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Windows 7 PC cannot get beyond bios


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#1 Richard_Hankins

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Posted 23 January 2017 - 04:00 PM

Folks,

 

I have a Windows PC which I built a couple of years ago for a member of my family.  Its run fine until yesterday.    About a month ago it had its OS drive upgraded to an SSD by a local company, which didn't cause any obvious problems.

 

When I got hold of it today it was showing a Windows Boot Manager error screen:

Status:  0xc000000e

 

Info:   The boot selection failed because a required device is inaccessible.

 

Inserting a Windows 7 disk into the CD drive allowed it to boot off the CD, but a startup repair failed to indicate any problem, and it found the installed Windows 7 boot drive OK.

 

Since then it has gone further down hill.   The PC has stopped booting off the CD drive, and now goes straight to bios without being asked to do so.

 

Removal of the SSD and HDD, leaving just the CD drive does not improve things.   I've changed the SATA cable just in case to no avail.

 

Oddly, bios has no problem in detecting the CD drive, but also find a non-existent "Generic storage device", which I can't identify.

 

I've checked the BIOS backup battery, which reads 3.1V both out of the motherboard, and back in it.

 

Ominously, when I google "PC will only boot into bios", it immediately comes up with a string of problems with Asus motherboards showing this fault.    I have an Asus H81M-Plus motherboard here.    Are there any tests I can run to confirm I have terminal motherboard failure or should I be looking elsewhere?

 

Richard



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#2 hamluis

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Posted 23 January 2017 - 05:33 PM

I would start with replacing the CMOS battery...costs less than $5 for a desktop computer.

 

Once replaced, enter the BIOS, reset the time/date, elect default settings, ensure that the hard drive is the first boot option, save the changes (F10).

 

See if system boots properly.

 

FWIW.

 

Louis



#3 Guest_Aaron_Warrior_*

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Posted 24 January 2017 - 04:02 AM

I would start with replacing the CMOS battery...costs less than $5 for a desktop computer.

 

Once replaced, enter the BIOS, reset the time/date, elect default settings, ensure that the hard drive is the first boot option, save the changes (F10).

 

See if system boots properly.

 

FWIW.

 

Louis

 

This.  Then I'd pull the SSD since it's the new kid on the block.  Worked fine for years, SSD shows up and it's pooched a month later.  Install another HD, or get a bootable USB drive to see if the machine will boot to SOMETHING that vaguely resembles a HD.  Best if you could get the old HD to boot.  That would pretty much condemn the SSD as being bad. Then it's a warranty question.  Another tack is to see if you can get the SSD to be recognized in another computer.  If no, it's bad.  If yes, it might be good, or physically good but the data has been pooched somehow, for some reason.  Post make model of SSD because I'm wondering "What if it's some no-name POS SSD that this guy got from a shop who didn't know any better."  Because not all SSD's are equal.  Some are really good, and some are stinking turds.  What if you got someone else's bad, used SSD HD sold to you as new by a disreputable computer shop?  I've seen stuff like this before.  Best to confront this possibility head-on.

 

Failing all of that, you might give the computer a real close inspection, with a flashlight and maybe a magnifying glass.  First you are looking for dust, etc... clogging the CPU fan to the extent that it won't cool.  Doubt it's a heat issue, but you never know and even if it's not, heat kills things.  But the main point to the inspection is to look VERY closely at all the capacitors on the motherboard and see if any are cracked, bulging or leaking.  ANY kind of crusty residue on top of the capacitors is bad, it means they are bad and the motherboard is bad and with bad caps you get HIGHLY unpredictable and irregular performance.  You might replace the CMOS, it might start working again, you think it's fixed and a month later you bad caps cause the machine to crap out and you are staring over at square 1 again.  There's a lot of bad computers due to bad caps and most people don't even know why.  They troubleshoot it to the M/B, throw it away, but a new one and never know why the old M/B was bad.  A brand-new, high-quality japanese cap might cost $0.50.  Soldering is easy.  The trick is to match the replacement to the original.  Also a solder-sucker is handy.



#4 Richard_Hankins

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Posted 24 January 2017 - 04:46 AM

Right - thanks both of you.   I will certainly change the battery - though any lithium battery which reads 3.1 volts both in and out of circuit should be fine for the purpose intended here.

