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Computer will not start

shermans
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Posts: 1,297
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Registered: ‎07-09-2007

Computer will not start

Can anyone offer any suggestions before it is too late ?

My computer is about four years old - not new, not old.  But I am having problems recently starting the computer. When I press the power button to start it, three times out of ten it hangs on the "Press delete to open BIOS " (I think that is what it says.)  No matter what I do, I cannot proceed any further.  Certainly pressing "Delete" does nothing.  Usually, if I then turn it off again with a long push of the power button and start again, it will start normally and proceed to load Windows.  But sometimes I have to try again twice.

At first, I thought that it may have been the fact that an external disk drive was plugged into the USB port and that it was searching the external drive for the "boot".  Unplugging the external drive never did anything actually but it at least mean that next time I turned on, the computer loaded Windows without problem.

However, now it is happening increasingly often and it is beginning to worry me.  I always make sure now that the external back-up hard disk is disconnected before I re-start.

I would be very grateful to anyone who can offer any idea why this is suddenly happening and what to do about it.  I fear that one morning it is going to refuse to start at all !

Thanks.

16 REPLIES 16
Mook
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Re: Computer will not start

@shermans, it could be that your disk is about to give up. Even at four years old, which as you say is not old, can be a long life if you have a mechanical disk and you use the machine often. You need to search the internet and get the manual to the either the Motherboard you have or the PC itself if its a generic model like a Dell.

Once you have this information enter the BIOS and check your settings, like boot from external HDD etc. Run check disk as well once you have it booted to see what, if anything, it reports.

 

idonno
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Re: Computer will not start

Do you get any bleeps etc? I'd open it up and check the connections etc Have a smell inside. 😀  Have you cleaned the inners lately of dust? I usually loosen the RAM slots, cables etc and reseat them about once a year. Have you got the manual for the motherboard. A good number of modern motherboards generate a code (fault, successful boot etc) from power up via a small LED screen that is located on the motherboard.

 

I've had it occasionally where I've had to go into the BIOS, not actually change anything, save and come back out and it's all normal again for a long time. I have sometimes wondered if it is waiting for Windows to do its 'thing' after the initial boot. I've sometimes ended up waiting for a good minute or so before the screen comes on. Are you running Windows 10 etc?

 

And yes, the USB drive syndrome is a pain in the butt! I even had it trying to boot via the rudder pedals just because I've left them switched in and enabled.

 

Edit: What @Mook has mentioned is good advice. Hard disk fail. try chkdsk /f from a command prompt (admin). It will probably say the drive cannot be locked, just press Y to enable the check at next boot up. 

Ever helpful. Grin Sure, I’d love to help you out. Now which way did you come in?
VileReynard
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Re: Computer will not start

You can start a PC without any disk present - so its probably not a disk problem.

When you press start, press delete (and hold it down until a BIOS screen appears).

If it looks wrong, especially if its 'forgotten' the date etc then I'd suggest it needs the BIOS battery replacing.

Admittedly, 4 years seems very short for this to be the cause of the problem.

"In The Beginning Was The Word, And The Word Was Aardvark."

shermans
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Registered: ‎07-09-2007

Re: Computer will not start

Thanks for that.

I have not been holding down the delete button.  I did not realise I had to !  I just pressed it each time.  So I will wait until it happens again and try holding it down longer.  But I don't understand why it might want me to enter the BIOS in the first place !  I just wondered whether an update or something like that altered the BIOS, and it wants me to verify it, but I have had no message to that effect.

As for forgetting the date, no that has not happened. The date is always fine. - Unlike me after five weeks of lockdown !; no idea whether it is Christmas or Easter !

 

shermans
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Registered: ‎07-09-2007

Re: Computer will not start

I will run check disk and see what it says.  Thanks.  It is an HP and there is some HP Diagnosis software  which I have never looked at but keep getting updates for.  I will have a look at that.

 

Thanks for the advice.

shermans
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Registered: ‎07-09-2007

Re: Computer will not start

No, I do not get nay bleeps.  I certainly have never opened it up.  But you are right and I will do so and give it a good clean-out.  I will also enter the BIOS and see if that solves it, as you say.

 

Thnaks for the help.

shutter
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Registered: ‎06-11-2007

Re: Computer will not start

@shermans  Your main "on/off" start button on the computer, MAY be going faulty.... especially if you have "got angry" with it... and beaten it hard... to get it to start...( several times  ? ? ?)  these modern "on/off" start switches are very very tiny... on my Dell Inspiron laptop, it is the size of a large grain of rice ! !... so if you "beat it into submission" as I did some time back... you may need to change it..

check on You Tube, to see if there is a "Tutorial Video"   ( How to replace the on/off switch on my XXXXXX machine) ..

