Mysterious PC-won’t-boot issue- totally stumped!

  • This topic has 20 replies, 10 voices, and was last updated 1 year ago by  poah.
Viewing 21 posts - 1 through 21 (of 21 total)
  • Mysterious PC-won’t-boot issue- totally stumped!
  • Premier Icon Northwind
    Subscriber

    This seems weird. Last week, I turned my PC off, realised I’d forgotten to update something, it wouldn’t restart. Went through a series of fast (2-3 second) power cycles, then got as far as trying to start Windows (10) and locked. Had a general fanny about, nothing worked, tried to boot it from an iso dvd then a memory stick, nothing doing. It always either sticks right at the start of booting windows (with a stuck swirly dots thing) or it goes to a purple/blue screen with no icons.

    Hmm, OK. So I tried a memtest iso, all fine, and shuffled sticks just on the off chance. I had a spare hard drive so I tried putting a new install on that but ran into the exact same issues- it’ll go as far as “boot from a DVD?” and then purple screens. With a memory stick windows iso it’s the same without the boot message. So I feel like eliminating the hard drive itself

    So I downloaded Hiren’s Boot CD, which includes a sawn-off Windows XP that’ll run from the CD drive. And that boots just fine. It’s low on features (by design) but everything seems bob on. It doesn’t show any hard drives but I don’t know if that’s normal or not. So that rules out GPU, CPU. Which I’m happy about because that stuff’s expensive, it’s got a last gen haswell i7 in it that I do not want to replace

    Sooooo… It’s a hard drive related fault? But I’ve swapped hard drives, power connections, sata cables. Not all known good but sort of presumed good- new sata cable, tested hard drive, tested cable.

    So that leaves… Motherboard, presumably, or some sort of biosey sata controller thing that I don’t understand. I’ve cleared CMOS and reset the board to factory defaults without any noticable changes and basically stripped it back to simple stuff (hard drive not SSD frinstance, removed anything that’s not necessary) but now I’m just out of ideas…

    So before I load the parts cannon, is there anything I don’t know about that I should do? I should say that while all the isos and that probably make it sound like I know what I’m doing, but I’m just mechanicking it and googling stuff, I can built and tune PCs but I know piss all about fixing them and I’m plain bad with software… So any help’d be much appreciated even if it’s just hints.

    H1ghland3r
    Member

    Given everything you’ve checked it sounds to me like the SATA controller has failed. It’s possible your motherboard has 2 controllers, a lot do..  Maybe a google for the motherboard or dig out the motherboard manual and see if it does, in which case try the HDD in one of the sockets for the alternate controller and see what that does.!?

    mikewsmith
    Member

    Can you boot it fully into Linux?

    My desktop did the same but booted and installed Linux which was a little confusing – issue never resolved as I packed it up for shipping back to the UK as I was running out of time

    Premier Icon Cougar
    Subscriber

    Sounds like mobo to me, if only because there’s not much else it can be.

    Can you get to the minidumps on one of the HDDs?  That might give a clue.

    Premier Icon gofasterstripes
    Subscriber

    Could also be a bad ram chip on the vidcard. If your lightweight OS doesn’t use much VRAM or doesn’t load the drivers for the card it could perhaps cause it to “work”…

    Premier Icon Northwind
    Subscriber

    OK cheers folks, I’ll bash off responses in order

    @H1ghlan3r, all the sata ports are on the same controller. But now i think about it, so is the DVD drive and it works fine. I dislike this fact, it messes with my nice clean diagnosis.

    @Cougar, linux scares me but I’ll have a play with it, see if I can get anything interesting. I don’t have any way to access the minidumps just now but might be able to get my old PC up and running and get at them that way, been meanng to do that anyway.

    @gofasterstripes, interesting thought… I’m not sure if I can stress test in the mini XP boot… But then again the point where it’s failing is presumably lower gpu use anyway. My gut feeling is it’s not this, it all feels like it’s the point where it first reaches for the HDD that it falls over. But not conclusive of course. I’ll see where the linux route goes, that’ll give me more toys if I can get it going

    Ah actually, I’ve got a whole other GPU, time to put that in! I hadn’t thought of that

    mattyfez
    Member

    Linux mint or Ubuntu is dead easy to use, they are pretty similar interfaces to Windows /mac these days.. at least for diagnostic purposes, and you can boot directly from a USB flash drive to try them out.

