PC hardware--CPU & Motherboard & RAM/dell hard drive


QUESTION: Hello again.  I had to start a new thread.

You were helping me with my dell hard drive issues.

I did try it again.  I get a message that says previous attempts to boot failed at checkpoint dfh.

It also still says "diskette drive 0 seek failure", and "no boot device available".

I am a little unsure how to try the drive in a different slot.  I did however try using the other cable that is tied in a knot to the existing cable, that you will see in the picture I am attaching.

ANSWER: Holy crap, haha, that is one dirty computer. If that is what the insides look like after the vacuuming procedure, then I will tell you that you will need to take an air compressor to the computer BADLY. It "appears" the SATA cables are all hooked up correctly from the hard drive to the motherboard, however, where the SATA cables attach to the motherboard in the top right of the picture you sent me, there is so much dust, I can't even see the ports they plug into. That is really really bad. It may be possible that the connections are stuffed full of dust causing some pins to not be able to send data causing your computer problem.

And when I mean take your computer to an air compressor, I mean that and no less. An air can will not help you in this situation, and a vacuum can only do so much as to take the loose layer off. Also, if you look at the heatsink/fan assembly of your computer's processor, you are supposed to see nothing but metal and should be able to see to the bottom. The heatsink on your desktop is really causing massive heat issues and if it is not addressed, will cause failure to your computer as a whole.

I clean desktops and laptops all the time and review the operating temperatures before and after the cleaning process. You are likely running close to 80-90 degrees Celsius while just running idle. My 531 ran about 50-55 Celsius with a perfectly clean fan and high end thermal compound, which in my opinion is warmer than it should be for the processor it had, but is perfectly fine. The temperature you'd want to pay attention to is when it goes above 60 Celsius when running idle.

Diskette Drive 0 seek failure means the hard drive is not being detected in my opinion. The error says "diskette" which usually refers to the floppy drive, but your computer doesn't have a floppy drive and it is also referring to drive 0, the first SATA controller, being SATA 0. SATA starts counting at 0 instead of 1. So the first device is drive 0 and the second device is drive 1, and so on. Because I no longer own the computer (I sold it a few months ago), I can not specifically go back into the BIOS to remember if there was an option to disable/enable the diskette controller even though by default. Go into the BIOS and disable the diskette controller if there is such an option.

I want you to try this out (below) for testing purposes of your hard drive. Do not do ANYTHING until that computer get's cleaned though.

Get on a computer that is working fine and has a working CD drive. Acquire a blank CD, set it to the side for now. Download Puppy Linux here: http://puppylinux.org/main/Download%20Latest%20Release.htm (click download latest release and the top link that appear after that)

and IMGBurn here: http://www.imgburn.com/index.php?act=download (just click Mirror 7)

Once both are downloaded, install IMGBurn. Then insert the blank CD into the CD drive, open IMGBurn and when you see the menu pop up, click "Write image file to disk". On the next screen, click the little folder icon near the top of the program to browse for the puppy linux file you downloaded. Once you found it, double click it to select it. Then just click the big button on the bottom to burn the file to the disk. The program will write to the disk, then once done, it will automatically eject the disk drive and retract it if you are doing this on a desktop and then verify the disk. Let it do it's thing. If you are doing this on a laptop, when it ejects the disk drive, you will get an error saying "all attempts to close the disk drive have failed". You will need to just push the drive back in and then click OK (in that order [close, then click]) so it can start the verify process.

Once your CD is created, insert it into your 531, hit F12 to go to the one-time boot menu, and select the DVD drive. Puppy Linux should show on the screen. Let it load, don't press anything until/unless it asks for video settings to be set. It may ask you for what resolution does your monitor support and colour depth. Just select 1024 x 768 x 16 to make it simple. Now when you get to the desktop, take a picture of your computer screen so I can look at the icons to determine what the computer's state is in.

I will be specifically looking for a device drive icon which would lead me to believe your hard drive is functional, but the OS on it is corrupted If the drive is detected in Puppy, I can guide you into backing up your files, then guide you into reinstalling an OS onto the computer. If I don't see the icon I'm looking for, we'll try another SATA port and worse comes to worst, a new hard drive., but one thing at a time. Please do what I've asked up to this point so I can determine what I need to do next in order to completely help your computer.

Have a great day!

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

QUESTION: I actually had not cleaned the inside of the pc yet, that is why it is still so dirty.  That will be my next item on my list.

I actually just received some discs in the mail from Dell.  I received an OS re installation disc as well as a disc which has drivers and utilities on it.

I also figured out how to try the hd in the different sata locations.  Neither of them worked, so I put it back to the original location.  I cleaned the sata ports before connecting to them.  The can of air seems to work ok.  It's all loose dust that easily blows out, I just hadn't done it yet because I thought I had already ruined my pc before I even got that far into cleaning it.

So now that I have the dell discs, should I use them or still download the puppylinex etc?  Should I use the utility disc with diagnostics on it or just attempt to do a clean reinstall of the OS?

If the latter, what type of cd would I need to download the puppy linux and image burn?


If you have files you need to back up, continue with the puppy linux procedure.

If you don't have files needed backed up, you can just go ahead with the clean installation of Windows. I'm not entirely sure if the diagnostics disc Dell gave you is a bootable diagnostics disc or a disc that works only when Windows has booted. If it is a bootable disc, you can try using it to see what options it gives you, in case it has a repair utility in repairing the critical files of Windows.

Also note the installation CD Dell gave you as a clean installation CD also gives you the option to do a repair as soon as it scans for "previous versions of Windows". You will see the option to do this about 3-4 minutes after booting to the setup CD given from Dell. The CD will load a bunch of driver packs then you will see at the bottom "Windows is starting". Right after this is when the option appears. You can attempt to use the repair option, then follow through the rest of the directions and small dialog forms to completing the repair process. Doing this should restore your computer back to what it was before it was not working, that is if the operating system can even be detected. If the hard drive is actually bad, when you get to the part above, the setup CD should give you a message saying there were no hard drives detected on this computer.

In that case, a new hard drive would be your last option. From then, you will have to do a clean installation. It will be like a brand new computer again.

On another note, even though most of the dust seems to be coming up well with the air can you acquired, seriously check on the heatsink being clean. You have to look through the fan to see it since the dust packs right in there directly under the fan assembly. This dust blocks the air flow through the rest of the heatsink which the heat resides. If possible, I'd like to see how clean she looks after the dustin'.

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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