An elderly customer was having many mysterious problems with his PC.
His secondary hard drive was a removable type, but sometimes it wouldn’t be detected… Starting nero would typically freeze the PC, as would starting IE6.
The printer was making odd noises (easily fixed by inserting the ink cartridge which wasn’t pushed in completely).
The PC was also very slow (about 3 minutes to boot).
When IE would work, I could click on web links, but opening links in a “new window” would always freeze IE.
He also had many “utilities”… registry cleaners, spam cleaners, norton IS, etc etc. So some of the problems could have been “self induced”.
Anyway, with only 256Mb of RAM, I just did some initial cleaning of startup programs, then ordered some more RAM, and promised to return when the RAM arrived.
I installed the RAM on a Monday, fixed a few other minor problems, but the PC was still much slower that it should have been, nero would still freeze, and IE would still behave strangely.
Rather than take the PC (and not have time to have a good look at it over the week), we decided I would take it away on Friday, so that I could check it over the weekend.
Once I got it back at the office, a repair install of XP didn’t do much (the IE problem was fixed… and upgraded to ie7)
I Uninstalled nero 7, installed nero 6, and nero still froze.
And the CD drive would show up in the bios correctly.
I unplug the CD writer (the CD writer and the removable hard drive were on the same ATA cable), and suddenly the PC is much much faster.
So I figure: It must be the CD writer. CD drives often fail in strange an unpredictable ways.
So I get a new DVD writer, and nero no longer freezes. Good. I try to create a data CD, but Nero won’t detect the drive as a “burner” (but it will read CDROMS correctly)…
I try installing nero 6 , nero 7, but both give problems.
I start to suspect the ATA cable. I move the master plug from the removable drive to the new DVD burner, but the problem persists… I would have thought a faulty cable would cause problems with both drives on the cable…
I try a new cable, and wow, everything works perfectly.
This is the first time I’ve seen a faulty PATA cable, and no obvious signs to indicate where the problem was.
Next time I find a PC that is mysteriously slow (despite my usual efforts), then I will need to look more closely at the hardware.