PC not booting - hardware or software issue?

  User-731D3F8D-D8EB-4CD3-BAC35C722C57B032 14:25 05 Sep 2009

My PC is 5 years old and has developed numerous problems in the space of 2 months. I've had a computer engineer out to look at it several times now and it's unclear whether the PC is actually dying due to a hardware problem (most likely motherboard or processor) or it can just do with a reinstall of windows.

The PSU and graphics card overheated which has since been replaced, but while it was overheating it may have damaged other hardware.

These days it blue screens a lot, crashes halfway through and refuses to boot up, unless, and this I found out through trial and error with the engineer: I unplug the power cable, switch off the machine at the back, take the cover of the case, and unplug the cables going into the Hard Drive and Graphics card, let it cool down for a while, and then reboot. Then it works.

Does this sound like a hardware or software problem? The engineer is at a loss unless I spend more money finding out.

Please can anyone advise? I'm not very technical and need to know if it can be repaired rather than pay out for a new machine.

  Fruit Bat /\0/\ 14:38 05 Sep 2009

unplug the cables going into the Hard Drive and Graphics card, Let it cool down for a while, and then reboot

this still sounds like PSU error.
1. check motherboard for "bulging" capacitors
2. make sure all fans and heatsinks are clean and working.
3. run Memory Test
MemTest - click here
Tutorial: How to use Memtest - click here
Windows Memory Test - click here
4. download diagnostic prgram from your hard drive manufacturer and run full test.

1. run a good virus and malware checker
2. check there is plenty of spare space on your hard drive for the "swapfile"

My gues would be that windows is just starting to die. I have a 5 year old PC. It started getting extremely slow. I am waiting to buy a copy of Windows 7.

  Fruit Bat /\0/\ 14:47 05 Sep 2009

Windows just doesn't start to die, my 5 year old PC still flies along. you need to do some "house keeping".

Get rid of all the junk files etc. see my next two posts for how to speed up a slow PC.

  Fruit Bat /\0/\ 14:47 05 Sep 2009

1. Software

a) Clear out all temporay files and folders -- use Crap Cleaner click here

b) Scan for malware spyware and viruses --Free Anti Spyware :-
Superantispyware click here
Malware removal tool click here

Free Antivirus software
Avast4 click here
AVG antivirus click here

c) Clean the registry -- Free Registry cleaners :-
RegscrubVistaXp click here
Regseeker click here
TweakNow RegCleaner 1.3.2 click here
Easycleaner click here ( Use with care, It advises you to back up the registry first, this is a good idea as it cleans rather aggressively. )

d) Pagefile (Virtual Memory) -- Rght click MY Computer - select propeties - Advanced tab - Performance - advanced tab - Virtual memory click change, you can put the page file on a differnt drive (if you have one), click custom size and set Initial size to one and a half times the amount of memory you have fitted i.e. 512MB memory = set to 768MB, set maximum to double your memory amount i.e. 512MB memory = 1024MB click ok.
If your hard drive is full and there is not enough room for the pagefile this can slow down, freeze or even cause the PC to crash (restart).

e) Cut down on the programs that load at startup -- Start - Run type msconfig - startup tab- untick everything except for firewall, antivirus and antispyware

and the services that run in the background. click here

  Fruit Bat /\0/\ 14:48 05 Sep 2009

2. Hardware

a) Hard drives / IDE Channels:

i) Check the transfer rate, you need to have the transfer mode set to DMA not PIO.
Right click My Computer - Properties - Hardware - Device Manager - Expand (click the + ) IDE ATA/ATAPI controllers right click Primary Channel - Advanced Settings Tab -
If transfer Mode is PIO then follow the instructions at click here to change.

ii) Check for errors and defrag your hard drives -- My Computer - select drive - properties - tool tab - Error checking / Defragmentation.

ii) If you are using Windows XP or Vista, it's a good idea to convert your system drive to the NTFS file system if you have not already. In addition to providing numerous security and data recovery improvements over FAT32 (the file system of choice for Windows 9x/ME and XP Home) it can also speed up your system slightly.

In fact, the only real reason for sticking with the FAT32 file system for any of your data is if you have more than one operating system on your PC and the other OS's can only see FAT32 partitions (as would be the case with Windows 98, for example, which is incapable of reading NTFS data).

To convert your drives to NTFS:
Right click on 'my computer' and select 'manage'
From the computer management window, expand storage and select 'disk management.'
Using the 'file system' column of the upper pane of this window, you can easily check what file system each of your logical drives is using. Make a note of this information.
Now open a command prompt window by going to 'start\run' and typing 'cmd'
To convert a disk to NTFS, type 'convert (drive letter): /fs:ntfs'
So for example, if you were going to convert your C: drive, you would type 'Convert c: /fs:ntfs' at the prompt.

b) Drivers
Obtain the newest drivers for your hardware
This may seem a bit obvious, but keeping your system's drivers up to date can give both your performance and stability a boost. Video card manufacturers release updates especially often, and these can often give "significant boosts" to gaming performance as video card in question is "optimized."

Don't neglect the other components of your system either. Your motherboard manufacturer may have released newer versions of its Input/output drivers for your board, and sound cards and other peripherals can also benefit from newer software.

c) Memory
Add more physical memory, this of course means opening the "box" and fitting a memory module, make sure you buy one that is suitable for your PC. Crucial .com click here will guide you through the process of slecting the correct memory. click here for a guide to fitting memory.

Thanks Fruit Bat. I need some help understanding what I need to do?

What's a PSU error? I had the PSU replaced along with a new battery.
What are bulging capacitors and heatsinks? I can google to see images. What exactly am I looking for when I find them?

I forgot to add that if I don't switch it off at the back and do the whole sequence of actions and just start the PC as per usual, the tower case switches on but the monitor doesn't receive a signal. What's going on here?

Wow, I've just seen your later posts Fruit Bat. Thanks for all the suggestions, will sit down and do as much as I can understand.

Ok, my PC now doesn't boot at all and I haven't been able to try the suggestions above. Does this mean it's fried? What do I do now?

If my PC is dead, how do I wipe the my data on my hard drive?


  Fruit Bat /\0/\ 17:27 23 Sep 2009

What are he exact symptoms of "doesn't boot at all"

any signs of life - fans running leds lit har drive running?

If totally dead then fuse - cable - PSU - disconnect all drives and usb devices from motherboard retry.

  woodchip 17:34 23 Sep 2009

Try it this way, Remove plugs from Hard Drive and try booting to BIOS. Try this several times. If it boots okay then suspect faulty hard drive. also try reseating memory cards with power off

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