How to know if a system is 32 or 64 bit - can't boot up.

nickg5
nickg5 used Ask the Experts™
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We can not get an old Dell system to bootup. Some on screen message saying press the power button or mouse or any key on the keyboard. Nothing.
We need to know if this system is 32 bit or 64 bit.

It's Windows XP Pro
product key: <removed by leew>
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IT Product Manager
Top Expert 2009
Commented:
Highly likely it is 32bit because Windows XP 64bit was a seldom installation. You can boot the system from any linux distributive LiveCD and check there C: drive directory. If it has only Program Files x86 then it is a 32bit system.
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process Advisor
Most Valuable Expert 2013
Commented:
If it has only Program Files x86 then it is a 32bit system.

I'm sure you know this - I think what you meant was - if it has ONLY a Program Files folder, then it's a 32 bit system.  64 bit systems have both a Program Files and Program Files (x86) folder.  If it's 32 bit, there is no (x86) folder.
noxchoIT Product Manager
Top Expert 2009

Commented:
Yes, right, typed that name automatically.
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It won't boot up.
Model Dell - DCTR
serial number: J754801
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process Advisor
Most Valuable Expert 2013

Commented:
Never heard of a model "DCTR" and the serial number (which should be the service tag) doesn't exist on Dell's systems.  Which means you either posted the wrong information or the system is so old Dell no longer has a record.

It might help to post a picture of the screen.  But it's possible there's something wrong with the hardware if it's that old.
manufacture date 2007
Nick SitarSenior IT Consultant
Commented:
If the system is from 2007, there is a 90% chance the system is 32bit.  How much RAM is installed in the system?  If no more than 4GB is in there, chances are even higher that it is only 32bit windows.  Although having more than 4GB does not guarantee the OS was 64-bit, seen plenty of systems where more ram was added but never utilized because it only had 32 bit.
Nick SitarSenior IT Consultant

Commented:
Also, when you say it wont boot up, do you mean it wont even power on and POST at all?  No dell screen, nothing?  Or it just wont boot windows?  Noxcho meant to download a linux live boot disk that would load directly from the CD/USB key and get you into an OS that could look at the drive for you.  

Just out of curiosity, why does it matter if it is 32 or 64 bit?
Distinguished Expert 2017
Commented:
A correction to leew's post
If there is only, program files on the c: drive, than the system is 32bit
If there are program files and program files(x86) than it is a 64 bit system.
I think Lee's started on the path of a negative test, but reverted to a positive.
I.e. If there is no program files (x86) than it is a 32 bit system


The simple way is to check what the system is, service tag will tell you the capability.

While rare, some Dell workstations came with XP 64 bit.
Powers on. Split second view of Dell logo, then the green monitor power button turns orange. Pressing some monitor button gets a message to press the power button, or move the mouse or click on any key. Nothing. Blank monitor screen.
The system came as one: A support stand with handle and the small form system had it's own Dell monitor and mouse and keyboard.

I can not access control panel, bios, nothing.

Why does it matter? Someone wants to use it for a 32 bit program. They wish to buy it from us.
Nick SitarSenior IT Consultant

Commented:
Ok, so it is possible that the PC is posting, but failing at loading Windows, which is why your monitor goes to sleep.  THe messages you see on the screen are generated by the screen itself, not the PC.

I do not remember off the top of my head, but there is a key you can press to get the Dell bios to load when you power it on.  It sounds like you only have a very short time to hit that key before it starts to load windows.  It may also seem like a short time because the monitor takes too long to actually power up and show the image, rather than the PC going so fast you cannot see what it is doing.

