Basic Hardware troubleshooting



Sometimes machines stop working, or you install a new piece of hardware and just can’t boot again. That’s when you have to get back to some basics to troubleshoot what the problem is. Yesterday I saw a machine that wasn’t booting. It would display the splash screen and then power down. They had a new video card on a previous diagnosis using the indicator lights on the back (Dell). The add on card seemed to work, but the system was just not booting. Someone had suggested to them that it was a power problem.


This made sense in a way, old 250 watt power supply, trying to power up the system that it new, plus an addon 3d accelerated video card – maybe that was too much for it. (Original video was onboard). Maybe the power supply was going bad too…. So, I tested a new power supply, same before – splash screen and then power down. At this point I had already pulled the hard drives and cdrom’s. You know even without those the system should at least post and let you get into bios settings, or try to boot and complain about not finding an operating system.

So, I started looking at the hardware installed. The only other add-on card was an old modem. I took that out and tried, nothing… Then I thought I’d take out one of 2 memory sticks. (Total of four slots in the system.) It booted. Over the course of thirty minutes of testing it would consistently fail to boot with the second stick in it’s original “slot”. Later testing in an other slot, the system seemed to do fine.

Further background on the system is that the “no boot” problem started occasionally and then gradually got worse. Inspection of the system board found several “bulging” capacitors that I mentioned to the owner as a sign that the problem may recurr and get worse. See this article for reference. The experience of the problem makes sense with the capacitors going bad.

Anyway, the bottom line is the system was working when I left because of basic hardware troubleshooting. That means…. disconnect everything that’s not ESSENTIAL. All we need for a computer to post and try to boot are… system board, cpu, one stick of memory, video (might be onboard) and power. If one of those is suspected bad, compare against a known good substitute until everything that’s possible has been checked and by process of elimination you know where the problem is. In this case, the system board is suspect confirmed by 1)bulging/potentially leaky capacitors and 2) memory working in one slot but not another. Fortunately we had another stick of memory to test in the same slot which (again) left the system board non-booting.

With some situations you don’t have spares, but you may have other “slots” to plug a component in to (PCI slots/memory slots) when you have options, test them if it helps you determine which component is bad.

The only other bit of advice is to keep track of what you’re changing each time. If you change more than one device at a time it’s easy to get confused as to what has been proven to not work, so it’s best to just make one change at a time. If you get a combination that seems to work, test and retest to see if it’s consistent. Usually the system board/cpu is the combination that you just can’t replace that easily, so if you’ve swapped everything and are still getting inconsistent boot/no-boot situations – well it’s likely the system board.

Related Posts

Blog Traffic Exchange Related Posts
  • Strange Desktop issue resolved.... Well, it's annoying to me when my own computer has issues that I can't seem to track down and off and on for the last year I've had annoying seemingly random shut downs (I mean it's as if someone pulled the power plug). It was an AMD XP 1800 system.......
  • Disable or turn off hotkeys under Windows XP Since this is a simple tip I'm including it in the basics category. I ran across a pc with a Dell Multimedia Keyboard and they wanted to disable the hotkeys (sound mixer was always popping up because the key was in the way.) Anyway, on older systems, there would be......
  • Another attempt at different hardware problems I mentioned some time ago a frustrating issue with the hardware on my desktop that I had finally solved. I got the new system Which was a 64-bit AMD Athlon on an Asus k8N4-E board and a pci-express nvidia based card (6200 TurboCache), 1 GB of memory... Things worked very......
Blog Traffic Exchange Related Websites
  • Earn Higher Interest with a Rewards Checking Account Internet banks have become a popular place to stash money that we don't want to invest and may not need for everyday use. The original attraction of the online banks was that they paid higher interest rates on savings and money market accounts than we could find at traditional local......
  • Unique Flash Drives Flash drives has been one of the most important item of this era. The innovation of flash storage has made optical storage obsolete. Flash storage is faster and easily accessible on any computer. In here I made a list of some interesting flash drives that might be useful to some......
  • Maybe Asking Santa for a White Christmas was a Bad Idea What a snow storm! Three days plus 90 minutes without electricity, 3 days without tap water (after power was restored), and 6 days without cable TV & Internet service. Not to mention pulling two people out of a ditch, shoveling 2 rather long driveways by hand, and the personal......
www.pdf24.org    Send article as PDF   

Similar Posts


See what happened this day in history from either BBC Wikipedia
Search:
Keywords:
Amazon Logo

Comments are closed.


Switch to our mobile site