Maher's Digital World

Can you believe this?

Offline humbert

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Can you believe this?
« on: October 19, 2012, 11:16 AM »
Guys, something happened to me last night which I have never seen even since the of my first computer, an ancient 8-bit Atari XE.

Last night I was simply reading a PDF file with Sumatra when suddenly and for no reason the monitor starts flashing. The flashing got worse and I just barely managed to hit 'restart' on Windows 8. The computer gave me the usual 'beep' from it's POST, but there was nothing on the screen. I unplugged it and tried again. This time I didn't even get a 'beep' sound.

I shut off the power, opened the case and turned the power back on. The green light on the motheboard was on and the CPU fan was running normally. No bad smells or evidence of a malfunction anywhere. Still the thing wouldn't come on. I ran a final test this morning and got the same result. The strange part is that it happened for what appears to be no reason. There was no evidence of physical damage and the computer is behind a UPS which offers spike and surge protection. Add to this the fact that all my other electronic components are fully functional, even those that aren't behind a UPS.

By pure chance I ordered a new computer the day before this happened, but even so my problem gets even bettter. I pulled out my 2nd drive which is where all my PDF's are on and with a USB adapter tried to hook it on to the wife's clunker. The clunker did manage to identify the HD but kept giving me error messages on Device Manager. I speculate (and I hope I'm right) that this is due to the fact that the drive is formatted for AHCI and the old clunker deoesn't know what AHCI is. The wife is away for a few days so I can't test it on the laptop, which DOES have AHCI. Losing any of my other drives would be catastrophic. And as Murphy's Law would have it, I downloaded a PDF from Asus which details a special BIOS configuration for Windows 8 on the new motherboard in other to take advantage of UEFI, which the new motherboard supports. I can't read that PDF because it's on the drive I can't access.

I can't just throw the non-functioning computer away, I have to replace whatever is wrong. I'm speculating somehow the motherboard got fried, since if  the microprocessor were the one with the problem, in all probability there would be some beep sound somewhere. And of course I can't exactly go to a computer store and run a test without buying the motherboard either.

I have never seen a thing like this nor have I heard of someone who has. The important thing now is how to fix it. What do you suppose needs replacing?

Offline Daniil

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Re: Can you believe this?
« Reply #1 on: October 19, 2012, 05:58 PM »
Oh... I never faced the trouble as you describe, it's something non-standart.
First of all, calm down.  Any rash attempt to grab out data from disc may corrupt it.

Monitor flashing - maybe, video card? If you have discret video card, try to disconnect all winchesters, replace videocard with other (if you have one) and try to start. If it show you POST screen, we'll know that this is video card.

Now, about attempts of connect the drive on wife's PC. If it can see drive in BIOS, that's no matter, under what interface it was formatted before... No, in fact I had a problem with AHCI interface and discs, but it was wery specific. We had deploy an WinXP images on new hardware on my previous work with Acronis TrueImage, but after deploying, on those motherboards with AHCI selected in BIOS, XP from image don't want to start with various insults on "can not find boot manager" or something like this. Sorry, I can't remember exactly. But this isn't like your trouble.

So, the checklist:
Computer:
-What's voltage provides your power block? (Sometimes such problems maybe because the power block voltage was dropped.)
-Try to change power supply unit, may be we have a kind of transformer problem.
-Did you try change videocard?
-If you had try this - what was the reaction of patient?

Hard Disc
-From what system you try to read it (OS, Motherboard, USB<->HDD adapter)? Maybe that is adapter trouble, like "no driver".
-What said BIOS about this disc?
-What said Windows in DeviceManager?
-Do you try to read it from under another OS? (If no, maybe you should try to read it from under special recovery OS like a DrWeb CureIt Recovery Disc? It reads almost all filesystems and very stable).

Try all of this, and describe the reaction. We'll have more detailed picture of problem.
And - don't worry, we'll save your PDF's.  :) Just be carefull and don't rush. As we says in Russia, do it помаленьку. ("Pomal'En'ku", i.e. "calmly and slowly").


Offline Ahmad

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Re: Can you believe this?
« Reply #2 on: October 19, 2012, 08:49 PM »
The other day, when I had a damage to my motherboard .. The green light was on and cpu fan was running normally but it didn't display anything nor beep.
BUT I smelled a little burning .. When I sent it to be fixed, the guy told me that the LAN card was fried and so, he removed its IC from the motherboard and it worked well after that with an external LAN card.

This was my experience with my damage. I hope everything goes well with you, dear friend.
I know this is a disaster but I wish you all the best.
Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.

Offline humbert

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Re: Can you believe this?
« Reply #3 on: October 19, 2012, 10:36 PM »
The CHIEF, in his infinite wisdom, bailed me out of trouble.

He wrote me an e-mail and told me simply to pull the DIMMs (RAM modules) and clean them carefully as well as to blow the places where the DIMMs reside. He was right! I'm back to normal.

