Urgent help, please! Dell PowerEdge 1800 Server Boot Problem

xenadad
xenadad used Ask the Experts™
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Windows 2003 Server, SP2, Enterprise Edition. It will power on but no video.  It has been a week of attempting to diagnose a hardware problem with Dell.  Original problem starting last Monday morning was that it would run fine all day, we would come in the next day to amber blinking light and server hang.  I could restart it and it would reboot and run fine until next day.  In the process we updated BIOS and firmware.  Dell thought my problem was unsupported PCI ATA-100 3ware 7500 controller card hosting 4-IDE drive RAID.  OS installed on drive separate from RAID array. Weekend came so I stripped it down to check to see if taking out offending card made any difference.  It didnt, but it would still boot - so I put it back together - everything checked out and I went home saturday night.  This morning I came in, flashing amber light, server is hung.   Now try to reboot, fans come on drive light is green but no video.  Video is built in. Ive tried a different monitor but no.  Needless to say, I can't boot from CD drive either. There is a green light on the board.  I have been researching this like crazy but I have not tried changing board dip switch settings or changing battery.  I need this machine up tomorrow morning - I'll go in 4 hours early to catch Dell Support if I have to but...  Any ideas?  Thanks for your help!
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I would try putting a video card in and disable the onboard video first.
next i would try changing out the power supply.

CT
Sounds like a hardware issue... follow ComputerTechie on this one... and use this event to stress to your client/boss the value of having backup servers just in case. Don't you hate it when your weekend is interrupted by somebody else's lack of contingency planning or minimalist budgetting? If productivity or data availability is on the line, you'd think a spare server would be a small price to pay to mitigate these unfortunate but inevitable events.

Author

Commented:
Thanks for the response CT, any specifics on how to disable the on-board video?  I'm on my way now to look at the available documentation on that.  

And thank you too Sam, believe it or not, we've been looking into replacing everything so we would have redundancy and better backups instead of running on a rail with a single AD / DC server - unfortunately, its my job to make it happen and it didnt because I already dont have a life thanks to all the other things I have to do, but you're right on all points and its going to be a great story and life lesson after it is over no matter how it turns out :)))
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Author

Commented:
I learned 3rd party video cards are not supported on Dell servers and there is no way to disable the onboard video. There are some reports of success when folks got lucky enough to find the right video card. I saw a statement that the on-board video would disable itself if I get lucky and use the right PCI video card.  Not real encouraging, but I have about 10 years worth of video cards, so I'll give it a shot...
L3TNetworking Engineer

Commented:
I had this problem with one of my old Dell servers a couple years back.  My on-board video stopped working and I needed to install a new video card.  This is what I did:

Because the PCI-e slot on your motherboard is an x8 slot and will not support an x16 PCI-e video card, you will have to purchase a PCI Express X8 to X16 Adapter.  You can get one at the following link.

http://www.orbitmicro.com/global/pexp16-sx-16-8-p-755.html

This extension adapter is designed to provide enhanced compatibility between motherboards and a variety of PCI Express expansion cards, and is a good solution for converting an x8 PCI Express slot to x16 PCI Express cards.

With the adapter installed you should be able to install an x16 PCI-e video card. I used an NVidia 7600 GT because the Windows Server 2003 drivers were available for this card and I had the card lying around my shop.  Other video cards may also work.

The riser will add 1.05" of height to the video card but it should still fit into your Dell PowerEdge 1800 case.  


I agree with L3T.  if you really cannot wait for parts you can try this trick. warning this will void any warranty on the main board. http://www.tkdan.com/SC420/

CT
Top Expert 2009

Commented:
Can you still remote access (Terminal Service...) to the server?
If it is just a video card issue, you still be able to remote access to the server and run diagnostic... A failed video card is not the end of the world since you still have terminal service or if you have RAS installed, it won't be affected by a failed video card, either.

If you cannot see any thing in TS or RAS, the problem is something else other than just video card.

K
the server might be stop on all error which would stop it from booting; otherwise remote desktop would work.

CT
Top Expert 2009

Commented:
Looks like you have some source of memory or HD issues. I would reseat the memory and try to boot it again to see if it get past the bios screen.

K
Commented:
Hi Everybody, thanks for the responses.  Ultimately stripped it all down to diagnose the problem that I felt it was the whole time - motherboard is gone.  I'm replacing the motherboard and the powersupply just to be safe.  CT you started me on that path of hardware diagnosis and L3T gave me some great info and an introduction into an area I'd never considered - the difficulty of using 3rd party video cards in Dell servers.  Thanks to you too linkevin - although I learned early it wasnt a video problem - it wasnt even posting - but didnt have time to get back here.

Now I have to figure out if I can get my RAID 10 back with the new hardware...

Cheers!
Top Expert 2009

Commented:
If the motherboard is the same made and model (replacement part ID), you should be able to gain your RAID 10 back. The point is whether or not your old RAID 10 was good before your MB replaced.

K

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