Why won't my PC boot?

Question

Okay, here goes. One day I turn my computer off and it goes as normal. I turn it back on again an hour or so later and it gets to the Windows 98 screen and locks up. The hard drive light is not on and not chattering. So I restart and it does the same thing. I boot up into safe mode and comes up fine except the CD Drive is not detected. I go through the Windows troubleshooting guide and I do everything it says to do, but none of it works. I can get into safe mode fine, but I could not go into normal mode. Finally, I do the last resort, I format my hard drive, just wipe it clean and start over. I tell CMOS to boot up with CD DRIVE in order to reinstall Windows. But when it asks for confirmation about using CD-drive, it says it is accessing it and then locks up. I pull out another CD-drive I had and put that one in. Again the same exact thing happens. I could see of one CD-drive won't work but both? I've worked with computers my whole life and have encountered nasty problems before but this one is just plain wierd. Please help.

Answer

This question was answered on December 3, 2002. Much of the information contained herein may have changed since posting.

The Oooold CD Drive Problem! I almost relegated a perfectly good computer to the bone pile over a similar situation.

Try this: Assuming you have a bootable disk, unplug the CD drive completely You'll kick yourself for reformatting your drive if this is the problem, but would be amazed at the problems those things can cause.

Not many people have "spare" drives laying around, so I have to wonder if that second drive you put in was any better than the first one.

Also, did you replace the CD Drive cable? There's a common point Be sure you are using a new ATA 133 compatible cable if you have a fast Hard Drive They're the kind that stay bent when you bend them, having two parallel sets of solid wires for each conductor path Try swapping the IDE channels for the hard drive, and make sure your BIOS is properly configured.

Also put the CD Drive on an IDE channel different from the one your hard drive is attached to This is always good practice A messed-up drive will bog down an IDE channel, and your hard drive will never see the full light of day It's also good practice to put the master drive (which ought to be your hard drive), at the end of the IDE cable Be sure to check those jumpers!

How about this? Try borrowing a CD drive from a fairly new PC, or else just buying an new drive? You can get a standard CD player these days for around twenty dolars CD drives display horrible problems once they get old The lasers actually get weak, to say nothing of dusty That's why so many older CD-R drives can't record reliably anymore

Also, older CD-R drives (especially the bargain brands) had terrible compatibility problems Stick with the old, buggy software that came with them, because new CD-Recordable software might not work at all Never buy a CD-recordable drive that doesn't come with software And never install two different kinds of CD burning software at the same time on any PC, unless you feel lucky, or have a spare weekend to troubleshoot any resulting problems The two software packages MIGHT work together, but don't count on it.

On the outside, you may have a fried processor A bad processor might work, but at a turtle's pace, or fitfully, but still seem OK .. sorta.

RG

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Author

Posted by Robert of Mesa Community College on December 3, 2002