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Old 05-02-2008, 12:25 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default constant restarts on empty disk

Hello everyone,
I bought a rebuilt dell t3400 on ebay. ($600 buy it now.)
I first noticed that it would restart randomly, loosing work and just basically annoying.
the computer apparently was a reject from dell for some reason, (seller said it may have been to do with the case) so the service tag does not work on dell's site.
It has a duo2core 2.33 mgz processor (dual core), 4 gigs ram, 2 identical 80 gb hard drives, lightscribe dvd, nvidia 512mb video card and a corsair hx520 power supply.
apparently original dell motherboard.
The seller started installing the xp operating system, I finished it.
I then decided to do a raid 0 on the hard drives, seems to have worked, it saw 1 drive (doubled in size) said it was normal and bootable.
Then I reinstalled everthing, flashed the bios to a04, upgraded the internet explorer to 7.0 (mistake) and procedded to install autocad, word, works, some surveying software, ect..
Computer seemed ok except for the restarts. sometimes it would do it 4 or 5 times right in a row and then be ok for the rest of the day.
It started getting worse and worse to the point where it would restart anywhere at anytime.
I ran fdisk from a win me startup floppy and did a basic format. (ME was the only startup floppy I had that would work.)
I never made an xp start up disk.
I deleted the raid and formatted again from the floppy.
I think that should have gotten rid of the raid.
I try again and again to get to the xp recoverery console, after many attempts I finally get there and format the c: drive.
I finally get to the install from xp cd and it wants to format the c: drive with ntfs, I let it. I now have c: drive formatted with ntfs and d drive is fat32, i think.
I try to get back to install xp from cd, after 250 restarts, and I just can't get there.
Computer restarts anywhere at anytime. Dell screen, dos A: prompt, windows checking your hardware screen, windows trying to install minimal files to get to the repair or install screen or even on restart it will crash and restart. anywhere at anytime.
I have disabled all ports, usb serial parallel, and plugged in a basic keyboard, It's pretty stripped down now.
I reseated the ram and video card, checked all my cables, (hard to tell with cables) removed ram and started with 1 gb dimm and then another 1gb dimm to see if I had bad ram. No difference.
I flashed the bios back to a02, only difference I see is that it now wants me to press a key to reboot from CD.
Very few messages comming from this machine. The first one I saw was "corrupt windows\system32\config\system
But I don't think that matters now with two reformatted hard drives.
The only message I see now is NTLDR missing cntrl alt del to restart.
Sometimes I get that sometimes not.
Try to reboot to cd, somtimes it starts inspecting my computer hardware, somtimes not.
Restarts anywhere at anytime, constantly.
It will even crash at the a: prompt when I can get to it.
It may be that the raid 0 left enough bits in the root sector to create a pocket??? or something like that.
I did try to download bcupdate.exe to address this but it said it was not a dos command.
When I boot to floppy and get an A: prompt, I did a dir c: and it says "invalid media type reading drive c:
Any help here would be greatly appreciated as my seller on ebay, who says he is a certified dell tech, is out of ideas and will not fix this faulty system.
thank you,
Rich
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Old 05-02-2008, 12:47 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: constant restarts on empty disk

Try running a CHKDSK /F maybe its the hard drive also does the system stay up longer after being off for a while, reason i say that is temperature sometimes overheating can cause it to restart.
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Old 05-02-2008, 01:10 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: constant restarts on empty disk

Thank you for your reply,
I tested the power supply with paper clip from green to black wire, it works fine.
Problem occurs warm or cold. At first I thought it was an overheating problem because it worked for longer after being shut down, this was during the first couple of days. Now it doesn't matter. I am lucky if I can get through the windows installation process to even get to the point of formatting. It took me 5 hours to get to the install screen and format with ntfs. Just getting it to stay on without rebooting is the problem.
When I boot to a floppy and get an A: prompt chkdsk /f is a bad command or file name. when I try dir c: it says invalid media type c:
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Old 05-02-2008, 01:24 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: constant restarts on empty disk

Google, download and burn to disk a image of memtest 86 +

boot off of it and run for a minimum of four hours, this will tell us if the memory is bad.
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Old 05-02-2008, 05:55 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: constant restarts on empty disk

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ste View Post
Google, download and burn to disk a image of memtest 86 +

boot off of it and run for a minimum of four hours, this will tell us if the memory is bad.
I agree run memtest86+ would help as well. Reason i didnt suggest that before is because you said you took out each individual stick but a memtest could'nt hurt.

Also to run chkdsk boot to the windows cd and press R at the first screen for the recovery console it should work so long as you have a formatted c: partition. If you are able to change the drive to c: then just entering chkdsk /R shold work.

though im kind of leaning away from a bad hard drive just because it restarts even when booting off cd's.

good luck
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Old 05-03-2008, 08:40 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: constant restarts on empty disk

Thank you,
I have no restart capability now.
I am thinking either motherboard or cpu.
I reseated the cpu but no change.
I will attempt a post test on the motherboard.
Thank you all again.
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