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stuck-without an OS!

Posted on 2004-04-20
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Last Modified: 2010-04-26
I have this problem... where I used to be running XP pro, till it started restarting.
Thinking that it is a corrupted file, i decided to format the OS partition to reinstall. However, after formating, the computer keeps restarting (as usua) as a result, i have not been able to install XP at all. What is the problem really? I suspect it is a hardware problem... but I do not know how to verify it!
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Question by:QLJ
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by:Callandor
ID: 10869553
If you have your boot order set to CDROM first and you put a WinXP CD in, you should be able to install WinXP.  What happens when you do this?
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by:james_in_hardware
ID: 10869594
I am guessing it is a processor issue.  You would need to get another swapped out with it to make sure.......it could very also be your motherboard.  Have you ran a disk checker on your hard drive?
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by:shot_blocker21
ID: 10869855
Check your bios to see what event is set to happen when the processor overheats.  If it is restart,  you need to get some kind of cooling grease to put between your processor and heatsink, before it burns itself up.  
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by:L0n3W0lf
ID: 10870524
Can you tell us a what exact point the PC restarts ?
Does it restart with a messge on the screen or just reboots ?
Gimme more Input ;-)

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by:venishjoe
ID: 10870936
Hai,

    I think shot_blocker21 is right.The porcessor is overheating which causes restart of the computer.Check all the fans are working correctly (The Processor fan and the Cabinet fan).If the fans are working then the cooling is not enough for the processor so you should think of alternates.

Hope this solves the problem

Regards
Venish
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by:james_in_hardware
ID: 10870945
Didnt I say it was probaly a processor issue?????
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by:venishjoe
ID: 10871360
Hai,

I thought shot_blocker21 was more specific about the overheating of processor

Regards
Venish
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by:multihull
ID: 10872491
Hi,
For the overheating to cut in the processor has to heat up. A large heatsink will give you a period before the overheat cuts in.
Therefore please let system cool right down (use some plumbers freeze on the heatsink to get it cool).
Then power on with a floppy in (system or not)
How long before it reboots - don't try to load anything else.

If it is immediate the possibility is that the reset button is making continually, remove the connector on the mobo for reset and try again. If power then stays on you can go ahead and complete - just ignore reset.
If  it takes some time before resetting overheat is a good possibility. First replace the fan and heatsink, the fan may not be cooling due to blocks in heatsink pathways.
If this does not work its either mobo or cpu.

please come back if prob still exists.

Multihull
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by:QLJ
ID: 10874025
ok...what happens is it restarts randomly... there is really no telling when it will restart... as i stare at the screen, it is really like watching a thriller movie... hoping that the installing/formating bar goes to completion. it has completed formatting once... that's it! I dun think it is the restart button though... maybe the heat problem.
Hmm. i shall need to check my bios then.... but i dun recall seeing that option. I do hope it won't restart while I'm browsing the bios(it happened last night!)

keep the ideas coming.. i shall be back with my findings...
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by:Callandor
Callandor earned 75 total points
ID: 10874083
You may have bad RAM: download the tester from www.memtest86.com and run it for a few full cycles.  If it fails, you have bad RAM; but if it passes, that may be a false positive and would need to be confirmed with known working RAM.
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bigguy44 earned 200 total points
ID: 10874244
We need to know more about your system.  I seriously doubt you are overheating...

Here's some options for you:

#1. Random restarts are usually the result of a failed hardware.  The most common failed hardware device is the hard drive.  It is most likely to fail because it has many moving parts and requires great percision form those moving parts.  The progressive degeneration indicates a hard drive failure.  The least likely failed device is a CPU, especially if its an Intel CPU.  If you did indeed have a bad CPU, odds are you wouldn't get so far into installing Windows - your computer most likely wouldnt even power on, much less POST.  To test your hard drive, find another computer and go to http://www.maxtor.com/en/support/downloads/maxblast3.htm.  You'll need a blank floppy disk.  Download and install MaxBlast 3.  After installing, MaxBlast will guide you through the process of creating a bootable floppy disk with the test software on it.  Put it in to your "broken" computer, make sure it's set to boot to a floppy first!  MaxBlast 3 will perform a low level diagnosis on your hard drive and will offer a "factory recertification" on Maxtor and Quantum drives.  Make sure you run the full test, and not the 90 second test.  

#2. Regardless of your hardware, remove all of it from the system (yep, even that floppy drive!) with the exception (of course) of the motherboard, processor, RAM, Hard drive, and CD-ROM, and Video Card if necessary.  Try to install Windows XP.  If you can successfuly install Windows, add piece of your removed hardware ONE AT A TIME, and watch for abnormal behavior.

