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Hard drive will not start

By Paulie Wallie
Nov 10, 2011
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  1. Help is needed. My emachine (5Years old) with Windows SP was running (with husband working on it). The machine shut itself down (screen went dark) and powered itself off. All went dark and we have not been able to turn it on since. We have checked all of the connections and they seem fine. We took it to a computer store and they said that the hard drive was BLANK. That this may be caused by Heat or Static. I have searched on-line but can fine nothing to verify this Heat or Static statment. I really would like to fix this machine but am at a loss so any guidance would help.
     
  2. Mark56

    Mark56 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,889

    This sounds like a power supply failure. As to why the hard drive is blank is a bit of a mystery but that should not stop it from trying to boot. When you say Windows SP I assume you mean XP.

    Is there no sign of anything lighting up, fans spining or anything when you press the power button?
     
  3. Paulie Wallie

    Paulie Wallie TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Mark 56. First off thanks for trying to assist me. Yes SP is really XP sorry for the fat fingers. Regarding the power situation. When I have everything plugged in (Printer, Monitor and Computer) to the electrical source, (which I have on a power strip) the printer and monitor and computer all have electric running to them. Power Lights and fans come on and I can send print jobs from my laptop with no problem through the router. I am able to plug my monitor into my laptop and it works fine. I also tried pluging the computer into the wall outlet with no change to the results lights and fans run but the system will not start up. I opened the box on the computer and watched the fans run. They seem to be running at higher than normal speed like when you first turn on the computer but they no longer slow down like they did before. The CD/DVD slot opens the power light is light and the light that I belive shows that the hard drive is working flashes Yellow twice and then goes out. Any other info that might help let me know I will be glad to supply any details needed. Thanks again for trying to help me out.
     
  4. Mark56

    Mark56 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,889

    Ok, so just to clarify the picture I am getting, when you first hit the power button on the PC it all seems to start up, does anything appear on the screen?
     
  5. Paulie Wallie

    Paulie Wallie TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Mark 56. No the screen is blank and I can not hear the hard drive running.
     
  6. Mark56

    Mark56 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,889

    Har drives are generaly fairly quiet and drowned out by the noise of the fans. The completely blank screen would indicate that the graphics have failed, although other causes are possible. Even with a dead hard drive you should still see the POST screen appear.

    Does the PC use a graphics card or is the monitor connected directly to the motherboard.

    What is the model number of the PC?
     
  7. dmtcm

    dmtcm TS Rookie

    Are there any beeps from the computer when you turn it on?
    A 5 year old computer, could be bad RAM chips?
    Fans staying on high, no BIOS activity or bad CPU?
    I'm also interested to know how the monitor is connected to the computer. Either a seperate video card or directly to the motherboard? If the monitor is connected to the motherboard, there will be a pinned connector that is blue in color within the same section as the usb ports and the sound plugins. If it's a video card, the connection will be by itself in one of the expansion slot areas. There may be some metal plates about 4 inches long above or below it. The connector is also blue but there can be a longer white connector next to it.
    Sounds like the BIOS is trying to work with the harddrive coming on and the cd/dvd drive. Blank harddrive is confusing. Virus or failed drive?
    How much dust was built up on the CPU cooling fan and the power supply fan?
    I don't care how much you clean your house, these things are magnets for dust! :)
    Too much causes overheat problems. I clean mine weekly. It's amazing what gets inside these things.
     
  8. Paulie Wallie

    Paulie Wallie TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Model number: Desk Top PC emachine T6532. Nothing comes up on the monitor (not sure what you mean by a Post Screen). Sorry I am not sure about the Graphics Card question. Will have to figure out how to research this one before I can answer you. But will try. The Monitor is plugged into the Tower/Box by a cable that has a Blue end with a 15 Pin plug (hope this helps) Sorry to say that there are NO BEEPS when I power up the computer. Regarding the dust there was some that was on the edges of the fan and in the bottom of the box but not what I would call a lot. I looked at the other parts that are inside and did not see any dust that was attached to them. I blew on the fans and dusted them with a mini paint brush to clean them. Then manually blew the dust out of the box. There was some buildup on the vent areas but again not much. A few months ago we were having some problems with the monitor turing light pink then light blue in the background. We still had a warranty on the monitor so we got that swapped out and the light pink and blue problem went away. However in talking to some folks they thought that the problem was not the monitor but the Video Card (sorry I am not sure what that looks like). We do have Norton on the machine for Virus protection so I hope it is not that.
     
  9. Paulie Wallie

    Paulie Wallie TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Hard Drive will not start.

    I looked on the machine and it says on the front of it. Video nvidia GE Force 6100 GPU with avaliable PCI-Express Slot. When I googled how to replace the video card for this model it says video card is integrated into the computer's motherboard, so if the video goes out, the options are to either replace the entire motherboard or add a video card to the PCI Express slot.

