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This is a weird series of problems

Posted on 1998-01-16
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In 1995 I bought a new Pentium 90 computer to satisfy my craving for speed.  I had a perfectly good 486/66 w/ 8 meg ram.  The motherboard/processor was only two months old at the time.  I put the unit away for a little over a year until a friend indicated that he would like to purchase it. As I was cleaning up files and attempting to reload software, I started running into a problem getting software to load.  

Windows 3.1 kept reporting insufficient memory at the tail end of the installation process when trying to load ProComm for Windows and Quattro Pro for Windows. These had been loaded on the system at an earlier point and were removed.  

I ran numerous tests on the memory itself and on the disk drives and could find nothing wrong.  I tried tweaking the autoexec.bat and config.sys files, reformating the drives, and reinstalling everything, but nothing seemed to work.  Finally, I gave up, and the system went back on the shelf until a few weeks ago.

Now, I not only have problems loading the software as before, but the computer is very erratic as well.  Occasionally it will boot reliably, and other times it will not.  CheckIt reports an error at a specific memory location in Extended memory.  Swapping out with new memory did not solve this problem.

Through all of this, my C drive appears to have given out.  Switching the power connections did not seem to do any good.  So, I re-configured the bios, pulled the slave jumper off and formatted the new C drive (WD) which used to be D and E.  Now, after loading Dos 6.0, I get an error saying "Missing Operating System" when I try to reboot.  When I go to use Western Digital's utilities to scope out the drive, it ccasionally gives me strange information about the partitions.

Do you have any suggestions other than tossing this in the can?  What if anything am I doing wrong here or missing.  Is it possible that a bad power supply can cause these problems, and if so what is the likelihood?

Thanks again for your time.  Any help you can provide will be most appreciated!

 
Sincerely,


Art Ryan

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Question by:ajryan011698
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by:rmarotta
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ajryan,
I understand that the machine was running okay when you put it away. You could have a bad CMOS battery. Check to see that the BIOS setup information remains after power is removed from the computer.  
You say you reconfigured the BIOS for the hard disk???
That should not be necessary, even if it was partioned for several drives.  If you want one volume on the drive, then run FDISK before formatting.
List equipment in your machine, and we'll get you running.
Regards
Ralph

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by:ajryan011698
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The battery is fine. The CMOS information is holding without any problems. I suspect that if the battery was bad, I would have noticed CMOS problems right away manifested in failure to boot.  Booting problems only arose recently after reformatting the hard drive that was switched over from slave to master.

Thanks for your comments though.

486 DX2 66  w/8 meg ram
maxtor 120 HD - now not working - was drive C - worked when I started having problems with the apparent memory issue and up until just recently.
western digital 340 H.D.  - now drive C.  Inconsistent configuration reports from Western Digital utilities.  Error message on boot saying missing operating system.  I uninstalled, reformatted, and re-installed DOS 6.0 numerous times.  I also ran Fdisk.

Hope this helps.
Thanks again.
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by:rmarotta
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Did you format the drive with the 's' switch added?
ie. format c:/s
regards,
Ralph

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by:cymbolic
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Here's maybe the deal.  If they sit for a while, in other than the best environmental conditions, you sometimes get corrosion (oxidation) on the connectors. Pull all the cards, and use an eraser to rub off the corrosion on the edge connecters (get 'em shiny again) , including connectors on your hard drive, floppy drive etc, then reassemble and try again.
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by:ajryan011698
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Thanks again for your attention and comments.  The drive was formatted with the /s option.


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by:ajryan011698
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I can actually read and write to the C drive, but can not boot from it.
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by:JBURGHARDT
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when boot from floppy use sys c: this will solve your problems
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by:ajryan011698
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That does not help.  Thanks anyways.  
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by:magigraf
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ajryan...

How many partition(s) you have on that new hard drive (the one that use to be D & E).

If you have more than one partition did you remember to set the first partition as active??

