PowerEdge 1850 Will Not Boot

Posted on 2010-08-21
Last Modified: 2012-05-10

This is a follow-on to an earlier question.  I have a Dell PowerEdge 1850 running 2003 Server that serves as a Backup Domain Controller.  Three weeks ago the unit was shut down and unplugged for 8 days.  When it was rebooted everything seemed fine.  The next day I installed several MS patches.  When I went to reboot I got this error:

Memory/Battery problems were detected. The adapter has recovered, but cached data was lost. Press any key to continue.

I press any key and Server 2003 starts to load, but never fully loads.  After about 5 minutes the server reboots.  After several calls to Dell and a question here, we thought that the RAID battery had failed.  I bought a new battery from Dell, installed it, and ran into more problems.  Now the unit would not boot at all.  The amber warning light on the front and back would flash one time.  When I installed the RAID battery I also cleaned out dust from the server fans, CPUs heat sinks, and motherboard.  Not sure if this is relevant, but I wanted to mention it.

I went through a 60+ minute diagnostic with Dell where I took the server out of the rack and systematically disconnected and reconnected various components.  At no time did the motherboard ever sound a single warning beep when I powered the system on.  Even after I removed all RAM there were no beeps.  The Dell technician listened to my PDU and said it sounded strange.  He had me pull the PDU from the server and plug it in detached.  The fan started running right away at full speed.  He said that should not happen and suggested I had a bad PDU.  I ordered a reconditioned PDU from Stallard Technologies.  I tried plugging this PDU disconnected from the server to see if it's fan would run.  Sure enough, it sounded the same as my old PDU.  I went ahead and installed it and tried to reboot.  The same problem exists.  So now I am out the cost of a RAID battery and PDU and no closer to getting this server back online.  The unit is no longer under warranty.  The Dell tech said if it was he would send me a new motherboard.  The cost of a new motherboard $700+ is more than I paid for the server itself.  I really need to fix this in a cost-effective manner.  Does anyone have any ideas on what else could be the problem?

Also, let's assume the worst case and my motherboard is fried.  The server has two hot swappable drives configured in RAID.  If I could find an identical server, could I simply plug in my old hard drives and have a working unit with my configurations?  Or will I need to hire an IT guy to set up the server from scratch?
Question by:MrChip2
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Accepted Solution

dreamcomputer2000 earned 350 total points
ID: 33492854
If you used compressed air to clean your processor heatsink and blew through the fan you may have spun the fan too fast and sent a negative overvoltage to the motherboard, the permanent magnet motors in these fans make great generators--I suspected that I did that once and tested my theory on a junker which wouldn't boot afterwards. Now I always hold the fan from tuning when I blow them out.

Your RAID array should work in an identical machine.

Author Comment

ID: 33492880
Hi dream,

Thanks for the quick reply.  In your case did you blow your motherboard?  Did it show the same symptoms as mine?

I have found two 1850 for sale locally, but neither one has an OS loaded.  I am not skilled enough to load a server OS and configure it to match what I had before.  If I had to hire my IT guy to do it, my guess is I am looking at $500+ in labor (a heavy pill to swallow).

Here is a naive question - if I buy a used PowerEdge that has how swappable drives.  What happens if I simply pull their drives out and put mine in?  Would the server then behave just like mine or are there other things that would need to be changed?.

Author Comment

ID: 33492889
On another note, if the PDU is not plugged into the server and I plug it in, should it make any noise?  How loud/fast should the fan spin?
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Expert Comment

ID: 33492911
Yes, blew the motherboard. You should be able to just swap in the hard drives, you will want to make sure that the motherboard and processor are the same in the two boxes. You may need your tech for initial startup--sometimes the RAID doesn't recognize which drive has the boot info on. Most PDUs need to have the switchable leads shorted together (motherboard usually does this when you hit the power button) but it will depend, if it is a hot-swappable unit it will probably run by itself. By default most fans run at the highest speed until told to slow down by the motherboard.

Expert Comment

ID: 33493090
It takes money to solve problems.  I would call your IT guy.  If this is your server with all your data and it is critical you'll want someone onsite with experience.  If your IT person is someone that you have a good relationship with then they can probably quote you for the entire job before hand instead of working hourly.  The sooner you get him involved the better.  Not after you have made a failed attempt and he has to reconstruct everything.  Just my opinion.

Author Comment

ID: 33493131
Hi Dew,

Just got off the phone with Dell, we did more diagnostics and am pretty sure it is the mobo.  I found someone who has an almost identical 1850 for sale.  I think I will call my IT guy and ask him about the process of putting my drives into this other machine.  First I need to find the MS license for Windows 2003...  I will let you both know how this works out.

Assisted Solution

DewFreak earned 150 total points
ID: 33493140
That is how I would approach it.  Your licenses should be on a sticker on top of the server.

Author Closing Comment

ID: 33493235
Thank you both for your help.

DewFreak, I contacted my IT guy and told him how the server went dead. He said I should re-think the whole need for a BDC.  Since I have a small domain with just a few users, he said it would not take too long to rebuild the directory in case my SBS machine dies.  Rather, he recommends I get Acronis disk image to make rebuilding exchange fast and easy.  Not sure if I will do this.  But I have decided that I will save the $400 it would cost to get the BDC back online.

Thanks again.

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