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How to ask for troubleshooting help V2

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a c 113 B Homebuilt system
May 2, 2009 8:58:42 PM

The idea here is to help you organize your thoughts and communicate effectively. Remember, the more work you put into your post asking for help, the more likely we are to want to help you. 200 word paragraphs with no punctuation will not help your cause.

Even though I made this all look very regimented, we could care less if you follow this exact format. This is just to help you figure out what you need to say.
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Step one: Title
Don't title your post "Help!" or "I'm Stuck!" because we already guessed that. Try to make your title attract the right person that will know how to help.
Examples:
No lights, no fans!
P5Q and Q6600 locks on post
Hard drive squeaks


Step two: The Opening
Make your first sentence or two a BRIEF STATEMENT of the problem. "My computer stopped working" is not helpful. "I can no longer see anything on my screen or hear any noises from my computer" is better.

Step three: History
When was the last time the computer worked right?
Was there something that happened right before things got bad?
Did you install some hardware?
Did you install some software?

Step four: The Full Story:
Tell us exactly what is happening.
This might include the sequence of sounds or lights when you press the power button. Careful observation on your part might well make the difference when old hands are figuring your problem out.
Write down error messages as they happen then include those. If the problem is a lock up, say what kind of lock up.
Is it just the program that locks?
Does the operating system lock up?

Step five: The specs
List each one of the parts in your computer. This must be a full list. If some parts are from an older build, this might be important.
CPU
Motherboard (model number)
RAM (Model number, speed, timings, voltage)
CPU cooler (stock or not, model if applicable)
Video Card (model number)
Power Supply (model number, or company and wattage at least)
Hard drive(s)
Operating System
Case (for cooling issues)
ANY other parts. If you have an ipod plugged in, we want to know.

Step six:
List all the steps you have taken to resolve this yourself. Number them. Why? Because we are probably going to dig back through your post looking for what you tried already... and if the thread goes on for a week that might be a lot of looking by a lot of people.
1.
2.
3.

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Resources:

TH: READ before posting about boot problems!

Maximum PC on BSODs

Ultimate BIOS Guide: Every Setting Decrypted and Explained! -Maximum PC
This is a printable version.

Poor or No Electrical Ground - What to Do About It

HardwareLogic: My Computer Won't Start (DEAD)

CPU-Z Vital for overclocking, but also for detecting RAM settings.
Real Temp Just measures CPU core temps. Does it well.
HWMonitor Tracks many temps and a few other useful things.

Memtest86+ Useful for detecting faulty RAM, not so much incorrectly configured RAM.

Troubleshooting sleep mode issues in Vista
Where to buy a small motherboard speaker.

The Ultimate Boot CD When you need to boot from a CD to sort things out.

Aford10's guide to removing malware

This may not be a sticky, but it might be a useful tool. I would link an example of the unorganized and useless pleas for help we get every day, but that would be unkind and they are easy enough to find :p 

More about : troubleshooting

May 7, 2009 9:43:25 PM

I think this probably fits under Step Four: Full Story

If your PC will not boot into Windows: Give a full play by play of what happens when you hit the power button. Do you get any lights? Fans spin? Video signal? Smoke and the smell of burning plastic (hopefully not!)? Beep error codes (this requires you to have a case speaker hooked up, which is a good idea regardless of whether you have issues with your PC or not)? Does the PC cycle the boot up process over and over, automatically shut itself down, just sit with fans spinning but nothing else, require you to shut down in an unconventional way (other than just holding down the power switch like having to switch off the PSU)? Make sure you give as many clues as you can so we can help you out. Don't leave out any details!

[that is pretty long and wordy, feel free to paraphrase :p ]
May 7, 2009 9:57:42 PM

Under Step Three: History

How old are the components? (Are some of them reused from a past build, or all purchased new? When was the PC built?)
Related resources
May 7, 2009 10:35:49 PM

I would change step one from "Try to make your title attract a certain audience." to something more like "A brief description of the problem" or something along those lines
a c 113 B Homebuilt system
May 8, 2009 5:10:39 AM

xthekidx said:
I think this probably fits under Step Four: Full Story

If your PC will not boot into Windows: Give a full play by play of what happens when you hit the power button. Do you get any lights? Fans spin? Video signal? Smoke and the smell of burning plastic (hopefully not!)? Beep error codes (this requires you to have a case speaker hooked up, which is a good idea regardless of whether you have issues with your PC or not)? Does the PC cycle the boot up process over and over, automatically shut itself down, just sit with fans spinning but nothing else, require you to shut down in an unconventional way (other than just holding down the power switch like having to switch off the PSU)? Make sure you give as many clues as you can so we can help you out. Don't leave out any details!

[that is pretty long and wordy, feel free to paraphrase :p ]



That's brilliant, really. Thanks! Will update later.
a c 90 B Homebuilt system
May 8, 2009 5:45:55 PM

kyeana said:
I would change step one from "Try to make your title attract a certain audience." to something more like "A brief description of the problem" or something along those lines
A good title can help attract the people with the knowledge to fix your problem.

