Dying Hard Drive?

Discussion in 'A+ Certification' started by Dave Hardenbrook, Jul 11, 2005.

  1. Here's a problem of another client of mine that's giving me nightmares:

    It all started innocently enough, when she asked me to come over and
    upgrade her AOL from 6.0 to 9.0. I downloaded the software and then
    installed it. So far so good. A few days later she called and told me
    that she can't log on to AOL. I came over and found that when attempt
    was made to dial into AOL, program would hang, either while dialing or
    while trying to login to the network.

    When I installed 9.0 I created a Restore Point first. So thinking that
    something had gone wrong with the instalation, I now attempted to
    restore things prior to installing 9.0, but the system spontaneously
    rebooted itself before restoration was complete, and when Windows came
    up again, error message: “Could not restore — No files were changed.”

    Furthermore, when I rebooted after the failed restore, the time and day
    were suddenly wrong (as reported both in BIOS setup and in Windows), and
    the Display in Windows went to 640x480, 16 colors.

    I attempted to restore display to 800x600, full color via
    Control Panel ==> Display, but this had no effect, and I got an error
    msg: “No display driver available.” Suspecting that the driver was
    corrupted, I decided to try to reinstall it. But I was also worried by
    this time about the hard drive itself, so I did a diskscan first. The
    scan found 8 bad clusters but reported that it successfully “fixed”
    them.

    I then proceeded to reinstall the system drivers from Gateway's restore
    disk, but in the middle of the install, the system spontaneously
    rebooted AGAIN. At that point I told my client that I needed to “look
    some things up” and would be back tomorrow.

    So where do I go from here?? -- It seems to me the culprit could be the
    hard drive, the Mobo, the power supply, or All of the Above. Also how
    much of a factor could heating be? This is the most poorly cooled
    system I've enountered thus far -- No chassis fan, not even a CPU fan!
    Anyway I'd appreciate any guidance.


    Here are the system specs:

    Gateway Desktop PC, Flex-ATX
    Pentium III, No CPU fan -- Passive heatsink only
    64 M memory
    60G hard drive (Windows reports 53.3G), ~3.5G in use
    Video, Sound, Modem integrated on Mobo
    Windows ME


    Thanks ahaed.

    --
    Dave
    Dave Hardenbrook, Jul 11, 2005
    #1
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  2. Dave Hardenbrook

    Linker3000 Guest

    Dave Hardenbrook wrote:

    > Here's a problem of another client of mine that's giving me nightmares:
    >
    > It all started innocently enough, when she asked me to come over and
    > upgrade her AOL from 6.0 to 9.0. I downloaded the software and then
    > installed it. So far so good. A few days later she called and told me
    > that she can't log on to AOL. I came over and found that when attempt
    > was made to dial into AOL, program would hang, either while dialing or
    > while trying to login to the network.
    >
    > When I installed 9.0 I created a Restore Point first. So thinking that
    > something had gone wrong with the instalation, I now attempted to
    > restore things prior to installing 9.0, but the system spontaneously
    > rebooted itself before restoration was complete, and when Windows came
    > up again, error message: “Could not restore — No files were changed.”
    >
    > Furthermore, when I rebooted after the failed restore, the time and day
    > were suddenly wrong (as reported both in BIOS setup and in Windows), and
    > the Display in Windows went to 640x480, 16 colors.
    >
    > I attempted to restore display to 800x600, full color via
    > Control Panel ==> Display, but this had no effect, and I got an error
    > msg: “No display driver available.” Suspecting that the driver was
    > corrupted, I decided to try to reinstall it. But I was also worried by
    > this time about the hard drive itself, so I did a diskscan first. The
    > scan found 8 bad clusters but reported that it successfully “fixed”
    > them.
    >
    > I then proceeded to reinstall the system drivers from Gateway's restore
    > disk, but in the middle of the install, the system spontaneously
    > rebooted AGAIN. At that point I told my client that I needed to “look
    > some things up” and would be back tomorrow.
    >
    > So where do I go from here?? -- It seems to me the culprit could be the
    > hard drive, the Mobo, the power supply, or All of the Above. Also how
    > much of a factor could heating be? This is the most poorly cooled
    > system I've enountered thus far -- No chassis fan, not even a CPU fan!
    > Anyway I'd appreciate any guidance.
    >
    >
    > Here are the system specs:
    >
    > Gateway Desktop PC, Flex-ATX
    > Pentium III, No CPU fan -- Passive heatsink only
    > 64 M memory
    > 60G hard drive (Windows reports 53.3G), ~3.5G in use
    > Video, Sound, Modem integrated on Mobo
    > Windows ME
    >
    >
    > Thanks ahaed.
    >
    > --
    > Dave


