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Tried everything - Windows 7 not working correctly. Help


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#1 carrspaints

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Posted 03 August 2016 - 09:09 AM

Hi everyone. I have a Acer X3990 computer. It has been working well for the past 2 years until yesterday. I haven't installed any new software or hardware. I have tried evreything I can think of to resolve - and I am COMPLETELY STUMPED!!

 

Symptoms:

 

When I boot up, my desktop loads without error, albeit a little slower than previously. I can click on the icons on the Desktop and they will open the respective programme. However, I cannot open any of the icons in the Taskbar. It is like the Taskbar is just stuck/hanging. Right clicking on the task bar does not open any options for me to select to resolve the issue. The only way I can get the Taskbar to work is by logging off, then logging back in. The icons on the Taskbar can then be used.

 

Furthermore, when I am able to open any programme on the Desktop or Taskbar, I am unable to close the window with the little "x" on the top right of the window. If I try to download anything off the internet, I can't "save to" or "open with". It just does nothing.

 

I can no longer use CTRL +ALT+DEL to bring up the Task Manager. I have to use the other option available (CTRL+SHFT+ESC). But then I am unable to open any of the tabs in Task Manager, nothing happens when I click on them. Again, I have to log off and log back in for this to work.

 

I have antivirus installed (McAfee). I also have Malwarebytes installed. I have run both, no viruses or malware deteced. I have installed 5 Rootkit virus software programmes & searched for rootkit viruses, nothing. All clean.

 

I have checked my RAM, all good, no issues at all. I have hecked my hard drive health (sectors, corrupt files, everything) - all good.

 

My computer is absolutley behaving as though it has a virus, but a check of this with all software and a check of my hardware shows everythg is okay?

 

Next Steps:

 

  1. I tried a system restore. It restored to an early date. However, the same issues persists when it reboots back to desktop. Taskbar frozen unless loging out and back in again. Downloads via internet (Mozilla, I.E. etc) won't download or open.
  2. I tried repairing Windows 7 with the installation CD. When I click on "repair", it searches for an installed version of Windows, which it finds. It then asks to hit the "next" button". When I do this, it just hangs. I can move the cursor around but cannot select anything further, or do anything other than shut down PC.
  3. I tried reinstalling Windows using installation CD. It shows all of the Windows 7 platform options avalaible, from x86 starter, to x64 Ultimate. Sometimes I can scroll to the platform I want, sometimes it just freezes. Cursor moves but clicking on any platform does nothing. Sometimes it will let me scroll all the way down to x64 Ultimate, but when I click on that, it does nothing. Even after waiting 20 minutes.
  4. I replaced the DVD drive with a new spare working one to rule out a faulty DVD drive, same problem
  5. I used another Windows 7 installation disc to rule out a damaged/scratched disc, same problem.
  6. I then removed my harddrive & installed a brand new formatted hard drive to rule out my existing drive being defective. Unbelievably, exactly the same issue. It doesn't matter weather I use a new hard drive, new DVD drive, new Windows disc, I absolutely cannot get Windows to install??

I don't know weather BIOS viruses exist, but I have even removed all RAM and the motherboard battery, power supply and reinstalled. The issue persists. I even replaced the RAM, in case the software tools were telling me they were good when they are not. No diference.

 

It is like my PC is posessed. All hardware changed (RAM, Harddrive, DVD drive, Windows install disc) It will not allow me to install. The windows install disc loads when rebooting, it asks e to select "time zone", country etc, but even if I can get to selecting the type of windows installation I want, e.g. X64 Ultimate, it won't do a thing when I click on it.

 

Does anyone have any fea what could be causing this? I am at a total loss after 15 hours trying. Thanks

 

 

 

 

 



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#2 ranchhand_

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Posted 03 August 2016 - 09:36 AM

Hello Carrspaints...

It sounds like you may have (or not!) a low-level hardware problem, but the only way to diagnose these kind of problems is a lengthy step-by-step process of elimination, which includes some of the steps you have already taken. So...if you start this you have to hang in there with me until we complete. I just want to check with you if you are still interested.


Help Requests: If there is no reply after 3 days I remove the thread from my answer list. For further help PM me.


#3 carrspaints

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Posted 03 August 2016 - 09:53 AM

Hi, thanks for the reply. Happy t hang in, but be aware that I've essentially removed all of the hardware components that can be removed. The Video card is built into the MB, so not removable.

 

Also, the PC has 2 x RAM slots. I have tried using just one slot (alternating and with brand new RAM) to rule out a faulty RAM slot on the MB.

 

Keen to hear any suggestions you may have. Cheers.



#4 ranchhand_

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Posted 03 August 2016 - 10:30 AM

Ok, first reset your BIOS back to factory default; do it this way: 

power down and unplug the power cable from the wall socket. Press the power switch for 5 seconds (clears the capacitors). Open the case and remove the CMOS battery for about 5 minutes. It looks like a small, silver coin about the size of a nickel. Many computers also have a small jumper switch usually located close to the battery. Move the jumper to the side, wait about 10 seconds, then move it back to original position again. You can check your computer manual to find where this jumper is located. Then reinstall the CMOS battery again; make sure you get the polarity correct, if you put it in backwards the computer will do some really strange things, and possibly not boot. Now reboot, and let me know the result.

