Solved: Dell BIOS Boot Problem

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Cadenza

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I am trying to help a friend with her Dell Dimension B110, about one year old.
When it boots, the displayed bar for the BIOS gets nearly to the end before it hangs and the hard drive starts chattering. Hitting F2 to enter CMOS Setup causes the chattering to stop. If you then exit Setup with ESC it boots normally into Windows XP.

I've done a virus scan and a System Restore to an earlier date and these did not help.

Any thoughts as to what's going on and a possible fix would be appreciated.

Thanks,
Steve
 
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Hard drive 'chattering' is not a good thing. I would download a hard drive diagnostic utility(available from the manufacturer website or on a disk that came with the computer) and see what it has to say..... Other then the normal subtle read/write noises the hard drive should not be making any other noises.
 
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The "bar" is the Windows load begin, so the BIOS has done its thing.
Sounds like a dead HDD to me?
 
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kiwiguy said:
The "bar" is the Windows load begin, so the BIOS has done its thing.
Sounds like a dead HDD to me?
But why would it work after going into CMOS and then going into windows? Seems it would consistenly chatter wouldn't it?

You should as soon as possible BEFORE DOING ANYTHING copy everything on that drive the person needs or wants to save if its not backed up already. That way if it is a bad hard drive, it will be painless if it dies. Then you can do download a utility and check it because if you try the check first, the drive may crash before its finished.
 
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Good point. I must remember to read more of every post (I blame the painkillers today...)

I would remove the CMOS battery and replace after 10 minutes to reset the bIOS to default, but only after backing up all data.

Odd indeed....
 

Cadenza

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Thanks to all for the suggestions and help, you've given me some things to try (after we get things backed up). I had also run the Dell Diagnostics and the hard drive checked out ok. I tried booting from a bootable CD and the same thing happens, it hangs and the hard drive starts chattering, even when I have the hard drive disabled in Setup. Resetting CMOS would seem to be the first thing to try. After that I'm thinking that I could just substitute another hard drive and see if the problem goes away. Unfortunately, Dell did not ship the computer with an operating system CD so we will have to try to get them to send that.
 
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Cadenza said:
Thanks to all for the suggestions and help, you've given me some things to try (after we get things backed up). I had also run the Dell Diagnostics and the hard drive checked out ok. I tried booting from a bootable CD and the same thing happens, it hangs and the hard drive starts chattering, even when I have the hard drive disabled in Setup. Resetting CMOS would seem to be the first thing to try. After that I'm thinking that I could just substitute another hard drive and see if the problem goes away. Unfortunately, Dell did not ship the computer with an operating system CD so we will have to try to get them to send that.
Try unplugging the hard drive and see if you get that noise--maybe its not the hard drive making the noise.
 
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BTW--have you tried switching the hard drive to another IDE connector (or SATA if its SATA) and power connector? Don't know that it will do anything, but I'd try that also.
 

Cadenza

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Jan 18, 2007
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Problem is fixed! Strangely enough, it was the USB keyboard. I was just at the point of opening up the case to play with the hard drive when I tried rebooting with everything unplugged and it worked. Sequentially plugging things back in isolated it to the keyboard. Tried another keyboard (with DIN plug) and it worked OK.

In hindsight, I suppose I should have tried this first, but the computer was well installed in a piece of furniture and the cables were difficult to get to. Well, I'm learning.

It's interesting that a defective keyboard would cause these symptoms, particularly the chattering hard drive.

Thanks again to everyone for your help.

Steve
 
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