Boot up hangs for 90 seconds before bllep

  ernieernie 13:45 17 Mar 2003

I have a puzzling problem. I am running Windows XP on an Athlon 1700,and am experiencing delay on booting.
When I start up, it takes about 90 seconds before anything happens except that I hear the fan, and the hard disk light comes on. After that I get flashing lights on CD & RW followed by the beep and floppy light (I forget which order for the latter)and then XP loads as normal.
I can't think that it is anything to do with the hard disk as the result is the same if I start up with a boot floppy. I don't think it is anything to do with Windows XP for the same reason.
After it has booted successfully, if I shut down and restart then there is no problem until I have turnd off the computer for an hour or two, when it all happens again.

  Gongoozler 17:15 17 Mar 2003

ernieernie, the only suggestion I can think of is that you have the full Power On Self Test (POST)enabled in BIOS. What is certain is that the problem is nothing to do with your drives or Windows. When you first switch on your computer you will be told to press a key (probably Del) to enter setup. This will open the BIOS screen. In my Award BIOS the appropriate menu page is "Advanced BIOS Features", and there is an item to Enable or Disable Quick Power On Self Test. This may be different for your mother board and for full details on how to modify your BIOS settings you need to refer to your motherboard manual. When Quick Power On Self Test is disabled, BIOS does a thorough check of the motherboard, and in most cases this is much more than is needed.

  ernieernie 23:03 17 Mar 2003

Thanks Gongoozler for your interest.
I re-seated the memory modules in case of bad contact but that made no difference.
I have checked the Bios entries and find that Quick POST is enabled.
I see that next to it is Boot Virus Detection and I have disabled that to see if that is the culprit, though I shall have to wait until tomorrow to see if it works. Surely I do not have to remove my virus checker?
The thing that puzzles me is that if I do a cold boot after completely powering down there is no problem. Does it imply that it is a heat related thing?

  DieSse 23:30 17 Mar 2003

Can you describe exactly what is on the screen at this time please.

  DieSse 23:32 17 Mar 2003

PS - I suspect it's Hard Disk related - the system is having to wait a long time to detect it when cold - but what's on the screen may shed a light on things.

  ernieernie 23:43 17 Mar 2003

DieSse. Thanks for your interest.
Have checked the screen on startup and until the bleep there is nothing, zilch, utter blackness!
The hard disk light is full on, i.e. no flickering.
After a variable pause the DVD and RW drive lights start a dance (at least a dozen alternate flashes) and then the RW light stays on for a second or two followed by the beep and the floppy light. From then on all is normal.

  Gongoozler 09:06 18 Mar 2003

ernieernie, I think DieSse has put his finger on the problem. If after the computer has been on for a while, you shut down and switch off and then reboot, and then the computer boots up quickly the problem must be temperature related. If the hard drive has started to misbehave, then it would be a good idea to back up all your important data and consider buying a new hard drive. Once a hard drive has started to misbehave in any way things can only get worse. With new hard drives starting at not much more than £50 from Dabs click here and E-buyer click here it really isn't worth risking all your data.

  ernieernie 14:56 18 Mar 2003

Gongoozler and DieSse. Thanks again. I see now that it probably is hard disk trouble but now must admit to having two hard drives. How can I tell which one? I have got a Powerquest driveimage of my C drive backed up on my F drive, so it would be easy to replace the C drive, and am proposing to back up the stuff on the F drive to CDs.

  Gongoozler 17:09 18 Mar 2003

ernieernie, to determine which hard drive, just unplug the slave from the ide cable, then see what happens. If the problem is still there, set the old slave as master and put that in place of the old master. Boot up should then get past POST before you get a message that there is no boot drive.

  ernieernie 08:54 19 Mar 2003

Gongoozler. I've tried the first part of your suggestion, i.e. removed the IDE connection from one of the hard disks and it made no difference except that the computer now did not recognise Drive F. So far so good. I now know which hard drive is which and suspect the master as being the culprit.
My 80 year old wobbly fingers do not seem able to cope with the jumpers so I shall have to wait for a junior member of the family to help out. Meantime I am well backed up.
They say you learn more by your failures than your successes and I believe they're right. Thanks to you and DieSse for your help. I will will mark this as being resolved after this message, but will start it up again if I should run into more trouble.

  ernieernie 19:59 24 Mar 2003

The crunch came next morning. It wouldn't boot at all. I took it to a local expert and supplier who diagnosed a faulty power supply which has also written off the motherboard. I have got it back fixed now - (and working!) and it cost me less than a new hard disk! I am letting you know so that you can add it to your knowledge base.
Thanks again.

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