Can't read, replace disk or remove Write Protection.

Sounds like a bad hard drive? Should I nuke it?

Wow I'm getting blocks of bad data in a row, from 4950 and beyond"

 

Sounds to me like you have a failing hard drive or for certain bad sectors/blocks. There are a few hard drive tests I use, tufftest, spinrite (can possibly fix bad sectors by re-allocating and turning off the bad sector) MHDD is the only free one and can also turn off bad sectors if you tell it to. All of these will boot from flash drive if you know how to create it.

 

MHDD is a little tough to understand at first you can find it here: http://hddguru.com/software/2005.10.02-MHDD/

In bios the sata operation must be set to IDE or Compatibility, AHCI will not work. The good thing about MHDD is it will give speeds of each block... You can also download the manufacturers hard drive test if you can figure out who makes the drive, example: seagate or western digital. You can then go to their website and download their bootable hard drive test which may differ between models.

 

Spinrite is probably the easiest to use: https://www.grc.com/spinrite.htm

 

EDIT: All of these tests should finish in a few hours on a good hard drive. A lot bad or slow sectors can indicate a failing hard drive but even new drives can contain a few slow or bad sectors. If you have block after block failing or above 500ms then replacing is advised.


Edited by zingo156, 28 February 2014 - 01:58 PM.

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#7 zingo156

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Posted 28 February 2014 - 02:04 PM

Here are instructions to help you run MHDD:

 

Before running this test it would be a good idea to backup any data that you cannot afford to lose. This test uses the hard drive at 100%. If the drive is failing or has problems it is possible for the drive to fail suddenly especially during heavy use as this test will do. It is unlikely but still I recommend backing files up to be safe.

 

 

Here are the instructions to run the test:

 

The first step will be to burn MHDD to a disc as an image (cd preferably) or create a bootable flash drive from the iso.

 

After burning the disc/flash drive, restart the laptop and start tapping f2 right away to get into the bios. There you should see System Configuration, expand that by clicking the + button. In that list there should be something called Sata operation. (Sata Operation may also be by itself in that first screen list)

 

Click on sata operation and take note of the current setting to the right it will probably be set to AHCI it will need to be switched back to this after MHDD is done running. Select ATA, ide, or compatibility mode and then click apply. Save and exit the bios, or if apply was the only option you can use Ctrl+Alt+Delete to restart.

 

Now with the burned disc/flash drive in the computer, after a restart, start tapping F12 on the keyboard. This will bring up the boot options menu. Select cd/dvd/cd-rw drive or bootable flash (if you went this way) and hit enter.

 

If this worked correctly and booted to mhdd you should see a screen that says Microsoft windows 98 startup menu. You can let the timer run out or just hit enter on option (2 . Start computer without SCSI support) in that menu .

 

Now you should see a screen with numbers, most of these will not have any device listed behind them but one number should for example on my dell computer number 6 has WDC WD1600BEVT-75A23T0… and at the end a number in white which is the size of the drive 312,581,808.

 

If this is the correct drive, on the keyboard type the number in front of the drive (in my case it was 6) and then hit enter.

 

Now you should have a screen with MHDD> and a blinking cursor.

 

Now hit F4 on the keyboard 2 times and this will start scanning the hard drive. (if you want to enable turning off bad blocks let me know for now just scan)

 

You should be able to see the computer start scanning, each block represents one sector on the hard drive. What we are looking for will show up on the right side of the screen.

 

There is a list on the right which shows numbers:

<3

<10

<50

<150ms

Etc…

 

Anything below the <150ms is a slow sector or a problem sector. Slow sectors <500 or >500 will slow down the computer. If there are a lot of these the drive should be replaced. Even new drives have around 3-4 slow sectors so if it has no more than 10 I would say the drive is ok.

 

Also if you have any at the end that were marked as UNC this means the drive has uncorrectable errors and the hard drive should probably be replaced.

 

If all of the sectors were ok and fell within the range of:

<3

<10

<50

<150ms

Then the hard drive is ok, if there are only a few (no more than 10 sectors that are slow <500 or >500) the hard drive should be ok to use.

 

 

NOTE: that if there are many slow sectors one after another or you start having error after error the drive is in bad shape and I recommend ending the test. To end the test hit the Esc key.

 

After you are done testing you will need to go back into the bios by restarting the computer and tapping f2. Go back to Sata Operation and change it back to the default which probably was AHCI.

 

Then restart and the computer should boot again.

 

(If you are getting a blue screen and the computer restarts go back into the bios and confirm that Sata Operation is set to what it was before changing it to ATA).


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#8 genuisintraining

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Posted 28 February 2014 - 02:04 PM

Thanks! I'll do this and fix the hard drive. After I fix the harddrive, are there any steps I haven't done yet that should be done after resetting cmos?



#9 zingo156

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Posted 28 February 2014 - 02:11 PM

The question will be if the hard drive is fixable or not... report back to me when mhdd has finished (if you can, take a picture of the screen and post it here).

 

In bios the only thing you can do is continue to search for the default values settings as mentioned above. These are fail safe settings, if all hardware is in working order the computer should work with the default values in bios loaded.

 

Not all hard drives can be "fixed" in fact most of the time when I have recieved errors writing to blocks the hard drive was beyond repair.

 

INSTRUCTIONS FOR MHDD are posted above the last 2 posts in blue.


Edited by zingo156, 28 February 2014 - 02:14 PM.

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#10 genuisintraining

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Posted 28 February 2014 - 02:28 PM

I can't change system configuration, no files found in the PheonixBIOS System Utility (https://www.google.com/search?q=phoenixbios+setup+utility&client=firefox-a&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&channel=sb&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=bOMQU42GB-euyQH0s4HwCg&ved=0CCwQsAQ&biw=1280&bih=656#channel=sb&q=phoenixbios+setup+utility+dell&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&tbm=isch&facrc=_&imgdii=_&imgrc=8fiHKqUDjcJfEM%253A%3B7mCHSYOtIc_KSM%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fen.community.dell.com%252Fresized-image.ashx%252F__size%252F550x0%252F__key%252Fcommunityserver-discussions-components-files%252F3518%252F1512.11.jpg%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fen.community.dell.com%252Fsupport-forums%252Flaptop%252Ff%252F3518%252Ft%252F19469249.aspx%3B550%3B412)
Sorry for long link, google phoenixbios setup utility dell on images if it doesn't work
Edit:Link updated


Edited by genuisintraining, 28 February 2014 - 02:30 PM.


#11 zingo156

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Posted 28 February 2014 - 02:30 PM

It might be under the advanced or advance chip set, use your arrow keys left or right.


Edited by zingo156, 28 February 2014 - 02:32 PM.

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#12 genuisintraining

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Posted 28 February 2014 - 02:31 PM

There's no option like it



#13 genuisintraining

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Posted 28 February 2014 - 02:33 PM

I'll send you a picture, give me a second



#14 zingo156

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Posted 28 February 2014 - 02:33 PM

You can try mhdd without changing the option, if you can see the hard drive at all it should work. Please send a picture of each bios screen if possible.


Edited by zingo156, 28 February 2014 - 02:34 PM.

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#15 genuisintraining

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Posted 28 February 2014 - 02:47 PM

Now each time I try mdhh I get NTLDR is missing






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