    Do you have a motherboard bios speaker? If not they are about a quid and can be a handy diagnostic tool, as you’ll get a series of beeps on startup that could help narrow down the fault.

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/sourcingmap®-Computer-Mainboard-Buzzer-Speaker/dp/B017LB6CJS/ref=mp_s_a_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1528313850&sr=8-3&pi=AC_SX236_SY340_FMwebp_QL65&keywords=Bios+speaker&dpPl=1&dpID=31mJsqoOt4L&ref=plSrch

    TThat said, if the boot up is making it past the Bios POST (power on self test) part of the boot up procedure and is failing when trying to load windows up, it could be a corrupt or missing Windows system file, which can happen for various mysterious reasons.

    If that’s the case, you can boot from a windows Dvd or flash drive, and there’s several repair commands you can run from there.

    Premier Icon gofasterstripes
    Subscriber

    Any update bruvva?

    zzjabzz
    Member

    Corrupted MBR? Run fixmbr from your boot disc…

    Premier Icon Northwind
    Subscriber

    Updates… Waiting for a new board! It’ll boot from a ubuntu live cd no bother but still won’t recognise any drives and has some occasional post failures when it’s got a drive connected that don’t happen when it doesn’t (as far as I can tell anyway; it’s possible that it’s just a sample size dealy) So considering there’s things about the board I don’t like anyway  I just cut to the chase and picked up an amazon warehouse deal on a nicer MSI.

    I never realised you could get plug-in bios speakers, I’ve always had gigabyte boards for a long time that are a bit weird about basic functions like that too so that’s a nice one to add to the brain. I don’t know why I always end up with gigabyte considering I don’t like em

    Oh and my spare PC’s also dead, but **** that, I can’t be doing with fixing both at the same time. This laptop’s shite too, I bought it off the classifieds here for £80. And my bloody printer broke too, it’s like they’ve unionised

    project
    Member

    try changing the small button cell battery, worked for me.

    mattyfez
    Member

    The speakers sometimes come with pc cases, not often these days motherboards come with them. Some higher end motherboards have a light or a diagnostic digital display of some sort that serves the same purpose.

    They are handy, I didn’t slot my graphs card in properly when building a pc once, it felt like it was in but it was a very tight fit and wasn’t all the way home. Beep code indicated graphics card error, so I knew immediately where the likely problem was. Saves a lot of faffing and swapping parts round to try and isolate a problem.

    Premier Icon Northwind
    Subscriber

    And I’m typing this on the big PC again, having thrown the old motherboard into a volcano and stabbed a new one into its malicious heart. Windows repair process really is easy these days isn’t it… The “purple screen of death” I was getting was the windows install language screen- for whatever reason that was the exact point it fell over so it’d render the purple backdrop but no menus.  New mobo is much purtier and seems to have less of the Manufacturer Bullshit that Gigabyte like, so once I get everything shipshape and wired back in I’ll see what performance I can squeeze out of this i7 with the new board

    And squeezed a speaker into it too, that’s a top tip.

    Thanks everyone! On the one hand, it kind of seems like I just did exactly what I thought I was going to do in the original post, but all the comments basically gave me the nerve to go ahead with that rather than nickel-and-diming the cheaper parts one at a time so thanks!

    chewkw
    Member

    try changing the small button cell battery, worked for me.

    Could be this ^^^.

    If you buy a new mobo just make sure you get a new battery cell battery to go with it.

    Or the RAM is slowly dying.

    I had a rather similar same problem few weeks ago where I needed to constantly reboot because it would not go beyond the loggin screen. When I managed to log in, I did the RAM diagnostic it said the RAM (using Microsoft own tools) was faulty.

    I am now budgeting for a mid-range PC looking at ASUS ROG Strix B360-G Gaming mobo with i3-8100 chip …

    Was considering AMD Ryzen but they seem to have some complication with software hardware so perhaps I shall try them next time when they are more stable.

    Premier Icon Cougar
    Subscriber

    I’m at a loss as to why (or how) a flat CMOS battery could remotely cause the problems anyone’s describing here.

    retro83
    Member

    Cougar

    I’m at a loss as to why (or how) a flat CMOS battery could remotely cause the problems anyone’s describing here.