    A PIII with a passive heatsink is not necessarily a problem provided
    there's a good thermal bond between it and the CPU although I'd like to
    see a fan on a PIII-750 and above.

    Spontaneous reboots are always fun - in order of easiness, check:

    Virus/Trojan scan.

    CMOS battery if time/date won't 'stick'.

    BIOS configuration - may have to restore to factory defaults and then tweak.

    Download and burn something like ubcd (http://ubcd.sourceforge.net/) and
    run some burn-in and memory tests to verify memory and system board
    stability.

    Power supply.

    It may not be relevant here but I had a laptop running XP home that
    suddenly went '16-colours only' and try what I might I could not recover
    from this until I did a disk wipe and complete re-install, since when
    it's never happened again - mind you the fact that you are getting
    spontaneous reboots is worrying.
    Linker3000, Jul 11, 2005
    #2
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  3. Dave Hardenbrook

    Mark Guest

    "Dave Hardenbrook" <> wrote in message
    news:...
    > Here's a problem of another client of mine that's giving me nightmares:
    >
    > It all started innocently enough, when she asked me to come over and
    > upgrade her AOL from 6.0 to 9.0. I downloaded the software and then
    > installed it. So far so good. A few days later she called and told me
    > that she can't log on to AOL. I came over and found that when attempt
    > was made to dial into AOL, program would hang, either while dialing or
    > while trying to login to the network.
    >
    > When I installed 9.0 I created a Restore Point first. So thinking that
    > something had gone wrong with the instalation, I now attempted to
    > restore things prior to installing 9.0, but the system spontaneously
    > rebooted itself before restoration was complete, and when Windows came
    > up again, error message: "Could not restore - No files were changed."
    >
    > Furthermore, when I rebooted after the failed restore, the time and day
    > were suddenly wrong (as reported both in BIOS setup and in Windows), and
    > the Display in Windows went to 640x480, 16 colors.
    >
    > I attempted to restore display to 800x600, full color via
    > Control Panel ==> Display, but this had no effect, and I got an error
    > msg: "No display driver available." Suspecting that the driver was
    > corrupted, I decided to try to reinstall it. But I was also worried by
    > this time about the hard drive itself, so I did a diskscan first. The
    > scan found 8 bad clusters but reported that it successfully "fixed"
    > them.
    >
    > I then proceeded to reinstall the system drivers from Gateway's restore
    > disk, but in the middle of the install, the system spontaneously
    > rebooted AGAIN. At that point I told my client that I needed to "look
    > some things up" and would be back tomorrow.
    >
    > So where do I go from here?? -- It seems to me the culprit could be the
    > hard drive, the Mobo, the power supply, or All of the Above. Also how
    > much of a factor could heating be? This is the most poorly cooled
    > system I've enountered thus far -- No chassis fan, not even a CPU fan!
    > Anyway I'd appreciate any guidance.
    >
    >
    > Here are the system specs:
    >
    > Gateway Desktop PC, Flex-ATX
    > Pentium III, No CPU fan -- Passive heatsink only
    > 64 M memory
    > 60G hard drive (Windows reports 53.3G), ~3.5G in use
    > Video, Sound, Modem integrated on Mobo
    > Windows ME
    >
    >
    > Thanks ahaed.
    >
    > --
    > Dave


    Sounds like a heat issue to me.....open the case and put a household fan
    pointing at the cpu and see if it stops rebooting.
    Mark, Jul 11, 2005
    #3
  4. Dave Hardenbrook

    Guest

    Over Heat on P3 locks the PC up solid - you have to force a hard
    reboot.