#3.  Bad RAM is also highly likely.  If you have more than one stick of RAM in your computer, try to install Windows with only one stick of RAM installed at a time.  Or, if you have access to another computer, download MemTest 86 from www.memtest86.com.  Follow the directions to install the program to a bootable CD.  Put it in your "broken" computer, make sure it's set to boot to a CD first, and run the test for 64 passes...no less!!!  It may take a full day, but it is the only way to know for sure.

#4. Bad IDE cable to the CD-ROM and/or Hard Drive.  Swap em out and try again.

Again, I am almost sure its a bad hard drive.  It sounds like you have data on the drive in another partition.  There are ways of getting that data off, even if your drive is dying, so don't worry about that yet.


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by:tthayer
tthayer earned 100 total points
ID: 10874640
In putting in my thoughts I will say that figuring these things out can be quite difficult at times.  

Based on the comments it does appear you have a hardware problem.  Software typically does it the same every time and hardware is random.  In reviewing the comments I suggest you look at your motherboard and look at the capacitors.  (They are round with a silver top which appear to have a faint X on the top)  See if any are oval shapped as if someone was pushing the inside out with their finger or look for any signs of liquid or discolorations.  They should be shiny and completely flat.  If they are not flat then the capacitor is bad and as a result does not properly control the voltages.  This would result in the system behavior you are describing.  If you find that to be the case then a new motherboard will be required.
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by:QLJ
ID: 10874843
the maxtor site seems to be down... nothing there.
will try the memtest86 and get back to ya!
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Expert Comment

by:rizguy79
ID: 10875166
dear, have u checked the RAM?
if u have two Modules on board remove one and try ....
some motherboards do this problem wit Win2k n XP when u populate all the available RAM slots....
also if u have only one then change its slot n clean its contact points with soft cotton
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Assisted Solution

by:kevteoh5
kevteoh5 earned 25 total points
ID: 10875648
I would recommend that you find a friend or someone willing to loan you a power supply unit (PSU). Swap out your PSU, then put a working one in (make sure the Watts supply is equal or more, don't wanna panic more!).

Since you said the restarting is random, I thought maybe it could be the power supply - after all, that's where the umm, power, is from! It won't hurt trying... what with so many parts that could go wrong.
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by:QLJ
ID: 10879972
tried the memtest already... runs to completion without a hitch. but that is std test with ECC off( what's ECC?)
when I tried the extended test and all test, with ECC on, both fails to run to completion, cos it restarted midway.
Also, noted that the time between 2 restarts also decrease as the computer is turned on for a longer period.

Checked the BIOS and found the shutdown button disabled, in the temperature page.

Am working on single 256k RAM... may be a little difficult to get spare RAM to try to switch it ard.. will try to get another good condition one... (i hope!)

as for the PSU...detaching the components and all... well, I'm not that technically inclined. Not too confident about that... will only venture into it if you experts think it is absolutely necessary!

to bigguy44: the maxblast program, is it fine if my HDD is not a maxtor? I guess it should be fine right? I would give it a try later! (along with the memtest, again!)

thanx to all for the messages... appreciate the suggestions!
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by:bigguy44
ID: 10880297
ECC is an error-correcting feature built on the RAM module.  To check and see if you have ECC, count the number of black chips on each side of your RAM modules.  If you have 4 or 8, no ECC.  If you have 5 or 9, you have ECC.  You don't have ECC, dude.  If you don't know what it is, you certainly didn't buy it.  It's mostly for servers, high-end workstations, and mission-critical applications where money is no object.

MaxBlast will run and detect problems on non-Maxtor drives.  Not to worry, my friend.  Make sure you run the full test and not the 90 second test.  It may take about an hour.

With only 1 stick of RAM, you will need to run MemTest 86 for a full 64 passes.  It may take almost a day, but without buying a new stick of RAM and introducing another varriable into the equation, this is the only way to know.
You said you ran MemTest already...but MemTest 86 doesn't have options like that.  It autodetects.  What memtest did you run?
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by:tthayer
ID: 10881731
As I commented Above

In putting in my thoughts I will say that figuring these things out can be quite difficult at times.  