 

You do not say what kind of a computer it is.... Desktop/Tower or Laptop...

 

If it is a Laptop...   and If  you have been kind to it, and only pressing it gently... and you think it should be O.K.. 

your battery may be causing you problems, with "memory effect" from being constantly charging ...

Remove the battery...

Then...  start the laptop... hold the main "on/off" button down... ( not heavy ! ! ) .. for about 30 seconds,... and let it go... if it starts ok.....    Let it start... and complete the start up process...

close down.... then re-install the battery.... and do the same again.... 30 second on holding the "on/off" switch... Hopefully this will cause the discharge of the battery memory,  and all should be well again..

 

Good Luck... Wink

wisty
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Re: Computer will not start

Action No 1 - Make a backup onto the external drive of everything you don't want to loose.

Action No 2 - If you have a memory stick or similar, make another backup of the stuff you really really don't want to loose.

Do that NOW unless you already have adequate backups.

There are many possibilities. If its a desktop, the main one that comes to mind is that the power supply is beginning to fail, and is taking time to start working when you switch on. Second or third time it has got started. The external drive would add load, which could explain why disconnecting it makes things easier. You can buy testers, but they cost a significant % of the cost of a new PSU.

Does the machine have a reset button as well as an on/off switch - some do some don't. If you have one, rather than switching the machine off when it fails to boot, press the reset button instead. If it is the PSU it should start normally because the PSU has had time to stabilise.

@shutter I doubt it's the switch itself, @shermans says it does start, but hangs at the bios screen so the PSU is getting the command to start. 

It could be the disk but as @VileReynard says you would normally see a message from the Bios about missing operating system - although I had a SATA drive go bad the other week which stopped Windows from booting, and it wasn't the boot drive. Removing the drive allowed the system to start normally.

shermans
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Re: Computer will not start

 

I have done as you suggest and cleaned it all out.  It was not bad at all, probably because it is kept in a protected place - behind my desk and against the wall.  I should have said before, but it is a desktop I am talking about.   I do not think it is the button itself, because it reacts instantly - no time lag before the "Press delete to enter the BIOS" message comes up.  This morning there was no problem at all, fired up straightaway.

wisty

I do regularly back-up my data all over everywhere - external hard disks and Google Drive.  I have just done it again for safety.

No, unfortunately it does not have a re-set button.  However, when it happens, I just push and hold the Start button until it re-starts, and usually that then works.  So maybe the re-set button you refer to is actually built into the Start button, as a long hold on the Start button makes it re-start.

This morning I ran chkdsk and there were no faults found, thank goodness.  So thanks for those ideas

---------------------------------

I am obviously worried.  If the computer has caught Covid-19 and is about to let me down, I cannot face having to rebuild Windows.  In view of the fact that I am over 70 and therefore confined to barracks, taking it  at this juncture to a repair shop would be a nightmare - I would have to ask someone else to take it, but I live in a rural area and the nearest place would be 20 miles away.  If the hard disk were to fail (although chkdsk does not suggest that it is about to do so), I could order a new hard disk on ebay and have it delivered to fit myself.  Alternatively, I have an old computer with 1 Terabyte hard disk which I could no doubt strip out to re-use for the time being.

But that would mean re-building Windows unless I can back up the C: drive.  Given the circumstances, I would have to rely on what hardware I already have, namely a nearly empty 3 Terabyte external hard disk.  Can anyone suggest a reliable way to back up the C: drive easily ? (My data is all kept separate on the second 😧 drive, as I have said). I used to use the Windows "Back-up" software, but never had to restore from it, and I wonder if it is reliable ?  I believe one can take an image of a hard disk and restore from that, but I do not know how to go about that.  So any help with that would be most appreciated.  Although the computer is four years old, I regret I have never backed up the C; drive.  No lectures please ! I know I am guilty as charged.  But there is still time hopefully to put it right !

Thanks again for your help.

PeeGee
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Re: Computer will not start

Booting directly to the "Press delete to open BIOS " message points to a CMOS battery problem - it hasn't got as far as looking for disks etc., it has most likely found a CMOS checksum error.

Do you turn the computer off "at the wall"? If so, 4 years is a good run for the CMOS battery.

Phil

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VileReynard
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Re: Computer will not start

Actually, I've just remembered about a desktop which had similar, but not identical problems. 😀

I guessed that the disk was slow at getting up to speed - so if it seized up on boot, I had to press CTRL+ALT+DEL to cause the BIOS to have a second look at the hardware.

This was probably 20+ years ago though.

Windows mixes its data and software, so its difficult to do a sensible backup.