 

 Aaron_Warrior  - you ask if the SSD can be recognised in another computer?   I have already done that test, by removing it, putting it into a caddy and plugging it into the USB port of a computer that is running fine.    The caddy itself shows up in file browser on this second PC - but it reports "no media".    Same with Windows disk management.    So it looks like the SSD has suffered early onset failure.

 

The SSD in question is a Sandisk Z400s 128GB unit,  bought from Scan UK in December 2015 - surely not a "no-name" item!  It sat on a shelf for nearly all of 2016, until it got installed by a local company.   I suppose ESD damage can't be ruled out - no ideas what procedures they follow - and trying to diagnose that after the event is pretty difficult.

 

I will do further checks on the battery and the capacitors later today and update this thread with what I find.   Capacitors could have failed - but in a motherboard about two years old, from a "reputable" manufacturer (I presume Asus is one such!), then its hard to believe that has already happened.

 

 

thanks

 

Richard



#5 ranchhand_

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Posted 24 January 2017 - 07:38 AM

Richard, you can test that SSD very easily, and if you want to return it you will have a definite proof it went bad.Just make sure your optical drive is running properly. Following are my canned instructions:

 

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.
> Disconnect any other hard drives in your computer (not optical drives) leaving only your problem drive connected.
> Make sure your BIOS is set to:   1st Boot Device = CD drive, 2nd Boot Device = Hard Drive.
> Insert the CD in your optical drive and reboot.
> When the program opens, click the upper left corner for the Long Test.
> 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.


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


#6 Guest_Aaron_Warrior_*

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Posted 24 January 2017 - 04:29 PM

Right - thanks both of you.   I will certainly change the battery - though any lithium battery which reads 3.1 volts both in and out of circuit should be fine for the purpose intended here.

 

Those batteries are 3.2 volts. They usually measure 3.5, so 3.1 could be bad.  It's $5.00.  If your time is worth less than the money, you could skip this, but if it's the battery and you waste time chasing other things, you'll feel like a dummy.

 

 Aaron_Warrior  - you ask if the SSD can be recognised in another computer?   I have already done that test, by removing it, putting it into a caddy and plugging it into the USB port of a computer that is running fine.    The caddy itself shows up in file browser on this second PC - but it reports "no media".    Same with Windows disk management.    So it looks like the SSD has suffered early onset failure.

 

Maybe.  I've never worked with an SSD before, but I'm under the impression they require special drivers and sometimes software in order to be recognized and work properly, so until that question is clarified I would still hold open the possibility that the SSD is good.

 

I will do further checks on the battery and the capacitors later today and update this thread with what I find.   Capacitors could have failed - but in a motherboard about two years old, from a "reputable" manufacturer (I presume Asus is one such!), then its hard to believe that has already happened.

 

Asus and Gigabyte are the only two manufacturers that I would trust, and Asus only somewhat.  There's an entire documented "school of thought" and culture surrounding the issue of "bad caps.  Even a website (google "bad caps dot net").  There's a bajillion reasons why caps go bad, and sometimes it's the MB manufacturer's fault and sometimes it's not.  Lots of intrigue and espionage.  It's like a freaking 007 movie.  Another reason is Planned Obsolescence.

 

Test the drive as recommended.  That's usually considered definitive.  I'm curious if you actually got the SSD to boot to another machine.  If so, then it's possible that machine #2 changed the drivers to make the SSD work for it, and now the SSD won't boot to machine #1 because it's drivers are wrong for machine #1.  But I couldn't tell how you installed it on machine #2.  Did you boot from the SSD on machine #2, or just install it as a secondary, data, non-bootable drive?


Edited by Aaron_Warrior, 24 January 2017 - 04:32 PM.


#7 Richard_Hankins

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Posted 25 January 2017 - 04:16 PM

Thanks to everyone with various ideas.

 

I have now changed the CMOS battery for a new one.   That allowed the PC to boot from the CD drive - but only once.  I had to restart it again, because I lost both mouse and keyboard control, so could not proceed.   So I rebooted again - and this time it reverted back to its old behaviour of going straight into BIOS, and refusing to boot at all.  I re-ran the test three times.   So I think we can say the battery is not the problem.

 

I re-checked the SSD in my caddy.  Its now OK.  Looks like it wasn't seated properly in the socket, so Windows reported as "no media".   It all appears OK now - so that was a false alarm.

