What is wrong with my computer? (Written from Safe Mode Hell)

Discussion in 'Computers' started by Ricardo C, Oct 10, 2003.

  1. Ricardo C

    Ricardo C Producer

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    My apologies for not having done a search, but I'm stuck in Safe Mode with a 640x480 screen res and no mouse access. I just tab-navigated my way here :b

    A little backstory, so you guys can understand the problem I'm experiencing:

    A couple weeks ago, I rebooted my computer (Athlon 1.4Ghz, 256 MB RAM). Well, the screen went blank and my hard drive light stayed on, while the power light blinked. After opening up the box, I realized a capacitor had fallen off the mother board (I'd rather carelessly installed a DVD-ROM drive a few days earlier, which is the likely cause). So, I had to get a new motherboard. After installing it, I tried booting into Windows, only to get a blue screen telling me there was a problem wuith mY IRQ setting.

    Not being savvy enough to mess with my hardware any further, I called a friend, who set my secondary hard drive as the master and attempted to install windows on it. He eventually got a blue screen msg, though he didn't give me details about it. Anyway, he said perhaps my RAM had been damaged and removed it, installing 128MB of his own, and attempted a new install. This time, it worked. Before leaving, he decided to try my RAM again. It worked. He couldn't quite figure it out, since according to him, RAM either works, or it doesn't. Anyway, I'd been more or less chugging along since last night. I say chugging along because I experienced several random reboots, two of which happened as I tried to download Quicktime. This makes me think perhpas my RAM isn't the problem, but rather my HDs might be damaged.

    Anyway, I was feeling more confident as the day went on, and decided to install DirectX, WM9, and ACECMP. It all went well until WM9 was installed. The system rebooted itself prior to finishing the install, and locked itself into a constant reboot cycle. I tried reinstalling windows, but booting from the XP CD gave me a blue screen with an error code I couldn't figure out, which was followed by another reboot. The only way to regain control (sort of) of the PC was to enter safe mode.

    Folks, what could be the problem? As I said earlier, I'm not very savvy when it comes to hardware, but I'm thinking that if I can actually use Windows (in this mode, at least), my RAM can't be at fault. And since most of my random reboots were experienced while downloading or installing software, I'm guessing my hard drives have bad sectors that are causing these reboots. Could this be it? Could formatting both drives, defragmenting them, and making a fresh install be the solution? Please help, I'm lost here, and I really don't want to spend cash on new RAM if I don't need it.

    ps-- while I'm stuck in safe mode, could anyone help me enable my mouse?
     
  2. John_Bonner

    John_Bonner Supporting Actor

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  3. Ricardo C

    Ricardo C Producer

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    Thanks, John, I'll give it a try [​IMG]
     
  4. Ricardo C

    Ricardo C Producer

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    Oh I forgot to add that when I entered safe mode, a message mentiong partitions flashed on the the black screen preceeding safe mode, which is another thing that makes me think my hard drives might be faulty.
     
  5. Ricardo C

    Ricardo C Producer

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    Well, I disabled the quick power on feature, and my RAM tested out ok, so I guess it's not physically damaged?

    John, you mentioned that you suffered RAM problems because of improper RAM timings, where should I look for those? Can a relative newbie fiddle with them?

    If so, what are some "safe" settings that are likely to work?
     
  6. Glenn Overholt

    Glenn Overholt Producer

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    Every motherboard has drivers for it. If you change the motherboard, you have to change the drivers unless it is exchanged with the exact same model of motherboard.

    Your old version of Windows won't work because when you ask it to do certain things, it runs to the motherboard for help, (through the drivers), and now the drivers are wrong!

    You should have received a CD with the motherboard, and they should be installed first thing after Windows is put in. If you don't have that CD, Windows would load up their generic ones, but in any case, your old ones have to come out.

    If you have the CD, it should just overwrite the old ones. Should be a quick fix.

    Glenn
     
  7. Cary_H

    Cary_H Second Unit

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    I'm assuming you have all peripherals disconnected, right?
    Jumpers on the MB set correctly?
    With the new MB you'll need to make sure the BIOS is set to let it know what it's trying to run. My initial guess is it's something there.
     
  8. brentl

    brentl Cinematographer

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    How about you tell us how you have your 2 hard drives set..

    Did you change the setting on the hard drives??

    Did you put the old one back in and start from scratch??

    A problem with the partitions has me thinking .... unwanted dual boot problem

    Brent
     
  9. Ricardo C

    Ricardo C Producer

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    Update: I went into the BIOS settings and looked at the RAM timings. It was Greek to me. However, there was a setting called "normal", and I figured there wouldn't be any harm in trying it. Lo and behold, my computer is running fine. For now, anyway. I'm going to try to reproduce the failure I experienced when installing WM9.

    brent, I'm sorry I wasn't more detailed in my descriptions, but my knowledge of the hardware end of things is very shallow. I can swap out cards and CD/DVD drives, but I left the more esoteric (to me) work to my friend. All I know is that the hard drive that contained my original Windows install is now the slave, with the former slave holding an install of its own, which could account for the weird partition message. If the computer doesn't fail again between now and Sunday, I'll format both drives and do a fresh install of everything. For now, though, I'm gonna try and reproduce any odd failures I may have experienced today.

    Guys, thanks so much for the tips and recommendations, and for your patience. This ordeal has made me realize I need to increase my involvement with the hardware side of things [​IMG]
     

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