Even if Windows is 64 Bit, it will run 32 bit programs.  It does not work the other way around, but in your case that does not matter.
Brian BEE Topic Advisor, Independant Technology Professional

Commented:
Truth be told, if someone is buying it from you, you should wipe the hard drive, or sell the system without a drive.
Nick SitarSenior IT Consultant

Commented:
Try turning off the PC, then power it up while pressing the DEL key as fast as you can, this might get you into the BIOS.  If DEL does not work, try F2.
Scott SilvaNetwork Administrator

Commented:
If you can't even get to the bios screen I am going to assume it is toast, and not worth fixing unless it had data you absolutely wanted...
noxchoIT Product Manager
Top Expert 2009

Commented:
Remove the HDD - backup it if you need it and then wipe it. That's it. There is no need to know what system on it.
Nolan MasonIT Professional

Commented:
It may boot up if you clear the CMOS with a jumper on the motherboard.  It should be near the coin battery.
Try with only one stick of RAM (if it has two or more).
Try with a different video card or remove the video card and try onboard video (if applicable).
Try a different power supply.

2007?  Unless this is a very unusual circumstance, I can't imagine that it's worth going further if none of this works.
Top Expert 2016
Commented:
Regulatory Model (Ultra Small Form Factor): DCTR

A computer with a 64 bit cpu will run x86 (32 bit) with no problem
A computer with a 32 bit cpu will NOT run x64 (64 bit)

boot using a linux distro usb/dvd/cd to check functionality
Distinguished Expert 2017

Commented:
The system fails a test, power button goes from green to amber/orange.
Power button straight to orange, power supply issue.
Does the thing have a b c d lights on the front of the computer? what do they reflect?


The good state, all should be lit up
a b c d.

If you do not have these on the outside, see if you have leds for trouble shooting on the inside.

see whether the power button when it turns amber blinks in a pattern.

You could open, reseat the memory, and ...other components.
and try again.
arnold: The system fails a test, power button goes from green to amber/orange.

Typo it is the monitor power on button that goes green to amber and on screen message suggest moving the mouse, hit any keyboard key, or press computer power button. Those efforts get nothing on the monitor screen.
Top Expert 2016

Commented:
we don't care about the monitor (that's just the monitor standby to active) just the unit.. does it stay powered on.. are the fan spinning? have you tried the f2 options? start pressing the f2 key repeatedly and power on the unit
Thanks.
we don't care about the monitor (that's just the monitor standby to active) just the unit.. does it stay powered on..
.......... yes

are the fan spinning?
...........yes

have you tried the f2 options? start pressing the f2 key repeatedly and power on the unit
..........this system was an all in one. Dell keyboard, mouse, monitor. We have tried F2 with a HP keyboard and no luck.

The system is not booting to the desktop so we can get to the control panel. The sale price is $20 so it's junk but maybe parts for someone. Whatever is on the HDD is from the previous owner not me. I was given the system to sell for parts. Someone asked if it was a 32 bit O/S and I did not know the answer.
Distinguished Expert 2017

Commented:
depending on the model, there are troubleshooting LEDS on the front, or inside, or the power led will blink in a pattern to indeicate what the failure it detected.

At times it also has a built-in speaker that should beep.
Scott SilvaNetwork Administrator

Commented:
Usually the only systems that had 64 bit XP were workstation type boxes used in things like CAD or rendering...
Assumption:  J754801 is the Service Tag and accurate
Dimension 4100 circa 2000

The Intel 815E chipset does not support 64-bit CPU

The reported symptoms may indicate

1) failed RAM.
Remove all RAM.  Power on.  If analysis is correct, you will see a POST generated message on screen.
PC133 SDRAM, two slots, 512MB (2x256) max, probably delivered with a single 128MB stick.

Service Manual of Limited Usefulness:
https://downloads.dell.com/manuals/all-products/esuprt_desktop/esuprt_dimension_desktops/dimension-4100_service%20manual_en-us.pdf

Detailed resurrection forum post:
https://ancientelectronics.wordpress.com/2016/10/14/dell-dimension-4100/
Author reports successful install of 2x512MB PC133 SDRAM

If the device is correctly identified, dispose of this machine in accordance with local regulations.  Or, tell the buyer 32-bit, take the money and run.

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