Dell Dimension Feeling Age?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Bill Kane, Apr 25, 2002.

  1. Bill Kane

    Bill Kane Screenwriter

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    Recently, my Dell Dimsension XPS PIII tower has begun "noising up" and I'd like a general idea of what may be occurring!

    Having never opened up a case before, I'll give the outside symptom: whatever main physical drive (running all the time) located in the middle of the tower in the lower quadrant is producing an off-kilter "whirr-whirr, whirr-whirr, whirr-whirr..."

    Shutdown and cold boot often starts off smoothly. I defrag regularly FWIW.

    I worry it may seize or grind to a halt the longer I hold off having it looked at. I am still under 3-year service.

    Any thoughts, pls?
     
  2. Matt Stryker

    Matt Stryker Screenwriter

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    Does it sound like a miniature version of an unbalanced washing machine?

    Thats the first (and usually final) sign of a disk going bad.

    Use SCANDISK or a similar program to run a complete surface test on the drive, testing for bad sectors. It will take a long time (sometimes 10 hours or so) but you'll know if you need to move your data off before the hard drive goes. You have to set SCANDISK to run a surface scan, type scandisk (or CHKDSK) /? at the dos prompt to see all the options.
     
  3. Bill Kane

    Bill Kane Screenwriter

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    yes, it's an off-balance thing. I did get a SCANDISK prompt and ran it; it ran again without finding errors to fix when I later shut down outside the START/ShutDown chain.

    So we're talking hard-drive disc, in my case "C-Disk"? I wonder how many of my 100Mb ZIP drive discs it will take to download/save C-Drive data in prep for a replacement...

    I'll be calling DELL-SERVICE pretty soon, then.

    bill
     
  4. Todd Hochard

    Todd Hochard Cinematographer

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    Are you sure it's not the CPU fan? That's a common failure item, as well.
     
  5. Bill Kane

    Bill Kane Screenwriter

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    Todd, that was one of my first thots (hopes) since it's an easier fix. Cant tell without pulling the case off[​IMG]
    It wud be great if Dell has an in-home tech service; again, I'll have to call.
    thanks
     
  6. Matt Stryker

    Matt Stryker Screenwriter

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    Bill: The scandisk that runs when you don't shut down your computer correctly is not set to do a surface scan. You need to run one manually to find out how bad your problems is; specify the surface scan parameter.
     
  7. Bill Kane

    Bill Kane Screenwriter

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    Matt,

    crossing fingers so as not to upset the karma

    I ran Thorough Surface ScanDisc and it did take two hours. It reported No Errors. Everything is running smoothly for now; thanks.
     
  8. Matt Stryker

    Matt Stryker Screenwriter

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    Thats a really good sign. It'd check the fans next, maybe the CDROM too.

    Also make sure the power connectors (that little plastic plugs in the back of the CDROM and hard drive) are in securely.
     
  9. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    Bill - I've got an XPS PIII mini-tower as well (450MHz, about 3 yrs old). The case is pretty easy to open, and easy to work within. I've added a harddrive, network card, memory, and changed video cards. Nothing to fear.

    First: is your computer on a stable surface? If it's on a desk that wobbles, then there might be some sway that could be causing problems.

    Second: Is the sound from the CD-ROM, and not the hard drive? I've noticed my CD-ROM sounds like a lawnmower when it spins up sometimes (loud, fast whirring). If so, maybe it needs to be replaced.

    Third: If the sound is from the hard drive, everyone here seems to think it might be an impending failure. To be safe, I suggest you immediately back up all of your presonal data. This can be done with Zip disks. But if you have hundreds of megs, or Gigs of personal files, it's easier to buy a new hard-drive, install it, and copy everything to it.

    Installing a hard drive is not that hard, and the Dell case is pretty easy to get into.

    Good luck!
     
  10. Bill Kane

    Bill Kane Screenwriter

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    Dave, thks, bro...

    the computer (733Mhz) is still under a 3-year service plan, I think, never had to use it, so I wud call in before DIY.

    My CPU "imbalance" is erractic -- takes some hours -- and I suspect the fan 90%. The tower is stable on the floor/carpet and doesnt get kicked.

    My larger ignorance is "saving" stuff: I posted here some time ago that I've never backed up anything. It's laughable how little of my HD is being used, some 4.3Gb out of 27Gb available. So my email address file and Favorites list are the biggies to me, no novel or other priceless documents.

    I am sitting on $100 worth of 100Mb Zip discs and a built-in zip drive and need to learn how to save stuff from the HD, I guess.
     
  11. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    Bill - Definitely call Tech Support, since you're still under warranty. The Dell forums also seem to have some very helpful people there.
    With 4.3GB used, most of that is likely programs, all of your stuff could probably fit onto the Zip disks.
    Download WinZip (I love this program, and paid for my copy). It's got a new feature ("Span Disk" or something) where you can tell it to compress a set of files to a disk. When a disk fills up, it prompts you to insert a new one. Thus, you could tell it to compress the "My Documents" folder to zip drive, and it will breakup the compressed archive file as necessary. With 10 disks, you can save from 1GB to 3GB of data, easily, with compression, and maybe more.
    Also, Iomega has a free program called "Norton Zip Rescue" (I believe) that makes a recovery zip disk, to work in conjuction with a boot/recovery floppy in case of crash. It may have come with your computer. That might be worth finding and using, just in case. And get some use from your Zip drive [​IMG]
     
  12. Bill Kane

    Bill Kane Screenwriter

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    Yep, got the Zip/floppy Norton Rescue and keep it up, too.

    I'll look at WinZip, tks.

    As an aside, somehow in the past I downloaded a "NetZip" Folders and Classic pgm that's sitting here unused. I believe it's to compress data pulled from the Net. But I've never approached the need to compress the HD.
     
  13. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    I'm not familiar with NetZip. There's several compression programs. WinZip is about the best known Windows app, and considered to be one of the best quality. NetZip may well do what you need for archiving data.

    Windows also has some sort of compression and backup tool. I don't use it 'cause I prefer to use a commonly implemented format ("zip"), but it you might prefer it.
     

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