    As I am not a Technical Person I would be afraid to replace the Mother Board (I guess that is the big circut board that is at the back of the box). I could add a video card but how do I know what is compatiable? Are these expensive?
     
  10. Mark56

    Mark56 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,889

    From what you are telling me the monitor is running from a GPU that is integrated into the motherboard.

    I would be inclined to first try and borrow a graphics card but not from a high end gaming machine or it may overload your PSU (power supply). A basic graphics card should not cost too much if you need to buy one and if the only problem on the motherboard is a failed GPU then a stand alone graphics card should get you up and running again.
     
  11. Paulie Wallie

    Paulie Wallie TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Sorry to say nowhere to borrow a Graphics Card from, so I will have to buy one. Once I purchase it, hopefully they will be able to guide me on where to install it. As I really don't have a clue. Then if that (graphics card) was the problem should the system just start up like it did in the past? Or will I have to re-install things. As you can tell I am not Technical in the least and this is really a project beyond my scope but I am trying because I really don't have a few hundred bucks to hand over so someone can tell me the machine is dead and I should replace it.
    Again thanks for your help.
     
  12. Mark56

    Mark56 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,889

    This small guide may help a bit: http://www.buy-a-new-computer.com/computer-ports/

    The section regarding the lower part at the back of the tower shows the slots where various PCI cards are fitted. You have to remove the small strip of metal that is used to blank each slot. Inside the PC there will be a PCIe slot that the card pushes into.

    You need to get a general purpose low end graphics card, you only need the high end cards if you are playing games in order to get the high resolutions required for them to work.

    Once the card is fitted you should see a screen image the moment you turn the PC on. You will then have to install a driver for the card which should be supplied on a CD with the card.

    Fingers crossed this does the trick. See if you can arrange to return the card if it doesn't cure the problem. You could even try asking at a computer repair shop if they have an old one that you could use just for testing.
     
  13. Paulie Wallie

    Paulie Wallie TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Thanks I will see how this works out. I really appreciate all of your time and assistance. Will let you know the results.
     
  14. Mark56

    Mark56 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,889

    I have just checked the specifications of your PC and you should take note when buying the card that you need to ask for a PCI Express x16. There are others with a different number but they will not fit in the slot you have which is only for a x16.
     
  15. Paulie Wallie

    Paulie Wallie TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Thanks for the information I will shop accordingly and let you know the results.
     
  16. dmtcm

    dmtcm TS Rookie

    I'm curious if the power light is coming on when you try to start the computer. You say you don't here the hard drive running. Is there ANY lights at all coming on when you turn it on?
    You say the computer shut itself down. Did it use the normal Windows shut down or did it just shut down like the power in your house went out?
     
  17. Paulie Wallie

    Paulie Wallie TS Rookie Topic Starter

    All of the power lights come on just like they should except once the hard drive lights flash twice in yellow then that light stays off. The computer just shut off like the power in the house when out. I am waiting for a Video/Graphics card and am hoping that this will fix the problem Time will tell.
     
  18. dmtcm

    dmtcm TS Rookie

    How many RAM chips do you have plugged into the motherboard? They are the thin boards held in by a white plastic lock on each end.
    If you have more than 1, remove them by flipping the lock until they unlock from the port and remove them. Then try installing 1 only and try starting the computer and see what happens. If it is the same,remove the one you installed and try the other.
    If you can get the monitor to come up, then we'll go from there.
    I'll be watching this post and will get back to you as soon as possible.
     
  19. Paulie Wallie

    Paulie Wallie TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Well I only have two. Thanks for telling me what I was looking for. I took each of them out and tried to start the computer with only one and then only the other. Situation did not change. Got nothing on the monitor.
     
  20. dmtcm

    dmtcm TS Rookie

    Going by what you have told us, I'm retracing the steps here.
    You said the power comes on and the hard drive light flashes but nothing else happens.
    You hear no 'beep' when the computer is turned on.
    The monitor stays dark and the power light is on or at least in the standby mode. Normally the power light on the monitor is orange in color when it is in stand by mode and green when it is turned on.
    Removing the RAM chips and trying them one at a time had no change.

    Now for the possibilities.
    1. The video chip on the motherboard is bad or has come loose from the motherboard causing it not to function. It is possible that if it has come loose from the motherboard that even putting another video card in the computer will not make the monitor come on for certain reasons.
    2. The power supply has lost part of its voltage output. The power supply makes several different voltages depending on the part of the computer it has to supply power to.
    3. Both RAM chips are bad. (doubtful)
    4. The BIOS is messed up. This is the part of the motherboard that checks the functions of the components and verifies that they are ready to operate. Generally you will hear a single 'beep' denoting that all functions are normal. (also doubtful).
    5. The motherboard had a voltage 'spike' and some components are damaged.
    Generally, if you look at the little silver or black 'cans' that are soldered to the motherboard, the tops of them will be swelled up like a muffin. They are the bad ones and will need to be replaced. These are called 'capacitors'. They are like little storage batteries that help certain parts of the motherboard to operate.
    6. As said before, even if the hard drive was bad, the computer would still show the 'post' screen. This is the first thing you see when you turn the computer on and it has your computer name on the screen. It also gives you certain options as in saying to press F1 for setup or ect..