    64MB of RAM is not enough for AOL 9.0 - it will cause excessive
    swapping to the hard drive - which will lead to bad sectors whch means
    the drive is pretty much toast.

    60 gb drive in this PC is not stock - its already been replaced once,
    thoes Gateways came with 10gb drives. So - if you are lucky its under
    warrenty from Western Digital or Maxtor or what ever.

    Windows ME sucks and so does ME system restore. Unfortunatly the
    system is probally pretty hosed at this point. There is no SFC utility
    in ME so your best bet is to reformat and reinstall.

    If it were mine and I wanted to keep the customer this is what I'd do.


    1) Explain that AOL took a shit and is forcing a reload.
    2) Take it home and if the drive is still under warrenty - I'd replace
    it w/ one from Best Buy or Staples and RMA hers. If not I'd do a long
    format w/ a win2k or XP disk. I had an 80gb drive I swapped for a
    customer that had bad sectors, after a NTFS full format its been in
    heavy use for 9 months with no errors
    3) make the customer pony up the cash and max the RAM out at 384MB,
    about $60.
    4) bootleg a copy of 2k onto it, and reinstal her apps and docs.

    Charging for the time is up to you - you did what the customer asked
    and it hosed the machine. bummer.
    , Jul 12, 2005
    #4
  5. Dave Hardenbrook

    Loopback Guest

    I would do the same except for the "bootleg" copy of Win 2k :)

    loopback


    <> wrote in message
    news:...
    > Over Heat on P3 locks the PC up solid - you have to force a hard
    > reboot.
    >
    > 64MB of RAM is not enough for AOL 9.0 - it will cause excessive
    > swapping to the hard drive - which will lead to bad sectors whch means
    > the drive is pretty much toast.
    >
    > 60 gb drive in this PC is not stock - its already been replaced once,
    > thoes Gateways came with 10gb drives. So - if you are lucky its under
    > warrenty from Western Digital or Maxtor or what ever.
    >
    > Windows ME sucks and so does ME system restore. Unfortunatly the
    > system is probally pretty hosed at this point. There is no SFC utility
    > in ME so your best bet is to reformat and reinstall.
    >
    > If it were mine and I wanted to keep the customer this is what I'd do.
    >
    >
    > 1) Explain that AOL took a shit and is forcing a reload.
    > 2) Take it home and if the drive is still under warrenty - I'd replace
    > it w/ one from Best Buy or Staples and RMA hers. If not I'd do a long
    > format w/ a win2k or XP disk. I had an 80gb drive I swapped for a
    > customer that had bad sectors, after a NTFS full format its been in
    > heavy use for 9 months with no errors
    > 3) make the customer pony up the cash and max the RAM out at 384MB,
    > about $60.
    > 4) bootleg a copy of 2k onto it, and reinstal her apps and docs.
    >
    > Charging for the time is up to you - you did what the customer asked
    > and it hosed the machine. bummer.
    >
    Loopback, Jul 12, 2005
    #5
  6. In article <42d2e338$0$7899$>, Linker3000
    @youkaytwodotnetuk2.net says...
    > A PIII with a passive heatsink is not necessarily a problem provided
    > there's a good thermal bond between it and the CPU although I'd like to
    > see a fan on a PIII-750 and above.


    She has a PIII *866*Mhz, so it maybe it is an issue...

    > CMOS battery if time/date won't 'stick'.


    She's had problem with "losing" the date/time in the past, so this is
    also a possibility. Could a bad battery cause the date/time to be
    correct for several weeks and get "lost" again?

    > Download and burn something like ubcd (http://ubcd.sourceforge.net/) and
    > run some burn-in and memory tests to verify memory and system board
    > stability.


    Okay, thanks, I'll try this...

    > Power supply.
    >
    > It may not be relevant here but I had a laptop running XP home that
    > suddenly went '16-colours only' and try what I might I could not recover
    > from this until I did a disk wipe and complete re-install, since when
    > it's never happened again - mind you the fact that you are getting
    > spontaneous reboots is worrying.


    I seem to be having a lot of problems with systems with Micro-ATX Power
    suppies... Coincindence?

