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Computer failing to 'fire' when booting after being left off overnight

Posted on 2004-10-07
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2010-04-26
I have an intermittent problem with my box.

For about a week, when I turn it on after it’s been left off overnight, something doesn’t quite fire right, and it doesn’t even get to an early stage of the boot process (the monitors remain switched off). Following this, I usually reset it a few times – sometimes the monitors remain off whilst the floppy disk drive continually clicks, but after a few restarts, eventually something fires, the monitors click into action, and display the bios etc.

Once this happens it usually takes another restart or two to actually boot successfully.. Today, it hung whilst checking RAM, the time before it complained it couldn’t find a crucial Windows file, the time before that it blue-screened.

However, after this happens, it boots fine and then works perfectly – I can even restart it or turn it off and on, and it everything works perfectly. It’s a start-up problem that only seem to occur when turning it on from cold after a night of being turned off.

I would appreciate any advice as to what might be causing these start-up problems, I’m assuming it must be hardware failure somewhere but due to a different error every time I turn it on, I have no idea where to start.
Question by:gazemery

Expert Comment

ID: 12247315
Hi i don't know whether this will help but we recently had a problem quite similar to this and we replaced the power supply and everything seemed to work fine after that,  its worth a try if you don't want to buy one try a friends or if you own another computer use it most power supply will work in any pc.

Expert Comment

ID: 12247379

What <<goddard01>> said is a good try to do.

But if you do not have a spare PSU, or cannot have another one easily, what you can check is one morning, or the moment you encounter again this kind of problem is to disconnect almost all your devices.
I mean :
Just let connected the CPU and its fan :-), the RAM, the mouse and kbd and the monitor.
So no PCI card, but that doesn't seem to be the problem, no hdd, no floppy drive and so on..
Try to boot and see wether any kind of whistle is still persisting.

If so, the problem can come from either the PSU, the mbd and or even the RAM.
After that, we will have "targeted" the problem :-)

Hope that can help.

Expert Comment

ID: 12248302
I would go with the psu problem...
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Author Comment

ID: 12248408
Thanks for the suggestions so far. Hopefully it's just the PSU. I have a really important project that I need to finish, so I think it'll stay on until that's done, then I'll back it up, then try another PSU to kick off the diagnostic process.

Presumably it's possible for the PSU to semi-fail, rather than totally bomb out - because when I turn it on even when nothing seems to happen the hard drive light still flickers and the floppy starts clicking too - so some power is getting through?

Expert Comment

ID: 12248535
I had a similar problem.... apparantly I updated the BIOS and it worked and never gave me a problem after that!
LVL 69

Expert Comment

ID: 12249654
It is possible for a power supply to not deliver enough current to boot a system, but otherwise seem normal.  The same is true for the voltage - it may be outputting voltage, but if it's not within spec, your system will not boot.

Accepted Solution

fallenknight308 earned 750 total points
ID: 12250525
Check your caps.
Capacitors do not enjoy AC current and swell, leak, and can even explode.
I had the same problem your having with an older gateway. After inspecting the mainboard,
it was bad caps due to a PSU failure. (PSU had let AC current through)
If your feeling brave, sometimes you can solder new ones back in
(If the damage is at a minimum)
LVL 13

Expert Comment

ID: 12251101
If it isn't the PSU, my best guess would be the Motherboard itself, very often the layered stripping connectors that lay across the mobo and connect all the componants can have minute cracks and/or fractures that are difficult to see without extreme magnification.

Once everything heats up and expands the connections are then made.

To check for shorts would take a great deal of patience, and a good Volt Ohm Meter (VOM) and would have to be done while the Motherboard is cool.

Expert Comment

ID: 12252916
I dunno if you've tried this but.....
there's a phenomenon that is often called "Chip Creep". As the machine heats and cools, non-soldered components "walk" out of their sockets. sooo ....

Try reseating all chips (firm pressure is usually enough) - and PLEASE remember to earth yourself first. then if it works, but a better fan.

If this doesn't work then try all the above

Expert Comment

ID: 12258174
It's probably just the power switch.  You push the button to turn it on, and the button seems fine but the actual switch inside the case is stuck down.  You get to six seconds and the ATX power supply says, "Oh, he wants me to turn off."  My power switch at home has gone bad twice.  Once I had to rig the plastic holding it in place with a twist-tie so the button would actually trigger the switch, not just push it out of the way.  This time the old switch gave out completely- the wires connecting it to the power supply broke off at the ends.  I just exposed about 1/2 milimeter on the end of each wire and touch them together to start the computer.  I guess you could say I 'hotwired' it.

Expert Comment

ID: 12271530
A comment on "fallenknight308" reply about the Gateway and the swollen caps... Just an FYI if you still have this board, that is a know gateway motherboard issue, and will be replaced FREE of charge at any time. I used to be the Territory Service Manager for some of the gateway stores, and this is a very known issue. They will replace the motherboard with an equiv or better... being that its been almost 3 years now since the problem was first noticed, they will upgrade to something much better now. At the time they had run out of replacements and were upgrading people to pentium 4 2.0ghz systems!!!


Author Comment

ID: 12523357
Sorry about the late reply on this, I had some work I needed to finish (now done) and I also wanted to back-up the contents of the PC before I started trying to fix it. Thanks to a 250gb firewire drive and Norton Ghost I’m now a bit happier about trying to fix it.

The first thing I was going to do was change the power supply, but before I even got that far, after taking the lid off I noticed three of the caps on the motherboard were not only swollen at the top but also seemed to have been leaking. I'm guessing this probably is the problem.

In additional to the start up issue, it's also started randomly freezing whilst running Windows (total immediate freeze, no mouse movement, etc), which seems to happen totally randomly unrelated to tasks.
LVL 69

Expert Comment

ID: 12541120
If they look like www.badcaps.net, then yes, your capacitors are bad and you will need to replace the motherboard.

Author Comment

ID: 12550737
Yep, the caps are not just swollen but some are blown at the top and leeking.

New motherboard time, points go to fallenknight308 for the correct diagnoisis.

Thanks to all.

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