Post feedback please.
Regards
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by:rmarotta
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ajryan,
In re-reading your original post, I discovered that you may have a solution yourself.  A faulty power aupply can cause erratic behavior.  I'm still not certain from your post whether or not your drive was fdisked with a single or multiple partitions.
What kind of 'strange information' were you getting about your partitions?
Were you able to successfully boot from this drive after you re-formatted?
Regards,
Ralph

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by:ajryan011698
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Thanks again for your attention.  With regard to the partition, there are none.  Occasionally, however, Western Digital's utilities would report several, and almost never consistently.

This is the strangest stuff I've ever seen.  

I'm wondering, would a low-level format be useful here?  I have heard that doing that can actually destroy some of the newer drives, (this is a WD 2340) but I am wondering at this point if there is anything to lose.  Unless, of course, all of my problems point to a bad power supply.  

Thanks again for all your interest and suggestions.  I'm increasing the points.
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by:dunnaway
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ajryan,
Even if you only have one partition on the drive, it needs to be set active. Try using fdisk and see if the partition is active.
  As far as the other errors you are getting, You may try disabling the external cache and adding wait states in the bios setup and see if it makes any difference.
Hope this helps
Dunnaway

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by:rmarotta
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The problem may also be that the drive doesn't have enough time to 'spin up'.  Will it warm boot ok after failing a cold one?
Ralph


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by:avi_shava
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I saw all of your problem, and I believe that your problem is your motherboard (if you switched memory and it does not help). Remove any un-needed cards, and try to boot without external cache. If it work, i believe that your problem is your m/b.

Avi Shava
Avi@The-pentagon.com

Novell Netware Administrator
Windows NT Administrator
Web Designer
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by:magigraf
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dunnaway...

I disagree with you on that:
Having one partition is set automaticly active.  Having it set manualy occurs only if you have more than one partition.

ajryan...

A low level format is fine IF you use the WD utilitiy specificaly made for their drives.  Using a third party low level formatter can damage your hard drive.

In reference that the motherboard is defective, at that stage could be nothing but speculation.  Several factors could be involved from power supply to M/B failure.

What you should do, is to test EACH component, independently (if possibe) to locate the cause of the problem.  This is the adequate procedure to eliminate each item failure and locate the faulty unit.

Regards to all
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by:ajryan011698
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I believe that you are correct in that any of the potential problems/solutions is shear speculation and that testing is probably going to be the only way to solve this, but I would like to keep the discussion open in case anyone else may have had a similar situation.  Thanks again for all your input.  
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by:wbianc
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I agree with magigraf you must try to isolate the components to narrow down the variables.
I assume that you have no electronic test equipment so,
My suggestion pull every thing out of the machine except the M/B, SIMM memory, FDD controller and FDD.
Run MSD from the Boot DOS floppy and check your memory Map nothing should be loaded above the base 640k.
Create an config.sys with EMM386 and then examine the map.
Run some small proggies to test system performance with no HDD.  If there is any erratic behavior of the system you would be pointed to either the Power supply, M/B, Simm chips or the actual cables inside the machine.
It would be best to first change the Simm
then swap Power supply
All of this can be accomplished without any HDD.
If erratic behavior is still present then M/B failure is indicated.
If you get thru this without any problems -Reinstall the 120Mb HDD config it in the BIOS, Fdisk and Format it then run scandisk thorough on it as there may be bad cluster where the MBR is stored.
You can plan on spending some time on this system unless you want to pay money to have it tested. Process of elimination is your only course of action.

Just some additional thoughts:
Re-Loading the software on the system means you are transferring OWNERSHIP of that software to the new party with the machine, and just like a book you purchased only one copy.
It is impossible for two or more people to read the same bound book from different locations.
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by:rmarotta
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ajryan,
In your previous to last post, you said about partitions that "there are none".  Were you using fdisk to examine the drive?  or is that just a typo?
regards,
Ralph

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by:ajryan011698
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To wbianc:

Thanks for your input.  The 120 meg drive (the original boot drive) no longer spins up.  That is why I switched drives.

I was hoping there would be an easier way, but you are probably right.  As to the software, I understand licensing agreements, thanks.

