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Dell Inspiron 2350 Randomly Rebooting

Posted on 2011-02-14
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Last Modified: 2012-05-11
A client's custom-built computer recently died on him so he decided he wanted to remove the HDD and install it on an older retired system (Dell Dimension 2350). However the drive is a SATA and the old system only had IDE connectors. So I purchased a Bytecc model BT-PCI-SATA150 card. When I installed this adapter card in the Dimension & upraded the BIOS, the PC booted right into Ubuntu Linux and seemed to be working just fine.

However, client is now reporting that computer randomly reboots. There doesn't seem to be any pattern to this rebooting.
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Question by:anuneznyc
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by:JAN PAKULA
JAN PAKULA earned 57 total points
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1check pu - bigger hdd - you need more juice
2 try to install old hdd - see if system is more stable
3 check heatsink + no dust on fan
4 memtest 86
If non of above check with electric meter if system getting right voltage on mobo components

jan
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by:sjklein42
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Add another vote for the power supply.
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by:anuneznyc
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Hadn't thought of flakey power supply being the cause of this. Do SATA drives require more power than IDE drives? Actually don't have original IDE HDD to test w/ b/c it died a while back.

I don't believe this is an overheating issue b/c when it reboots, the user can then continue to use it for up to 2 hours before it reboots again. If this was an overheating problem, then it would be rebooting much more regularly, no?
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by:sjklein42
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I've had systems that will not reboot until they have to work hard (run a CPU or IO intensive program).

The system is not necessarily overheating.  The power supply may be marginal.  The capacitors can go after a while.

Other than that, it could be anything.  But I'd swap power supplies before trying anything else.
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by:edbedb
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It's not the memory or overheating, this is not a normal symptom for either of these.

Most often it's the power supply. So another vote for the PSU.
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by:tkidwell447
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Most of the time when there is a Power Supply issue, the computer will simply turn off, not just a reboot. Although it wouldn't hurt to test it with a power supply tester.  Computer reboots are generally an issue with Operating System, drivers, or installed software.

In this case, I am going to point my finger at the OS or drivers because when you take a hard drive that has an OS installed on one computer and then switch it to a completely different computer, half the time the OS wont even boot.  

My suggestion would be to test the power supply and if that comes out good, I would then backup the users data and re-install the OS.
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by:anuneznyc
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OK. Thanks Guys. Well, that's an easy thing to try. Assuming the power supply from his custom-built PC  is the same form factor, I should just be able to pull that one out and install it into the Dell Dimension to test this hypothesis out. Hopefully I can get out to this client on Tuesday.
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by:anuneznyc
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That's a valid point, tkidwell447. I was also thinking of doing a complete wipe & reinstall of Ubuntu Linux which would ensure that all the Linux hardware detection would take place and the optimum drivers would be loaded for every hardware component. However, that's a fairly time-intensive project, so I think I will try swapping the power supply first. Thanks.
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by:edbedb
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This is almost certainly being caused by bad hardware. IF so, wiping and re-installing the OS is not likely to help.
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by:nobus
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not sure, but did linux load drivers for the new pc devices??  that can be the cause
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by:anuneznyc
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I don't know if it did or not. I'm not very familiar with Ubuntu, so I don't know if it dynamically checks whether the drivers match the hardware or if this is only done in the initial installation?
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by:nobus
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for the power supply, you can always calculate the power you need  :
http://www.extreme.outervision.com/psucalculatorlite.jsp

note also that power supply output decreases over the years...or turns simply bad
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by:anuneznyc
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I'm sorry to say that I put in another power supply today and the lockups/reboots are still happening.

I'm starting to think this may be an issue w/ the RAM. Gonna try swapping in new RAM.
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tkidwell447 earned 138 total points
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Good to know that the Power Supply tested OK.
From here, yes you can start testing other hardware, but you will be replacing one piece and then waiting two hours to see if it reboots.  

At this point, we need to figure out whether this is a hardware or a software problem.  

To find out if it is a problem with the OS:
     * Backup the data, wipe and reload the OS (best option especially if OS is what is bad)
(or)
     * Remove the current hard drive, install a new one and install the OS (fastest way to detect if OS is not bad, but also removes the hard drive from being the possible bad part)

For the hardware side:
    * The entire problem might just be that using a PCI card to support that SATA hard drive in an old retired Dell may not be the most stable solution.
    * Last thing I would do would be to replace one part at a time and wait two hours to see if it reboots

If I were you, I would just backup the data, wipe and reload the OS.  If this fixes it, great.  If not, then simply use a different computer and if possible, one with SATA ports.



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by:nobus
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you don't have to wipe anything for showing if the problem is hard or soft
download Knoppix live cd, and boot from it -  if that runs well, the problem is clearly soft, and if the reboots happen, it is hard.  be sure to exercise it (internet, disk operations etc.. for at least 2x the minimum time between reboots
ftp://ftp.kernel.org/pub/dist/knoppix/KNOPPIX_V6.4.4CD-2011-01-30-EN.iso  

or - just install a NEW disk, with os and apllications to test
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by:tkidwell447
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Good idea Nobus.
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by:anuneznyc
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Running off the Live CD seemed to work well enough. But then installing both Ubuntu 9.10 & 10.10 failed, so it does seem like there is a HW problem here. Mostly likely the HDD since that is the one component irrelevant to the live CD.

Going to either replace the HDD or just buy a whole new system unit.
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by:nobus
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note that it can be the disk controller (on mobo) too..
did you try to exercise the disk from the live cd?  try copy/paste
and to be sure about the disk -  run diag on it - all are found on ubcd  : http://www.ultimatebootcd.com/      
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by:anuneznyc
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Specifically which disk diagnostic program on UBCD?
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by:nobus
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the one for your disk brand
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by:anuneznyc
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Sorry for the long absence. In the end client found a very good deal on a 2nd-hand HP computer so we just gave up on the Inspiron 2350. I will close out now.
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