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Stroby

Ocassional start up failure

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I have a Dell dimension 5100, it's getting on in years but its been modified quite a lot since it came off the production line, fairly recently (last few months) it has developed a problem where it doesn't start up, it was very very infrequent at first but is slowly becoming far more common.

 

What it does is that you push on power and the first screen comes up which has the dell logo on it and a loading bar and sometimes the bar will load to 2/3 full then just stop, nothing else, no strange noises, no nothing. Always gets to the same point on the bar until just now where it only made it 1/2 way which made me think that the problem was developing. The Dell loading screen usually only takes a few seconds on a normal boot. I understand that my computer is old and really needs replacing soon-ish but I get on with it, so if anyone knows of this problem then please give me some fixing suggestions. Also another point is my hard drive only has 7% free space now but this problem started when I had about 17%, just thought that might be worth mentioning

 

-PC Specs-

Windows XP Home - SP3

Dell Dimension 5100

Intel Pentium 4 3GHz

RAM - 2560MB

Bios - Phoenix

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Try the simple stuff first. Disconnect the PC, open it up. Touch the metal case to discharge any static electricity. Clean out the dust bunnies. Make sure all connectors and cards are seated firmly. Don't forget the memory modules.

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Also another point is my hard drive only has 7% free space now but this problem started when I had about 17%, just thought that might be worth mentioning

Sounds like a Windows problem, have you run checkdisk, defragged etc.

 

Plus, may be irrelevant but I have read that for Windows to run optimally it requires around 25% free space on the hard drive

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Stroby, do yourself a favor and add a bit more RAM and the system will thank you for it.

 

Go to http://crucial.com and let it run its System Scan to show you the upgrade path.

 

You don't have to buy the RAM from them but it is very easy to purchase the RAM at a local PC store and insert it yourself and you can check for dust bunnys at the same time or take the system to a local PC store and they will install and test it for you for a small fee.

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Also another point is my hard drive only has 7% free space now but this problem started when I had about 17%, just thought that might be worth mentioning

 

I didn't see where you mentioned the size of the hard drive, but 7% free is not a good thing. And there's not a snowball's chance that it is contiguous. If you get your PC to boot again, try to get the free space down to at least 20%, Then do a disk defrag. It will probably take a long time. I would not recommend doing a defrag with 7% free.

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Stroby, do yourself a favor and add a bit more RAM and the system will thank you for it.

Depends on whether he made a typo, he did say 2560MB (2.56 GB is plenty). Even if it is a typo and meant 256Mb not really gonna be causing this problem.

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You can also run a memory test on the system which will check the ram to see if it's faulty or not:

http://www.memtest.org/

or use Microsoft's memory tester tool:

http://oca.microsoft.com/en/windiag.asp

 

It also wouldn't hurt to get the S.M.A.R.T. status of your hard disk, if it fails it's time for a new hard disk. HDTune Free can check it:

http://www.hdtune.com/

 

 

Try the simple stuff first. Disconnect the PC, open it up. Touch the metal case to discharge any static electricity. Clean out the dust bunnies. Make sure all connectors and cards are seated firmly. Don't forget the memory modules.

That's also a good practice if a computer randomly freezes while running, or causes frequent file corruption.

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Ok, today I did a dusting (it wasn't too bad in there but still got a fair bit out) then I pushed all components in and I haven't had a bad start up yet but then there have only been 3 boots so far so I wouldn't be too hopeful that it has magically fixed by that. I have also run HD tune on my C drive and it gave it a health status Ok, but did highlight spin relay count in yellow, if that means anything I don't know.

 

As for the RAM checks have been having hell trying to run either. I have no floppy drive (I was annoyed at this when I first got the dell but meh) so I cant do that option, a piece of Dell software I have never used refused to help me when I tried to burn either ISOs (now it wants to be bought). So I tried cdburn.exe only for some reason to I got cdburn.exe is not a valid win32 application error message, so I couldn't use that grrr. I was pretty sure you can't just burn the plain ISO using windows explorer but I wasn't 100% sure so I gave it a try booted with CD drive as primary drive and it skipped over that so I figured life couldn't be that simple. I also have a nice empty USB stick here but can't for the life of me discover how Memtest86 want it to get on the stick, I got their pre-compiled exe and tried to run it, 16bit DOS proudly told me that a sysmatec DLL failed which isn't surprising as I haven't had norton on my pc at all for about 2 years so I ignored that message, I get blank DOS window that then closes. So for the RAM tests that really was epic fail for getting it to work :( If I am doing anything wrong in those please do tell me. 3 out of the 4 RAM sticks came from PCs I worked on that were headed for destruction I noticed a few were same kind as mine (DDR2 - 533) so I got them, so it would be probably worth checking they are behaving.

 

Now for getting free space, I'm not doing well in this respect these days 80 Gb isn't enough I admit there is another hard drive (My E drive) that I took out of an old PC we owned before it went to meet it's maker which is also 80G but is much slower (it causes mouse lag sometimes) as it is even older than the original dell hard drive, because of its speed I don't want to run commonly run programs off it which take up the bulk of my C drive along with the system files, one annoying thing with wasted space on my C drive is I have a game on there that never belonged to me I installed it to update directx drivers as at that item I was on dial up, anyway the uninstaller refuses to run so I can't get rid of it. As I dont have the CD I can't repair the files with the CD so I was very tempted just to delete the file but I know that would most likely cause more bad than good.

 

One last little point, the reason that I'm dragging out this PC is just over a year i'll be moving to uni and going the laptop route, I hate windows vista so am hoping 7 will be better (I live in hope)

 

Stroby

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Depending upon when you got your Dell there should be either a utility partition to boot from with a memory tester built in, or it will be on one of their diagnostic CDs that you can boot directly from.

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