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Alert! Previous Fan Failure.

By Sake ยท 59 replies
Aug 9, 2006
  1. gmerg

    gmerg TS Rookie

    "Alert! Previous Fan Failure."

    I have been getting the same error message for for several months and last week my computer totally shut down. I tried to restart and can not even get the power on. Any suggestions?
  2. blackcat

    blackcat TS Rookie

    Clear the event log in the BIOS.

    I work for dell computers and I thought I would reply so I can help you out free of charge.
    All you need to do is go to the BIOS, by continually tapping on F2 immediately after you start your computer, then expand all the trees by hitting the right button on your keyboard and find event log and clear it out.
    I had the same problem and that resolved it.

    Have a nice day or night.

  3. mailpup

    mailpup TS Special Forces Posts: 7,102   +419

    I think another possibility is the CPU has overheated and failed. You probably shouldn't have ignored the message so long. When I got that message on a Dell Dimension 8250 when it was still fairly new, the CPU heatsink fan failed. Dell replaced it under warranty. Evidently, at that time they were having a number of similar failures. To their credit they contacted me first and arranged a tech to come to my house and replace it free of charge. It's been fine since.
  4. snoopindaweb

    snoopindaweb TS Rookie

    Greetings, I've also had this problem for many months, starting when I was replacing the 1.8 Ghz with a faster CPU, first 2.4 then 3.06 P-4s With 512/533 FSB - Front Side Buss. Anyway when exchanging the first 2.4 for the 1.8 I plugged the Case Fan's black connector to the white connector on the M.Board next to the CPU's Heatsink, - "only thinking about seeing if I'd gained much speed. When I started up I got a Fan Failure message and upon re-checking I seen I should have leaned forward another foot to see the correct colored receptical. So after that I got the Prev.Fan Failure most every time I'd boot up. - Along the way - I replaced everything in My Dell Dim. 8200's Case but the Power Supply. Mother Board, CPU a couple times, Different Fans, - I'm running 2 CPU Fans Replacing the original Case Fan and 1 on a new Heatsink also {pointing up to the Case Fan}, I also Upgraded upper Memory several times, changer original Graphics Card, I mean everything in My 8200's Case.but the Power Supply "Except the Modum".! No Good. I finally found a Dell Tech. that really researched the priblem I guess, He gave Me a combination that seems to work for a while then needs redone. It's ---> turn on ----> caps lock ----> num lock, ----> scroll lock, then hit, ----> alt e ----> alt b, ----> alt f, then let It do an "Automatic IDE configuration" for You. After It restarts I found that if I Shut Down, reboot, hit F2 for System, go to System Events - 2/nd from the bottom hit Enter at "System Events" Clear all the Fan Failures, Mark as read, hit Esc. and let Er' reboot, and It should hold for a few days or so [Knock Wood], Till You get to do the Drill again. Thank You. G.G.
  5. greeneagle

    greeneagle TS Rookie

    It looks as if this is haunting everybody. It's a pain in the ....
  6. jenci838

    jenci838 TS Rookie

    Alright, I'm sick of trying to solve this problem through Dell--hoping you guys can help!

    I had been having the same "previous fan failure" message, so I ordered a new fan through Dell spare parts. I had gotten a new laptop so I was really lazy about trying to fix the desktop (it's a Dell Dimension 4600C by the way), so it's been turned off for probably 2 or 3 months now. I tried to replace the old fan with the new one tonight. It came with an attached heat sink, so I replaced the blower and the heat sink. I plugged everything in and tried to turn the computer on, and all that happened was that the power button turned orange (I feel like it used to be green when functioning), the fan gave one loud blow, and then nothing happened. It just kind of sat there with the orange light on.

    I took the new fan out, detached it from the new heat sink (which didn't have some little doodad on the bottom--a microprocessor maybe?), and tried attaching it to the old heat sink and trying again. The same exact thing happened.

    Anyone know what might have happened? Or more importantly, how I can fix it? There's a lot of information on this computer that I really really don't want to lose. At the very least, how can I access all those old files to save them? I was bad about backing things up.
  7. wsnett

    wsnett TS Rookie

    use 12v fan

    you must purchase one fan with 12v and its ampere should be around 0.42 A .

    thats it you will not face any problem again
  8. wsnett

    wsnett TS Rookie

    power supply failure

    please check out your psu, (power supply problem,)if not than your m\b prob.
  9. huxen69

    huxen69 TS Rookie

    I have recently got this previous fan failure message and also my computer keeps restarting automatically. Sometimes I let it boot after it restarts and it will keep restarting before the booting is done also. Is this the problem of the fan? Or PROCESSOR? Because few months back my brother was opening the case and he took that metal silver colour thing that's attached on the processor ( for reducing heat im guessing ) and he removed a silver colour paper like material. One of my friend who is kind of a geek told me that It is used to cool down the processor. So please if you could try and figure out something. Please PM me after posting or Email me please.
  10. nickc

