PC hardware--CPU & Motherboard & RAM/bootup


QUESTION: I accidentally rebooted my inspiron 531 without the keyboard plugged in and it will not boot up. I got a message that keyboard was not detected and them it just goes black with a blinking line at top left of screen.

I have tried rebooting with the keyboard plugged in and it no longer gives me keyboard message but it still hangs like before and says u can press f2 or f12.

What can I try?

ANSWER: I used to own this exact desktop. I never ran into this particular problem, but F2 will get you into the BIOS where you can change options of the BIOS such as boot options. If you choose this method, first look under the main tab of the BIOS and look at the list of devices the computer currently detects. You should see your DVD drive and a hard drive displayed as a model number in the list.

The model number of the DVD drive will have the letters DVD inside the mix of other characters, which is how you easily tell it is the DVD drive. With the hard drive, it all depends on the brand of the hard drive inside the computer (by stock I had a Seagate hard drive, so the hard drive in the BIOS should look like S********** (where the stars indicate numbers and/or letters.

They should be SATA drives, and there are 4 SATA controllers on your machine, so there should only be a list showing 4 possible devices at once. By stock, two SATA devices are empty, and the other two are taken up by the DVD drive and hard drive. If you don't see the hard drive in the list, that would be why your computer isn't booting any further.

Check the connections of your hard drive to the power supply and the SATA cable to the motherboard and the back of the hard drive itself. Of coarse do this while the computer is off and unplugged. Then turn the computer back on and try again the above steps if the computer still hangs. If the problem still occurs, you likely have a completely bad hard drive or if you have data on the hard drive, hopefully just a bad hard drive motherboard, which can be replaced to save your data.

Hitting F12 will get you into the "One-time Boot Menu" which is basically a menu that allows you to select what device you'd like to boot off of regardless of the settings in the BIOS. Going this method will bring up only the devices detected, so in essence, if the hard drive doesn't show up here, the same issue exists. If you do see the hard drive in the list, go ahead and select it and hit Enter. If it fails to boot off the hard drive still, either the hard drive is bad in an internal part, or the hard drive doesn't have a usable operating system on it.

Hope this all helps, have a great day!

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: I don't know how I forgot to mention that I vacuumed the computer.

That's what definitely caused my failure.  Lesson learned.

That said, I tried a new motherboard battery.  I still receive a no hard drive detected message on attempt to boot.  I have gone into the bios as you said also and it didn't work either.

Should I purchase a new hard drive or is there a good possibility me vacuuming it caused more damage than to just the hard drive?

The replacements for this HD are only like $50 bucks, so I would definitely prefer to replace it if it was likely to fix it.

ANSWER: You won't get a message that says the hard drive was detected. If the hard drive is detected, you should see it in the BIOS and the one-time boot screen. No message will actually pop up, you just have to see it in the list in the BIOS where it displays the currently connected devices.

As for vacuuming the desktop. Vacuuming a desktop does not harm anything in any way (unless you pushed on something really hard and actually physically broke something. You likely have just accidentally disconnected a cable that either gives power to the device(s) or the data cable that lets it work with the motherboard. Please check all connections. I do not believe you need to replace anything. I clean the insides of computers ALL the time with air hose/vacuum-like devices all the time.

Since your computer has 4 SATA controllers, if one doesn't work, just try another slot. The cable likely has a clip that you push in to pull out the cable, then just pop it into another socket ensuring it is in the right direction since two SATA slots face one way and visa-versa to the other two slots.

If you want, you can take a picture of the inside of your computer the way it sits and I could possible help you to see if anything is logically out of place or looks broken.

Have a great day!

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: After vacuuming, it wouldn't boot.

I get a screen upon boot attempt that lists sata 1 as my hard drive. Sata 2 shows my DVD.
Sata 3 ,4 show none. Then, right under that it says diskette drive 0 errors. Then at bottom it asks to f1 to retry.

When I retry, it says no boot device detected.

I don't know what else to try.

Would using another slot make a difference?

Do you hear any clicking sounds from your hard drive? If it makes clicking sounds, there's a good chance the hard drive has failed.

This is also a long shot, but if the power cable isn't plugged into the hard drive cleanly, it may be possible that the hard drive is not getting the 12V power, but is getting the 5V power. In this case, I would mean it as the board is getting power allowing it to be detected when you turn on the computer, but the hard drive is not getting the power to spin up in order for the operating system to not be read.

You can replace the hard drive if you'd like, but I'm just trying to rule out every possibility as for it to be inconvenient for the hard drive to go out right when you decide to give the internal components some breathing room with the dust. I'd like to save both any data you may have and save you the need to replace a perfectly good hard drive if it turns out to be good. That being said, I've yet to get a confirmation that you've tried unplugging and replugging in the hard drive and trying different slots. If you are avoiding it thinking that it may not be the problem, just give it a try. If you have already tried such the method, please let me know.

Other than that, it appear the computer is working just fine. It doesn't seem like any other components are messed up in any way. If you can, give me a picture of the inside of your computer (this website allows you to upload a picture while typing your question). Doing so can greatly help me out and help you out. I'd also like to check the condition of the capacitors, because there is the possibility the capacitors that help carry the charge to the SATA controllers is bad or weak. This problem was common in older IDE controllers for desktop computers, but I haven't seen it a common problem with newer SATA controllers, or I at least haven't run into the problems personally with my computer job.

Help me out by giving me the information I ask so I can help you out. Have a great day!

PC hardware--CPU & Motherboard & RAM

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I can answer most No POST problems, compatibility between parts, upgrade options, troubleshooting, etc. Before you ask me a question, please do some research. I do not give PC speed reviews for video games.


Many, many years of experience working with the hardware components of many types of computers including desktops, laptops, kiosk computers, and even running Windows 3.1, 95, and 98 on the PSP (Sony PlayStation Portable). I've replaced capacitors on desktop motherboards making them working like new again with a high success rate. This is my hobby/job every day.

Associates of Science in Computer Information Technology

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