Dell Dimension 8100 Troubleshooting Assistance

By Dead Dell Dan
Jan 31, 2005
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  1. Could someone more in the know that I help me troubleshoot a critical problem with my Dell Dimension 8100? I'm trying to figure out whether my problem is likely a failed hard drive or something more serious.

    Problem: The machine failed to boot when I powered it up yesterday. The Dell startup routine displays as ususal, but Windows XP does not load. I just get a blank, black screen with the cursor blinking in the upper left corner.

    What I've tried: (1) I made a Windows XP boot disk, put it in my internal floppy drive, and turned the machine on. It boots to an A-prompt showing the machine recognizes the A drive. When I attempt to access the hard drive by entering C: I get "invalid drive specification." I get the same result when I try to access the CD-R/W and DVD devices. However, when I power up the machine I do get LED displays on the CD-R/W and DVD devices. (2) I have gone into the setup menu, set the boot sequence to boot from the CD-R/W drive, and placed a bootable CD in the drive. The machine does ot boot. (3) I have removed the cover, turned on the machine, and touched the hard drive to check for vibration. No vibration.

    I am concerned about the "invalid drive specification" messages above when I try to access the hard drive and CD-R/W and DVD drives. Does that suggest something other than a hard drive failure?

    Anyone out there want to hazard a guess as to what my problem is?
  2. ikenfixit.com

    ikenfixit.com Newcomer, in training Posts: 16

    Hdd

    Easy thing to try first is to pull the Hdd and see if it will boot from Cd/rom.. If not try the other way.. Unhook A:/ Try to boot. Unhook D:/ (cd) try to boot.. let us know but its probably the hard drive failed.
  3. Dead Dell Dan

    Dead Dell Dan Newcomer, in training Topic Starter

    Thanks and Follow-Up

    Thanks for the suggestion.

    Would you expect physically unhooking the drives to give a different result than disabling them in the boot sequence? I have attempted to boot from the cd-rom after disabling the floppy and the hard drives in the boot sequence.

    Does it make sense to you that I would be unable to access the cd-rom drive if the hard drive is dead?
  4. ikenfixit.com

    ikenfixit.com Newcomer, in training Posts: 16

    Controller

    This is a long shot but perhaps the hdd is shorted and its dragging the controller chip to an inop state. By unhooking the hard drive I would guess it would allow for boot from CD drive. Process of elimination is a basic starting point and if none of these work then you look for more complicated issues. The fact the hard drive and CD drive both quit simultaneously makes me believe on or the other is causing both issues. They, after all use the same controller on seperate channels.
  5. Dead Dell Dan

    Dead Dell Dan Newcomer, in training Topic Starter

    Progress Report

    Thanks again for your help, ikenfixit.

    I followed your long-shot advice and went through the process of elimination. I was not able to isolate the problem, but it was nonetheless a worthwhile exercise.

    Once I unplugged the hard drive, I realized the machine ran quieter, and I got a startup message that the main hard drive could not be found. I think that means the hard drive was at least spinning and the computer knew to look for it. With the hard drive disconnected, I was still unable to boot the machine from the cd-rom and vice versa. The only way to get any access to the machine is through the internal floppy, and then all I get is a directory of the boot disk in the drive.

    Geek Squad says they will troubleshoot the computer, diagnose the problem, and quote repair costs for a flat charge of $60. That seems pretty reasonable to me. It's probably worth making that investment to find out whether I'm better off fixing or replacing the machine.
  6. ih8winvista

    ih8winvista Newcomer, in training

    hey anybody wanna help me i have a dell deminsion 8100 and i turn it on and i get the dell load screen but after it loads i just a constant beeping from the mother board ive tried everything and am resorting to reformating the harddrive through ms-dos boot diskette please help thanks sorry to change the subject but i thought this would be easier thanks alot
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