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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Here's a puzzler for you. I'm not even sure what the next step in troubleshooting this might be.

PROBLEM:
On initial power-on boot up, BIOS runs, counts memory, recognizes drives, and proceeds to load WinXP. Black WinXP logo screen and progress bar appear as normal. Progress bar pauses a few times, but nothing that seems terribly abnormal.

Then screen goes black, and it sounds like one or more hard drives spin down. There the computer sits in black limbo until I hit the reset button.

Now on the second time around, BIOS runs, memory count is skipped (I think that is normal), all drives are recognized, black screen with WinXP logo and progress bar appears, then screen goes black, then the blue welcome screen, then desktop and everything is fine.

I can restart from this point all day long and every reboot will be perfect. The problem ONLY occurs on the initial power-on boot up.

FIX ATTEMPT #1:
Wiped out OS, reinstalled on a different drive - PROBLEM REMAINS

FIX ATTEMPT #2:
2 of the hard drives (not the C: drive however) returned a FAIL result from the Western Digital Diagnostic utility. Replaced both drive - PROBLEM REMAINS

Does anyone know what Windows is doing /loading at the time between the black WinXP logo screen and the blue "welcome" screen? I've updated all the drivers and WinXP, but nothing seems to have any effect.

I'm not sure what to try next, any ideas?
 
G

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Hi,

Wow, how frustrating. Have you tried to clear the CMOS and then set your BIOS to default setting, save it and reboot. I would give that a try and see what happens.

Is this a new build and has it ever run properly? Do you have your BIOS setup PnP set to disabled? Also, do you have your BIOS setup set to the proper boot order or the hard drive that is the boot drive?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I built this computer in Nov. 2002, and it's been running perfectly until now.

I was actually thinking about defaulting the BIOS and trying that. I've got the boot order set to:
1] HDD0
2] CDROM
3] HDD2

Since it does make it to the WinXP black screen logo before chaos ensues, I'm assuming that it's booting off the correct drive.

I'll give the BIOS an F7 and see what happens.
 

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What is the "Turn off HD's" setting under Adjust Power Properties?
Charlie
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Charlie,

I believe that's allows the HDs to power down when the computer goes into standby. It should not have an impact during boot up. In any event, it is set to disable.
 

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Doesn't have to be standby. I power mine along with the monitor down after a period of time without using standby. Anyway you have it disabled so that isn't it.

Have you updated your virus definiations and run a full scan?
Charlie
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I've got virus check updated and scanned, adware updated and scanned. All on a fresh install of WinXP.

Now I seem to be getting errors on drives that cause windows to do a disk scan during the boot up process.

This is really getting frustrating!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Mark,

I reset the defaults in the BIOS and it's made a huge difference in not only the clicking sounds of the hard drives, but it also dramatically improved the boot up time.

I did get a few consistency errors on one of the drives, but that was before I reset the BIOS.

I can't imagine what setting in the BIOS would cause that, but the reset seems to have solved it. I'll check back here in a week and update if all goes well.
 
G

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Hi,

Glad you are going O.K. again. Might I suggest that you set your boot order to:

CdRom (this is what I use)
Hard Drive

OR

Floppy
CdRom
Hard Drive

If something happens and you can't set your boot order again, you need that CdRom in there to boot from the OS install disk.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I spoke too soon.

But I think I've narrowed down the problem to one of my 120GB Western Digital hard drives.

Yesterday, when I tried to boot up, the BIOS came up, counted the RAM, found all the drives, then started the black WinXP logo screen. It sat on that for a while and then rebooted itself. It would continue in this loop until I stopped it.

Once I disconnected that secondary drive, everything was fine. If I plugged that drive into the secondary IDE channel - same problem, looping boot.

I was able to connect the drive to another computer and discovered that the 3rd partition was corrupted. I was able to salvage all the data from the other two, and then I deleted all the partitions, and re-installed it into my computer.

The looping boot problem was solved, but my original problem came back again. Once the blue welcome screen appears, the drive spins down and the OS locks up.

I guess I'll RMA this drive (again) and hope the next one works.

Any thoughts?
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
UPDATE:
Weirdness continues.

I was able to boot up with the drive installed. So I wrote zeros over the entire thing to completely wipe it clean, then I reformatted into 2 partitions and am in the process of copying data back onto the drive.

I've done 2 cold boot ups and both were fine.

I also ran a WD diagnostic and the drive passed every time.

So, for now, everything's working fine.... but for how long...
 
G

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Hi,

Great to hear....if Western Digital diagnostic did not find anything wrong, then you may be in business. I have a lot of faith in the hard drive manufacturer's diagnostic tools. They work great.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
And once again, I find myself unable to boot up with the offending drive in the comptuer. Worked yesterday - not today.

I'm going to RMA the thing, but I wish the diagnostic tool would give me something to go on.

I'm going to try to plug my old Maxtor drive (which is known to be on it's last legs) for a couple of days and see if it has an effect on boot up...
 
G

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What have you got for a power supply in there?

Also look in the bios and see if there is a setting to slow the boot process by 1, 2, 3, or 4 seconds to allow the machine to read all the drives information.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I've got a 430w Antec Power supply. The system had been running fine with all the drives for about 6 months, then it just started flaking out.

