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Multiple hardware problems - help please.


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I need help troubleshooting some very weird hardware problems. Sorry for the length.

Last week I started getting video corruption problems in xp. At random times the screen would blank, then show a corrupted screen for a few seconds, then come back, but changing to different apps would be slow - like you could see the screen redrawing from top to bottom it was that slow. Rebooting the comp would fix the problem, for a while :(

The next problem was a bad sector on my second hard drive. I fixed that with seatools, and also scanned my primary Western Digital drive which showed no problems.

After a few other strange happenings, which I'd need a week to describe, I decided to re-install XP. My goal was to get a stable-enough system to backup all my data to dvd, since I know bad sectors are usually a sign of more to come. But first I changed my PSU for a known good one, flashed the bios to make sure it wasn't corrupt, tested my ddr memory sticks and reseated all cards and cables. After all this though, now my hd's wouldn't be detected properly unless they were put in cable select mode. This had never been a problem before - always had them set manually to master/slave.

After re-installing everything seemed fine. But when I went to burn a cd, both nero and imgburn would stop with an error half-way through. The event viewer showed some errors about not being able to communicate with the drive. I sent these to MS who replied it is usually a sign of IDE cable going bad. However, I decided to flash the dvd's firmware. After doing so I could burn a cd without probs!

After changing the cables, things are still flaky. Last night I was surfing for answers, while keeping an eye on event viewer. At about 9pm (14 november), a series of notifications showed up. The strange thing is they were dated 15 november, 12am or so! Ah, my cmos battery is dead, I thought. But going into the bios showed the time and other settings were being kept.

Anyway, I replaced the battery just in case. The old one showed a voltage of 2.9 volts which I read was not that bad.

So after all these problems does anyone have a clue what the problem could be? For so many components to be acting up, I'm thinking the motherboard has crapped out. Or is it possible for a bad cmos battery to cause hard disk failures and burner firmware corruption? Any help would be greatly appreciated, thanks.

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sounds like a power supply problem. my dad would love to argue with me about it, but not having a live power source into a computer for a long time can do it, but thats obviously not the case.

if you're using a graphics card, and you have onboard video, i'd suggest taking out the card, and storing it safely, and using the onboard video for now, because it will reduce the risk of the graphic problems. if you are using onboard graphics, then its most likely your motherboard, but the problem could also lie within the powerpack. if the graphics card is old, or if it doesnt have a heatsink, that could be another problem. and while i'm on the heat thing, if the case is well ventilated, this would be between motherboard and PSU, but i don't know what your rig looks like, so i can only list things.

if you replaced the BIOS battery, then that would cause the strange dates. when BIOS has no power it looses its settings fast. if the battery is out for more than 5 minutes, it completely resets the bios, which is very hard to fix.

check the mobo in another computer if you can, then check the power supply in another mobo if you can, and that will give you the answer. i don't want to jump to conclusions, but i think this is a power supply problem, although if you're using onboard video, it could be the motherboard.

what kind of hardware is in there? like any PCI cards, processor type, motherboard and PSU.

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I have already replaced the psu with a known good one. The weird dates in event viewer happened before I had changed the battery. Bios has been re-configured. I don't have onboard graphics.

Can a bad graphics card cause disk and IDE problems?

Interestingly, since replacing the cmos battery this morning I've had no crashes and no errors in event viewer. Will do a stress test soon and see what happens.

This is worrying me because rather than replacing a bad MB now, I'd like to wait a few months and go PCI-e. Can't afford it right now.

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Well the problem occured again just before - the video corruption, I mean. The card is a generic ATI 9200se. I think it has issues, but like I said even my dvd burner wouldn't work properly until it was flashed. This is looking serious, and I just don't have the money or resources to troubleshoot it properly.

A bad video card cant cause a hdd to develop a bad sector, it's just coincidence.
Coincidence I don't think. Too many probs with too many parts. Handing out huge amounts of cash for a new comp seems more likely at this stage :(

Could a bad cable cause bad sectors and stuff? I expect modern hard drives to be pretty much fault tolerant in this respect. But I'm only guessing.

[Edit] I meant to say it went almost a day this time before it conked out. It's a cold day here in Oz. So I'm pretty sure it's not a heat issue.

Edited by janger
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If it works it works. Leave it like it is.

Did you set your BIOS right after flashing?

Did you check the capacitors on your motherboard? Are they all flat on top?

Replace the IDE cables as said and use contact spray on the connector parts, it could help.

Those ATI 92x0 cards are known for temperature problems, replacing the frag-pad (yes it’s called like that :D) between the sink and the GPU by thermal paste could solve that problem.

Let us know how things go ;).

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Did you set your BIOS right after flashing?
Did you check the capacitors on your motherboard? Are they all flat on top?
Sure did. No leaky caps.

The unfortunate thing is none of my friends has a MB which will take my cpu to try everything on. Looks like I'll be going PCIe quicker than I thought.

I still can't understand why all these things occured at once. And how the firmware in my fairly new dvd burner seemingly became corrupt as well. Could a worn-out psu cause all these problems?

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yea, a bad PSU can cause the problems, because too much, or too little power going into the motherboard/disks and drives cause mondo problems.

just a small bit of advice, which can be argued either way, but a couple months ago i was talking to a guy, and he told me that if i ever go to buy a computer in pieces or any computer to make sure it has onboard video. even if its low quality, i will have an easy way to trouble shoot problems left and right.

also, the thought occured to me, it may just be the hard drive.

you said that reinstalling solved the problems until you went to use a burner, so maybe its just the hard drive thats causing problems, if it has a bad sector or is corrupt, it could be almost anywhere, from graphics display to general programs. its just a thought to throw onto the table.

i hope things work out for you :)

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Freeze ups and slowdowns are usually the RAM.

If you have a floppy drive, get memtest and test the RAM...


Or burn the memtest ISO to a CD-RW (don't waste a 700Mb CD-R on this)....


Also check in Device Manager (Start > Run > devmgmt.msc > OK) under

"IDE ATA/ATAPI Controllers" double click it and double click again the first

item, example on my system its "NVIDIA nForce3 250 Parallel ATA Controller"

then click the Primary Channel or Secondary Channel tab depending on which

your DVD drive is, then have a look under "Transfer Mode" and it should say

UDMA 2, or DMA 2 or Multi Word DMA 2 - just as long as it is not on "PIO mode"

then its OK. PIO mode is what makes DVD's burn slow, it is limited to 17Mb a

second I think, something crappy like that, many times it does just quit halfway

through a burn if its on PIO Mode.

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Yes I have tested the ram. I have two sticks and each was tested separately, then together.

PIO mode is what makes DVD's burn slow
All drives have dma enabled. It wasn't a slow burning issue, but was giving an error half way through.

The video corruption thing just occured again. I'd say my card is on its way out. But what I really need to know is if a bad psu can cause the corruption that occured in the dvd burner's firmware, as well as the bad sector. If not then I guess my motherboard is gone too.

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