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Author Topic: Help! PC hanging on first boot  (Read 5586 times)

JennyB

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Help! PC hanging on first boot
« on: April 21, 2007, 08:18:13 AM »
It's pretty ancient - AMD Duron 1.3 Ghz, 256 Ram, XP Home -but it's all I have or can afford at present. Once up to speed, it's fine, but lately it's taken to hanging when I first switch on.  Not always at the same point, it could be anywhere in the boot sequence, which makes me think it could be hardware. The sysfan also seems to cut in and out, and run roughly.

It will (almost) always boot perfectly when I switch off and switch on again, and as I said, it's fine once it gets going, but it's not helping my nerves!

Any suggestions - (apart from leaving it switched on 24-7)?

If you don't see how it can fail -
you haven't understood it properly.

mouser

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Re: Help! PC hanging on first boot
« Reply #1 on: April 21, 2007, 08:30:50 AM »
first thing first, regarding system fan; make sure the fans are actually all run and not turning off.  the quickest way to kill a computer is a broken fan.

f0dder

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Re: Help! PC hanging on first boot
« Reply #2 on: April 21, 2007, 09:51:20 AM »
Do you get any beep codes from the BIOS? (assuming you have your pc speaker (the cruddy little one inside the computer casing) connected). Does it hang, or does it "black out"? Does it happen in the BIOS startup sequence, or while windows is loading?

And yeah, be sure your fans are working... I don't think a duron would melt down within seconds as long as there's a heatsink on it, but even those old CPUs get rather hot, so eventually your cpu could end up fried if the fan isn't working.

- carpe noctem

JennyB

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Re: Help! PC hanging on first boot
« Reply #3 on: April 21, 2007, 11:00:22 AM »
Do you get any beep codes from the BIOS? (assuming you have your pc speaker (the cruddy little one inside the computer casing) connected). Does it hang, or does it "black out"? Does it happen in the BIOS startup sequence, or while windows is loading?

And yeah, be sure your fans are working... I don't think a duron would melt down within seconds as long as there's a heatsink on it, but even those old CPUs get rather hot, so eventually your cpu could end up fried if the fan isn't working.



I've just let it cool off for half an hour, and it came back O.K. first time.

To answer your questions:

A single beep from the BIOS on power-up

It hangs. Processes stop, no response to mouse and keyboard, screen remains on.
Mostly at the "Loading Your Personal Settings"  stage, but it has stalled at various stages:

Turn on - some gibberish on the screen. After that time it told me the CMOS was corrupt, and it was loading the default values
BIOS loads OK, but disk light flashes once, but nothing seems to be read.
Windows loads OK, but hangs before all the systray items load.

A real puzzler  :tellme:

Re: Fans - the cpu fan is fine. The fan at the back of the PSU doesn't start spinning unitl about five seconds after power-up. "Cutting in and out" was a bit of an exaggeration, it's more like a speeding up and slowing down. It's quite noisy during the boot sequence, and still just noticeable thereafter.
If you don't see how it can fail -
you haven't understood it properly.

f0dder

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Re: Help! PC hanging on first boot
« Reply #4 on: April 21, 2007, 11:13:05 AM »
Humm, I dunno how likely a PSU is to burst into flames :), but I'd be worried if the fan starts messing up. It's normal for recent PSUs to change their fan speed depending on how heavily they're loaded, but from your descriptions is sounds more like the fan (or perhaps the PSU itself?) is starting to malfunction. If the PSU is malfunctioning, it might be delivering unstable voltages to your motherboard, check the "hardware monitor" in your BIOS and see if it looks relatively stable (even my expensive antec PSU doesn't hit the right voltages 100%, and it also fluctuates a bit... I think it's around 0.1-0.2 volts off).

Single beep from BIOS stage is normal, to indicate that it actually works and your CPU isn't fried :)

Is the "gibberish on screen" just a lot of techno-jumbo text, or does it look like screen corruption? Any error/warning messages? CMOS corruption can happen if your CMOS battery needs replacement and you haven't had the wall socket the box is connected to powered on. It's not necessarily a problem (though if it keeps happening, you should get the battery changed), and it might be a good idea to review the BIOS settings and see if things are a-okay.

When the machine actually hangs, is that (almost) always when windows is about done loading? Might not be a heat problem since your CPU fan keeps working, but it might be a good idea checking the heatsink to see whether it's clogged up with dust. Could also be voltage problem as mentioned previously. Could be bad RAM, might be an idea to run memtest86 on it for a while, after checking other things. Might also want to check graphics card fan/heatsink.

There's so many things that can go wrong with computers, *sigh*.
- carpe noctem

nosh

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Re: Help! PC hanging on first boot
« Reply #5 on: April 21, 2007, 03:05:41 PM »
The possible causes/ remedies I can think of...

 - I second f0dder on the memory test.

 - You did mention an ancient PC & CMOS corruption, so make sure you swap the button cell on your motherboard for a fresh one.

- Video memory: I faced a lot of freezes right after the "loading your personal settings" screen and it turned out to be a faulty config of the video card. If you're running off a dedicated video card and have an onboard graphics adapter too, I'd suggest booting using the onboard adapter to see if  the dedicated card is the culprit. 

