An ultimate delema

Posted on 1998-07-23
Last Modified: 2010-04-12
I have two notebooks that seem totaly and completely crashed.  I think I crashed the bios or what ever the bios chip is called.  both notebooks are dos6.22 w/ w3.x on them.  They both run ram checks which can be interupted with the esc. key but that is the most imput I can implement.  When I put a boot disk in the drive, the light goes on for a second but doesn't read the system files.  Is there still a way to get into the system setup menus like f1 or something or if that doesn't respond at the pheonix bios starting screen, is there a way to easily (grinch) replace a little chip on the mother board of the notebook (if I can even open the thing up)

Thanks for your help so much!
Question by:AJMan
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Expert Comment

ID: 1121500

I had a computer with a Phoenix BIOS (not a laptop). It used a Ctrl-Alt-Esc key sequence to enter setup. Press and hold Ctrl and Alt. Then press Esc right after the memory test during boot. I don't know if it's the same for yours but it's worth a try.

Once in the setup, look for an option to boot from A drive first, then C instead of booting directly to C.

LVL 32

Expert Comment

ID: 1121501
On many laptops, if you hold down a key  during the self test process, you'll trigger an error and it will ask you to enter the setup screen and fix the problem.

Expert Comment

ID: 1121502
Most BIOS are real easy to replace. It requires lifting out the PROM and inserting the replacement. Note: make sure all of the replacement PROM's legs are in the correct holes.
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Expert Comment

ID: 1121503
Don't mess with the inside of your notebook!  There is very little you could possibly do except make it worse. Notebooks consist or proprietary hardware and in most cases, disasembling them causes more problems than it could solve.

After what changes did these notebooks stop working?  Can you reverse the changes?  What do the manuals say about getting into the BIOS setup.  (Hint: Don't change anything unless you know for sure it's wrong first.)

Does an error message of any kind ever appear?  (Note: you may have to wait more than a few seconds to see it.) Wait for an error that could give a clue.  In most cases, if a hard drive fails, the computer will eventually time-out and display an error.  This is key to determining the problem.

It sounds as though your hard drive is not starting up or can no longer be accessed. Can you determine that by listening closely?

If it is a name brand notebook, then take it to a service center and get an estimate. As I said, notebooks are not like PC's where we can just swap out stuff with little fear of the problem getting worse.  I've worked with enough notebooks to know when to leave it alone.  Even opening the case on some notebooks can take an hour or more!  Proceed at your own risk if you listen to kinkajou...

Author Comment

ID: 1121504
More Details on a difficult problem.
On the first notebook, a Northgate 386sx w/ 2mb ram, It loads to the memory test and states "Incorrect Drive A Type  - Run Setup"
On this computer, I can get into the setup screen, it prompts me to by pressing f1 (or f2 to resume).  I see nothing out of place here, but I have the options to format or park fixed drives.  With these options, I hesitate to play around for I am not positive what they mean.  Can I format the drive alright from here?  After exiting the setup menu or bypassing it, the hard drive is kicking in -the HDD light is on continualy, and if I listen, the drive continualy clicks in a patern which takes a second or so to repeat.  

My guess w/ this notebook is the drive is done for.  Not sure what to do next.

Now for the 486dx2 Altima Virage II.
It also runs the 16mb memory test and can be stopped w/ a spacebar
After this, I cannot hear any hard drive noise.  I see only indication of a power source and a pmcia2 card.  It also says "Keboard stuck key failure" when I hold down a key... It runs the memory test normaly anyhow.


Expert Comment

ID: 1121505
Hi AjMan.
Well sounds like te first Laptop is Toast welll the hard drive.
From the sounds of it the head is comming off the landing zone and not able to move out hence the clicking. You could try to pwr off remove the hard drive and just put it back ( but this most likey will not do anything),you probably will end up getting a new hard drive. i do not think formatting will do any goos as I suspect as above the hard drive is unusable.
Ok for the second I presume you cant get into the Bios.
It might be helpful to post the Bios type and number to see if a key set can be found to get into it. Then you might be able to see if booting from floppy etc is possible to see what is the prob.
I presume for the first Notebook you have alrdy tried to boot from the floppy w/o luck...Hope that might clarify a few things..
Regards Sean


Accepted Solution

bandaj earned 270 total points
ID: 1121506
Hold down either the F1 or F2 or ESC key ( one only !! )
and then press the power-on button ( whilst holding down
one of the above keys ). It should complain ( beep ) and
then offer you a way into the bios. Once in bios, set the
boot order to :
    A: first then C:

Hope this helps.


Author Comment

ID: 1121507
Thanks for trying to help bandaj, but I tried your advice, with no avail.  The PhoenixBIOS A486 Version 1.03 beeps 10 times then seems to look for the hard drive and stops beeping.  It does check the floppy drive but doesn't aknowledge there is a disk in the drive when I put one in, so there is no chance of a boot disk helping yet.
By the way, if I do get into a boot disk (after geting into the bios which, with your help, I feel I can probly eventualy do, do I just replace's config.sys, autoexec.bat w/ newer versions? Lastly, could I use a win95 boot disk in this dos6.22 system (I have 4 computers in win95, but don't use any anymore w/ dos&windows)

Thanks for your diligance,


Expert Comment

ID: 1121508
If the present proposed answer does not solve your problem, please select "reopen the question to other experts" from your list of options.
You do not have to accept any answer proposed to you until your problem has been solved to your satisfaction.

Try pressing and holding either Insert or Delete key while booting to get to a setup menu.
If successful, try to disable the hard drive by selecting "none" or "not installed" option.
Save and exit the setup program.
Will the computer now boot?  You should be able to use any bootable floppy disk.


Author Comment

ID: 1121509
sorry it took so long to get the points... busy
I tried Bandaj's power button trick and found success.
That got me to a place where I can replace the hard drive and now I'm all set.  Thanks All!

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