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Video Card Problems/Possible Windows XP crash


QUESTION: My pc has never crashed before. But I think it did today. My wireless router fell on the keyboard, which was sitting on top of the computer. Nothing seemed to happen, but a few minutes later I was watching a movie on Netflix, the picture froze, and I tried to control alt delete, but that didn't work, so I turned off the power. When I tried to restart, it wouldn't boot Windows, although it did turn on. Just a blank screen after the initial Dell logo. I tried running the diagnostic on F12, and everything passed except for an "error" on the hard drive. It didn't tell me how to fix it. I tried using the Windows XP installation disc to repair, but it didn't seem to respond. I didn't know the right commands. I even took the body apart and cleaned out all the dust and gunk (which needed to be done anyway), but that didn't make any difference. I don't have any money to pay anyone. I want to learn how to do this myself. But I have reached the end of my knowledge.

We have been having the power go out off and on several times each day for the past week or so because we are in a mobile home park where our circuits are all in common (25 units), and someone keeps using too many space heaters and keeps blowing the circuit. Could this be the sources of the errors on the hard drive?

If I could just boot Windows I could do a system restore and run my maintenance program to fix the errors. HELP!

ANSWER: I don't think the router falling on the keyboard has damaged anything (it would be a first - unless it fell hard enough to put a dent in the computer or something like that); assuming the router and keyboard themselves are not damaged. The keyboard being damaged is one thing I'd like to pursue - do you have a spare you can try (most keyboards are fairly cheaply made, and if you damage the switches under the keys, they can send all sorts of weird commands (more or less random "keystorkes") into the machine, and cause all sorts of trouble), or can you try that keyboard on another machine? I'm guessing it's fine, but it would be relatively easy to test out.

The bigger issue I'm seeing is the power on/off, which is certainly not good for the machine (especially the hard drive). Will the system at least let you boot into the BIOS and change settings? (And will it more or less stay there without crashing or restarting?). I'm just trying to figure out where the issue actually exists (if it's with Windows, the hard disk, or other hardware). Was there more information about the error that the diagnostic found on the hard-disk?


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QUESTION: Thanks for getting back to me. It will allow me to go into BIOS, but I don't know what to do when I get there. That is where I ran the diagnostic. The keyboard works fine, and when we opened up the pc housing I could see that it was too protected to be damaged by that.

And yes, it will stay in BIOS. I just can't give it the commands it recognizes, because I don't know what I am doing. But it will allow me to change settings. I just need help to walk me through the process.

It will allow me to boot from the Windows XP installation disc, but when I choose the "repair" option, I am stuck for what commands it will recognize. And I don't want to lose all my hard drive data, unless there is absolutely no option.

When this happened with my laptop 3 years ago, the guy was able to get it to load Windows XP without losing my data, but of course, he did not tell me what he did. I want to know how to do it myself.

I did not know how to access what the hard drive "errors" were. It didn't give me that information. If I could have help step by step to get it to the point that Windows can load properly, I think I could use system restore to get started, and then use my maintenance program (Advanced System Care Pro) to deal with the errors.

I can get to BIOS with F2. I just need to know what to do after that. I just don't want to lose data until I can back it up. If you could either give me instructions in a message, or we could talk on the phone, then you could walk me through it.

ANSWER: Oh, I wasn't meaning for you to change any settings in the BIOS - simply trying to ascertain where the error is occurring. If the system will sit in the BIOS configuration menu without problems, that tells me that (at least preliminarily), the core hardware within the system is fine. The issue is either with Windows itself (in which case it will need to be re-installed), or the hard-drive.

From the Windows Recovery Console, let's try running Check Disk (here's some more information about the Windows RC: - with no modifiers if you please (I'd just like to see if Windows returns any errors or bad sectors for the drive). This operation may take some time to complete.

Alternately, if you're up for a more challenging (but ultimately more thorough) check, you will need the Ultimate Boot CD ( Once you boot into that, you'll first need to run the DISKINFO utility to find out specifics about your hard-drive, and then select the appropriate manufacturers diagnostic from UBCD (be it Maxtor or WD or Seagate etc) and use that to check the disk for errors and problems (this operation will take a considerable amount of time). You can also run memtest86 from UBCD, to check the system memory for errors (this will also take a considerable amount of time (ideally you would let this one run for 24 hours, which should mean multiple passes)).

I'd suggest using BurnCDCC to burn UBCD from the iso image - it's a freeware application from the same people that make DISKINFO. All of that is explained on this page:

If you aren't familiar with P2P, I'd probably ignore that (it can be a fairly complex process for new users), and just go for a direct download from the UBCD website (I know they ask users to rely on P2P to save bandwidth and so on, but I'm trying to not overload you with things).


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QUESTION: Error code  0146
Msg: Error code 2000-146
Msg: Hard Drive 0 - self test log contains previous error(s)
The given error code and message can be used by Dell Technical Support to help diagnose the problem.
Do you want to continue testing?

Everything else passes.

When I try to use the Windows xp cd to recover, it gives the different commands, but they are skewed to the left so I cannot see the entire commands. I don't know how to get the screen to show the correct aspect.

You'd have to check those codes with Dell to get more information out of them, but it sounds like SMART is throwing an error (the manufacturer's diagnostics could tell you more about this, if you can run them).

Regarding the display being "skewed" - I don't understand what you're describing.


Video Card Problems

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