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Computer Powers self off during OS reload

Trying to reload XP SP3 on computer (from CD boot). The computer will almost get to the Accept License screen and the machine will power off. The same will happen with a bootable USB flash drive. This computer has been off for several months (prior to this OS reload attempt). I have tried using a new memory stick, with the same results. I have kept the machine running in CMOS monitoring the voltage for 20 minutes (I powered off after the 20 minutes). I'm looking for ideas on a solution. CMOS battery, Power supply, mother board or other? Thanks in advance.

CPU - INTEL P4 3.0
RAM - 1GB (one stick) Buffalo DDR2 667
HD - WD 500GB
PS - 230Watts
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Make sure the system is compatible with the 500GB hard drive. Sometimes it will let you load the OS but when it tries to startup, it will power the system off.
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Thanks for the quick response thinkpads user. I don't think it's a over heating issue. This is happening within a couple of minutes of being powered on. The XP CD only takes a couple of minutes  to get to the licence screen. Additionally,  when I was watching the voltage, the temp. stayed in "normal ranges" and the warning didn't go off. The case is open and the CPU has a fan, the video card has a fan, the HD has 2 fans.
nuttytech thanks. Yes the HD works with the system. I'm doing a OS reload. XP SP3 was on the machine prior and that's what I'm trying to put back on the machine.
nuttytech to be more clear (I was not clear in my last post to you) this is the same HD that the system was using prior to the OS reload.
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It might be a power issue, fans are very demanding, you have four fans there. Why don't you create a linux live box on cd, for exaple a knoppix live cd and test the pc with that?

If you see that the PC works normally for one hour or so, then you are sure to have a windows problem, if the pc give anyway troubles, then you are sure that is an hardware problem.

In this way you can begin to disambiguate the problem and be able to go in one directions beyond doubts.

I'd say this is power supply. Try with another one and see if this works.
It does not take long for a CPU to overheat if the thermal compound has dried up, even if the fans are running.  Remember you said it powers off when starting from a bootable USB stick.

Now, since you are trying to do a reload, another thing that may help is to start with a CD that has FDISK or a partition manager. Make sure you delete all partitions and then make a new one to load the OS. I have my doubts about this since you say it powers off when booting from a USB stick. ... Thinkpads_User

thanks to all for your feedback. one typo from my specs. above the PS is 380 Watts.

I'll try the suggestions above and post my results. Thanks again
I would try just booting into the system bios and letting it set there for awhile.  If the system shuts down then, it is NOT an O/S issue, it is a hardware issue.  I would check to make sure the heatsink on the processor is seated correctly and that the fan for it is working.  Once that has been verified, I would then start checking the power supply for overheating issues.  The fans in it could have gone out.
Back at the beginning, slgoetze said the machine was started with a USB stick and the same thing happened. So we already know it is not an OS issue. We also have already suggested heat sink. The auther said the fans were working.

Please go back and read the whole thread. ... Thinkpads_User
No worries.  Sorry that I miss that. Does that board come with an additional fan on the board to keep the chipset cool?  If so, is that fan working correctly

you wrote to have a 380watts power supply, it is a low powered system, no wonder that it goes in protection and power off by itself with 4 fans and many other components (you should list them to give us an idea)

The airflow is very important to keep te system cool, the case must be closed, clean from dust and dust wool (normally collected with time), the thermal paste on the processor should be a thin good layer, if it is old is not unwise to remove the cpu clean very properly both surfaces from the old one and apply a new thin layer of very good thermal paste.

If you upgrade to a 450-500 watts power supply is not a bad idea too, but is not a bad idea to reduce fans and components to have a low power consuming unit, however the easiest and most sure thing to do is to upgrade the power supply.

As I wrote in my previous post, if it is not a special hardware problem (balancing the power consumption of course) the system should run without problems in which ever OS you boot it, even in the bios for example, if you want to go a little nbit more PRO have always a linux live box at hand to do this tests on a indipendent platform (it is really easy to make one, visit knoppix for example)

Let`s say that works with linux but not with windows, or does not with both.... you will have empirical facts to start rreasoning with, I do write this for this case but is very useful in general, also in other situations.

Let us know about.
Thanks again to all for the input. I'll get a new  power supply tomorrow and post my reselts. Thanks again.
380 W is  enough - i run many on a 200 W PS - but it can be dying; replacing it is the only sure way to test it
just to see if it is hardware or not, check if it boots from a live cd - and stays on  :   

you can always inspect the mobo capacitors if they are bulging or leaking
after it shuts off - can you look in the bios at the cpu temp?   this will give you an idea if it is the cpu temp
Yes, 380 w. is a good power supply, 250w. might suffice, but we just do not know anything about this mobo and components, further more there are well 4 fans.

Apart the Knoppix image there are also a lot more linux live boxes out there, Knoppix is known to be pretty universal, but not always can work, you can try also a Ubuntu live distro, but also other kind of emergency live CD.

Go visit UBCD site, download and burn the UBCD image, in this live CD you will find a lot of tools which are really useful for many sorts of tasks, including hardware and memory self diagnostic tests.

With this Live CD you will not only see if the pc stays up, but also be able to perform more specific hardware tests, this CD is a gold mine for PC maintenance and setup, keep it always at hand.

OK, I ran Ubuntu 10.04 from a CD without an issue (web surfing, network browsing, access local drvive, etc). I then tried to install XP Home on the HD (pervious CD was XP PRO SP3) just to try a different CD. The Computer turned off at the Starting Windows setup screen (the blue setup screen). This is not making sense. I guess I'm off to get a new power supply. Although that doesn't seem to make sense. I would think that if the power supply was failing, it would have powered off when I was running Ubuntu.