How did he know? Hey, he's the CHIEF!

Offline Ahmad

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Re: Can you believe this?
« Reply #4 on: October 20, 2012, 12:57 AM »
Glad to hear that.
But wasn't it supposed to beep?
Or as long as DIMMs are inserted, it won't beep even if they may not be inserted correctly?
I think CHIEF thought that.
I'm very happy for this. :)
Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.

Offline Daniil

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Re: Can you believe this?
« Reply #5 on: October 20, 2012, 02:16 AM »
That's great.  ;D Glad that your PC are OK again.  :)
I thought that PSU is to blame, died because of heat and humidity.
DIMM was on next step in my checklist, if "dance" with PSU and videocard didn't show nothing. :)

Ahmad
Comrade, on many modern motherboards order and sequence of beeps may vary. I have seen boards which gives no beeps at all, only flashing with diode on MB. That was one ASRock.
« Last Edit: October 20, 2012, 02:21 AM by Daniil »

Offline humbert

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Re: Can you believe this?
« Reply #6 on: October 20, 2012, 02:22 PM »
One thing that led me to believe the Chief was right was that after cleaning, I powered up and heard countless beeps where there weren't any before. I immediately knew the problem was I had inserted the DIMM's wrong. I'm so clumsy using my hands that, as you all know, inserting the RAM chips the wrong way is now next to impossible because they have slots in the right place that help prevent a wrong insertion. Yet if some way to put them in wrong exists, rest assured I'll find it.  :(

Here's another hairy thing than defies expanation. I explained before that one of my storage HDD's was acting strange, so much so that the old clunker didn't read its contents, plus the fact that Perfect Disk reported a drive temperature of 100,000°C  :).  I knew this thing was on it's last leg, so I decided to try to recover as much data as possible and after that just put it in my closet. When I got my computer back up, I installed the drive from an external eSATA adapter and then from an external USB, both with no luck. I then ripped open the case and connected it to both power and SATA. The motherboard's BIOS didn't see it and neither did Windows 8. Since i figured there was nothing to lose, as a last attempt I booted up from Hirens mini-XP to see if maybe one of their disk recovery programs could see the bad drive and recover at least something. To my shock, not only was the drive visible, but I didn't even need a data recovery program - I retrieved 100% of the data with its version of Total Commander, a simple file manager.

The fact that this almost 4-year old drive went berserk is understandable. What I simply can't understand is how Hiren's mini-XP saw it when it wasn't even visible in the computer's BIOS, not to even mention Windows 8 not seeing it either. I can't even explain how I got 100% of my data back with just a file manager. Who understands this ??

Offline Daniil

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Re: Can you believe this?
« Reply #7 on: October 20, 2012, 02:48 PM »
Modern BIOSes are extremely intelligent and independent. ;) Sometimes, they think that they are more intelligent than their owner. ;D
I think, a problem you described, is because of NCQ system in AHCI controller (HDD is older than controller, and NCQ  works incorrect with it), or because of incorrect AHCI driver in your Windows (don't know about Win8, but in Win7 and Vista. for working with AHCI you must turn on AHCI driver in BIOS).
In Wikipedia there is an article about this, but it is lack of details. In russian variant of article there is more details about troubles of using AHCI with Windows, and with description how to fix this.
Of, if, as you said, disc was old and crappy, maybe, that troubles was because of some internal controller ill. Driver on normal systems can't work correct with it, but more simple driver from Hirens boot disc works well with it.


By the way, if you need to start modern disc on old OS, or have some problems with disc drivers, you may try to use UniATA from our comrades from Ukraine.
« Last Edit: October 20, 2012, 03:00 PM by Daniil »

Offline Ahmad

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Re: Can you believe this?
« Reply #8 on: October 20, 2012, 04:13 PM »
@ Daniil:
Thanks for the information.
I really learn from you a lot.

@humbert:
Another good news to hear.
Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.

Offline humbert

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Re: Can you believe this?
« Reply #9 on: October 20, 2012, 10:14 PM »
Daniil! When I first got the motherboard I have now (the one I'm replacing in a few days) I set it to defaults. Later I found out it defaults to IDE and not AHCI. When I changed that. Windows wouldn't boot. After searching Google I found a change in the registry that would solve the problem. I changed back to IDE, applied the registry settings, and rebooted back to AHCI. It worked perfectly. Since then all I've done is update my drivers using the du.srp download until Windows 8 came along.

The driver I was now is the one that came with Windows 8, which worked pretty well. Since only this HD was behaving strangely and the others were prefect, I have a hard time believing the drivers were at fault. This is especially true when the motherboard didn't see the drive either. Mini Windows XP did see it.

I'm beginning to think it may have had something to do with the fact that I plugged into SATA pin 5 because it was the closest. I have that one set to AHCI, but the board's manual clearly says to set 5 and 6 to IDE because otherwise the board may not see it. Even if that explains the motherboard, I don't know why Windows 8 didn't see it and mini-XP did.