Based on the comments it does appear you have a hardware problem.  Software typically does it the same every time and hardware is random.  In reviewing the comments I suggest you look at your motherboard and look at the capacitors.  (They are round with a silver top which appear to have a faint X on the top)  See if any are oval shapped as if someone was pushing the inside out with their finger or look for any signs of liquid or discolorations.  They should be shiny and completely flat.  If they are not flat then the capacitor is bad and as a result does not properly control the voltages.  This would result in the system behavior you are describing.  If you find that to be the case then a new motherboard will be required.
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by:QLJ
ID: 10884636
to bigguy44:i ran MemTest-86 v3.1a. It allows configurations to be done... not too sure if the comp will allow me to run 64passes. I sure hope it will... i suddenly realised, it din run to completion at all... just 1 pass. *sigh*

to tthayer: i'm sorry, somehow missed your post, will look up on that one!
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by:Callandor
ID: 10884752
Memtest86 will keep running in repetitious cycles until you stop it.  If it fails at any point, you definitely have bad RAM.
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by:tthayer
ID: 10884999
OLJ

Reading above I interpret you may be uncomfortable getting into your system.  All you need to do is turn the computer off...then take the cover off.....no unplugging required....and take a flashlight and check and see.  If they are all shiny then we can rule out the motherboard and begin to check each individual component to find the rascal that is giving you problems.   As commented by others above the cause can be many things.  the hard drive, the video card, the cdrom, the memory, the power supply, the bios setup, etc.  The reason I am concerned with the motherboard is from your original post all seems to be working fine and then one day it started rebooting.  If you had not made and recent changes then most likely it is hardware.

Once you have verified the motherboard is visibly ok we can then proceed to ruling out other devices until we find the problem.
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by:QLJ
ID: 10889562
without much success... the memtest cant be run to completion.
the capacitors look fine... even under scrutiny. so i guess the motherboard should be doing ok?
as for the maxtor thingie.. din really try it... cos I have data left in the HDD. Only the partitioned part for OS was deleted.
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by:bigguy44
ID: 10889947
If you can't complete a MemTest, you most likely have some bad RAM as Callandor said.  Buy a new stick of RAM.  Samsung RAM is pretty reliable adn highly compatible.

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by:tthayer
ID: 10891768
Good to hear about the motherboard.

This is a process of ruling out devices except for the basic
Unhook any unneeded device.  If you have cd-roms, tape drives, network cards, unhook them and pull them out. Or pull the power and cables out (there is a red line on the side of the cable.  Make sure you note which way it goes.  Generally it is pointing toward where the power plugs in.   When you are finished unplugging all you should have left is it the motherboard, power supply, Processor,  video, memory, and hard drive.   Turn it on.  Lets see if it will reboot on its own.  If it does then you know it is one of the components left.   Of these components memory would be the first concern.  Before buying more memory go into your bios and see if the memory setting is accurate.  If the setting in the bios is wrong I would correct that first.  Then look into getting some memory.  
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by:bigguy44
ID: 10893986
Callandor, I see what you mean by people restating the same thing we said earlier....
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by:Callandor
ID: 10895732
I knew you were going to see what I meant in a short time - I hope they learn, too.
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by:tthayer
ID: 10895954
bigguy44.....
Callandor....

I apologise for not seeing your earlier posts.  Yes I did repeat what was said earlier.  But then I see you agree with the comments.  In the future both of you might want to be more considerate as comments posted have no place here in helping OLJ.  To OLJ I am sorry for the distractions.  We are all trying to help.  I will let the individuals above continue and wish you the best in successfully resolving your issue.  Should you have any questions of me I will be happy to assist.
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by:Callandor
ID: 10896085
tthayer, I don't mean to slight your efforts to help people, and the fact that you recognize what you did is good.  It's just a form of politeness not to repeat what someone else said without giving them credit or adding more clarification.  I hope you will continue to contribute here because your intentions are good and you obviously have things to add from your experience.  Some others don't care what impact they have on others.
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by:tthayer
ID: 10896161
Thank you for your reply.  It was my mistake in not reading more carefully.
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by:QLJ
ID: 10896193
hey guys.. chill it there. Appreciate ALL of the advice. Benefitted from all the advice... all the different alternatives.
I really think I wil go beg/borrow/steal a working ram to test.. if it works... then it's the RAM's fault.. and do away with the mem test. it's totally not given a chance to run to completion. Else, I'll be back... :)
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by:QLJ
ID: 10914974
apparently, the ram is working... cos I plugged it out and plugged it in, into a friend's comp and it worked, so it cant be the ram. i'm a little hazy over what i shld do now... maybe i will just send it to the person who got it up to get it checked.
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by:QLJ
ID: 10914981
thanx to all who contributed!
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by:tthayer
ID: 10915018
Thank you for your consideration in awarding points.  To the other participants I again apologise in not reading back and giving credit to those who suggested options first.
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by:Callandor
ID: 10915068
No problem, tthayer, I think you have made a valuable contribution to this effort.
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