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Dell boot problems

December 24, 2010 at 09:15:49
Specs: Windows XP, 2.394 GHz / 2045 MB

I have a Dell Optiplex 330 about 2.5 years old.
BIOS Version/Date -Dell Inc. A07, 4/21/2010.
Core 2Duo E4600/2.4GHz,2 Gig ram, 800 FSB.

I leave the computer on all the time and reboot the computer once or twice a week just because its windows XP or the antivirus asks me to. Today I rebooted and had this problem:
It then shutdown properly and then showed the Dell bios start screen. Then it went to the black screen (usually for just a sec or two) but never continued. I looked at the front of the computer and it has four lights just above the power button numbered 1, 2, 3, 4. During initial boot up they flash off and on, but this time number 1 and 2 stayed on. I left the system on for a few minutes but it never went any farther. So, I did a hard shutoff by holding the power button. Then tried several times to get it to boot hitting F2 trying to get to the setup screen. Never got there, just the opening Dell screen (showing F2 or F12 options) but went to the black screen and locked up with the numbers 1 and 2 constantly lit.
Finally I opened up the case and popped the CMOS battery out to force it to do a scan of the hardware and then go to the setup screens. This worked but it told me the battery was low. I checked the battery and it was 3.04 volts. I had a new battery and it measured 3.21 volts. Put the new battery in and rebooted. I was able now to get to the setup screen to set the date, but it still wouldn't boot to windows. I tried several times and then just let the computer sit at the screen saying it was scaning for IDE devices for 15 minutes. Came back and it still was sitting at that screen. I then forced a hard shutdown again and rebooted. This time it worked fine. It went to the boot menu and I selected the Boot from last know good configuration.

I'm not sure what "fixed" it but I don't believe that its fixed. Any ideas on what might be going on? some of my anti-virus and malware programs will ask me to reboot and I don't want this to be a spin of the roulette wheel hoping it boots each time.


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#1
December 24, 2010 at 10:23:46

Is there a specific reason why your system is left on 24/7? It probably has nothing to do with your problem, just curious.

Which anti-virus program are you running? You mentioned an anti-malware program too - which one? It appears that your BIOS is having a problem detecting the HDD at startup, that may be an indication that the drive is on it's last legs. I suggest you test it with the HDD manufacturers diagnostic software.

Also, when's the last time you opened the case & blew the dust out of it? All the fans create a negatve pressure in the case meaning that it acts as a vacuum. Leaving the system on 24/7 just allows more time for more dust to enter the system & cause overheating.


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#2
December 24, 2010 at 10:48:07

This could be a problem with the power supply. If the system is booting up to different points each time, sometimes having trouble starting up and sometimes working, it could be that the power supply is about ready to fail altogether. If possible, try a known good power supply and see if you can get the system to consistently boot. Another possibility is the hard drive, but from your description, it sounds like the system was hanging up even before completing POST, which does not check the hard drive.

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#3
December 26, 2010 at 08:09:35

The anti-virus is Avira AntiVir Personal - Free version
Mal-ware is Spybot Search and Destroy

The reason I leave the computer on is that the entire family uses it and it takes a while to boot up. so the only time nobody might be using it is nighttime.

I can confirm that the hard drive is not the problem because it never gets to the point where it is trying to access it.

Any ideas why the 1 2 3 4 lights on the box get stuck with 1 & 2 lit? anyone know if that is some kind of Dell trouble code??

thanks for the ideas, I'll try a different power supply if i can get a hold of one.

thanks,
Frank


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