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Pre-BIOS failure

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posted on Jan, 1 2009 @ 10:06 PM
A few weeks ago my desktop died. It's a Dell Dimension 2400, which would be the first problem with it, and it's been giving me the flashing orange light when it's plugged in but won't start up no matter how many times I push the power button or how long I hold it in. I looked up the light codes to see if I could figure out what is wrong with it and then went hunting for these supposed lights on the back panel. After arguing with my laptop for about 10 minutes that I wasn't seeing any darn diagnostic lights on the back I found them. (Nope they weren't lit up... Explains why I couldn't find them!)

So I go to the list of light codes and it says that the diagnostic lights not being lit up means the computer is in it's normal off condition or there is a pre-BIOS error. By process of elimination it's a pre-BIOS failure. (It won't start up at all, so it's current off condition is not normal.)

Is there any way to save the desktop and fix the pre-BIOS failure without taking it to a repairman? I've had it for around 6 years so there's no warranty to fall back on to fix it. I'm thinking there isn't a way for me to fix it myself, but I know there are a lot of people here who know a lot more about computers than I do so I figure it doesn't hurt to ask.

Edit: It says failure not error. Oops!

[edit on 1-1-2009 by Jenna]

posted on Jan, 1 2009 @ 10:54 PM
reply to post by Jenna

It sounds like you might have to replace your motherboard battery. It is about the size of a quarter and looks like a hearing aid battery. This is what keeps all your bios settings for boot up. If the battery dies it won't be able to boot. good luck.

posted on Jan, 1 2009 @ 11:38 PM
Sounds easy enough. I'm guessing I'll need to go to a Best Buy or someplace similar to find a new one?

posted on Jan, 2 2009 @ 04:43 AM
My thoughts on it are this. BIOS chips at the very least have their built in programming to work with upon bootup. Even with a dead Bios Battery you could still boot up it would be with the built in functions you simply wouldn't be able to save any settings (Time/Date, etc.).

I have some questions that might help narrow it down.

When you try to power it up do you hear the sound of the cooling fan in the power supply fire up?

If nothing then you may have a motherboard failure.

Does anything at all appear on the monitor when you try to fire it up at all?
If the fan fires up but nothing appears on the screen, your video card might be either bad or not making connection properly. Remove and put back in the video card to test this.

Are there a series of beeps or other audio sounds coming from the speaker when you try bootup? If so (Other than a single beep which would indicate successful bootup) I would remove and then put back in the RAM. A Ram chip that worked it's way loose can sometimes cause a system not to boot.

What I'm thinking is that some of your BIOS settings might have become scrambled. Try yanking out the BIOS Battery and then trying to fire it up again. Replace the battery and then try again. That will hopefully clear the BIOS and restore it to it's default settings. If that doesn't work look on your motherboard not too far away from the Bios battery and Bios chip for a jumper. There are several on a motherboard. What your looking for is one that has "clr" printed by it. Move the jumper to the CLR (Clear) position and try reboot. That should clear it. Then move the jumper back to where it was.

Hope that this is of some help.

posted on Jan, 2 2009 @ 08:20 AM
Another possibility is that your bios chip may have failed.

Frankly, the problem seems limited to the motheboard.

The computer is probably 4-6 years old.

It is unusal to lose a bios that fast, but it happens.

When you answer des's questions, we will know a lot more and be better able to help.

posted on Jan, 2 2009 @ 09:21 AM
reply to post by Deson

When I try to power it up all I get is a high-pitched whine and the orange light flashing. There aren't any beeps and the fans don't kick on. The monitor doesn't have anything on it either. I don't even really get a chance to try to power it up. Soon as I plug it in it starts whining and the orange light flashes.

I haven't tried pulling out the BIOS battery or switching the jumper to CLR yet but I will shortly and I'll post and let you know what if anything happens. I think I answered all the questions but if I overlooked one let me know.

reply to post by mrmonsoon

Yep it's about 6 years old roughly. I've upgraded the RAM, video card and power supply within the last three years. What really irks me is the darn thing literally worked one night and less than 12 hours later it didn't.

EDIT: I went and pulled the BIOS battery out and put it back in but it didn't make a difference. I still get the high pitched whine and the orange light. I looked and didn't see the CLR jumper anywhere. I may have over looked it though, so I'll try to hunt down a diagram of my motherboard so I know what I am looking for. I also went ahead and pulled the ram and put it back in but nothing changed.

[edit on 2-1-2009 by Jenna]

posted on Jan, 2 2009 @ 10:10 AM
Found the jumper, but I have a slight problem. There are two different sets of jumpers. One says "ON: Normal OFF: Clear Password", the other says "ON: Clear CMOS OFF: Normal" the problem here is there isn't anything for me to put on the pins to clear the CMOS. So will it cause anything bad happen if I take the thing off the password pins and put it on the CMOS pins?

It makes sense to me since it would clear both of them at once, but I figured I better ask before I go switching stuff around on the motherboard without really knowing what I might be messing up.

posted on Jan, 2 2009 @ 10:29 AM
Thinking about it several things occur to me.

One, it is perfectly normal for hardware failures to work now and next reboot not. (yeah, i know that sucks)

The whine,screech is what has my attention.

Are you knowledgeable/ brave enough to remove the side of the case? ( no, seriously)

if so, do it.

then with your head in the case, hit the power button and try to see where the screech comes from.

I suspect it is from the cpu fan.

