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Problem with my sister's computer

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May 13, 2010 7:20:05 AM

Hi everyone,
My sister handed her PC over to me the over day telling me it's noisy and sometimes it won't start up. So I open it up and find that it's the rear exhaust fan causing all the noise. After struggling a bit to get it to shut up, her computer is finally quiet again.
But I couldn't fix the other problem. If you turn the computer on all the fans and everything spins for a second and then stops. If you hit the power button again it will start. This happens about 2/5 times when you turn it on. The computer is four years old now. Should the PSU be replaced? The people who built the computer decided to put a small ATX motherboard into the micro ATX case, which means the memory is nearly under the hard drive cages (the hard drive sits outside on the side of the cages), and the main 24-pin power connector is very hard to reach. I tried to ensure it was plugged in corrrectly, but like I said it's very hard to reach.
Should the PSU be replaced? Will it damage the system if this keeps happening?
Thanks.
a b ) Power supply
May 13, 2010 7:44:47 AM

It would be hard to know exactly what is wrong, especially w/o knowing more detailed hardware specs. On a machine this old, it could be any number of things.

A failing PSU could be to blame, but so could a failing hard drive or simply a borked operating system. Also an incorrect driver could be causing problems..

What I would do is open the case and clean out the dust and all the fans and vents if you haven't done so. I would then do some simple testing. In windows you could scan the hard drive for errors. You could run a diagnostic like everest free edition, or online at pcpitstop.com.
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a b ) Power supply
May 13, 2010 7:45:30 AM

Also you could enter the BIOS and look for hardware monitoring/ pc health and check your voltages. Check all you temperatures too.
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May 13, 2010 7:52:13 AM

OK here's the Specs of the Computer:
AMD Athlon 3200+ 2.0GHz
1 GB DDR400 Memory
ATI X550 Graphics Card.
I'm not sure what motherboard it is or how much watts the PSU delivers, I'll have to open the case again to find out.
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a b ) Power supply
May 13, 2010 1:46:16 PM

Yeah constant crashes will damage the hard drive (physically), so it's not a good idea to keep it doing that. obviously find out what the problem is but backup the data before you do I reckon, just in case.
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May 13, 2010 2:01:41 PM

sounds like all of the problems are during the POST / initialisation stages?

The PSU sounds like the most likely factor to me, however in a micro ATX case, dust build up can be lethal - i'd suggest (carefully) taking a hoover to as many of the clogged up heatsinks and fans as you possibly can, dusting off all of the fans and giving the whole thing a dusting with a can of compressed air.

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a b ) Power supply
May 13, 2010 2:47:26 PM

Or if you haven't got compressed air, hold a tissue or a cloth over the end of a straw and blow. Works just as well and saves money too! Unless you're a smoker of course. Oh and the tissue is for spit!
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May 13, 2010 7:36:11 PM

My sister worked on her computer all day today. I really want to see if I can fix it so I'll try to get my hands on the PC again tomorrow. However I did the Disk Check, don't know if Windows found any errrors or anything. The disk needed to be defragmented so I did that as well hehe.
I can use our compressor to clean the computer, but during an A+ class they told us not to do it lol, but I cleaned my mother's computer this way and all her problems dissapeared. Why shouldn't I use a compressor?
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a b ) Power supply
May 14, 2010 3:12:50 AM

apparently using a vacuum creates static. but i have used both compressors and vacs and its never been a problem...
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May 14, 2010 3:27:19 AM

Jackofspades0 said:
but during an A+ class they told us not to do it lol, but I cleaned my mother's computer this way and all her problems dissapeared. Why shouldn't I use a compressor?


there's allways a risk of getting a loose screw, small stone of other pice of crap blasted into your eye or smashing dammageing fragile parts. wear goggles and make sure there are no nasty lil bits lurking around and you be fine. Oh and of corse if useing a HIGh presure compresser the pressure of the air jet could dammage items if your no carefull where you point it
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a b ) Power supply
May 14, 2010 3:42:48 AM

Speaking of loose screws !! -- Have you checked under the MOBO to see if something metal is shorting out the MOBO to the case tray ? - that would cause the type of problem you mention.
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May 14, 2010 4:25:24 AM

JDFan said:
Speaking of loose screws !! -- Have you checked under the MOBO to see if something metal is shorting out the MOBO to the case tray ? - that would cause the type of problem you mention.

Thought you wer going to insinuate i had a screw loose for a second then lol
ya might have been right tho if ya had hehe
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May 14, 2010 11:52:02 AM

Cleaned the computer. Everyrhing seems fine now. I switched it on and off a few times but I'm afraid I might put too much stress on the hardware but it looks OK. I'll ask my sister to tell me if the problem returns. Removing the motherboard is going to be hard work since it's in such a small case. That's the next I'll try if I have to. Thanks everyone.
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May 17, 2010 12:15:49 PM

Can you guys perhaps tell me what you think was wrong? Here's everything I did:

1. Managed to get the noisy fan to shut up.
2. Then I did the disc check and defragmentation, but the computer still refused to start up most of the time.
3. Finally cleaned the computer and the problem was solved.

Can dirt cause a computer to refuse to start up even if it's ice cold in the morning? I would really like to know why cleaning helped. Please tell me what you think. It's seems like cleaning a computer can solve a lot of problems.
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a b ) Power supply
May 17, 2010 1:57:50 PM

Jackofspades0 said:
Can you guys perhaps tell me what you think was wrong? Here's everything I did:

1. Managed to get the noisy fan to shut up.
2. Then I did the disc check and defragmentation, but the computer still refused to start up most of the time.
3. Finally cleaned the computer and the problem was solved.

Can dirt cause a computer to refuse to start up even if it's ice cold in the morning? I would really like to know why cleaning helped. Please tell me what you think. It's seems like cleaning a computer can solve a lot of problems.


Heat build up can cause a system to shut down fairly quickly so dust build up that blocks the airflow and thus cooling can definitely cause a system to shut down - also dust particles depending on their makeup can at times carry electrical charges causing short circuits that can also cause the system to shut down that cleaning can prevent -- so yes it is possible that the dust was the cause -- another possibility is that one or more of the connectors had come a bit loose and while cleaning it was either moved back into place or you unknowingly reconnected it better fixing the problem. ---- might also have been the noisy fan depending on what part it was cooling (ie. if it was the CPU fan and the noise was from blockage that kept it from spinning at proper speed that could cause the CPU to overheat within a few seconds to a few minutes. (the CPU puts out enough heat to burn itself up within a few seconds if there is not a heatsink installed to move that heat - so they have thermal shutdowns to keep that from happening)
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a b ) Power supply
May 17, 2010 11:49:05 PM

is it true amd cpus dont have thermal protection?
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May 18, 2010 7:48:50 AM

OK thanks I don't think it was the CPU. Surely not even the CPU can overheat in half a second on a winter's morning? Guess it was the dust which caused the problem. Before I cleaned the computer I tried to ensure all the connectors was plugged in probably, but the main 24-pin connector was hard to reach because of the size of the board in the small micro ATX case.
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