I RMA'd the 120GB Western Digital drive, and the replacement does the same thing. I've since removed the offending drive and installed an old 40GB Maxtor I had and the system is performing perfectly, not even a hiccup.

What are the odds, that I'll RMA this drive and get another one that flakes out?
 

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hello, i have had the same problem, except i get "clicks" from the hard drives and it sounds like it's trying to spin up afterwards again during post. i do not think there is a problem with your drives, nor with windows because this problem happens to me during post (same symptoms you described just a different stage during boot). this was on my old computer system, and i've built a new system 8 months ago using the exact same drives in the new system but a new raid0 array for the main drive (2x36.7, 60, 120, 120, 80). the new system ran fine until recently, when i started getting the "click" and spin downs but this time during games. everytime that happens (the click), my game (Planetside) just freezes for anywhere from a few seconds to indefinitely. at first i thought it was just the game, but i am also getting the clicks now (much more frequently) during defrag sessions when I'm using disk keeper. interesting thing to note though is that the only other thing in common between my old and new system other than the hard drives is the power supply. i have an antec tru550. i just ran mbm5 and checked the outputs and it seems i am getting way underpowered on my 3.3v and 5v rails and overpowered on my 12v rail. under no load, my 3.3v rail reads 3.25, 5v = 4.7, 12v = 12.6. now i may not have any idea what i'm talking about, but i know the 12v rail runs the HD molex connectors and ram uses 3.3v. so i ran motherboard monitor and let it log a session of planetside. after playing for about 10 minutes and after countless "clicks" from my HDs, i checked the log. sure enough the log shows a LOT of sudden drops across the board on all the rails for each of the "clicks" that i heard (3.18, 4.60, 12.5). i am wondering if the sudden fluxes in power are what's causing the hard drives to spin down, or maybe it's actually spinning up? my ram has activity leds that go from green to red, and i tried monitoring those too. during normal gameplay, the leds will be solid red, but right after a "click" from the drives the lcds start to go up and down from green-yellow-orange-red, and will become solid again when the game recovers from the click. i have tried swapping my ram with ram from another system, and the problem persists, if not more dramatic (it's slower ram). i will change my psu tomorrow and will see what happens. i have a lot more weird instances that led me to think it's the psu all along but i've gone on for long enough. i will update after i replace the power supply.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 · (Edited)
Thank God I'm Not The Only ONE!

Cownose,

Sorry to hear about your dilemma, but also relieved that I'm not the only one.

As an update... I had replaced the latest failed drive with an old Maxtor I had and everything has been fine until... about yesterday. I started up the computer and ..click (whirrrrrrr......whirrrr.....click) And I had to reset. After a thorough examination of my drives, I discoverd some new faults on the C drive that thankfully were corrected by CHKDSK.

After 2 failed WD drives and now possibly a 3rd, I must consider the root of the problem is not the HDs.

I initially entertained the thought of a bad power supply a while back, and bought an APC UPS to help even out any dips in the current being fed to the computer. I didn't really think the PS was to blame, but figured an UPS wouldn't hurt. And coincidentally, the problems seemed to go away at that time (along with the removal of a failed drive).

Now it's happening again, though unlike your issue, I have no trouble once the computer is up and running. Although that's fortunate, it makes it somewhat more difficult to troubleshoot.

This afternoon I decided to reinstall PC Alert III and monitor the PS voltages. I'm running an Antec True430, which I'm lead to believe is a pretty darn good PS, but maybe it's taken some cumulative damage over the years and is operating on the edge of acceptable performance.

I don't really know what are acceptable parameters for PS operation so I'm going to post what I see and maybe someone can help me to understand it and decide if I should migrate to an Antec True 550w or something else.

my readings in (parenthesis)

Vcore (1.64v)
+5V (4.51v)
+3.3V (3.29v)
+12V (11.80v)
-12V (-12.00v)
+2.5V (2.51v)
-5V (-5.19v)


These are according to PC Alert III for whatever that' worth.

And here are some of the cryptic markings from the side of the PS:

[+5V | 36A] [+12V | 20A] [+3.3V | 28A] [-5V | 0.5A] [-12V | 1.0A] [+5V SB | 2.0A]

So what's the verdict folks? New PS or is this one acceptable. Check my signature to see what I'm driving with this.
 
G

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Hi,

The Antec 430 should easily handle this baby, but you do have a few of the voltages (example:+5) as suspect. I would try to find another program to verify the votages that you have been given by this program just to make sure. There does not seem to be any way that the Antec (one of the best power supplies on the market in my opinion) could not handle this if operating normally. Let us know what you find out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I'll start looking for other voltage reading programs, but I suspect they'll probably give similar results since it'd likely be taking the readings the same way. I should try to get my hands on a multitester and test the voltages that way.

But in support of my suspicions of it being a power supply issue, I've disconnected one of the hard drives and the DVD drive in an effort to lighten the load a bit, and it seems to have helped. No problems booting up now.

Our friends at Newegg should have the power supply on my doorstep by the middle of next week.

Does it follow that by using a larger power supply, it could potentially keep the case cooler by not having to work as hard to create the amount of current the computer is demanding? Just trying to look on the bright side of my $107 purchase.
 
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