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Solved: Vista - vertical lines/won't boot


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LostinIreland LostinIreland is offline
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30-May-2012, 05:12 PM #1
Solved: Vista - vertical lines/won't boot
Hope someone can help me here

I'm running a Dell Dimension E520 with Vista home user. It's out of warranty.
My kids were watching a video on it, when it suddenly froze (both sound and graphics). I tried everything, down to ctrl+alt+del to stop the program, but eventually, I pulled the power supply to kill it.
Here's where my problems really started.

When I rebooted, the entire screen was black except for a series of vertical lines (first in green, then turning white). These lines are grouped together, in groups of four. They are very regular in spacing and very clear. At some point in the boot process, the Dell logo appears - the lines do not run through the Dell logo. Also, the Microsoft Win startup logo, with the moving green bar, displays correctly. This to me indicates that it's not a hardware/graphics card fault (but not sure on this point).
At some point in the boot process, the screen goes black and remains that way - for about 30 mins now and counting. The only way of shutting down/restarting is pulling the power cable - not great, I know.

I ran start up repair - it told me it couldn't fix the problem.
I ran last known good config - successful, but still won't boot - same symptoms as above
I tried to run backup from Win Vista operating CD I had gotten with the computer - it said it couldn't find the CD/DVD so that was no good.
I eventually restored to factory default image. It successfully reformatted and reinstalled, but when it went to reboot, still same symptoms as above.

The only software I've installed recently is Netnanny, and that was well over a week ago. Computer's been running fine with it, and no other config changes recently. I've never seen anything like this before. I'm not sure if I'm dealing with a boot virus (the anti-virus software license expired quite a while ago, and the kids have been using this PC for lots of online games, etc). Could also be hardware, or some other unfathomed issue.

Any help from anyone out there really appreciated.
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30-May-2012, 05:15 PM #2
This is definitely hardware related, it's just a matter of figuring out which piece of hardware.

You mentioned you "pulled the power supply to kill it." What do you mean by that?

Did you unplug the cord from a power brick? Hit the power button on the computer?

Also, do you have integrated graphics or a physical graphics card installed on that computer?

-------------------------------------------------------------------

Though on a separate note, you should never run a computer without antivirus software.

Once we get you back into Windows and everything is working properly, you should download and install MIcrosoft Security Essentials.

It's completely free and will the as good of a job as Norton, McAfee, or any of the other paid services that will "run out."
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30-May-2012, 05:34 PM #3
Hi Shooter93, and thanks for quick answer.
I'll definitely install the Microsoft Security Essentials in future (thx for that)
When I killed the power, I tried at first to use the power button at front, but no response, so I had to unplug the power cable from the back of the PC - did this as gently as I could. I know this isn't a good thing to do, but it was my last resort.
As regards the integrated or physical graphics card on the PC, I'm ashamed to say I can't tell. I did open up the chassis as part of my investigations (and carefully vacuumed out about an inch of dust) but my tech days are too far behind me to know if the graphics card is inbuilt or not. I know we didn't install one after we bought it, so it's at factory default settings. If it is integrated, can I still slot in an additional one to override it?
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30-May-2012, 06:14 PM #4
Quote:
I know this isn't a good thing to do, but it was my last resort.
Normally holding down the power button for ~10 seconds in a case like this would do the job.

Quote:
If it is integrated, can I still slot in an additional one to override it?
Yes, you can install a graphics card.

According to the Dell™ Dimension™ E520 Service Manual, you do have integrated graphics.

Installing another graphics card may solve the problem if it is indeed a graphics card problem.

It may also be power supply related though.

--------------------------------------------------------------

The easiest way to troubleshoot this is by taking a known working power supply of equal (appears to be 305 W) or greater wattage and connecting it to the problem PC.

Local PC shops would also be able to test your power supply for a very cheap rate.

If you stop experiencing problems, you know your PSU is bad.

If you still experience problems, we know it's something else.

--------------------------------------------------------------

The easiest and cheapest of your options would be to install a graphics card, but this also risks purchasing a part that isn't needed.

So let me know which method you would like to take.
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30-May-2012, 07:05 PM #5
Thanks again for this. I've been thinking and browsing in the meantime and had pretty much decided to buy this one:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...TF8&me=&seller=

I'll try installing it, and if it works, then problem solved. If it is the PSU, then I'm thinking it's probably not worth investing any more in the PC.

One fnal thought though - would a defective graphics card also affect the sound? Sound and graphics both froze at the same time on the video.

Thanks again for the help.
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30-May-2012, 07:53 PM #6
The minimum required wattage of a PSU for that card is 300W, so you're obviously cutting it very close with a 305W PSU.

If the problem is the PSU, it wouldn't be nearly as expensive to purchase a new one as it would be to purchase a new computer, but it's up to you.

No, the graphics card shouldn't effect audio, but if the entire computer froze simultaneously, it would make sense that you lost both video and sounds simultaneously.

Let me know how things turn out.
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06-Jul-2012, 06:25 PM #7
problem solved - thank you very much
Hi Shooter93,

Sorry I haven't answered in so long - the truth is I delayed a bit with the graphics card to get the kids outside in the warm weather.
I bought a graphics card today though - $ 49 - installed it, and everything's OK again. I've also installed Microsoft Security Essentials, so thanks for that as well.
Really appreciate the help.

LostinIreland
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07-Jul-2012, 12:05 AM #8
You're welcome.

Glad to hear everything is working well.
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