Windows 98 PC sometimes will not start

Posted on 2008-06-18
Last Modified: 2010-04-26
Hi there, I have a customer with a windows 98 pc that sometimes will not start.

When the problem happens, the PSU fan runs, the CPU fan runs and the screen comes to the first part of the BIOS.

So far I have replaced the PSU, tested the RAM, de energised the mother board.

The first time I saw it, the customer wasnt able tyo get it started at all and after de-energising the mobo (removed the AC Power and tried to start it), it worked. I wonder about the mother board or even the BIOS.

Any one got any suggestions of additonal diagnostics I could try?

Question by:MXDEWD
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LVL 70

Expert Comment

ID: 21818034
Look VERY carefully at the motherboard (use a flashlight) for any signs of deteriorated capacitors (leaking or bulging).   That's a very common cause of motherboard failure ... and the fact the system isn't getting past the BIOS display indicates this is likely a motherboard issue rather than an issue with the OS itself.
LVL 70

Accepted Solution

garycase earned 500 total points
ID: 21818056
... the other things that could cause the symptoms you're seeing are:  (1)  unstable power ... which you've already checked by trying another power supply;  (2)  failed/defective memory ... which you've already checked;  (3)  a failing CPU ... very unlikely, but still possible;  or (4)  some other failure that's pulling down the bus signals and causing a problem.   To eliminate #4, remove ALL devices except the motherboard, CPU, memory, and power supply => i.e. unplug (both power & data) the optical drive; all hard drives; the floppy; etc. and see if you at least get past the BIOS tests (I'd enter the BIOS Setup and just "move around" a bit to confirm it's working okay).

Author Comment

ID: 21818067
WOW - thats a qucik response - thanks...

Yep, sorry I forgot to mention, I have had a look at the CAPS as I have seen this a few times before - know exactly what you mean, they all seem fine.

This is frustration as it seems to be very random. I have just restarted the thing about 10 times, runs perfectly. I wonder if it sitting over noght has something to do with. This machine sits on the floor in a carpeted basement and I guess is subject a more moist environment than most, I also wonder if that has anything to do with it?

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Author Comment

ID: 21818760
Hi Gary, cheers for all your options, I have tried to get the damd thing to repeat the error all day and it's working fine. This means it's a waist of time trying to remove all hardware not needed to run it. If I cant find anything else, I may do that and get the customer to check it.

Havent really done anything, I wonder (and I need to speak with my customer again), if the problem only happens when the mobo and everything else for that matter is cold???

Do you think that could be an issue? It still could mean that there is some harware bringing it down.

One other thing I just noticed is that the time was back to some time in 2002 so I gues CMOS battery could be failing??? Have set time correct and disconnected from AC and put PC on floor. I might leave it there until tomorrow morning and see what happens then.

Cheers Jason.
LVL 70

Expert Comment

ID: 21819120
I'd certainly replace the CMOS battery ... a very inexpensive part that could definitely be part of the problem (it may have simply lost the configuration data).
LVL 91

Expert Comment

ID: 21820260
you can measure it, it should read 3 V

Author Comment

ID: 21969702
Hi Gary/Nobus, regaurding the CMOS - I mentioned to the customer about the clock and he was annoyed that I'd corrected it as his acounts program was not rolled foward so he continually changed the date so it always read july 2003 or something. So no problem with the CMOS.

After fiddling with machine, I gave it back to him and I have not heard anything back AT ALL so at this point I am assuming that all is well.

Have awarded points to Gary, not so much for the fix but for the quick response and good suggestions.

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