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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Dell Dimension 3000 Boots to black screen
*
Off the back of my last post,a year or so ago (solved-dell-dimension-3000-boots-to-black-screen) I have another similar but slightly different problem.
My Dell Dimension 3000 is unsurprisingly on its last legs and I think the predominant issue is with the Windows Installation.

**System**

Dell Dimension 3000 (Celeron)
Windows XP Home edition SP2
(**To my knowledge I haven't got SP3, (through custom/selective updating of Win Updates), but XP may have updated to it anyway without my knowing it).

**Hardware changes made**

-512K RAM to 2GB RAM modules
-Wireless PCI card
(Both have been on the computer for a few years and have been working fine)
............................

The Problem:
When switched on, the boot information and DELL splash screen are displayed and then followed by a black screen with no cursor (different to the issue I've had before). There appears to be unusually little Hard-drive activity at this point - Although I have accessed the hard drive via Puppy Linux, backed up the files to an external hard-drive and seem to have access to most files/folders. Furthermore, I also have no access to safe mode.

............................
First Attempted Fix:
I backed up the system using a Puppy Linux CD and then tried to make an up to date Acronis backup, although the graphics were all odd for some reason and the screen was almost unreadable.
I carefully following the steps given in my previous post by 'AustrAlien' (System Restore from Recovery Console) but I couldn't access a particular file - I forget which one, but apparently it didn't even exist. I wasn't able to go ahead from there and obvously couldn't solve the problem with the previous solution.
So... I tried repairing XP via the Windows CD, but when doing this my USB mouse/keyboard wouldn't work part of the way through (when installing drivers) meaning that I couldn't click the 'ok' button to continue or press enter on the keyboard.
I tried plugging in a USB to P2 adaptor for the mouse and this didn't work either, so I turned the PC off at this point because I didn't think I would get any further.
This obviously stalled the installation half way through and I think may have affected my ability to get back into the installation/OS via conventional means.

.................
Second Attempted Fix:

About a week later, I tried going into Repair XP from the CD and pressing 'R' when the option arises - But no 'R' is shown. I knew to avoid the other options so tried the following (summarised) from the Recovery Console:
cd \
ren system system.bak (no access)
ren system.old*
used old system backup (second to last one)
THEN I could access the system...

However, despite having access to my usual OS, I kept getting unusual system errors and programs wouldn't open normally - I'm assuming because system files were missing from the original botched repair. So I shut down the PC and then tried repairing XP again, which this time did show an 'R' for repair. It started copying the relevent files across, but (I think) after doing this the installation rebooted the computer and I was back to square one again! (No 'R' option given)
So, I went back to the Recovery Console and the tried entering 'ren system system.bak' and then 'ren system system.old' (as above), but they didn't work this time...
..................................................................

Unless anybody has any other suggestions, I think this leaves me with only two options (both of which I would really like to avoid):
1. Format drive and reinstall windows (I'm really trying to avoid this at the moment, for a number of reasons)
2. Use *old* backup from acronis that includes slightly messed up system and distinct lack of updated files - I'm concerned that the problem will just reoccur with the old system files.

I'm obviously concerned about the situation, and any help would be much appreciated.
 

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hi fructis, two things to ask initially: are you sure the hard drive is ok, it may be worth downloading the manufacturer's diagnostics just to be sure; are the graphics on board or a separate card. TBH I'm a bit worried about your second option anyway.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
auntiej said:
hi fructis, two things to ask initially: are you sure the hard drive is ok, it may be worth downloading the manufacturer's diagnostics just to be sure; are the graphics on board or a separate card. TBH I'm a bit worried about your second option anyway.
Hi, thanks for the response.

•I *think* that the hard-drive is ok, based purely on the fact that I've been able to access it fine (for backups and when the system did start properly) and also because it isn't making any unusual noises (clicking/whirring etc). If I wanted to do a diagnostic check, how would I go about doing it (esp. without access to the OS)?
N.B. Just in case it's important, all four of the diagnostic lights (ABCD) on the back of the tower are green (as they should be)


•The (intel) graphics are onboard from what I remember.

Any suggestions on where to go from here?
 

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it may also be worthwhile testing the memory with memtest . Onboard graphics may be using a portion of the memory you have installed and you did report above the graphics were odd at one time, and the screen unreadable.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
auntiej said:
it may also be worthwhile testing the memory with memtest . Onboard graphics may be using a portion of the memory you have installed and you did report above the graphics were odd at one time, and the screen unreadable.
How would I go about doing the memory test? Do I need to download and mount memtest on a cd?

The only time the graphics were almost unreadable was with the Acronis boot disc, when it had a slightly blocky Dos-type appearance to it. Other than that the graphics have been perfectly fine.
 

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•I *think* that the hard-drive is ok, based purely on the fact that I've been able to access it fine (for backups and when the system did start properly) and also because it isn't making any unusual noises (clicking/whirring etc)
.

None of this means anything, but the fact it won't boot does coupled with the age of this unit and if this is the original hard drive, you have over double the warranty period for any hard drive and it sounds like it needs replacement to me.
You could find out right away by running chkdsk /r from Recovery Console booting to XP cd.
 
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