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Sony PC won't boot, it will only display a black screen with a flashing cursor

Posted on 2010-09-24
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Last Modified: 2012-05-10
I have a Sony VGC RC102 desktop PC and it won’t boot.  When I start it the Sony splash displays and then all I get is a black screen with a white blinking cursor in the top left of the screen, there is no other boot information such as the memory count or BIOS version displayed.  I have tried to do a repair of the Operating system using an XP disk, but after waiting a very long time for the CD to get to the ‘To setup Windows XP now’ screen, it finally tells me that no disks are present.  This all sounds terminal to me, does anyone agree, or have any diagnostic procedures they feel I should try before I bin it?
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Question by:grsg
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by:dmeeren
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I Think your harddisk is defect, or not good connected. First open up the system, push all cables good in hdd and motherboard (and watch those fingers, no touching the hardware only the cables or use anti-static wristthingy). Try again, enter the BIOS with DEL, F10 or F2 (Depends on your BIOS) and see if the BIOS detects the hdd. And if possible do a hdd test in the BIOS.
And if you have a spare hdd connect the cables from your original hdd to this one and try to boot.
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by:grsg
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Hi dmeeren, I opened the PC and checked the cables as you said and it didn't make any difference.  I got in to the system setup and disks are listed there, but there's no mention of any HDD tests that can be performed.  I'll get another disk and will see if that is detected by the XP setup.
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dbrunton earned 63 total points
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This is a SATA system.  You may have to install the SATA drivers for the XP disk when the XP CD starts up to find the hard drive.

Or look at your BIOS.  There may be options to change the SATA interface to legacy or IDE or ATAPI.  If there are those options try those and try the install again.
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by:rojosho
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Hello Grsq,

I am coming in a bit late here, sorry.

By your symptom data it appears that you can boot a CD - Is this correct?
?Can you clarify this point as it is very important to know this?
?Have you tried booting something like Bart's WinPE CD < http://www.nu2.nu/pebuilder/ >?
  . This is an excellent tool for troubleshooting system related problems.  
  . If Bart's CD will boot, then you can eliminate Memory, CPU and IO Bus --> Pretty much the main components of your Mother Board are functional.

?Have you attempted going into Safe Mode?
  . You can enter Safe Mode by hitting the 'F8' key, just after you see the Sony 'splash' screen.
  . If you can get to Safe Mode, then you have a pretty good chance of salvaging your system.

Finally, base on the limited information here, I think you may have a virus and/or your Master Boot Record may be corrupted.  But we need to know what works (Listed above in my opening questions) and what does not.

Please keep us posted,

Rojosho
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by:rojosho
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Sorry, forgot to ask.

Mr Dmeeren made a very good point in that your problem could be your HDD.  Most, if not all, PCs have a LED to indicate 'disk activity'.  Generally, if you have a disk going bad, you will see this 'HDD Activity LED' on constantly; or when you are 'waiting' for something to happen, this LED will be on - is this the case with your system?

Final note: Depending on the manufacture of your HDD, each manufacture generally keeps a list of HDD tools on their support websites.  You need to be careful to use only READ ONLY tools until you recover your data.

OK Final, Final note: If you are able to boot a CD, you may want to download a disk image utility (i.e. Clonezilla < http://download.cnet.com/Clonezilla/3000-2094_4-10976672.html > to get an image of your system.  This will allow you to re image your disk, or any 'like' disk, and get back to your starting point (I call it my 'Ruby Red Slippers') - which could be very useful in troubleshooting and testing the various suggestions.

Please keep us posted,

Rojosho
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by:grsg
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Thanks to everyone who has offered help!  So far I have managed to boot the system useing Bart PE, when I use any of the file management tools no disks are listed, I've tried this twice now.  While booting the PC I just noticed some detail about RAID that I've not seen before and I noticed that it said the RAID had failed.  I was pressing keys to get in to the BIOS and this came up, can anyone tell me how I get in to the RAID setup as I may be able to provide you with useful info?  The disks are SATA and I may need the driver, but I can't find this model Sony anywhere, can someone tell me where to get a driver so I can try a rebuild?  safe mode is not available, I'm certain that the system can't see the disks for some reason.  Thanks for the suggestion re disk imaging, I'm not worried about any data on the PC I just want to see if I can rebuild it, or if it is uneconomical to repair.  I've tried disconnecting each disk in turn and trying to boot with one and the only thing I get is a message saying 'No bootable device - Insert boot disk'. I tried a different disk and get the same message.  I hope I've answered everyone questions, over to you.
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by:dmeeren
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I Don;t know your raid card, but usually it is CTRL+H (at startup). If you use raid5 you need to find out wich drive is failing, or not been seen and replace it. Then you can rebuild, but how is interely up to the kind of raidcard you are using.
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by:rojosho
rojosho earned 125 total points
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Hello Grsp,

Wow, so there is a RAID controller involved, I must have missed that part.  Pulling a disk from a RAID would explain the 'No Bootable Device... ' message that you saw.

?Can you tell us what make and model of RAID Controller that you are using?
   . Reason for asking, is once we know, then we can go to the manufacture and get the User's Guide and figure out how to get inside the configuration utility.

?Can you tell us what sort of RAID you were using?
  . RAID 0, 1, or 5 or a combination of these.

?Can you tell us the number of disk that are in the RAID set?

To get into the RAID controller's setup utiltiy, I have seen Control+H or Control+C or Control+A, but it depends on the manufacture.  Generally there is a splash screen during POST that offers an opportunity to enter the setup mode.

?Any chance of some pictures of the POST message that you saw?

Inquiring minds would like to know...

Rojosho
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by:grsg
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Hi dmeeren, CTRL+H didn't work.  I'll try finding out which raid card is in it, but I'm haiving trouble just finding this model listed, even on the Sony site.
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by:grsg
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Hi rojosho, CTRL+A,C and H didn't get me in.  At the moment I can't tell you what RAID card is in the PC, all I know is that there are two SATA disks in it.  When the PC boots there are no other messages other than the Sony splash screen.  I only saw the RAID info once and that was when I was randomly hitting keys to try and get in the setup, I must have been lucky that one time.
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by:grsg
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Thanks guys, I'm awarding the points between you as I feel that you all contributed towards the answer.  I found the RAID drivers but noticed that the XP installtion was incredibly slow, even when I finally got to install the OS both drives weren't listed.  I think I have multiple hardware problems so I'm consigning this one to the bin.  Thanks!
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by:rojosho
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Good Luck Grsq and thank you for the opportunity  :)

Live long and prosper...
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