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Boot Failure

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by riker, Jan 22, 2006.

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  1. riker

    riker Thread Starter

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    Hey Guys

    I have a VERY temperamental 2002 Gateway PC running XP(SP1) that apparently does not like to work for a living. When I turn it on, I get the initial "Gateway" screen, followed by a few seconds of black screen, followed by the message:

    "A problem with the Hard drive has been detected. Consult the troubleshootong section of your user's manual. Press the Enter key to continue."

    Following that, after pressing Enter, the black screen of death then presents this message:

    "Intel(R) Boot Agent Version 4.0.17
    Intel Base-code, PXE-2.0(build 083)

    PXE-E61: Media test failure, check cable
    PXE-M0F: Exiting Intel PXE ROM
    Boot failure: System halted"

    Then that's it - it's paperweight time. The computer is completely frozen. Shutting it down and restarting only brings up the same message - repeatedly. Now the fun part: This problem as been a recurring one for a LONG time, but I was able to get around it previously by simply restarting the computer a few times - and eventually the machine would skip all of those black screens and start normally. The trick was to not turn if off. And as strange as this might sound, I could tell from how the machine sounded during it's start whether or not it would boot successfully; a high-pitched whine meant it would not start. Well, one day the machine turned itself off in front of me, and I have been unable to reboot it since. The boot floopy had no apparent effect, and from what little I can tell inside, all my cables appear connected and intact. Also, the initial "problem w/ the hard drive" message is relatively new - it used to just present the "Boot-Agent" screen and freeze. The beast sounds like a 4cyl stuck in neutral...

    Nothing in the ol' User's Manual even comes close to addressing this, and Gateway tech support has, shall we say, been somewhat unsupportive. I am planning on replacing this trouble-prone machine, but would like to retrieve some of the files on it before taking it out to skeet practice. Any help or suggestions would be welcomed and appreciated!

    thanks, Riker
     
  2. KingCody

    KingCody

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    the power (or lack there of) problem sounds like you have a dead or dying power supply.
     
  3. riker

    riker Thread Starter

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    Hi King,

    Thanks for your reply. Not sure how to find and check the power supply. The machine seems like it has power, but locks up w/ this boot failure issue. I'm open to any suggestions at this point...

    -Riker
     
  4. norton850

    norton850

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    The initial message sounds like your system can't boot from the hard drive. I'm confused at this point as what your system is doing or not doing. Does it power on and just not boot into windows or is it that you don't get anything at all on your monitor? Any chance of narrowing done where the whine is coming from?
     
  5. GripS

    GripS

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    If this high pitched whine sounds like it's coming from the power supply then you need to replace it. Continuing to use it may damage other components in your system.
     
  6. riker

    riker Thread Starter

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    Hey Norton - yes, my system does seem to have power - the pc will turn on - the opening Gateway screen that normally appears first on the monitor shows up, then the screen goes black and it never reaches the beginning Windows start screen. Instead, it shows the "boot failure" message on a black screen. Occasionally, I don't even get that - just a single blinking cursor line on a black screen that reminds me of opening it in dos. I listened carefully to the cpu case during startup, and the whine sounds like it may be coming from the rear of the machine, but it is very hard to tell specifically. The sound most reminds me of a fan belt or turbine trying to start up - increasing from soft to loud as the machine turns on, then slowly decreasing and literally "grinding" to a halt as I turn off the machine. As it turns off, it almost does sound like a fan motor or something similar grinding to a stop. I haven't noticed any strange odors.

    As I mentioned, in the past when I was able to get the maching to boot up correctly every 5 or 10 starts, the sound of the machine was more normal - not the whining or grinding associated when it has the boot failure. Not sure how or even if this might be connected to the "Media test failure" message that I mentioned above.

    Grip - any idea of how involved and expensive replacing the power supply might be? I'm not even sure where inside I should be looking - and I probably don't want to turn the machine on w/ the case open?? Just haven't dealt w/ this stuff before - obviously...

    continued thanks...
     
  7. GripS

    GripS

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    Well with the whine changing frequency as the system powers down sounds like a fan in the case spinning down. As long as you keep things clear of the case it should be ok to power it up with the case open so you can try and determine the source of the whine.

    The power supply on a standard ATX case will be right up top in back. It is not a huge project to install a new one. Just make a note of where everything plugs in before disconnecting all of the connections. Maybe take a picture of the system before swapping the unit out.
     
  8. norton850

    norton850

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    Agree with GripS that you shouldn't be turning the system on at all until you replace the power supply. Replacing a power supply in itself is very easy, just a matter of screws. However in order to save space and costs Gateway and other manufacturers will sometimes skimp on the physical size of the PS and replacements can be a tight fit depending on your case. A 20 pin ATX power supply should be compatible. Let's hear from forum members who have replaced a PS on a 2002 Gateway. What model do you have?
     
  9. riker

    riker Thread Starter

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    It is the Gateway 700XL. If it helps, the basic specs are:

    P4 Processor - 2.2GHz
    1024MB PC800 RDRAM
    64MB DDR ATI Radeon 8500G AGP Graphics w/TV Out & DVI
    120GB Ultra ATA 100 Drive ans Integrated Ultra ATA Controller
    DVD-RAM/DVD-R Drive
    CDRW drive

    The monitor is the FPD1810 analog\digital LCD display

    Thanks again to all for your continued assistance here...
     
  10. norton850

    norton850

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    It looks like you have a nice big case so power supply physical size shouldn't be a problem at all. Make sure you get one at least with the same output. If you look at the one you have now what is it's rating--like 350W or whatever.
     
  11. riker

    riker Thread Starter

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    Thanks Norton - I will proceed with changing out the PS and post the results as soon as I am back from being away at work - probably Friday. Any suggestions as to the best place to buy this power supply or what a good price for it might be? I live in the northeast(Mass to be specific) so I guess that we have most stores nearby - or should I go through Gateway?
     
  12. norton850

    norton850

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    I like Antec power supplies and they are usually available at most retail stores.
     
  13. riker

    riker Thread Starter

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    Thanks for the steer, Norton. Hey, I wanted to ask as well what the consensus might be: Do you guys think that this potential power supply problem might in some way be directly related to or affecting the boot-up problem I'm having w/ this bugger? I know that it's impossible to know for sure, of course, but I'm just trying to get a feeling before dropping a bit of money to fix the PS if the hdd problem(or whatever it is...) is potentially so catastrophic that I still end up w/ a very expensive paperweight. Any advice would help...

    thanks, Riker
     
  14. norton850

    norton850

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    The are other solutions to your original booting problem. Still it only occurred when the power supply whined. You really need to start by replacing the PS(or borrowing one). Then keep your fingers crossed. :D It is sometimes possible to replace just the fan but on a 3-4 year old PS I would replace the whole thing.
     
  15. Flags

    Flags

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    Riker: Your original error message said something about a problem with the hard drive. I'd start there first. Check to see what hard drive you have in the machine, then download a diagnostic tool from the maker's site It usually fits on a floppy, and is bootable. Run it, and follow its advice.
    I have used Maxtor and Western Digital diagnostic tools on a few machines and they are very helpful. It will tell you if your HDD is OK or not and even offer to fix any bad sectors.
    Then you can try a new power supply, etc.
     
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