May 8, 2009 5:49:54 PM

Prox, you are picky man ^_^
May 8, 2009 6:09:45 PM

WR2 said:
A good title can help attract the people with the knowledge to fix your problem.


Oh i completely agree, i just think the wording about attracting a certian audiance is bound to throw a few noobs off. I'm just suggesting something that would be easier for them to follow.
May 8, 2009 7:00:17 PM

I think if we there was a forum fillout form LOL...or some kind of drop down list of what they need help with before they post a thread would be sufficent. With all the stuff Prox listed of course...but a little less intimidating to our friendly geeks to be...

Just my 2 cents...

a c 113 B Homebuilt system
May 8, 2009 8:44:49 PM

kyeana said:
Oh i completely agree, i just think the wording about attracting a certian audiance is bound to throw a few noobs off. I'm just suggesting something that would be easier for them to follow.


Is it better now? and thanks for the help.
May 8, 2009 9:14:05 PM

Still picky ^_^
a c 113 B Homebuilt system
May 8, 2009 9:15:01 PM

Yeah "cranky old man" fits too. :) 
May 8, 2009 9:47:44 PM

yea i like that much better, i think it was adding the "that will know how to help" part that did it. :D 
a c 113 B Homebuilt system
May 16, 2009 9:33:54 AM

...

:) 
a c 113 B Homebuilt system
June 11, 2009 6:10:44 PM

Still working on this.
a c 113 B Homebuilt system
June 12, 2009 7:51:56 PM

Any other utilities anyone wants here?
June 18, 2009 5:39:41 PM

Hi I have a boot problem that I just can't solve.

Simply...my mobo is booting seemingly perfectly.

-phase LEDs indicate a full CPU boot.
-all fans spin
-general 'hard-drive working' noises

However there is NO post, or recognisable graphical output to my monitor.

I've tried ALOT in isolating the problem, mainly in the CPU area, where I have mounted a back-panel for the HSF, but this has not solved anything, and makes me think the problem lies elsewhere.

Any ideas would be very much appreciated.

*full specs*


Corsair 4GB ddr2
[Force 3D]ATI Radeon 4670
Arctic 500W PSU
Gigabyte GA-EP43-DS3L/S3L mobo
Intel Core 2 Duo E7400 w/ Arctic Freezer Pro 7
June 18, 2009 6:51:49 PM

vdmerwe said:
Hi I have a boot problem that I just can't solve.

Simply...my mobo is booting seemingly perfectly.

-phase LEDs indicate a full CPU boot.
-all fans spin
-general 'hard-drive working' noises

However there is NO post, or recognisable graphical output to my monitor.

I've tried ALOT in isolating the problem, mainly in the CPU area, where I have mounted a back-panel for the HSF, but this has not solved anything, and makes me think the problem lies elsewhere.

Any ideas would be very much appreciated.

*full specs*


Corsair 4GB ddr2
[Force 3D]ATI Radeon 4670
Arctic 500W PSU
Gigabyte GA-EP43-DS3L/S3L mobo
Intel Core 2 Duo E7400 w/ Arctic Freezer Pro 7


Start your own thread and you'll get more help.
a c 113 B Homebuilt system
June 18, 2009 9:42:02 PM

Yes please. You can always PM folks and link to your new thread. I'm not the best at troubleshooting, we have many real pros around here. I'm just a guy that writes a lot.
July 4, 2009 12:52:57 PM

Similar issue as vdmerwe:

The build:
i7 920
asus p6t deluxe v2
902 antec case
OCZ 6GB ram
4870 vapor x 1gb
prolimatech megahelems
corsair 850HX psu
WD 1TB black

My computer was working great, had to install backplate for new CPU cooler. Plugged everything in correctly, now it won't start up...

The problem:

all the LED lights and all the fans turn on. But my computer fails to boot: the monitor doesn't turn on, nor does my mouse's red lazer light turn on.

I can use both the power button on the case and on the mobo "on" button to turn on the computer.

I haven't had a chance to play with the BIOS or overclock, so the computer is running on stock settings.

There is no beeping coming from the system.

I believe that its not a matter of the power, but since none of the output device's work... I think its the mobo. Why? i'm not sure but I would like to fix it regardless...

I'm afraid of the worst... any feedback would be really appreciated!!!
a c 113 B Homebuilt system
November 11, 2009 7:29:00 AM

OK I'll say it in red letters then.


START YOUR OWN THREAD!

