Dell 5000 Freaky Startup Behaviour - Help!

  badgerbadger 09:39 25 Jun 2006


Just wondering if any of you PC Doctors out there can help with this one..

I have a dell 5000 running XP home SP2, dell bios revision A01, which has recently become extremely unreliable at starting up. I think it would test the patience of several saints. Unfortunately the dell warranty has expired.

Here are the symptoms

1. Upon pressing the powerup button, the system will sometimes just sit in the initial 'dell' bios screen, and won't proceed.

2. Sometimes it will proceed into the XP screen. Here, it would seem like everything is normal (hdd activity etc) but then will either lockup (requiring the mains to be switched off as reset wont work), or will reset itself and go back to the bios screen again.

3. Sometimes a message will appear "SATA-0 device not found".

4. Sometimes a message will appear "NTOSKRNL.EXE missing or corrupt". I have followed instructions and replaced this file from the original XP disk, but this had no effect, leading me to believe that this is a red herring. I restored the original .exe file afterwards.

5. Sometimes "CONFIG.SYS" is missing or corrupt.

6. Sometimes "disk read error" will appear.

7. And maybe 1 in 10 times, the pc will fire up normally without any problems (although the XP screen seems to take an age to progress).

I have tried running CHKDSK /R , which did appear to correct some problems but also said "there are one or more unreceoverable problems".

My humble self-diagnosis is that I need to start with a new HDD, fresh load of XP, and see what happens.

However, I am unsure that this is the complete answer, as this still does not explain why it will sometimes actually fire up ok ?

Thanks for taking the time to read this, and any help would be greatly appreciated.


  rawprawn 10:52 25 Jun 2006

I tend to agree with your diagnosis regarding the HDD, Have you tried booting from your XP CD?

  Diemmess 11:13 25 Jun 2006

The old possibility that one or more internal connections are not as secure as they should be.

Particularly RAM which if not doing its job can cause all sorts of seemingly unrelated errors.

  megapack 11:35 25 Jun 2006

The BIOS version for your model of PC is now upto AO7. I would be tempted to get the update from the Dell web site and install it?

  badgerbadger 11:48 25 Jun 2006

Thanks for your help guys, I haven't actually tried booting from the XP Cd other than to enter (R)epair mode.

I am going to start with a fresh HDD as the first step.

Thanks for suggesting the BIOS upgrade - I will investigate this.

I wonder if there is a utility for checking the RAM too?

I will post my (hopeful) resolution up, maybe the information will help someone else in future.

Thanks again - God bless forums..

  megapack 11:56 25 Jun 2006

Dell does have diagnosic software for download on its web site.

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