will not boot up after storm

May 11, 2009 at 20:20:29
Specs: WinXP Pro sp3, 350/64

I have a Dell Optiplex GX260 Pent 4 cpu 2.4ghz/ 504mb RAM.
A storm recently threw a breaker in my house , now my pc on/off switch light stays on all the time, it does not go off when the button is pushed. Nothing comes up on the monitor screen but the on indicator light does come on.After a few seconds there is a clicking sound, the monitor indicator light goes dim and nothing else happens. At no time does anything appear on the monitor screen nor are there any indications, such as sound, that anything else is working.Can anyone tell me if this might be repaired or is my pc trash now?
Thank you for your assistance.


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May 11, 2009 at 20:42:58

You could try unplugging it and turning it back on to hit the F8 button to try either safe mode, or last good configuration to see if the problem still occurs.
If that doesn't work then...
I would contact Dell if the pc is still under warranty to see if they can give you any assistance. You will need the Dell number off of your tower so that they can assist you.

I don't think a breaker going off would cause this issue... if it's fried it's more than likely that it was hit with a lightning strike (hope you were using a power strip) if so then try plugging other items into the power strip to see if it works properly. You may need to reset the power strip.

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May 11, 2009 at 21:07:12

Thanks for the reply JCS618. I've confirmed the power strip is working and when I try off/on F8 nothing happens.
Strange thing about it all, the on/off button does not work properly, as long as the comp is plugged in the light stays on-it can not be turned off/on by the button.And the monitor,as I said before, is blank at all times as if it were turned off.
thanks again J


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May 11, 2009 at 21:07:38

Sorry storms don't flip breakers. Breakers flip due to a short.

If you had a ground strike [lighting bolt hit the ground] and only one breaker flipped it would indicate a bad ground on that circuit [literally some part of the circuit ground it not going to the main ground but some other ground - not good - bad wire job like old house with no ground, that circuit was connected to a water pipe which is not code anymore].

But that's not the issue here.

That "clicking" sound indicates a failed hard drive.

Take it to a shop for diagnosis and repair.

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May 11, 2009 at 21:13:41

Thanks for post Wanderer, I'm am not certain there was a lightning strike, I just know there was a storm during the night
and the next morning the breaker to that section of the house was thrown. When I powered everything back up, my comp
began acting as I described.
Thanks all.


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May 11, 2009 at 21:43:25

Try discharging the caps.....

1. unplug/disconnect everything
2. press and hold in the power button for 15-30 sec.
3. reconnect everything and restart the pc

If it does boot up, or tries to let us know were it stops and if any error messages.
I agree with Wanderer as to a clicking may be a bad hard drive.

Getting information off the Internet is like taking a drink from a fire hydrant.

~Mitchell Kapor ~

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May 12, 2009 at 05:28:23

Sorry storms don't flip breakers. Breakers flip due to a short.

There are three things that can cause a breaker to trip.
1) an overloaded circuit caused by a power surge from outside source or a power drain caused by faulty equipment. In either case the rating of the breaker was reached and caused the breaker to trip
2)Short circuit caused by the direct grounding or shorting of the power line of the circuit
3)Ground or Earthing faults caused by the detection of magnetic field within the grounding circuit.

2 and 3 could be classified as short circuits but number 1 is not a short.

Change Is Good

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May 12, 2009 at 10:08:14

I think this could be due to so many different things that it is near impossible for anyone to diagnose from afar. I hope I am proved wrong.

If you look at how a circuit breaker actually works then I would think it is "possible" for a storm to trip it, due to an imbalance caused by changes in earth potential during the strike. Similarly a slight leakage to earth on one conductor (an imbalance) can cause a trip, which is not really a full "short circuit".

If it wasn't for the clicking I would probably have felt that a mobo or PS failure were most likely.

Have you been doing anything recently inside the box, or has it suffered any sort of bump?

some other bloke...

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May 12, 2009 at 10:20:51

The on/off button (actually the switch behind it) may be jammed... or it may actually have failed.. Although usually those switches fail to an off mode...?

Incidentally remember that the "power button" is often a simple plastic cap or plunger that acutates the physical switch behind it. And occasionally the physical link (and they vary a little as to design) can break/fail. One thinks/believes one is switching the system on/off via the button (rear switch) in truth it ain't happening; the physical link between cap/switch hath broken; or occasionally the spring action (inside the switch) isn't really working - even though one hears that click etc... that suggests it is working...

A power-down proper at the wall-outlet - i.e. swtich "orf" there if a switched outlet, or remove the plug... is the sure way to truly power-cycle etc.?

Possibly the psu is a little dodgy (or hath died a death...); depends on just what happend during "the (perfect?) storm"? Any chance to borrow another psu and test?

As Wanderer suggests re' the HD..., the clicking may mean the drive is a little less than it might be... You "could" try one trick with/for it - it sometimes works... (at least "long enuff to get stuff of it..." - either via the installed OS or a CD-based OS (Knoppix/Ubuntu etc...).

Remove drive; wrap in paper towel - completely; insert/seal into a plastic bag (e.g Glad /Baco sandwich bag); put in the "fridge (NOT the freezer) for about an hour. Remove from fridge and remove drive from bag - still wrapped in its towel; leave it wrapped thus and let it breathe/warm up a wee while (say half an hour max); then remove drive from towel and re-install in PC; connect and power up... Sometimes (often by my own experience) allows you long enuff to recover data at least...

Less likely - but not unknown... - is that the MoBo took a hit when whatever happend - happend... If there was lightning strike, or heavy mains-spike anything is possible - even if you had a "surge" protector/limiter in cct. Also most of the domestic versions of surge limiters are not designed/guarranteed/ recommended for second use after that first hit... Seem to recall seeing that cleary stated on many of the standard version in the Frys, and late Compu$a etc...? Usually wise to replace it after it's taken a hit...