    Moving on to more things to try while you are waiting on the video card.
    If you have a friend that has a computer who will let you try something,this is something to look at. Remove the hard drive from your computer and install it in their computer.If your hard drive is the same as theirs, you should have no problem figuring out how it hooks up. If it's a little different, you can ask for help or try to figure it out. Don't remove their hard drive, You will need it to load windows.
    What you're looking for after you get the hard drive installed in the other computer is to look to see if anything is installed on your hard drive. This will be done the same as looking at a flash drive(usb stick) under the 'My Computer' icon either on the desktop or in the 'start' button at the bottom left of the screen. If you can read anything on the drive, then the drive is okay. Oh, try not to bang the hard drive around or drop it. They don't like that much,lol.
    I'm gonna ask this because I ran into this before. Were you trying to restore the computer at the time it quit working? Reason is, if you were, the hard drive will read empty if you don't look for the hidden section of the hard drive where the recovery files are hidden. If you did not get any discs to restore the computer, they are on the hard drive on what is called a 'hidden partition'. I have actually ran into this a few times. People think something is wrong such as a virus because the computer is not acting right so they go for the full restore in hopes everything will go away. Sometimes this is true, sometimes not.
    Going back to what I had said earlier about the video card in 1 above.
    If the video chip has become unsoldered from the motherboard due to an overheat condition (which Nvidia chips can do) the computer may not be able to finish the POST test to start the system and default out. If the diagnosis is the video chip,it can be repaired at a shop.
    You can try unplugging the hard drive and the cd/dvd drive from the motherboard.
    Then try to restart the computer and see what happens.
    On a rare occasion, if the battery on the motherboard goes bad, the computer will not POST. It is normally a CR2032 battery that you can purchase at any Radio Shack or such. If you had no problems with the computer retaining the proper time on the clock while the computer has been turned off for awhile, more than likely the battery is okay.
    Sorry for the long post here. My mind went wandering! :)
     
  21. Paulie Wallie

    Paulie Wallie TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Well you have come accross with some thing for me to do. So while I wait for the video card I will try this stuff out and see what happens and report back on my findings. Thanks again for the info and ideas.
     
  22. Paulie Wallie

    Paulie Wallie TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Hard Drive will not start.

    Well just wanted to say thanks to those of you that tried to assist me. I have determined that I have several resistors that are fried (bulged at the end) so I think my best bet is to replace the machine. If you read this and think I can still salvage the machine please let me know. I really don't have the bucks to replace it now and would like to salvage her but alas it this is not possiable then I will bite the bullet and do without for a while. Looking forward to your replys. PS the video card did not help the situation.
     
  23. Mark56

    Mark56 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,889

    That is a shame the graphics card did not resolve the problem, that is why I always suggest borrowing one before spending money on replacement parts.

    As you can see damaged components on the motherboard then a replacement board would be the best approach as other components may also be damaged, although not obvious to the naked eye. Low end motherboards are not that expensive, you might be able to get one that your existing CPU and all other components will be compatible with. You might even be able to get the same board again. What is written on the motherboard?
     
  24. Paulie Wallie

    Paulie Wallie TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Not sure about what is written on the Mother board. I can see N1996 But I think that changing this is WAY BEYOND my technical abilities. If these are not real expensive then I might try to get the kid down the street to help me out. If to much expense is involved then I am gonna just give up and let her go. Regarding the spending $$ on the video card. I ordered it from Tiger Direct and it was returnable so I am not really out any money except postage. Thank Goodness for that. If you think that mother boards are not to pricy maybe you could direct me on about the cost and where to purchase.
     
  25. Mark56

    Mark56 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,889

    Just going back to your observation of swollen components you called resistors. Are they the small round objects all in a row next to the CPU heatsink, in which case they are capacitors and could be replaced by someone with sufficient knowledge and good with a soldering iron, but then there is still a risk other parts are damaged.

    The N1996 is the model of the board made by MSI. Probably no longer manufactured but a compatible board could probably be found. I'd need to know the make and model number of the RAM to check compatability so that could be used in a new board, the rest I can get from the motherboard specs. The RAM sticks should have a label on them with the make and part number.

    Tiger direct may well have something suitable but for me to source a new board I would need to know what area you are in and alternative local mail order suppliers.

    I am glad to hear you were able to return the graphics card.
     

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