Have you considered cloning the disk (since you've got ample time) onto your big external disk - you could order a replacement disk over the internet if your current disk collapses.

I'd suggest that you download Linux and put it on a USB stick - it can run a browser in memory to do the disk ordering.

"In The Beginning Was The Word, And The Word Was Aardvark."

shutter
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Registered: ‎06-11-2007

Re: Computer will not start

@shermans 

Hmm.... I am 75 yrs old... and have messed around with Linux Mint.   As @VileReynard  suggests... it would be a REALLY GOOD IDEA.. to get a USB stick, and download and burn/install (only on the usb stick) .. a version of Linux Mint 19...

With that... should your computer not boot up to your hard drive... you should be able to plug in the USB (LINUX) and it will boot to that... once it has settle down and provided a "desktop"  ( it should even find your wifi /internet connection )...  you should be able to access your windows folders. Menu > Home Folder.

It does not actually install on your hard drive... so you do not have to worry about problems there.

It runs from the USB stick....

 

You can... if you want.install it to your hard drive,...making a "dual boot" situation... where you will be given a choice at boot up.. which system you want to use.

 

 

 

Alternatively... I would suggest  using your spare 1TB drive... and follow the tutorial I have written...

and is a "sticky" at the top of this board ... No more Windows is updating

 

https://community.plus.net/t5/Tech-Help-Software-Hardware-etc/No-more-quot-Windows-is-updating-quot/...

 

By following the instructions...installing Linux Mint 19. should not cause you any great problems... and  installing WINE 4.0... again.. should be easy...

Once you have done Part ONE... you should be able to run 95% of your windows programs on the Linux Mint 19 hard drive.... they will install and run, just as they would on Windows.

 

A few, may not actually work...  but you should be able to find a "similar" alternative in the Software Manager on the Menu...   ( you can always ask on here for suggestions to alternative progs)..

 

If there is no alternative..in  Linux... and you MUST have the windows program.

 

..then you should proceed with PART TWO.. and install the Virtual Box.6.0..  and then you can run "proper" windows on your linux machine...

accessing it from an Icon (virtual box)  on the desktop.. in the same way as any other program.

As you have "time on your hands" during this evil time... that may be a "good idea"... for a "challenge"... 

 

... Part One, completion should only take an afternoon... from starting the download of the Linux .iso file.. to burning it, to a usb stick ( or dvd disk )  to installing it on the hard drive, and then adding WINE 4.0. 

The only thing to be concerned about, is to make sure you are actually installing Linux on the 2nd hard drive  ( the 1tb   or whatever size it is ) ...thus keeping your existing Windows intact.

 

Hope that helps, and gives you some alternative thinking.... Smiley

 

 

idonno
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Re: Computer will not start

@shermans  I've used Macrium Reflect with Windows. It comes with a (nearly) fully working 30 day free trial. I just installed it on to the hard drive but they do say it can go on a USB stick to make it bootable. All I did then was connect the SSD drive I bought to clone it to and connect that via a USB / Sata cable (cost about £5). Then it was just a couple of clicks and away it went to make a complete clone of the existing. Didn't take that long to do either. I then removed the hard drive, installed the SSD into the laptop and rebooted. 100% outcome. Simple to do too.

Ever helpful. Grin Sure, I’d love to help you out. Now which way did you come in?
shermans
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Registered: ‎07-09-2007

Re: Computer will not start

Thanks for the ideas.  Sorry not to have responded sooner but the inevitable happened.  The desktop stopped working altogether.  I did as suggested and changed the CMOS battery, folowing the instructions carefully.  After that, it booted straight into the BIOS this time without asking.  All I could do was to save the default, because I could not see anything that neded changing.  It then started to load Windows (I thought) but eventualy went into Automatic Repair, then Repair Diagnosis and finally I got the message that the fault could not be repaired.  I tried repeatedly to no avail.  There was an Advanced button which gave me the option of Restoring to an earlier version (three days before) which I tried.  It took about an hour but eventually said the Restore was successful.  So I rebooted and tied to load Windows - no luck; exactly the same response as before.

In desparation I called a local computer repair shop (small business) who was working from home due to the lockdown.  I took the computer to his house, having arranged to leave it in his porch so there was no human contact, and as I left saw him open the door and take it in.  So although I breached the lockdown regulations in theory, I did not physically encounter anyone and only drove the car the 20 miles to deliver it to him and back, so again no human contact.  I considered it an essential journey as I am still very active and need the computer during lockdown as it is the only form of contact with the outside world, living in a very rural community.  I am now having to use my laptop, but fortunately I have access to all my data.

Thanks for all the help.  I will keep you posted.