You can then send me a PM with a link to it if you want me to look.
a c 122 B Homebuilt system
January 24, 2010 12:39:23 PM

Hi, Proximon.
A belated Happy New Year.
john
a c 113 B Homebuilt system
January 24, 2010 7:09:33 PM

Thanks, you too!
March 14, 2010 1:00:04 AM

you changed out the motherboard. Unless it is the same as your old one, you will need to do a repair install of windows. You are in what I call boot loops which is due to the new hardware not matching the info in the hal.dll file of windows. A repair install should take care of this
April 19, 2010 8:56:51 PM

This might be a good place to put this tip since people with problems seem to read this topic. You might want to make sure your PSU has the right plugs. My current PC is my very first build and while I didn't think anything of it at the time, it was a 20-pin instead of a 20+4 pin PSU. All I paid attention to was the fact it was 600w which was more than powerful enough. I somehow managed to get it to start booting after fighting with it for almost a week but it doesn't actually feed enough power to your PC and causes data corruption. I don't know if anyone else had this sort of stupid but I hope this might help someone.
a c 113 B Homebuilt system
April 20, 2010 5:22:44 AM

That's a good point, but there are other ways a PSU can be inadequate for a build also. I'll link an appropriate FAQ.
January 8, 2011 6:16:46 AM

Hi there!

Any help would be appreciated so much! I made my second computer a year ago, and it's been working beautifully. This morning, I came home from work to find that the computer had frozen. I powered it off, turned it back on and nothing happened--no beeps, no POST, just a blank screen.

I have removed all the computer's components, one-by-one, and now have the mother board on a piece of cardboard, with just the PSU plugged in and the front panel plugs in, so I can power it on, and I get the beep pattern indicating that there is no RAM installed.

If I install either sticks of DDR3 RAM (or both), though, I don't get any beeps, just silence and a blank screen.

Do you think my RAM modules just up and died today? Should I fill out a RMA for them (they have a limited lifetime warranty, and I do still have the receipts and packaging, hah)?

I've also already tried resetting the CMOS via the jumper on the motherboard and via removing the battery for several minutes.
February 28, 2011 7:11:33 AM

Nice guide prox, maybe you should add your red letter reply about asking for help at the top of the post?
a c 113 B Homebuilt system
June 3, 2011 7:08:01 AM

A few small updates.
August 20, 2011 12:00:20 PM

Hi, I have spent approximately two days trying to fix an issue I have been having with a desktop that I have been trying to build for my father and am stuck at the same exact problem. The build I am currently using for this computer consists of the following parts (all of which are brand new):

Case: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Motherboard: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
PSU: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
RAM: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... (two of these)
Hard Drives: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... (being used for storage and I also have a 320gb 7200 RPM drive that I planned on using for the OS installation and I can't find the URL for it.)
CPU: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
CD/DVD Drive: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Monitors: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Video Card: The video card I'm using is an old nVidea GeForce 9400GT and I can't seem to find a URL for it.

When I initially assembled the components together, I was able to successfully boot the system long enough to install Windows 7 Professional edition on the 320gb hard drive. After the installation completed, I used the My Computer function to ensure both hard drives were being detected and found that the 500gb hard drive was not being detected. I decided to reboot the system to open the bios and see if the hard drive was being detected by the bios. However, this lead to me discovering that the bios had detected an overheating issue with the CPU (it was running at temperatures of 98C). I then disassembled the computer to examine the thermal paste on the CPU to see if it was making good contact, and everything looked evenly spread and ordinary. When I tried to reassemble the computer, however, I was no longer able to get a display to show up on the monitor and the boot sequence had changed.

Everytime I attempt to boot the system, the computer will turn itself on for about 15-20 seconds (all the lights on the motherboard flash, the hard drives start spinning and all the fans spin as well) and then turn itself off again, but then it will turn back on and stay turned on. During this entire time, however, I will not get any visual display to show on the monitor. The only thing the monitor does is show a message saying it has no signal, and then it enters the sleep mode. I have tried using replacement parts for both the CPU and the motherboard (same exact models) and I even tried using another brand new power supply (800W Cooler Master Gold edition) and I still get the same error, no visual display on the monitor. I have also tested to ensure the monitor isn't failing, and am all out of ideas as to why all my brand new parts (for some two new parts) fail to work. Any assistance will be greatly appreciated, as I would love to assemble my father's computer as soon as possible.
August 21, 2011 6:07:07 AM

Reyaka said:
Hi, I have spent approximately two days trying to fix an issue I have been having with a desktop that I have been trying to build for my father and am stuck at the same exact problem. The build I am currently using for this computer consists of the following parts (all of which are brand new)


Try here: http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/Homebuilt-Systems/new...

:) 
March 26, 2012 5:23:33 AM

Could you at least put this thread here?
This thread could solve the "problem" much faster.
October 10, 2012 4:59:10 PM

Hi Proximon

On your first post you listed a number of resources, I would particularly like to read the one on the BIOS.

Unfortunately its a print only deal and closes the post if I close the print 'pop up.' So I can only 'see' the first page.

I don't have a printer, so is there another readable version that I could view?

Many thanks in anticipation of an answer.
!