To rmarotta:

Yes, I was using fdisk to examine the disk.  Everything looked fine, and was set up as a single drive.
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by:PBMax
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Have you checked for viruses?  You said you had these problems when you installed software.  That insufficent memory could be the virus.  Thier are boot sector viruses that cause partition errors and such.  And seeing that you have stuck alot of disk in the computer it probably infected alot of disks.  Check it out.  This could be a simple problem.
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by:rmarotta
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Kuba,
Using fdisk, you said "everything looked fine", but is partition I set for (A)ctive (PRI)mary (DOS)?  If so, and the drive is formatted, then the command 'sys C:' should make it bootable.  PBMax may be right....
regards

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by:ajryan011698
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Thanks PBMax:

Excellent suggestion!  That was actually one of the first things I did before re-formating, however.  I made sure that my virus scan program was up to date as well.  In any case, as I mentioned, the computer was fine before I put it away, and had not introduced any new software which would have been likely to have a virus.

Thanks for your input.
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by:ajryan011698
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Thanks again rmarotta:

I have checked and double-checked, and checked again.  It is set as active Primary Dos.

This is a bugger isn't it?



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by:rmarotta
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Do you have disk manager?

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by:ajryan011698
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Yes.  I believe I mentioned WD's utilites above.
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by:rmarotta
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You should be able to delete any existing partitions with it.
Be certain everything has been removed and that it recognizes the correct drive.  Then reboot and use your dos fdisk to re-partition.
I hope this helps,
Ralph

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by:ajryan011698
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Been there, done that....
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by:largebrain
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I recommend testing the power supply with a VOM, for every plug, If the VOM gives the voltage to be constantly falling and rising, it means that the regulators are broken in the PSU. If not, there shouldn't be a problem. So its not that. Check to make sure they register the correct  voltage ( someone help me out to what is what here).

Phil¿
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by:rmarotta
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Plus and minus 5VDC & plus and minus 12VDC.
If you lack a VOM, it might be easier, if you have a known good power supply, to just temporarily substitute the suspected one.
Usually, it is not necessary to disassemble the computer to try this.
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by:michsu
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Run Scandisk and Defragmenter and don't install too many programs

Also, since you have limited memory, run only one program at a time


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by:magigraf
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michsu...

I have been tracing you down here.  Listen since you are new, you have to learn posting COMMENTS not answers all the way.

Unfortunately what you just posted here as answer is not, and that could be interpreted like we are unprofessionals

Please select a more proper way to respond to the questions, we are trying to help people here not to entertain.

Regards


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by:ajryan011698
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michsu:

Perhaps you may want to re-read the thread.
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by:six012498
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Alright, all of this, and I still haven't seen the "I have tested with a different power supply, and the problems remain." This was my first inclination as to the source of the problem. Has this been tried yet? And as for checking voltage, that's not conclusive. The power supply could very easily produce what looked like the proper voltage to a VOM but would obviously be very bad power on a scope.

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by:adamgg
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I agree, the first thing that should be done is individual testing.  You said you have a Pentium 90, try swapping components ONE AT A TIME!  Start with the power supply then move on.  If the PSU is not the problem I'd be looking at the CPU, find a mate who's got a 486 and swap the CPU (don't forget to set the jumpers).  


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magigraf earned 120 total points
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ajryan...

Everybody here is sharing my opinion in the first comment, but you never commented back if you did or not.

You would have to remove all the cards except video.
Reinstall DOS, and I was wishing here if you wouldn't use that DOS 6.0. If you could lay your hands on a 6.2 or 6.22 or even a 5.0 version if you still got a copy.

DOS 6.0 was nothing but trouble (was the ONLY version that made us lose systems completely)

Now see if you got the system hapening, if yes, you could add hardware then software ONE at a time and always keeping a backup of your settings before any software install.

This will be the more systematic approach to resolve the issue.
Don't use any low level format now, as we cannot determine YET if the drive is the problem.

If you could find a book for your motherboard to make sure that the motherboard is jumpered properly, that would be great too.  You would never know when did you lose a jumper when moving it or storing it.

Need to check the motherboard settings, here is a URL:
http://www.motherboards.org/

I hope that this information helped, or reject it
Regards
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