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BIOS doesn't recognize bootable devices, XP black at login

Posted on 2014-02-17
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Last Modified: 2014-03-04
Client computer boots to XP, all users log in to a black screen with cursor. I figured it was no problem, I'd boot to another disk and fix it. However, BIOS says "not present" under all other boot options.

Issue persists when only bootable device is connected. I've tried PATA optical, SATA optical, USB optical, and USB bootable drive.

Any suggestions?
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Question by:MrComputerIT
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by:CorinTack
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Given that this is an XP machine, I'm going to work under the assumption that it's relatively old.

Have you tried moving the SATA cables to other ports on the motherboard?

Have you tried booting to this drive on another PC (same model)?

It sounds to me like a bad connection, which could be the drive (though if it's happening on multiple drives, that's unlikely) but is more likely the motherboard. It is possible that this motherboard is failing.

Can you run the Dell Diagnostics?
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by:Technodweeb
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will it boot properly in safe mode and allow you to log on?
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by:MrComputerIT
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Thanks for the response.

The SATA hard drive in question boots with no issue, it appears to be a software problem preventing the profile from loading when the users log in. I've seen this from viruses before.

It's ANY other attempt to boot to ANY other device has failed.

It is an old machine. I've tried multiple different SATA and PATA ports on each device and different power supply connections (though there were no power inconsistencies.)

USB boot is enabled, but That doesn't work either. That's keeping me from assuming bad motherboard. I'm certain those USB ports work.
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by:MrComputerIT
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Same issue in Safe Mode
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by:CorinTack
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Are you able to boot to the Dell diagnostics and see if there's any hardware issues showing up?

Presuming you're correct and it's not the motherboard, it could also be a power supply issue. If the PS is for some reason suddenly not able to provide enough (or the right amount of) power, the other devices may be failing due to sporadic or low power.

It could be that the Windows installation has a problem, AND there is some sort of hardware issue, which would be bad timing but certainly not the only time that's happened.
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by:Scott Thompson
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What is the model of the computer?  A lot of the older systems had USB booting, but a BIOS update was needed to make it work properly, especially with 2.0 devices.
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by:MrComputerIT
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It's a Demension 4700

I'm assuming it's two separate issues. I'm primarily concerned with fixing the inability to boot from other devices. BIOS has the option for a USB Drive in the boot sequence, so I'd assumed it was an option.
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by:Scott Thompson
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Update to the latest BIOS.

Version A09 actually might help your situation.

"The following changes have been made to BIOS rev A08 to create A09:

1.  Updated USB device initialization during POST."

http://www.dell.com/support/drivers/us/en/04/DriverDetails/Product/dimension-4700?driverId=R115122&osCode=WW1&fileId=2731111125&languageCode=en&categoryId=BI
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noxcho earned 500 total points
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First of all - does this system show the Boot Menu with usb drive connected at startup? Some F key is bound to this menu.
Second, have you checked if the PATA cable is ok? I had soo much problems with IDE cables and boot failures which were fixed by replacement of the IDE cable only.
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by:MrComputerIT
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Not sure how I'd update the BIOS in this situation...

The F12 menu brings up boot sequence. The options are "system setup" (BIOS) "Diagnostics" "SATA hard drive"

Diagnostics show no issues.
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by:MrComputerIT
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It can't be (just) a bad IDE cable, because I tried a SATA optical drive too.
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by:noxcho
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Ok, what exact device are you expecting it to boot from? USB stick? Or External Cd-rom?
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by:Scott Thompson
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The BIOS should update through Windows, but I haven't personally checked the file...
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by:noxcho
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Updating BIOS through Windows is a feature for newer motherboards. Old ones did through diskette.
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by:MrComputerIT
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I've tried booting to both a USB optical drive and a bootable USB stick.
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by:noxcho
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What is the default boot order in BIOS?
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by:nobus
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i suggest to disconnect alll disk drives, and other devices from the sata and ide ports - leave only the cd drive you want to boot from connected.
then verify the boot order in the bios, and set this device as first
does it boot now? (another device can block the boot)
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by:MrComputerIT
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I did try disconnecting all SATA, IDE, and USB connections when I was troubleshooting.

I resolved the clients original issue, so I was never really able to figure out entirely what was going on. Here is what I do know.

1) There was a bad IDE cable AND the original optical drive was bad. That caused me some confusion.
2) I finally got the USB drive to boot, not sure what changed though.
3) I was never able to and I still don't know why I could not boot with a different SATA device, especially considering I used the same port and cable the hard drive WAS using.

Thanks for all your help!


Fixed the issue
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