Incidentally have you tried another display on the system; and are there "any" beeps etc. at all when you power up?

If all else fails then as "jcs..." suggests - if under warranty - contact Dell and see what they may offer by way of help?

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May 12, 2009 at 11:16:48

To Derek and trvlr,
Thanks to each of you for your response. Nothing has been done to the inside,nor to my knowledge, has it been bumped or disturbed in any way.
I have not tried another monitor but will shortly, and there are no sounds coming from the comp, only the clicking sound in the monitor just before the light next to the on/off button goes dim(on the monitor)
my better half says she will take it into town this afternoon to
have it checked and repaired if possible to do so.
My thanks to each of you for your willingness to help!
Will just have to start powering down/unplugging if there is a chance of a storm in the future!


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May 12, 2009 at 12:45:26

If/when you take it in - insist that they make all serious attempts to safeguard the drive contents...; and not to reformat it etc... if at all possible? Even suggest they remove the drive and see if they "can" access it via another system That can be via a usb-adapter (they are more or less stock items for many of us these days); or by installing in/slaving to a working system... Either way they may be able to verify drive is OK by accessing/reading its contents...; and thus able at least to copy off all data to optical media; after-which then proceed as appropriate...?

And for the future... ensure you regularly copy off all data etc. to optical media; and verify those copies are readable on original system and ideally at least one other.

And replace the current surge limiter system...

If... "they" replace the HD.. ask for the old one back; and insist on getting it back... Keep it safe, and maybe you (or a chum) can/will be able to resurrect it as above anon...; if only to recover data? If/when you dump that drive (or any other for that matter) smash it up. Ideally undo it (remove a few screws) and remove the platters/disks inside and smash those... You'd be surprised (or maybe not) at just how easy it is for "some" folks to get at stuff "you" think is inaccessible... and then use it to their advantage (and your disadvantage...).

If you are happy to go inside... you "could" (first having removed mains power entirely - remove power cord?) and disconnect the HD. Then power up and see if it will at least boot up to the initial screen that allows you to access the bios (internal setup) options... Likely you will get a series of beeps and "something" on the screen if the system is at least able to boot that far... Having no drive installed, and having bios/setup info that says there is one..., it will produce error beeps galore - but that would at least indicate if there is "just" a problem with the HD...? If it won't even get that far - with no HD installed... then there is indeed sumat more serious amiss in the state of wherever...?

To disconnect/disable the HD one simply disconnects the power-plug that goes into its rear end... It's a 4 wire white plug; and a reasonably snug fit - but it will come out. Do ensure "no mains" into the system at all when you do this...

My chums in SLC and Vegas (both well visited by summer storms...) regularly disconnect both phone-line and power to their systems when sed storms about... Having lost modems and even a surge limiter the "hard way..." they have learnt not to take chances...; as they haven't yet lost an actual PC/laptop...

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May 12, 2009 at 13:39:31

If you can't even get the BIOS screen then I think it unlikely that there is an issue with the HDD.

some other bloke...

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May 12, 2009 at 17:11:43

True generally; but one never knows...?

I'm inclined to suspect the psu hath taken a hit...

But the main concern would be data preservation/recovery initially? To which end a Linux CD might allow; likewise slaving the drive or a usb adapter as suggested earlier... Most definitely to discourage any techies from simply reformatting etc. or restoring the OS etc... before they attempt to save data? If possible even try another drive in the system... and leave the current one intact?

And also to retain the drive (for security at least) if it is allegedly dead; and as it may be possible to get stuff of it as mooted earlier?

What I'm not clear about is the front panel mains/on-off switch... If the power cord is simply removed and then re-applied (and the front panel switch left alone...) does the system again power up as far as it does now - without touching that front panel switch?

If it does power up without touching that front panel switch... then the switch is likely duff? Although as I said earlier switches "usually" fail so as to not work in the on-state; seldom fail so as to be in a "permanent on-state" - unless fused on...; and that "would suggest a "serious (mains) power surge..." occurred? And if that is so... then it could have taken out God only knows what in the process...?

A clicking drive does suggest it's toast; or "not well" at least... But if it wasn't getting adequate power... might it not also click, as it tries to spin up etc...? Not having personally experienced that (power surge) disaster (yet and hopefully never...) I'm postulating in that regard... Which having sed... I do recall we had mains-failure at work in one area on one occasion. It took out a few PCs in the process. Our IT chaps had to re-image/rebuild etc.; but no drives actually went down as in died their death totally.

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May 12, 2009 at 18:29:05

... I was going to suggest Puppy Linux live CD for getting your stuff off the HD (downloaded and burnt from the ISO on a friends machine). It's small, also nice and user friendly. You run Puppy Linux straight off the CD then use this to copy your files to a Flash Drive (USB stick).

Then it dawned on me that if you can't get into BIOS it would have to rely on the CD drive already being before the HD in the boot sequence. Often the CD is after the HD so the Linux CD will not get a look-in, unless you change the boot order in BIOS.

some other bloke...

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May 12, 2009 at 20:34:27

I haven't a clue as to what you guys are talking about! However the man I am taking my pc to will know, he is a
friend of my daughters and I will have him access this thread
and will send you his findings if interested.
As I said before, I am very grateful for your input. And anxious to get my computer going again, if possible. There is a lot of info,etc.
that I do want to retrieve.


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May 13, 2009 at 14:29:36

... I decided my #13 might not be too clear so I've amplified a few points.

some other bloke...

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