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Possible to Diagnose Hardware Without Operating System?


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#1 Sunharrow

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Posted 10 June 2015 - 08:47 PM

Can this be done? Here is the issue: My sister brought me her Dell Inspiron streamline 660S (manufactured 2012) and told me that her operating system has totally disappeared. Dell told her it was due to a virus and that the hard drive was probably damaged and she needed a new one. Her company's IT department did a diagnostics and said the operating system was not present.

When I started the computer up, it went to a blue screen and said there was an error with nostkrnl.exe (parts corrupt or missing) and error 0x0000185 which is a very serious issue.

It gave me 3 options:

Enter to try again
F8 to enter set-up
Esc for UEFI Firmware.

The first is a no go and the F8 is also not possible. Under the UEFI the system's BIOS is keeping the date and time correct but nothing else can be done.

The system was installed with Windows 8 and was a gift from her fiance. There was no Windows installation disk that came with it but she will be sending me the disc with drivers and utilities.

6 months ago she updated to Windows 8.1 and had no issues until 3 weeks ago. So...

1. Its a possibility a virus/trojan corrupted the OS.
2. A recent Windows update might have caused the problem.
2. Its a strong possibility that the hard drive crashed but I don't know for sure.

So as my subject line has asked is there a way to diagnose this system, particularly, the hard drive in any way? Can I do it via Linux and if so what distro and any tutorials you can direct me to so I can see how it is done?

Thanks.



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#2 JohnC_21

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Posted 10 June 2015 - 08:57 PM

Dell has a diagnostic partition that is accessed by tapping F12 at boot. If you cannot access the diagnostics you can do a hard drive check using Seatools for DOS. You would need to disable SecureBoot in UEFI and also Fastboot/Quickboot if enabled. You may also need to change to Legacy Boot or CSM boot in order for Seatools to boot. Besides Seatools you could use GsmartControl on a linux distro called Parted Magic. Using terminal you could also get the Windows 8 key embedded in firmware.

 

Rufus can be used to create a bootable USB flash drive.



#3 Sunharrow

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Posted 10 June 2015 - 09:53 PM

Thanks tons JohnC_21.  I have never owned a Dell or ever worked on one so your advice to tap F12 to access the diagnostic partition was exactly what I needed.  Long story it passed all tests except the Short DST so it appears this Western Digital hard drive is toast.  Now I got to figure out how to change it out.

 

Again thanks.


Edited by Sunharrow, 10 June 2015 - 09:54 PM.


#4 JohnC_21

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Posted 10 June 2015 - 10:31 PM

Here is the owners manual that shows how to access the HDD.



#5 Sunharrow

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Posted 10 June 2015 - 11:15 PM

Ah, thanks again.  Once I find out what exact motherboard is installed I may suggest to her the possibility of upgrading her cpu and more RAM (along with a new hard drive). 



#6 JohnC_21

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Posted 11 June 2015 - 07:20 AM

Here is the upgrade page for the 660s. Go to details and look at the specs and then buy something cheaper on ebay.

 

Here is a thread on the CPU upgrade. I do not know if you have the same chip because Dell was famous for switching MB's. You can verify your CPU and socket using CPU-z



#7 Sunharrow

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Posted 11 June 2015 - 11:25 AM

This is what I have discovered so far: Celeron G465 @ 1.90 Ghz 35 watts

 

After looking over the motherboard I found it is a DIB75R/Pinevalley which I am assuming is an Intel B75 chipset.  Here is the link for its specs:http://www.findlaptopdriver.com/dell-dib75r-pinevalley-mainboard-specs/

 

The amount of RAM she had installed was 2 gigs so I am thinking that the Windows 8 that came with it originally was a 32-bit OS.

 

I am going to suggest upgrading to at least 4 gigs of memory and a 240 gig SSD along with a Windows 8.1 64 (she knows how to use it just fine).

 

Maybe another cpu as well either a Pentium with dual core or even an i3 in a 35 watt but they are hard to find.

 

*** The thing I got to keep in mind is that due to the fact this system is a slimline the power supply is a max at 220 watts.

 

What do you think?


Edited by Sunharrow, 11 June 2015 - 11:26 AM.


#8 hamluis

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Posted 11 June 2015 - 11:54 AM

To butt in...IMO, upgrading that system...is going to take more money in components than it's worth.  I would consider just purchasing a refurbished system with newer/better components...and moving forward from there.  Amazon has a number of such which I consider to be good deals for those who think they want to "upgrade" but don't want to build or buy new.

 

IMO...the most important thing to consider is...where you want to get to with this system...before spending any cash.

 

Louis



#9 JohnC_21

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Posted 11 June 2015 - 04:57 PM

I second hamluis's opinion. On these slim models you have to watch out for the PSU as I believe it is proprietary and does not have much wattage. I could not find any specs that list the wattage but here it was stated as 220watts which does not leave much room for expansion.

 

I think that eventually your windows 8 would be upgraded to 10 and I think this computer should handle it just as it is now. If anything I would upgrade the RAM and leave the CPU alone and also do not worry about putting in a SSD but that is just my opinion. I guess it depends on what the computer is being used for.



#10 Sunharrow

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Posted 11 June 2015 - 08:51 PM

I should have listed what she does with her computer: Online banking, email, and Facebook.  She'll also peruse the internet and check out Amazon, eBay, and Groupon.  If need be she accesses her work's servers and work from.  Other than that nothing else.  She never games and does not stream any videos. 



#11 JohnC_21

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Posted 11 June 2015 - 09:23 PM

Then I would say the best option would be to increase RAM to 4GB and leave it at that. If you need to reinstall Windows 8.1 you can get the media here.

 

If the computer came with Windows 8 then the key is embedded in firmware. If you can boot to Windows you can access the key with firmwareTables View. You can verify the key with Produckey.


Edited by JohnC_21, 11 June 2015 - 09:23 PM.





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