    nickc TechSpot Paladin Posts: 923   +11

    that could very well be u're problem u can get artic silver and put a rice seed size in the middle of the processor and it will help better than the silver colour paper like material. I am not saying this is all of the problem u have but artic silver is the best tim on the market in my opinion. and a cpu will over heat in a matter of seconds without tim.
  11. huxen69

    huxen69 TS Rookie

    Thanks for you reply, But it's not the actual problem. When I opened my casing I there was this smell that something was burning and when i checked it was the power supply so I have changed it and now no problems. I have also done what you have told but its not the artic silver. Something named thermal compound( might be the same as artic silver but i don't know much about it thats why said so hehe)
  12. kimsland

    kimsland Ex-TechSpotter Posts: 14,524

  13. Tashua

    Tashua TS Rookie

    I am also getting a "previous fan failure" alert. More troubling than that is a screen full of columns of dollar signs ($). Two "$" filled columns then six blank columns then two "$" filled columns, etc all accross the display. Pressing F1 doesn't assist, I just get more screens full of the columns.

    Has anyone seen this and have any suggestions?

  14. kimsland

    kimsland Ex-TechSpotter Posts: 14,524

    No never

    Oh wait, all the posts above you!

    Have you actually read this thread ? And tried all the suggestions?
    If not please do. There is no need to reply.
  15. stevied

    stevied TS Rookie

    My Story...

    (A note...I looked at every post on this issue and this site was the ONLY place that was informative at all...Thank you, TechSpot)

    Working right along when the computer froze solid...required cold boot. When this error popped up I thought...jees, 7 years old...guess it is time for a new fan. Well it was 10:30 at night and I had work to do so I pressed F1...it came up but ran Very slow. I grabbed the canned air and hammer and went to work. Fan came on, then stopped a few times. I finished my work, shut down and let it sit for 20 hours.

    When I got home tonight, I turned it on...hmmmm...fast boot, no error but the fan did not seem to be blowing at all. I completed the night's mails, shut down and tore it apart. The friggin fan had fallen off its mounting clips! It was blowing down instead of out...Coulda fixed without even turning the computer off. I took this opportunity to clean the entire machine, inside and out...put it back together and it is blowing in perfect silence, smokin' fast and NO ERROR MESSAGE!

    Just another example of what my Dad taught me long ago...just take it apart, clean it and put it back together and 90% of the time....
  16. kimsland

    kimsland Ex-TechSpotter Posts: 14,524

    Well the CPU Fan blows onto the CPU Heatsink. Just in case
  17. stevied

    stevied TS Rookie

    There just was no exhaust...It was flopping around when I opened it, fell out into my hand...One thing I like about Dell is the color coding and ease of parts removal/installation...virtually no tools required. Of course, this also means that if you bump you 'puter table too hard, you may knock the little feet that hold the fan out of their little holes....

    Oh, and it is so straight forward, there is no way to reinstall it incorrectly...
  18. Tmagic650

    Tmagic650 TS Ambassador Posts: 17,244   +234

    I really prefer screws over "pop-in" parts... Hard drive screwless rails are neat though
  19. blevin67

    blevin67 TS Rookie

    "Alert" problem has grown!

    Everyone, thanks for your helpful insights.

    Unfortunately I seemed to have moved onto stage two of the problem

    I get the "Alert! PFF" message and then Push F1, etc. But now my keyboard will not respond, although it works when I'm in the BIOS. So now it just hangs on this message and I can't boot into the OS. I've tried several keyboards with the same result.

    Any words of wisdom will be greatly appreciated!


  20. mailpup

    mailpup TS Special Forces Posts: 7,102   +419

    There is a reason you are getting a fan failure message. You can only ignore it so long before the risk of damage catches up with you. Try replacing the fan.
  21. Tmagic650

    Tmagic650 TS Ambassador Posts: 17,244   +234

    Sounds like Bruce has plugged a fan into the wrong motherboard header
  22. ghumber1

    ghumber1 TS Rookie

    Black Cats post worked for me for this error....Thank you sir
  23. GenMel66

    GenMel66 TS Rookie

    Noisy Fan

    Good Morning, I have a Dell 4600 Series Desktop, the fan on the tower is very noisy, does anyone have any suggestions. I did get the Fan Failure message and pressed F1 and things went okay. But the fan is so very noisy, any help or tips would be greatly appreciated. Thank You.
  24. MarkMartin57

    MarkMartin57 TS Rookie

    "Alert! Previous Fan Failure" Diagnosis & Repair Checklist

    TECHSPOT forums have helped me with great tech advice in the past, so I am offering the following diagnostic procedure as my first post in these forums. It includes almost all of the recommendations made throughout this thread combined with some from my own experience with this problem as a technician. I did my best to give credit to those who posted great recommendations.

    "Alert! Previous Fan Failure"
    Diagnosis & Repair Checklist:

    STEP 1: CHECK THE FAN. If the fan is dead, wobbling, smoking, or on fire, it must be replaced. Use compressed air to blow any dust out of the fan. LOOK CLOSELY and make sure the fan is connected to the appropriate power connector on the mainboard; often there are multiple power connectors for the CPU fan and CASE or SYS fans. Check that the entire assembly (fan, screws, heat sink, clips) is properly mounted in the retention bracket; the metal heat sink should be held firmly against the CPU with snugly fastened clips. If the assembly seems loose, it is either assembled improperly or it is broken. If you find any of the above to be true, skip to STEP 5.