    Because some motherboards are really crap. I haven’t seen the issue in a long time though. 10+ years.

    At a guess the low battery voltage is resulting in corrupted values in the memory somewhere. Later in the boot process, OS or BIOS tries to read/interpret this and shits the bed.

    retro83
    Member

    Here you go, another example

    https://steamcommunity.com/discussions/forum/11/618460171318429760/

    Before I had replaced the CMOS battery, whenever I turned on the computer, it would power up for 1.2 seconds and then power off. Then I would have to unplug the PSU and let it sit for hours and only then could I turn in on again, or, it would power off immediately after 1. 2 seconds.

    The method that made the computer boot again was to remove the CMOS battery and reinserted it and then wait an hour or more. After that the computer would boot and go into BIOS, but without replacing the weak CMOS battery with a fresh one it occurred again the next morning. The computer powered off after pressing the power button.

    Replacing the old CMOS battery with a new one fixed the problem. It does sound odd since most people on the web will asume the problem is a dyring PSU, fried MOBO, CPU or RAM. Fortunately I didn’t have to jump through the hoops and purchase unnecessary hardware when the problem was simply a weak CMOS battery.

    Premier Icon Cougar
    Subscriber

    Later in the boot process

    There is no “later in the boot process,” once the BIOS has handed off to the MBR its work is done. At that point you could get a screwdriver and prise out the BIOS chip for the difference it would make.

    UEFI is somewhat more complicated but for the sake of argument here this is broadly still the case.  If you’ve got to a point where the OS has started loading up then it’s unlikely to be a firmware issue.

    Here you go, another example

    … of completely different symptoms.  That’s a boot problem, Windows keeling over post-bootloader is not a boot problem.

    chewkw
    Member

    Cougar,

    If I leave my computer off / unplug without booting for more than say 8 hrs I will get all sorts of BSOD when I reboot it again after 8hrs.    I will have header problem, memory problem etc etc … practically a long list of errors …

    To solve the problem I just have to keep booting again and again … until after one or two hour later the system starts to stabilise.  Then I just make sure I keep the computer booted the whole day, after that I make sure I boot the system early in the morning before going to work and sometimes leave it on (but log off).

    Same happened to my friend until he changed the CMOS battery.  He advised me to change but I did not bother so had to bear with for now.

    As far as I know the drivers for my mobo, graphic card, SSD etc are all up-to-date.

    I am in the process of building a new system so this time I will definitely change the CMOS battery before I do other things.

    Premier Icon Cougar
    Subscriber

    If the CMOS battery goes, it’ll lose the BIOS settings.  That’s all it does, provide battery backup for the volatile memory which holds the settings.

    On a (modern-ish) traditional BIOS system this is largely irrelevant as most things auto-detect on boot.  The biggest issue you’ll have is that the time and date will be wrong, which can kybosh things like Windows Update.  It’d likely cause boot issues if your PC was built in 1994 I suppose.

    On a UEFI system it can potentially cause booting weirdness as it’s inherently more complex than a BIOS system (the ‘B’ stands for ‘Basic’ and is aptly named).  Note here though use of the word “boot” – once the firmware hands over to the OS, it’s still irrelevant for all practical purposes.  If you’re getting the Windows splash screen and having stability issues, well, that’s like your car stalling after running for a few seconds and blaming the starter motor.

    Chewkw, based solely on what you’ve said, that sounds potentially like a thermal issue.  It’s unstable until the system warms up.  I’d be checking that cards, RAM etc are firmly seated as a first salvo.  If seems unlikely to me that your friend a) had exactly that scenario – it’s weird enough that I’ve never come across it before – and b) that a CMOS battery swap fixed it.

    I could be wrong of course, but if I am then I cannot see a logical mechanism as to how unless I’ve fundamentally misunderstood something about how UEFI works.  Happy to be proven wrong.

    poah
    Member

    Was considering AMD Ryzen but they seem to have some complication with software hardware

    not that I know of.  I’ve had no issues with my Ryzen 7 1700

Viewing 21 posts - 1 through 21 (of 21 total)

The topic ‘Mysterious PC-won’t-boot issue- totally stumped!’ is closed to new replies.