If no joy, next try to boot into Safe Mode. Result?

That will get us started. Let me know what happens.


Help Requests: If there is no reply after 3 days I remove the thread from my answer list. For further help PM me.


#5 carrspaints

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Posted 03 August 2016 - 10:50 AM

Okay, thanks for the suggestions. I will give this a try shortly, but please bear with me for half hour or so, I need to nip out to collect my wife from work.

 

BTW, when I boot in safe mode, the desktop loads up fine, but with the same issues as decribed before.

 

Thanks for your support here. Cheers,



#6 ranchhand_

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Posted 03 August 2016 - 10:52 AM

No problem, out lives can't go on hold over some dumb computer :cowboy:


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#7 carrspaints

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Posted 03 August 2016 - 12:41 PM

Hi ranchhand. Okay, so I did what you suggested, still no joy. I tried again to install Windows 7 using a new freshly formatted hard drive and on my current hard drive. It won't have it. Windows install loads, it asks me to select the operating system I want to install. When I click on, say Windows 7 Ultimate (x64), nothing happens. If I try clicking on the "next" tab to go to the next screen, nothing happens. No hard drive lights on, no DVD ROM lights on. It is almost as if there is a command that is refusing to allow me to either repair my existing Windows installation, or to install a fresh installation on my existing drive, or any drive for that matter.

 

Do BIOS viruses exist? If my RAM is fine, I have a new hard drive, new Windows installation disc (genuine copy) - and if my current drive will load to desktop (albeit with issues), then why on Earth can I not boot from CD and install windows to a brand new hard drive, or repair Windows on my exisitng hard drive? It's the craziest thing.



#8 ranchhand_

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Posted 03 August 2016 - 03:14 PM

Ok. 

> Can you actually enter the BIOS screen? If so, does the BIOS see your HDD and optical drive(s)?  Carefully check your various settings without changing anything, do you see anything dodgy? Change your boot order to DVD=1st boot device, HDD=2nd boot device.

> When you cold boot from shut down, do you get the usual system bootup beep?

> Check your power supply; if you have a PS tester use that; if you don't, and if you know how to use a multimeter tester, use that. Otherwise, if you can, swap the power supply with another that you know works. Just connect only the basics to get your computer up and running and see if the task bar problems and others go away. I know this is a pain, but we are following a procedure here to eliminate all possible causes, no matter how improbable they may seem. If you simply have no way to do any of this, then skip this but let me know. In that case, try swapping the power plugs for the optical drive and the HDD with other vacant ones coming out of your power supply, usually there will be at least one or two extra ones that are unused.  Do the same for your data cables plugging in to the HDD and optical drive. We are making sure there are no dodgy cables causing problems-believe it or not, it is a common problem. Also.....pull off the main motherboard connector and re-plug it back in again.

If you have any questions at all post back before you do anything.

> Check your HDD. I know that you swapped them, I understand, but this will also tell us if a virtual distro can run from memory and the DVD drive. You may have to download and burn a CD/DVD from another computer if yours will not do it.
Go here and download Seatools For DOS (free)
http://www.seagate.com/support/downloads/seatools/

Accept the EULA and download the ISO file.
When download is complete burn the ISO to a CD or DVD.
Make sure your BIOS is set to:   1st Boot Device = CD drive, 2nd Boot Device = Hard Drive.
When the program opens, click the upper left corner for the Long Test. This will take a long time, so be patient.
> Note: if you get a pop-up window telling you that SMART has tripped and asking if you want to continue, choose Yes. Be sure to post that in your next reply along with the result of the test.
At the end of the test, you will get either a Pass or Fail notice. Post the result in your next reply.

Be sure to have your hard drive directly installed internally to the motherboard, not in an external case

I suspicion that you will be unable to run this utility (hopefully I am wrong!), so let me know.

Post back with results of each item.


Help Requests: If there is no reply after 3 days I remove the thread from my answer list. For further help PM me.


#9 carrspaints

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Posted 03 August 2016 - 04:25 PM

Hi. I can enter BIOS no problem. Boot sequence is set as DVD-ROM 1st, HDD 2nd. There isn't that much you can actually change in this system's BIOS really. What can be changed appears to be set correctly, including the date/time stamp.

 

Boot up beep is standard, one short beep as ususal. Boots to DVD 1st (if DVD/CD in drive)

 

I haven't testsed the PS yet, but will do so tomorrow evening. A failing PS unit can certainly present issues and given I have tried literally everything else, it is worth looking at.

 

It is not possible to swop the power plugs feeding the HDD & Optical drive, as this unit only has 2 x MOBO power feeds, no spare. It can only take one HDD & one Optical - a shame. Same applies to the data cables. Only 2 available on MOBO.

 

I have removed the power supply connection to the Mobo and then refitted to eliminate possible poor connection. No change.