Also make sure you have no hardware conflicts, via the device manager.

=========================================================

An unlikely remedy that I would have tried anyway...
 - Check for overheating using Speedfan,
http://www.almico.com/speedfan.php - make sure your fan/s are running at full blast.
 
 - Also try booting to DOS using a Win98 boot disk a few times and use it there for a few minutes each time. If it loads flawlessly everytime, it might be Windows messing up.
« Last Edit: April 21, 2007, 03:11:10 PM by nosh »

Carol Haynes

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Re: Help! PC hanging on first boot
« Reply #6 on: April 21, 2007, 05:42:51 PM »
Have you tried booting windows into safe mode (press F8 as soon as the BIOS screens disappear) to make sure you haven't got a corrupted driver in Windows? If windows is almost loading that is where I would look first. Sometimes if windows gets corrupted even safe mode refuses to start. Try booting from a MEMTEST disc (see below) and let it run for a while. If it runs without errors it is likely to be a windows fault.

Another thought is how long is it since you replaced the BIOS battery on the motherboard - they should last 2-3 years but I have had them last less than that and you get all sorts of odd problems which look like BIOS corruption.

If the battery is OK and you are still having problems I would try the following sequence:

On another computer download MEMTEST86+ and create a floppy as per instructions.

Switch off and remove the power cable. Strip your system to bare essentials:

- CPU + FAN
- Single stick of memory
- Onboard graphics (preferably if you have it) or graphics card if you don't have onboard graphics.
- Floppy disc drive

Unplug everything else except the PSU connector and don't forget your USB devices etc. plugged in at the back. (Make a note of where everything goes if you aren't sure)

Boot up and go into the BIOS (usually press DEL quick at the first sign of life). You may want to make a note of any BIOS customisations you have made before you proceed further.

Switch off and remove the power cable. Remove the motherboard battery and move the link to clear the BIOS memory to its clear setting. Wait a few minutes then move the link back to normal position and replace the battery. Now plug in and switch on. In the BIOS find the option for default/factory settings and restore those. Disable any peripherals you don't normally use (such as game ports/serial ports etc).

Also find the option to quick boot and switch it off - this will force the BIOS to do a more thorough POST.

Now switch off - leave it for a couple of minutes. Insert the MEMTEST+ floppy disc and switch on again .... if it gets through POST and tries to boots from the floppy it doesn't look like a hardware fault on the basic system. Leave it running over night.

If there are no MEMTEST faults next morning it is likely that basic hardware is working fine. Now add back your hardware bit by bit and test after each one (run a few cycles of MEMTEST each time). Don't connect your hard discs until last (otherwise you may have to activate windows again because of massive hardware changes).



If you still have trouble booting into Windows at random places it may be a capacitor on the motherboard - check all of them visually with a torch (the ones that cause problems usually look like small tin cans). Check there is no discolouration on any of them. A number of years ago Athlon boards were plagued with duff capacitors (there was a dodgy batch distributed to all manufacturers and a lot of boards got recalled). I was suffering a similar problem (except sometimes my system refused to power on at all if poswer had been off all night). In the end I gave up and built a new system.

If the worst comes to the worst try eBay for a replacement mobo - otherwise you might have to bite the bullet and get a new system!



Another problem solving approach would be to do an image backup of your system partition and then try a quick fresh reinstall of windows - if that boots you know it is the original installation - if not you know its probably a hardware compnent.
« Last Edit: April 21, 2007, 05:49:32 PM by Carol Haynes »

f0dder

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Re: Help! PC hanging on first boot
« Reply #7 on: April 21, 2007, 05:52:14 PM »
I'd start with testing all ram stick (ie., current config) - if that passes, you know it's not the ram. *if* that fails, you can test ram sticks (and sockets >_<) individually. But unplugging all unnecessary hardware is a good idea.

Just be careful about running it overnight - it's what you ought to do to stress things a bit, but if PSU fan is failing...
- carpe noctem

Carol Haynes

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Re: Help! PC hanging on first boot
« Reply #8 on: April 21, 2007, 06:15:27 PM »
If you are suspicious of the CPU fan it is probably worth replacing it anyway - it will only cost $3-4 and the time it takes to remove and replace 4 screws

JennyB

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Re: Help! PC hanging on first boot
« Reply #9 on: April 22, 2007, 01:26:04 AM »
Thanks for the replies, guys.  :Thmbsup:

I did a memtest on it yesterday and it passed OK. I'll replace the CMOS tomorrow.

When I first switched on just now it got as far as lighting the floppy and then I got a continuous squeal from the speaker and everything stopped. Turned it off, selected "last known good configuration" and it booted OK.

ATM I think the main problem may be the PSU. The 12V + and - is showing fluctuating between 12.5 and 12.9 in steady state, so I'm guessing it's even more erratic on power-up. The BIOS is set to "Halt on all errors" so...

If you don't see how it can fail -
you haven't understood it properly.

