Dell Dimension 4100 boot problem

Posted on 2004-10-04
Last Modified: 2010-04-26


I have a Dell Dimension 4100 that will sometime boot fine and at other times do the following: (in order)
1. Startup and count ram in 4k intervals from 0 to 512mb (512 is the total amt ram)
2. produce a blank screen while a lot of hd acivity is present.
3. either reboot (count ram again)  or the screen will stay blank and the hd activity will stop.
4. Once in a while it will start Windows so you can hit f8 and boot into safe mode.
Once in safe mode if you exit out (not making any changes) you can boot into Windows and everything is fine.
At other times, I use Norton GO-back and re-install the entire drive and then reboot which also will work.

I replace the hard disk with a new one and the problem persists. I am aming my guns at either memory or the motherboard but am not sure since the system will come up at times and function normally.

Does anyone have any suggestions on how to fix this problem ?


Question by:Darylm1
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Expert Comment

ID: 12219334
This could also be a power supply problem, in addition to a RAM or motherboard problem.  Since they are cheaper to replace, try borrowing another one and swapping it out.  If the problem persists, move on to swapping the memory.  As a last test, swap out the motherboard, because that will cost the most to replace.
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Expert Comment

by:Danny Child
ID: 12225294
do you have a) more than one stick of ram and b) will the system run with just one installed?  If you can (it depends on your motherboard type), try running it with one stick and see if you get the fault.  If its fine, try the other.  Try different slots too.  

you can also simplify the system - remove all extra cards (for networking, scanners, sound, etc) - disconnect optical drives and the floppy which may help give a clearer picture.

you can also test the ram with
 - can take a while to run!  Again, once a fault is found, try running with different memory configurations to find the faulty stick.  

I think you're right - the slow ram counts would point to a memory fault, but it could be the mobo.  

Author Comment

ID: 12337634
Memory test came out fine , no issues.

Problem appears to be PS.  Question though, I swapped out the PS with a bigger one and now there is a 30 -40 pause between the time the Windows logo appears and goes away  and when the desktop appears.

Other than that, the system runs fine. I get no errors and shutdown is quick. This issue only happens when the system is booting.


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LVL 69

Expert Comment

ID: 12343778
That delay could be strictly a software issue, depending on how many things you have at startup, how fragmented your drive is, and how fast your cpu is.  If you had a freshly installed Windows, this should be very fast.

Author Comment

ID: 12348864

Hi Callandor,

This machine is a 1 ghz w/512 megs of ram. It also has two  80 gig hard drives . I had copied the entire contents of drive c: to an external 80 gig HD.

I had thought the problem may have been because drive c was mounted on its side and was not level. I have fixed that but the delay continues.

I could reinstall Windows to see if that fixes the delay.

The machine is a Dell demension 4100.   I added a CD\DVD burner and thats when all of problems started.  I called Dell to replace the PS with a bigger one and they sent me the wrong one. (I could not even plug it in to the mobo because the plug did not match what was on the board.)

I then replaced the old ps (200w) and the problems got slightly better except for the delay.  Don't know why this would be but its true.

Would there be anyway I could "Fix" windows instead of  reinstalling it ?


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Accepted Solution

Callandor earned 500 total points
ID: 12349438
You could try a repair install, if this is WinXP.  It will preserve your programs and data. 

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