Boot-up Problems

 1 No boot up screen, power applied OK and probably some hard disk noise from its internal self diagnostic. If the monitor is a modern type it will remain in standby without a green light.

Problem: If the motherboard appears to be dead the memory is probably not fitted or not plugged in firmly or the wrong sort of memory for the motherboard. Some motherboards make a bleep or two but others just sit there getting slightly warm and nothing more. Note that there are lots of memory conventions...386: single 30 or 72 pin SIMMs OK, 486: SIMMs in (matched) pairs or special double SIMMs, Pentium: as 486. DIMMs are now the order of the day and these can of course be fitted singly. Note that some motherboards insist on SIMMs with parity and some can be selectable Parity/No parity in the BIOS. There are different types of SIMMs, Fast Page and EDO etc. There are also a host of different types of DIMM. Some motherboards insist on PC100 or better. Some motherboards allow one to set the memory speed by plus or minus a bit on the clock rate ie. 66MHz + 33 MHz, 100MHz + 33MHz or 100MHx - 33MHz to suit PC100, PC133 or slower types. If in doubt get hold of the correct motherboard booklet and read it.


 2 Nothing on the monitor.

Problem: Monitor not plugged in (or switched on!). Most motherboards make a series of bleeps when no monitor is plugged in. The lead can fall out if it's not screwed up tight. Check round the back before ringing up about Warranty provisions.


 3 Boot up stalls during start up phase.

Problem: Usually a hard drive problem. Check that the master/slave settings are OK on the drive or any device sharing the same IDE bus. If the cable is a new UDMA2 I find that a new hard drive cannot co-exist on the bus with another older type or some CDROMs so be prepared to experiment if its a new machine under construction or an old one being upgraded. Check the cable is fitted snugly to the connectors. Check that the cable plug hasn't been loosened. Most cables are very flimsy and will not stand being roughly unplugged without coming apart.

If you've just fitted a new CD Writer it may be incompatible with an existing device on the same IDE bus. Try different combinations. It's recommended however that if you wish to retain an ordinary CDROM, so you can copy CDs "on the fly", that it's on a different bus to the writer. This is because most motherboards can't manage to interlace data to two devices at a half decent speed. In my case I had to dispense with the UDMA2 (the 66MHz) cable and revert to an ordinary one. In other cases I haven't had a problem though... two devices will work happily on the new fast bus. The last machine I upgraded though was a problem. The CD writer had to be fitted as a SLAVE to the secondary bus even though there was only one hard drive (on the primary bus) and no master on the secondary. The writer just wouldn't work in any other way.


 4 Boot up delay at start up.

Problem: Usually the hard drive not recognised or you have forgotten to set the type in the CMOS. Some BIOS types will auto-detect automatically but some need to be taken through the hard drive setup first. Some BIOSs seem to take more than 3 minutes to tell you there's a hard drive problem. Before this you'll have rebooted so you may never see the notice.


 5 Apparently dead motherboard but power is OK.

Problem: If the processor is a SLOT 1 or a SLOT A type check that the module is pushed down firmly. You should hear at least one click as it beds down. Check visually to see that it's plugged in squarely and all the way vertically. Note that the mains plug should be removed before touching the processor module.


 6 Boot up doesn't work properly

Problem: Visually check that all the plug-in cards are inserted correctly. Sometimes a motherboard may not be fitted properly and this may not allow a card to plug in all the way. The row of gold pins should be uniformly visible along the socket and not at an angle. If the motherboard brass mounts are the wrong height you can get these sort of problems. Sometimes it's just the end card as tolerances get worse at the end.


 7 Computer stops during boot up with a "meaningless" message

Problem: During execution of the SYSTEM.INI commands the machine locked up with a black screen and a message (not always the same to do with "IOS"). The only way to get it going was to switch off and on.

The machine had just been upgraded from a 200 to a 300 Cyrix chip. The motherboard could run at 75MHz but the handbook said it may not. The 200 chip ran at 66MHz, the 300 at 75MHz. Although everything worked initially, after two or three days it didn't. Goodness knows why not. I refitted the original chip and it all worked again, albeit a little slower.


 8 The computer is running Windows 95 and suddenly won't boot and declares its got a Registry problem

Problem: A message will appear and its outcome will assume you are an accomplished programmer.

Solution: Take it to an accomplished programmer who will either fix it the recommended way, making visible the Registry File (which has a name nothing like "Registry" saving it, making visible the backup registry and saving that as well, then swapping the former for the latter and making them both invisible again. On the other hand, if you know about Windows 98 there are better ways of doing things! Windows 95 isn't really much different to 98 and most things that can now be done in 98 can also be done in 95 with the aid of a donor machine. You could try upgrading from 95 to 98, but I've found the hard way that 50% of the time things go from bad to worse.



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