JennyB

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Re: Help! PC hanging on first boot
« Reply #10 on: April 22, 2007, 01:32:26 AM »
Another thought on the Windows side. Some time ago I changed the default account to limited and added an admin account for installing software. It still (normally) boots into thedefault account. How can I change that, so that I get the choice on boot?
If you don't see how it can fail -
you haven't understood it properly.

Carol Haynes

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Re: Help! PC hanging on first boot
« Reply #11 on: April 22, 2007, 04:10:57 AM »
If it is the PSU settling down after use you can try this ...

Switch on and go into the BIOS and watch the voltage levels for a couple of minutes and note what is happening.

Go and have a cup of coffee or two

After 15-20 minutes check the voltages in the BIOS if they are still erratic you could try replacing the PSU - if they have settled down reboot your system.

Trouble is that decent PSUs are expensive. If you do buy one get one that is future proofed. I an guessing your system has a 20 pin mobo connector - there are lots of decent PSUs with a 20 pin connector and an extra 4 pin block which clips to the end to make it compatible with the newer 24 pin connectors.

A PSU I have been seriously impressed with is Hiper HPU-4K580-MK Type R 580W Modular ATX2.2 PSU

CA-005-HP_400.jpg

It is beautifully built, completely modular, supports 20/24 pin mobos and comes beautifully packages in a reusable tool box! I bought it for a spare computer (long story) because it was well rated and a decent price.

Carol Haynes

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Re: Help! PC hanging on first boot
« Reply #12 on: April 22, 2007, 04:15:30 AM »
Another thought on the Windows side. Some time ago I changed the default account to limited and added an admin account for installing software. It still (normally) boots into thedefault account. How can I change that, so that I get the choice on boot?

Use TweakUI to set the account that logs in automatically. You can download it from the Microsoft Power Toys page or directly from TweakUI Installer

JennyB

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Re: Help! PC hanging on first boot
« Reply #13 on: April 24, 2007, 07:54:12 AM »
Too early to say for sure, but switching Windows back to manual log in and replacing the button cell seemsto have done the trick. The PSU fan is running Ok even though the BIOS doesn't detect it.

Given Mouser's recent experience, I'm not inclined to mess with it any more!  :P 
If you don't see how it can fail -
you haven't understood it properly.

Carol Haynes

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Re: Help! PC hanging on first boot
« Reply #14 on: April 24, 2007, 10:25:20 AM »
PSU fans often aren't detected - does the PSU actually have a fly lead to connect the fan to the motherboard? Most don't in my experience (I have bought many PSUs over the years and have yet to see one with a detectable fan) and then the BIOS has no way to know even if there is one!!

Lashiec

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Re: Help! PC hanging on first boot
« Reply #15 on: April 24, 2007, 01:08:03 PM »
12,5 and 12,9... Humm, I don't have the specs around, but I think that is surpassing the range allowed by the organization that issues the recommendations for PSUs (which more than recommendations are mandatory). Which PSU is?

A PSU I have been seriously impressed with is Hiper HPU-4K580-MK Type R 580W Modular ATX2.2 PSU

AHA! So you're into fancy PSUs, don't ya? ;D

f0dder

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Re: Help! PC hanging on first boot
« Reply #16 on: April 24, 2007, 04:44:09 PM »
The (Antec) PSU that came with the Antec case I bought for a friend has one of those teeny-weeny connectors for measuring rpm speed, nifty enough. Can't remember if my own Antec PSU has one, I don't keep that kind of monitoring software running :)

12.5-12.9v does seem a bit excessive, I'm not too fond when there's more than 0.2v deviation from the specified voltage.
- carpe noctem

Carol Haynes

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Re: Help! PC hanging on first boot
« Reply #17 on: April 24, 2007, 07:48:28 PM »
The (Antec) PSU that came with the Antec case I bought for a friend has one of those teeny-weeny connectors for measuring rpm speed, nifty enough. Can't remember if my own Antec PSU has one, I don't keep that kind of monitoring software running :)

12.5-12.9v does seem a bit excessive, I'm not too fond when there's more than 0.2v deviation from the specified voltage.


If you have the connector you should keep it connected then the BIOS can let you know if there are problems even if you don't have Windows software monitoring it.

JennyB

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Re: Help! PC hanging on first boot
« Reply #18 on: April 25, 2007, 12:49:11 AM »
The (Antec) PSU that came with the Antec case I bought for a friend has one of those teeny-weeny connectors for measuring rpm speed, nifty enough. Can't remember if my own Antec PSU has one, I don't keep that kind of monitoring software running :)

12.5-12.9v does seem a bit excessive, I'm not too fond when there's more than 0.2v deviation from the specified voltage.


First boot this morning and it stalled again as soon as the floppy drive lit.  :( Booted OK on the second attempt.  Looks like I'll need a new PSU.
If you don't see how it can fail -
you haven't understood it properly.

JennyB

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Re: Help! PC hanging on first boot
« Reply #19 on: April 25, 2007, 03:15:37 AM »
Booted up again after dinner first time, so things are better, but not 100%. I"m all my current work well backed up in the meantime.

Thanks again to everyone who replied on this thread for your helpful advice.
If you don't see how it can fail -
you haven't understood it properly.