    STEP 2: ENTER THE CMOS/BIOS SETUP UTILITY. Getting there isn't always easy. Since the "Alert! Previous Fan Failure" problem is primarily specific to Dell computers, tapping on the F2 key after turning the computer on should get you into the BIOS/CMOS setup utility. If it doesn't, try the DEL key or some other F# keys, just be careful to not restore your computer. If the computer does not seem to be receiving your key strokes, make sure your keyboard is in good working order and properly connected to the computer (and not plugged into the green PS/2 mouse jack). If the setup utility asks for a password, enter it. If you do not know what the password is, look on the mainboard for a jumper that will reset the CMOS password; if you can't find a password reset jumper, GOOD LUCK. You could search the internet for CMOS/BIOS password removal tools and perhaps get lucky and feel like a hacker!

    STEP 3: CHANGE THE CMOS/BIOS SETTINGS. Once you have successfully entered the CMOS/BIOS setup utility, you are in the home stretch. Clearing the event log seems to have been the #1 SOLUTION for a lot of people who posted here, which makes sense because the error message says "previous fan failure" and not "current fan failure". Changing the "DO NOT report keyboard errors" setting was the #2 SOLUTION which really does not make sense because the keyboard and fan operate at different voltages and are generally unrelated, HOWEVER! since it worked for them it might work for you. You can always try resetting the CMOS/BIOS settings to the "default" or "safe" settings, but you may notice your computer behaving differently afterwards, and it is therefore not recommended. It seems that all CMOS/BIOS setup utilities are a little awkward to navigate, so look for instructions on the bottom or right side of the screen if you are having trouble.

    STEP 4: UPDATE THE BIOS. Hopefully the error message is gone. If not, there are a few more things to try. The reason why this procedure has a reputation is because every once in a while it quickly and unsuspectingly destroys people's computers! (actually, just their motherboards!). During the BIOS update process, if the procedure fails for any reason, the computer will no longer boot and the motherboard will be have to be replaced. With that in mind, go to Dell's support web site, enter the computer's model number or service tag, and download the most recent BIOS update (located in the device drivers section). Follow the instructions carefully and guard the power strip.

    STEP 5: REPLACE THE FAN. If the error continues to appear, there may be a problem with the fan, its wires, or the connector. If you replace the fan, make sure it is the correct size (92mm fan is common with Dells as mentioned earlier by "benthere") with a power rating of 12 volts and around 0.42 amps (as mentioned earlier by "wsnett") which should draw about 5 watts. If you must remove the entire fan & heat sink assembly, be sure to clean up the old thermal compound residue using isopropyl alcohol and then apply new thermal compound; make sure the heat sink is seated and secured firmly against the CPU; make sure the clips are properly attached to the brackets; make sure the fan is plugged into the motherboard properly.

    STEP 6: STILL HAVE THE ERROR? "snoopindaweb" posted this key sequence at power-up: turn on -> CAPS LOCK -> NUM LOCK -> SCROLL LOCK -> ALT+E -> ALT+B -> ALT+F, then do an "Automatic IDE Configuration". I haven't tried it because I didn't need to, as the list of recommendations above solved the problem.

    STEP 7: BUILD A NEW COMPUTER. If you are frustrated and don't like the way Dell builds computers, and you feel the need to post unhelpful, angry comments in an online forum like TECHSPOT, then you must step away from the keyboard, gain control of yourself, take responsibility for your anger, and claim ownership of your computer by building one yourself. Its fun, educational, and impresses the opposite sex.

    I enjoyed putting this together.
    I really hope it helps someone.
  25. supyrow

    supyrow TS Rookie

    the error can be BYPASSED fairly easily, some of you will kick yourselves, but here goes:

    now this is will defeat the failure, if/when your fan fails and overheats the CPU; the computer WILL shut down(more likely just shut off) automatically, regardless of this hack. so not to worry too much.

    say you replace the fan with another type. (ie. not the original) , the fan works, but it will still give the error.. why? resistance. the original fan i had was 1.2 amp 12v blower fan. Yes, i said 1.2 amps SOME of them have 0.42 amps (how the motherboard supported this i do not know, i will see if i can get a model number of that fan) this is a 4600C Dell, which I love BTW except that i cant get any fan speeds or anything under lm_sensors for some reason, looking for help on this myself)

    To replace it with a completely different fan and NOT use the fan header (using the 4-pin molex connector)

    if your fan is rated at 1.2 amps you need a 10 OHM / 15 watt resister across the red/black wire; with the white wire (signal) going to the negative of the header. @ .42 amps you will need a 5 watt 28 OHM resister.

    OR better yet:

    use the fan header: red(pos) / black(neg) to connect your fan and simply connect white(signal) wire to negative

    like i said it is a BYPASS, it will work.

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