    --
    Dave
    Dave Hardenbrook, Jul 12, 2005
    #6
  7. In article <>,
    says...
    > 60 gb drive in this PC is not stock - its already been replaced once,
    > thoes Gateways came with 10gb drives. So - if you are lucky its under
    > warrenty from Western Digital or Maxtor or what ever.


    If there's a 60GB drive in a system that shipped with a 10GB, then could
    the problem be an outdated BIOS, or would the drive not work at all in
    that case?

    --
    Dave
    Dave Hardenbrook, Jul 12, 2005
    #7
  8. On Tue, 12 Jul 2005 18:52:33 GMT, Dave Hardenbrook
    <> wrote:

    >In article <42d2e338$0$7899$>, Linker3000
    >@youkaytwodotnetuk2.net says...
    >> A PIII with a passive heatsink is not necessarily a problem provided
    >> there's a good thermal bond between it and the CPU although I'd like to
    >> see a fan on a PIII-750 and above.

    >
    >She has a PIII *866*Mhz, so it maybe it is an issue...
    >
    >> CMOS battery if time/date won't 'stick'.

    >
    >She's had problem with "losing" the date/time in the past, so this is
    >also a possibility. Could a bad battery cause the date/time to be
    >correct for several weeks and get "lost" again?
    >


    Corroded/oxidized battery terminal(s)?

    Tom
    Tom MacIntyre, Jul 12, 2005
    #8
  9. On Tue, 12 Jul 2005 19:10:07 GMT, Dave Hardenbrook
    <> wrote:

    >In article <>,
    > says...
    >> 60 gb drive in this PC is not stock - its already been replaced once,
    >> thoes Gateways came with 10gb drives. So - if you are lucky its under
    >> warrenty from Western Digital or Maxtor or what ever.

    >
    >If there's a 60GB drive in a system that shipped with a 10GB, then could
    >the problem be an outdated BIOS, or would the drive not work at all in
    >that case?


    It'll work with a drive overlay...in most cases.

    Tom
    Tom MacIntyre, Jul 12, 2005
    #9
  10. Dave Hardenbrook

    Guest

    Its a P3 MSI board - pretty standerd FLEX ATX, if the BIOS couldn't
    handle the drive it either wouldn't show during POST or it wourld
    report an 8gb drive, or it would show up real flakey like. The BIOS
    limit on 8gb drives or bigger ended around the Win95 P2 era. I think
    the next BIOS limitation was 130gb, or somthing like that.

    The heat sink on thoes boards/cases is right under the PS fan, so
    unless the PS fan has stopped spinning, its not overheating. Again an
    overheat will just lock the PC right up, totally frozen screen. If the
    PS is failing, that could cause it to reboot endlessly.

    A burn in test isn't going to prove anything. Its got 64mb of RAM,
    thats not enough for anything anymore, even AOL. The burn in test will
    prove that all whopping 64MB of ram are still good.

    Aside from the somewhat weak powersupplys and crappy OS, these machines
    are tanks. I saw one run covered in so much cat (or dog) hair, that at
    first I didnt realize it was a PC, I thought it was alive. We also
    have one in our shop that we stuffed a 1ghz processor (just the passive
    heat sink) got 384 MB of RAM into it and ran server2k3 on it for a
    week, w/ the origional 10gb drive.
    , Jul 13, 2005
    #10
  11. Just a quick update: I told my client today that the AOL 9.0
    installation had probably trashed Windows, and that I planned to
    reinstall everything from Gateway's restore disks, as well as replace
    the CMOS battery. After discussing it with her, she decided to junk the
    system and buy a new one -- She's going for a Dell with WinXP.

    Thanks everyone for your input.

    --
    Dave
    Dave Hardenbrook, Jul 13, 2005
    #11
  12. Dave Hardenbrook

    JohnO Guest

    >she decided to junk the
    > system and buy a new one


    That old machine is a perfectly good web browsing/email machine...just what
    the kids need. Restore it anyway, and load all the necessary adware/spyware
    tools, and let 'em loose.

    (tell her to load those tools on the new machine before doing ANYTHING
    else...)

    -John O
    JohnO, Jul 13, 2005
    #12
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