Diagnosing Hardware without Operating System Present?

By Route44
Jun 10, 2015
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  1. Edited Update: Since I never have owned a Dell or ever worked on one I was not aware of their built-in partition for hard ware diagnostics. As the system boot ups up just keep tapping F12. it ran all tests and everything passed -- except the Western Digital hard drive. It failed both the Short and Long DST. Now for the joy of putting in a new drive in system that is about the size of my car's glove compartment. :/

    Can this be done? Here is the issue: My sister brought me her Dell Inspiron streamline 660S (manufactured 2012) and told me that her operating system has totally disappeared. Dell told her it was due to a virus and that the hard drive was probably damaged and she needed a new one. Her company's IT department did a diagnostics and said the operating system was not present.

    When I started the computer up, it went to a blue screen and said there was an error with nostkrnl.exe (parts corrupt or missing) and error 0x0000185 which is a very serious issue.

    It gave me 3 options:

    Enter to try again
    F8 to enter set-up
    Esc for UEFI Firmware.

    The first is a no go and the F8 is also not possible. Under the UEFI the system's BIOS is keeping the date and time correct but nothing else can be done.

    The system was installed with Windows 8 and was a gift from her fiance. There was no Windows installation disk that came with it but she will be sending me the disc with drivers and utilities.

    6 months ago she updated to Windows 8.1 and had no issues until 3 weeks ago. So...

    1. Its a possibility a virus/trojan corrupted the OS.
    2. A recent Windows update might have caused the problem.
    2. Its a strong possibility that the hard drive crashed but I don't know for sure.

    So as my subject line has asked is there a way to diagnose this system, particularly, the hard drive in any way? Can I do it via Linux and if so what distro and any tutorials you can direct me to so I can see how it is done?

    Last edited: Jun 10, 2015
  2. Tmagic650

    Tmagic650 TS Ambassador Posts: 17,233   +234

    This is a bit confusing... You know that the original hard drive is bad, right? Can you replace it and install Windows fresh?
  3. Route44

    Route44 TechSpot Ambassador Topic Starter Posts: 11,966   +70

    My bad: I should have put the Edited Update at the close rather than the beginning because that info came hours after I originally posted. I was trying to prevent people from reading through the rest; obviously my intention failed... :eek:

    Anyway, the hard drive is toast. After a few hoops to jump through I could replace the hard drive and install a fresh copy of Windows. The issue is the system is 3 years old and it is running a 35 watt Celeron G465 @ 1.90 GHz and has 2 gigs of DDR3-1600 RAM installed. I could add another 2 gigs of RAM as well but that cpu is slow. She even said how slow it was doing simple tasks. I could swap out the cpu for a Sandy Bridge i3 or even a Pentium dual-core but now we are getting into serious upgrade money.

    In addition the power supply maxes at 220 watts.

    I've been also researching pre-built systems for her.

    Here is her motherboard and it surprised me the options it has:
  4. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 9,156   +598

    "Celeron G465 @ 1.90 GHz and has 2 gigs of DDR3-1600 RAM" + limited PSU??
    IMO, give up. If it were grandma and used strictly for email, love makes us do crazy things,
    but Sis will need something to carry her beyond next week, so - -

    budget for a new system - - be sure to review and for a cheap purchase.
  5. Tmagic650

    Tmagic650 TS Ambassador Posts: 17,233   +234

    Yes Dell and other manufacturers put cheap minimal components in their computers. You can buy re-manufactured PC's at Wal-Mart and EBay very cheaply. This may be a better option for you
  6. Route44

    Route44 TechSpot Ambassador Topic Starter Posts: 11,966   +70

    Actually the hard drive was a Western Digital Caviar Blue. Then again 3 years seems about right for average length of time for the Blue series.
  7. Tmagic650

    Tmagic650 TS Ambassador Posts: 17,233   +234

    Yes Route44 the green series is worse:)
  8. Route44

    Route44 TechSpot Ambassador Topic Starter Posts: 11,966   +70

    Ah the Green series... O_O Anyway, I should have listed what she does with her computer: Online banking, email, and Facebook. She'll also peruse the internet and check out Amazon, eBay, and Groupon. If need be she accesses her work's servers and work from home. Other than that nothing else. She never games and does not stream any videos.

    She approaches her PC in a utilitarian fashion.: It's a tool for certain needs and nothing more.

    By the way, I also have been looking at prebuilts and DIY PC combos at Newegg
  9. Tmagic650

    Tmagic650 TS Ambassador Posts: 17,233   +234

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