Exactly, if it was an hardware problem the pc would have turned off itself anyway. The BSOD (blue screen) is normally coming up for driver issues.

Does the pc have SATA or IDE drives?
Go in the Bios and set all in default SAFE mode, normally you have a menu allowing you to set all values at factory defaults, and sometimes lets you choose if must be SAFE or ENHANCED, choose safe if apllicable, otherwise just reset to defaults.

In both cases if your PC uses SATA, look trhough advanced menues in the bios and disable the SATA AHCI mode, set it to standard/safe/legacy it might be written in various ways.

Try to install windows now, it is possible that will boot.

If it does not, return to the bios and begin to disable all what is not essential, anything you can disable, but do it one piece at a time, then try to reboot from windows cd, doing so you will discover which part is causing troubles.

Once you isolated the component, you can switch on the rest again and install, once you have windows running xyou can try to install the proper driver for that component and try to enable it again.

If you still have the manual of this motherboard, some hint on special hardware might be written there.

If the problem is related to the HD controller, you can also download the driver and save it uncompressed on a floppy disk, meanwhile windows begin to boot from installation cd, you will notice an invite to press F6 in order to install third parties drivers, press it and wait, at a certain point windows will ask you to provide the 3rd party driver, choose the floppy as a source and then choose the proper driver, give OK and proceed.

I hope this suffice.
Try it and post results, so to tell us it worked or get more help.

Daxit, it was not the BSOD, it was the normal setup windows screen during a clean install.

OK, more updates. I got a new 500W power supply. No change  in results. Tried with brand new SATA 500GB HD (same size and speed as old one). No change in results. Put in a new memory stick 2GB DDR2 667. No change in results. Changed out video card. No change in results. Tried to clean install Window 2000 (just to ensure not the XP SP3 CD). Same result. Put the original video card back in and tried to install ubuntu 10.04. Ubuntu could not format the HD, but the machine didn't power itself off.
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jwquillory - reset the bios. the machine now shuts it's self down when I select boot from CD
If you want to risk it update the bios image.

Ttry booting in plain not enhanced dos with UBCD, choose ultradefensive failsafe mode, or even better create a dos boot disk from a windows 95 image and set it without config.sys and autoexec.bat, just pure old dos.

Play a bit with the machine just to make sure if won't self shut down, let it run a while.
Then update the bios using the factory tools you can download with the bios image (I assume that this is possible to updated this mobo from dos).

But first have you set all default settings in the bios? have you tried to disable AHCI? Have you tried to load third party drivers for SATA using F6 during install cd boot up.

First try this, then you can try to write an email to the mobo factory, if you get not results and no tips, or you receive tips but no results again ....., then you can risk the mobo life updating the bios. I would proceed in this way.

If clearing the bios has made the issue worse, it sounds like this could be a corrupt bios flash that has been causing the problem.  I have to agree with the steps Daxit mentioned.  After trying his steps then you can try re-flashing the bios using a floppy disk.  However I would try booting the the floppy and seeing if it stays running before actually attempting the flash.  If your motherboard supports it you may have dual bios which would be great if the system shutdown during the flash.  But be warned if the system shutdown during the flash, there is a great chance the motherboard will be no good afterwards.
Yes, absolutelly, at least for practical reasons, in fact costs much less to buy a new motherboard than to buy a newly flashed bios chip to replace the faulty one, or to remove the falty one and reflash it on a programmer.

Flashing Bios is a daunting task, most of the times goes well, but some not, and when it happens normally the board is commercially death.

THis is a pity because in reality is just a matter to reflash it correctly or substitute it if it is really broken, that chip costs little money as all the others, but for some reason commercially speaking is true the opposite, so it is expensive and difficult to recover as the stuff to do it is not widely available.

That is why dual bios motherboards are good for thse who like to tweak the bios or want to be sure to not loose it all only for one single crucial component, furthermore as always happens MOBO are given out often in beta/almost release stage, and very often the bios shows limits or errors which can be eliminated by upgrading, so a person is always tempted to flash it when new better images are available but the fear to ruin it all is great.

By the way use a UPS to flash the bios, so if your mobo is not going to make jokes, you can be sure that the power will not be cut from the source for whatever reason.

>>  the machine now shuts it's self down when I select boot from CD   <<  this caught my eye
is it an ide cd drive? (i suppose Sata) can you test the cd drive on another Sata connection then
can you test with another cd drive?
test also if you can boot from it with the disk disconnected
OK, got OS up last night and ran it for  2  hours without issue. This morning the machine would shut off with no rhyme or reason (sometimes while booting, some times while using machine {access network resources, using notepad, etc}). I'm thinking that I have a ghost in the motherboard.
Did you reflash or have to reflash the bios in order to install the O/S.  If so, and you are still have the shutdown problems, I would agree that you have a ghost on your motherboard.  Give the amount of time spent, I would recommend just getting another motherboard.  

Yes, motherboards sometimes get sick or die....
It is enough a little electrostatic discharge to turn a MOBO into a fool, many times they give strange symptoms, sometimes they directly die.

Sometimes they just do it all by themselves in other cases were ruined by electricity high peaks, humidity, insects....

The time reasoning is not to be undervalued, this motherboard will never give you a trust feeling and to buy a new one moght be the right solution, try to flash the bios as a last chance, if it goes let it run as long as it lives, otherwise just forget it.


I will be getting a new mother board. if I have time I'll try to flash the BIOS on the original mother board.
Thank you. Good luck with the new motherboard.  ... Thinkpads_User