 

I'll download Seatools for DOS when I get back from work tomorrow evening and run that. I'll post back what comes up from that, but it will be around 6pm UK time.

 

Thanks again for your help & have a great night. :thumbup2:



#10 ranchhand_

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Posted 04 August 2016 - 06:39 AM

Re: power supply cables; ok, if nothing else, try swapping the power & data cables. IOW, move the HDD to the DVD, and the DVD to the HDD just to see if anything changes. Probably no difference, but we will do whatever we can.


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#11 carrspaints

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Posted 04 August 2016 - 08:45 AM

Hi Ranchhand. Yes, I have already moved the cables between DVD & HDD - many times. No change.

 

Also, I have now connected a power supply from another PC to rule out a failing PSU. Same problem persists. The issue is not the PSU either, it seems.

 

I burned a copy of Seagate Tools for DOS, ran it from boot up. It starts loading, comes up with "starting BCDW", followed quickly by some other white text. It then says "copying RAM to Drive", followed by "unziiping RAM in Drive". After that, the screen goes black, but with a line or 2 of very small pink coloured alpha numerical data grouped in 4s, e.g. 1R51  RR12  45RC  CFR5 etc. .It can also make mention of "invalid upcode", whatever that means.

 

Sometimes when loading Seagate DOS, this is accompanied by the PC beeping continuously, but most of the time it is just silent. Nothing happens from hereon. The numbers do not change. It is as if Seagte Tools has just stopped working.

 

So, to date I have changed RAM, changed PSU, changed DVD Drive, Changed Windows 7 install disc, installed brand new formatted HDD. I have swopped cables. I have mixed RAM slots and qty of RAM to rule out fault on MOBO. All RAM is same size and same manufacturer and s correct type for this MOBO. I have tested RAM with various DOS software, reports state all okay.

 

There is nothing else that can be changed now, other than the MOBO itself. I've had my share of PC issues over the years, but nothing that has had me beat like this one.



#12 ranchhand_

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Posted 04 August 2016 - 09:23 AM

As I said, I didn't think this would work, but at least we verified for sure.

So...let's review our testing:

 

HDD.... has been swapped, no change so we can rule out the drive

Optical...has been swapped, so we can rule out the optical

Memory... first, memory failure crashes the entire system and that is not the problem. Second, you swapped out the memory stick(s) so memory is ruled out

Power Supply...swapped with another good one, so we rule out the PS

BIOS... reset back to factory default, you can enter the BIOS screen at any time. We can rule out the BIOS chip

Cables...you changed/swapped cables so we can rule out bad cables

That leaves us with only the CPU and the Mainboard.

When a CPU blows-out the monitor goes dark and unresponsive, all fans spin up normally, the mainboard power lamp (if it has one) will glow normally, the system will give the keyboard recognition beep, but the entire computer will be unresponsive to any system load or keyboard or mouse commands. None of that is your problem.

That leaves the mainboard, and I think that is what has failed. Usually when the mainboard fails, everything goes dark except for the power supply, but not always. I regularly work on really old computers, and sometimes only a section of the board fails. In your case, you cannot run anything from virtual, whether it is the optical drive or the hard drive and that is why you cannot install Windows or run virtual (load into memory only) programs.

 

One last thing you can do is check for failed capacitors; this will not fix the problem, but you may at least find the reason:

While the case side is open, check the motherboard capacitors for failure. This is a common problem as manufacturers are buying cheaper capacitors and they fail regularly. Capacitors look like small, "Quaker Oats" round boxes set on-end. They are commonly silver color, but can be black, green or brown. The tops of these should be perfectly flat on top; if there are any that are bulging upward, and if there is "goo" on the tops, possibly running down the side, or even on the bottom, that capacitor has failed. Even if the cap to is bulging with no electrolyte seeping out it is bad.

Additional info link:   http://badcaps.net/pages.php?vid=5

Note the pictures on the right hand side. If you find even only one on your mobo, you have found your problem.

Unfortunately, your mainboard is no longer being manufactured. You can get used with NO warranty of any kind from Newegg or Ebay, but you have an old unit already.

Sorry, but that is how I see it.


Edited by ranchhand_, 04 August 2016 - 09:25 AM.

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#13 carrspaints

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Posted 04 August 2016 - 10:44 AM

Hi. Yes, I think you are right in that this issue appears MOBO related. Everything else seems to have been ruled out.  I will have a look for any visually failed caps, it's probably time to get a new PC rather than buy a 2nd hand board off eBay.

 

Hey, thanks for all your help here. :busy:



#14 JohnC_21

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Posted 04 August 2016 - 10:56 AM

As you say, this is most likely a hardware issue but can you try one other thing? Download Parted Magic here. Either burn the iso to disk or use Rufus to create a bootable USB flash drive. At the desktop select Disk Health or it may be called GsmartControl. Run the short and long tests.

 

https://rufus.akeo.ie/

 

You can tap F12 to select your boot device.



#15 ranchhand_

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Posted 04 August 2016 - 06:45 PM

My pleasure, Carrspaints.


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