If that is the case, it "MAY" have allowed the cpu to overheat and fail.

"IF" that happened, it may have damage the motherboard and what's on it. (like the bios).

posted on Jan, 2 2009 @ 10:42 AM
I stuck my head in there and it seems to be coming from under the green case that's below my power supply. Had to turn it on and off a few times, the sound seems to come from everywhere since it's bouncing around inside the case, but when I turned it off that seemed to be the source of the noise. I'm guessing that was the fan you mentioned since there is indeed a fan under the green case. I can't see anything that looks like it's overheated and scorched or melted, but I don't know if that means anything.

posted on Jan, 2 2009 @ 10:54 AM
In dell computers, what is under the green plastic is the cpu heat-sink and fan.

I am afraid, my guess may be correct.

posted on Jan, 2 2009 @ 11:12 AM
So am I out of luck then? I figured I probably was when it stopped working, I just hate to take it to get it repaired if it's not really going to be worth it.

Would the stuff I have saved on the hard drive still be retrievable if the cpu overheated and failed? If it is I'll probably just get everything on it pulled off and put on my external.

posted on Jan, 2 2009 @ 11:24 AM
reply to post by Jenna

There should be a tab on the green shroud [wind tunnel], which when pressed will allow you to remove it from the case. Once removed look to see if there is a fan on the actual heatsink or if the fan is attached to the back of the computer case. Most Dell Dimensions do not have a fan on the heatsink itself, but instead use the case's exhaust fan to draw air over the heatsink and through the wind tunnel for cooling.

Once you have the green shroud removed, try powering the unit on and look to see if the fan is actually spinning. It won't hurt anything to power it on for a brief period to check.

posted on Jan, 2 2009 @ 12:22 PM

Originally posted by Jenna
So am I out of luck then? I figured I probably was when it stopped working, I just hate to take it to get it repaired if it's not really going to be worth it.

Would the stuff I have saved on the hard drive still be retrievable if the cpu overheated and failed? If it is I'll probably just get everything on it pulled off and put on my external.

"IF" I am correct, you may have lost from just the cpu to almost anything connected to it.

I suspect, that by the time the problem is found and all the bad parts replaced and labor, it would be far more than the value of your computer.

You need to remove the hard drive and put it into another desktop computer to see if the hd was damaged.

If it is ok, you can remove all data:

Data= pictures/video's/music and data bases from programs.

What you won't save is the programs themselves. ( the only exception is if you move the HD to another computer, at which point you will needed to install new drivers for :

posted on Jan, 2 2009 @ 01:36 PM
reply to post by 12m8keall2c

I flipped it up earlier while looking for the source of the sound and the fan is attached to the back of the case and isn't spinning.

reply to post by mrmonsoon

That's what I figured. The only place in town that does computer repairs is a bit on the expensive side anyway, so I can only imagine how much they would charge me to figure out which part is actually fried. They once charged me $100 to tell me that they couldn't install the video card I had bought because my computer "didn't have a slot to hold it". I went home and called tech support for the video card and got it installed myself for free. So basically, they ripped me off.

I'll just have to see about getting the data off the hard drive, if it isn't damaged that is. There are a lot of pics of the kids I don't want to lose that I hadn't had a chance to back up on the external yet.

posted on Jan, 2 2009 @ 02:55 PM

sadly, you would need a similar computer to test out the parts one by one to see if they work-thats what a professional would do.

If, you or a friend have another desktop computer, i can help guide you to recover your data (music/databases/video's/documents....)

U2u me if I can help you in this way.

I hate to say this, but I have seen (intel) quadcore q6600 computers with 4 gigs ram for between 5-600 dollars. (yeah, it will be vista, sorry)

The issue is your videocard will not work with new computer's.

your sound and nic should.

posted on Jan, 2 2009 @ 03:04 PM
Funny thing is, I have another desktop that isn't working either. It starts up and shuts down repeatedly on it's own from the moment I plug it in until I unplug it, but never makes it through the startup process before it shuts itself down. I'll have to double check and see if it's the same model, but it should be fixable and if it is I may be able to use it to test parts on.

posted on Jan, 2 2009 @ 03:10 PM
problem is, it has to run long enough to turn on and allow you to try to load a driver for thew cards (video/sound/nic).

If you can get it running, that would be perfect for your data recovery.

Keep us informed on the stability of your second rig.

posted on Jan, 2 2009 @ 06:08 PM
OK... before you try anything expensive!... Humour me and try this one. (it's a laptop right?)

Pull the power cable out... Take the battery off and hold the power button down for 30 seconds.

I used to work for a telephone help desk and we delt with laptops.... you will be surprised how many times that worked... And how many times people paid for a new motherboard or something when they did not need it!

Any way it's free, do it!... It's something about charge being built up in the capacitors somewhere or other, they want discharging... some times happens after lighting storms...

No promises just try that first... battery out, power out, power button held down for 30 secs.

posted on Jan, 2 2009 @ 06:11 PM
No, the laptop is fine. It's a desktop that's messed up. If you think it's still worth a shot to do a modified version of that I'm willing to give it a go though.

Edit to add that I will keep that in mind if the laptop ever quits on me. Technology and I don't have the greatest relationship, so at some point it will die on me too.

[edit on 2-1-2009 by Jenna]

posted on Jan, 2 2009 @ 06:13 PM
It can't hurt!

this line is filler to bypass the filter! muhahaha

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