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Here is one of those silly little tips... that saved a computer

Community Veteran
Posts: 14,380
Thanks: 713
Fixes: 10
Registered: 01-08-2007

Here is one of those silly little tips... that saved a computer

A mate of mine has had problems with his computer for months. It would randomly freeze or reboot itself - sometimes 10 times in 30 minutes other times twice in a week. It was totally random and very frustrating - especially when trying to talk on MSN!
Anyway.. initially it appeared to be to do with his hard drive controller (SATA). It kept moaning that the driver couldn't be found in the POST. That incidentally turned out to be totally unrelated... but it did somehow give us a point in the right direction...
I mentioned the symptoms to another friend. After a little discussion of the possible issues we decided that the hard drive must be randomly not detected and hanging the system. We knew the cables were all ok as the owner had checked them all - twice.
That led me and my other friend to one conclusion... The bios was having issues keeping track of the hard drive. Now... the bios also has a battery to help it keep the clock ticking now surely if this clock were to somehow become irregular that could cause all sorts of havoc?.. It's a long shot and sounds very unlikely.. but at under £2 for a replacement battery my friend had little to loose!
So.. he went off and got a new battery at our recommendation. He was a bit skeptical but decided that he'd give it a try. He replaced the battery... and over a month later his computer has NOT FROZEN ONCE!!!
So guys, there you have it. That little small silver thing on your motherboard which is neglected and left to its own devices for years on end without a second thought may very well be the cause of so many machines being dumped and replaced. If you have problems with your machine intermitently freezing up, try giving it some TLC and a new clock battery Wink
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5 REPLIES
jkerr82508
Grafter
Posts: 62
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Registered: 25-06-2007

Re: Here is one of those silly little tips... that saved a computer

Removing the BIOS battery would probably have resulted in the BIOS settings being restored to default, thus, perhaps, rectifying any mis-configuration that had existed.  (I have always thought that the BIOS battery was only used when the system was powered off.)
Jim
MuppetGrinder
Grafter
Posts: 151
Registered: 10-10-2008

Re: Here is one of those silly little tips... that saved a computer

What havok are you thinking about? I once used a PC for months that had no battery at all  Shocked
The most common reason for spurious and random hanging and restart scenarios is overheating on the processor, nothbridge or memory interface.  The most random cause of this that I came accross was a single rear case fan.  The manufacturer had fitted it the wrong way round Roll eyes
Community Veteran
Posts: 14,380
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Registered: 01-08-2007

Re: Here is one of those silly little tips... that saved a computer

Quote from: jkerr82508
Removing the BIOS battery would probably have resulted in the BIOS settings being restored to default, thus, perhaps, rectifying any mis-configuration that had existed.  (I have always thought that the BIOS battery was only used when the system was powered off.)

This is normally correct and was always what I had beleived too. I originally understood that it only powers the clock when the power is off. I know you say it will default all settings but typically there isn't much to default - drive boot order, passwords etc. It's all only basic stuff really. Maybe some IRQ's.. but even so if that was a custom setup in the first place then replacing the battery and defaulting them should of made it all worse.
Quote from: MuppetGrinder
What havok are you thinking about? I once used a PC for months that had no battery at all  Shocked
The most common reason for spurious and random hanging and restart scenarios is overheating on the processor, nothbridge or memory interface.  The most random cause of this that I came accross was a single rear case fan.  The manufacturer had fitted it the wrong way round Roll eyes

I never said anything about havoc. I didn't think it either. What I did say was all fact which actually happened just over a month ago. There is nothing to think about. I'm telling you from first hand experience a TIP. Whether or not you like my tip is down to you but I've offered it in good faith. I would definitely agree that the most common reasons are as you describe but not always. You can't rely on those aspects - especially when the cooling fans, heatsinks and memory have all been checked, cleaned and tested. We didn't resort to the battery replacement for nothing you know Wink We had explored all of these other avenues and none of them worked. I also have practical experience with PCs and I've never yet had to change a battery to resolve a crashing problem which is why I offered this advice in the first place. Please give me some credit for actually checking the common issues! Not all motherboards react the same way to the same fault. While you might of used a PC without a battery for months there are other boards that just wouldn't accept it at all. Trust me, I've tried it myself in the past and the system wouldn't let me further than POST!
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MuppetGrinder
Grafter
Posts: 151
Registered: 10-10-2008

Re: Here is one of those silly little tips... that saved a computer

Quote from: okrzynska
...I never said anything about havoc. I didn't think it either...

Quote from: okrzynska
...the bios also has a battery to help it keep the clock ticking now surely if this clock were to somehow become irregular that could cause all sorts of havoc...

erm...yeah ya did Tongue
And I wasn't trying to mock your tip, I was genuinly curious as to what side effects you thought may be generated by a fluctuating clock battery.  I know as well as the next guy that no two scenarios are the same, even if the hardware and symptoms match exactly.  I was simply indending my comments on overheating to be in addition to yours, not to replace them.  I fully believe that you have the practical experiance to pre check the obvious before working on the bizzare, but not everyone who reads this may be in the same position.
Community Veteran
Posts: 14,380
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Registered: 01-08-2007

Re: Here is one of those silly little tips... that saved a computer

Quote from: MuppetGrinder
Quote from: okrzynska
...I never said anything about havoc. I didn't think it either...

Quote from: okrzynska
...the bios also has a battery to help it keep the clock ticking now surely if this clock were to somehow become irregular that could cause all sorts of havoc...

erm...yeah ya did Tongue

I stand corrected! My apologies... I skim-re-read my original post and didn't see I'd even written it lol. Seriously I feel really stupid now  Wink
Quote from: MuppetGrinder
And I wasn't trying to mock your tip, I was genuinly curious as to what side effects you thought may be generated by a fluctuating clock battery.

Thanks for clearing that up. Not totally sure about how it would affect things BUT even if the CMOS battery was fluctuating it could affect the bios's ability to detect the hardware connected to the board. I would assume it could also mess up read/write times and confuse the system in more than one way.
Quote from: MuppetGrinder
I know as well as the next guy that no two scenarios are the same, even if the hardware and symptoms match exactly.  I was simply indending my comments on overheating to be in addition to yours, not to replace them.  I fully believe that you have the practical experiance to pre check the obvious before working on the bizzare, but not everyone who reads this may be in the same position.

Yep, I see where you're coming from... and you're right! In fact thinking about it (sorry I've been working 12 hour shifts lately on about 5 hours sleep) I should of realised that you were actually posting an additional tip for any readers! Thats my fault for misunderstanding you.
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