Another mystery problem…
Computer starts (power & HDD leds light up), but nothing appears on the monitor (monitor just goes into power-saving). Computer is about 2 years old (a celeron)… for the last few months, I’m told that there is always the message “press F1 to continue” & they need to press F1 before it will boot.
Since the boot process is stopped (and pressing F1 doesn’t seem to get anything going (I only have the HDD light to judge with), it starts looking like a monitor or video card problem. I install an old ISA video card & I finally get the POST message. I see that it thinks the CPU has changed… press F1 to continue, or to enter the bios… I go into the bios & correct a few mis-configurations (eg plug and plas OS installed was set to “no”). Save & restart & no more bios problems… but windows xp seems to take a while to start.
Once fully started & logged in I see it has a spyware infection (gambling & adult popups). At least its working & I put it all down to a failed on-board video card. Customer says she will call me back to remove the spyware sometime soon. I put the computer case back into its alcove under the desk & re-start it again… just to be sure… and it doesn’t start !
Just like before… no activity & the monitor goes blank. I pull the computer back out & try another restart… this time I get a long beep, followed by 3 short beeps. Hmmm, a bios message, not good. I move the video plug from the ISA card to the on-board VGA & I can see the windows login prompt… I re-open the case & restart again… now sometimes works, sometimes with the onboard video, somtimes with the ISA video…
Whats wrong? a faulty cable or connector? I tell the customer it looks like a motherboard fault… It could be 1 to 3 days for me to replace it…but she would like it working “now” as her kids are addicted to it.
I say I can swap her disk into another computer, but she will still have to live with the spyware. Anyway, I can try 1 or 2 more things before I go with the motherboard replacement. I try pulling out the ISA video card, since it might be interfering with the on-board video… & it seems to boot correctly… I close the case, & reboot… still fine. I put the case back under the desk & reboot … all ok. I try a few more power downs (even remove the power cord) but I get no failed starts anymore.
Customer is happy to be back on the air again (except for the spyware)… I tell her the best thing to do now is to keep an eye on it & if problems re-occur, then I’ll need to take the computer for some analysys & remove spyware while I’m at it.
Customer will get me to remove the spyware at a later date. I say to not leave it for long, as it will only get worse.
All I can assume is that by inserting & removing my extra video card, I either disloged some dust (or a short) from somewhere, so that everything started working again… If its a motherboard fault, then its bound to re occur… Hopefully next time, the fault will be less intermittant & thus easier to pinpoint.