 

That leaves the visual examination of the motherboard of the faulty PC.  I have carefully checked all the capacitors for any sign of bulging or leaking - and I can see nothing.  The only way to prove its not a faulty capacitor is to buy a whole new set, and replace them all.......but that is a lot of work, for a very uncertain end.   Its only a £60 motherboard - judging by current Ebay prices for one.   I don't think its worth trying to fix it.  Given Asus motherboards have a history of producing this problem - I am minded to avoid Asus in the future. 

 

I'd be interested to hear from anyone who can see any other possible cause for the symptoms - which are a repeated refusal to boot up at all - and repeatedly returning to BIOS instead.    Presumably RAM and CPU are not implicated at all?

 

Richard 



#8 SleepyDude

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Posted 25 January 2017 - 04:30 PM

Hi,

 

My suggestion is to look for a switch on the motherboard and reset the BIOS/UEFI also disconnect all extra devices like DVD, HDD, etc.


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#9 hamluis

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Posted 25 January 2017 - 05:04 PM

FWIW

 

Louis



#10 Guest_Aaron_Warrior_*

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Posted 25 January 2017 - 09:24 PM

 

I have now changed the CMOS battery for a new one.   That allowed the PC to boot from the CD drive - but only once.  I had to restart it again, because I lost both mouse and keyboard control, so could not proceed.   So I rebooted again - and this time it reverted back to its old behaviour of going straight into BIOS, and refusing to boot at all.  I re-ran the test three times.   So I think we can say the battery is not the problem.

 

The above feels motherboardish.  Bad caps, bad power, what voltage does your new battery test at and how does that compare to the old?  Is the video card onboard or add-on?  Report temps and voltages from BIOS.  Also report if all hard drives either are, or are not being recognized in BIOS.  Sometimes a piece of bad hardware (hard drive, video card) can cause the motherboard/BIOS to behave intermittently bad with odd symptoms what you have which is why:

 

Hi,

 

My suggestion is to look for a switch on the motherboard and reset the BIOS/UEFI also disconnect all extra devices like DVD, HDD, etc.

 

This is a really good suggestion.  Get everything off-system you possibly can.  Example you don't want to condemn a good motherboard as bad because your optical drive was bad and you never took it off-system.  Cables can also be bad, and cause problems.

 

The fact that things improved after the CMOS battery was removed and a new one put back in might be significant.  A might have caused B (changing battery fixed something temporarily), or it could be an intermittant problem and the battery has nothing to do with anything.  These are the joys of troubleshooting a machine with an internmittant problem.  Things appear to be causal in nature, and then they aren't, but then something else is, but then it's not, but then the 1st thing that appeared causal, but then it wasn't, now seems causal again, and so you wonder if you were wrong when you decided that it wasn't causal after you decided that it was.  And then it isn't again.  And then you believe in two completely opposite things ("A causes B" and "A does NOT cause B") both at the same time.

 

Maddening.

 

You have to (believe both are true) because they could be. So clearing BIOS might fix things.  I've read of Users fixing intermittant problems like this by actually reflashing the BIOS, either to the same version (reflash) or to a more current version (upgrade BIOS).  When you get to the nitty and the gritty (contemplating trashing the M/B and buyng a new one, this is one of the things you try because it's on the way to the trash can anyways, so WTH.

What if it works?  You'll be high-fiving yourself and feeling like Krull the Conquerer.  I have go to read the link that HL posted now.


Edited by Aaron_Warrior, 25 January 2017 - 09:25 PM.


#11 Guest_Aaron_Warrior_*

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Posted 25 January 2017 - 09:34 PM

Also as a Post Script type of thought ("afterthought?"), if things do get dire, you might build a bootable USB drive with Win7 on it and see if the computer will boot to it:

 

https://rufus.akeo.ie/

 

http://www.techfleece.com/2015/07/08/how-to-create-a-bootable-windows-usb-drive-using-rufus/

 

These instructions should work.

 

https://www.walmart.com/ip/SanDisk-CZ60-32GB-USB-2.0-Flash-Drive/23350716

 

This is a 32 Gbyte USB flash drive for $10.00.  With a Win7 bootable USB flash drive, you can always access your data if your System Drive (boot drive) fails to boot.  I can build a disk in less than 30 minutes.  It might take a neophyte 4 hours of reading and poking around, 2 steps forward, 3 steps back, etc...






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