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Computer in storage for past 2.5 years does not turn on


I built my system back in 2003. Intel 865PERL motherboard. I used it for four years without any major issues. I did replace the power supply around 2006 - I kept having issues with one of the voltage levels dropping. I bought an Antec 400W SmartPower PSU and it ran very nicely.

In 2007, I put the computer in storage and I am finally pulling it back out to bring it back to life. During this time, I transported it across the country, but I took great care to protect it and always handled the system delicately (it's like my child after all :P).

This evening, I unpacked it, opened it up to clean it out - that consisted of blowing compressed air all over and vacuuming the dust out - I was careful not to poke any components with the vacuum.

After a nice cleaning, I set it upright, connected the power cables and then flipped the switch on the power supply. I got a fraction of a second of the fans spinning. Previously - and I mean a few years ago - when I turned on the PSU, the fans would spin up for about half a second; today, it was far shorter.

Pressing the power button on the front of the case had no effect. The green light is on on the motherboard.

I've looked around a bit on the forums and I'm wondering if others who have had similar issues - long periods of inactivity on a computer - found it to be a power supply issue or a motherboard issue. I've seen suggestions about jumping the PSU and running voltage tests, so I may give that a try. I don't have another desktop or another PSU that I can use for testing - I've been using laptops for the past few years ;) [and the real kicker is that I just ordered a new fan assembly for my laptop, so I get to replace that soon - I don't want two busted computers at the same time].

I'd appreciate any advice you could offer. Thanks a lot and I sincerely appreciate it :D
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  1. Our standard checklist and troubleshooting thread:

    The motherboard LED is tied to the small, always on, 10 - 15 watts, standby power supply. It has nothing to do with the functioning of the main power circuits that run the computer. About all it means is the the PC is plugged into the wall and the PSU switch is on.

    Try to borrow a known good PSU. Or better yet, see if you can test your PSU in another working system. If you cannot do that, try to borrow a DMM to measure the voltages. Yellow wires should be 12 volts. Red wires: +5 volts, orange wires: +3.3 volts, blue wire : -12 volts, violet wire: 5 volts always on. The gray wire is really important. It should go from 0 to +5 volts when you turn the PSU on with the case switch. CPU needs this signal to boot.

    You can turn on the PSU by completely disconnecting the PSU and using a paperclip or jumper wire to short the green wire to one of the neighboring black wires.

    This checks the PSU under no load conditions, so it is not completely reliable. But if it can not pass this, it is dead.

    If it passes this, reconnect and repeat by connecting the DMM to back of the main power plug.
  2. As you go through the checklist, unplugging and reconnecting everything may fix a connection that has loosened or corroded. Depending on how and where it was stored, check for evidence of rodent gnawing. Little mouse poopies on the outside could mean mouse piss somewhere else.
  3. I would agree with checking the PSU and reseating everything. But a lot depends on how/where it was stored. If, for example, it was in a non-climate controlled self-storage place in Pennsylvania or Washington state where it's muggy in the summer and dank in the winter ... I'd say there's a good chance one or more parts succumbed to condensation, frost, or dirt and god-knows-what-else making their way inside the case. If it was stored in more tame conditions, like indoors or at least in a dry/mild climate, your odds are much better.
  4. Best answer
    In 2½years of no use I would suspect that somewhere there is a contact point in a connector that has developed enough surface oxidation to make it a poor contact. I like jtt283's idea, 'cause I do this as one of my first easy things. Carefully go through the entire system unplugging and re-connecting EVERY connector you see - two or three times each. To avoid confusion, try to work it one connector at a time. Remove and re-seat the PCI cards. Disconnect / reconnect the power supply lines to mobo, etc. EXCEPTION: Unless you feel you have to, I would NOT try to remove and re-seat the CPU chip with its heatsink / fan cooling system. You could risk damaging that part, so don't do it unless you think there is a reason to.

    Consider also the possibility that all the blowing and cleaning you did moved some conductive loose piece of wire or a screw to a point where it is shorting out something on the mobo. Look and listen for loose bits rattling around.

    With equipment of that time frame, you MIGHT have a case of bad capacitors. That's roughly the time when so many systems had this problem. One symptom is that the metal cylinders have rounded bulged tops instead of flat. What some people have not realized, though, is that the problem can occur BOTH in the PSU (you have to open its case to look) AND among the large capacitors on the mobo used in its voltage regulation circuit, usually near the CPU socket. So while you're looking around and working on connectors, etc., keep an eye out for capacitors with bulged tops.
  5. I should've mentioned earlier, but by "storage," I meant sitting in a box in the corner of my room :) Nice and dry, relatively stable temperature.

    But thanks for all the suggestions. My current plan will be to reseat everything and if that doesn't work, to test the power supply. I may not get to it for a few days or a week, but thanks for all the advice. It's been very helpful :D

    I'll let you know how it goes.
  6. Check the coin battery.

  7. I took a look at the motherboard and saw that the capacitors near the processor were bulged/leaking. So, at least I've identified the problem. Whether or not I want to try a new motherboard in the system remains to be decided.

    Thanks for all the help. At least I was saved from buying another PSU when I know that at least the motherboard is toast.
  8. Best answer selected by acidreign51.
  9. This topic has been closed by Mousemonkey
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