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Still having CMOS problems
Thread poster: Geoffrey Barrow
Geoffrey Barrow
Local time: 02:08
Norwegian to English
Feb 29, 2004

Following leads obtained when I posted a question here a few days ago, I opened up the machine, took out the CMOS battery and checked the voltage. It was nearly 3V, so there clearly is nothing wrong with the battery. The battery did seem a little loose, so I bent the contact slightly and put the battery back in. I then booted the machine and everything functioned perfectly: no error messages, the date and clock were right, all devices were installed correctly and all applications seemed to work!

So, was it really THAT simple? Apparently not: today the machine suddenly froze again and I had to restart by switching it off and on again. And now I'm back to square one. On booting I get a message that the CMOS settings are wrong, I go into the setup and sure enough, the date is given as 1 January 2000 and the hard disk is not detected. I add the correct settings and continue, but the machine doesn't find a boot sector on the HDD and asks for a bootable floppy. When I insert this and run it with CD ROM suport, I get the old message that I've now seen a thousand times saying that the HDD does not contain a valid FAT.

If I restart again and go into setup, the CMOS settings are still wrong. Even if I correct them and save, if I go back into the setup, the date is back to 1 Jan 2000 and the disks are wrongly defined. I seem to recall that a couple of days ago I could at least set the default settings and was able to start Windows in safe mode. Now even that doesn't work!

Does anybody know what could be causing this? It definitely appears to be a setup problem, not a faulty harddisk. Can the BIOS be faulty, and if so, what can I do about it?

I'd be grateful for any advice here, as I'm just about at the end of my patience!

Geoff


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Ivan Eikås Skjøstad  Identity Verified
Norway
Local time: 07:08
Member (2002)
English to Norwegian
+ ...
Mother board ? Feb 29, 2004

Hello!

My guess would be the mother board. The symptoms you describe may derive from a dead mother board, and everything should work when you replace it with a new (or used) one.

The bad news is that you will need to format the partition on your hard drive that holds your operating system...


[Edited at 2004-02-29 23:51]


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invguy  Identity Verified
Bulgaria
Local time: 08:08
English to Bulgarian
Battery may still be the cause Feb 29, 2004

Geoffrey Barrow wrote:

Following leads obtained when I posted a question here a few days ago, I opened up the machine, took out the CMOS battery and checked the voltage. It was nearly 3V, so there clearly is nothing wrong with the battery.



Don't measure the voltage, measure the current between the + and - poles. An almost dead battery may still have voltage reading near nominal value, but the current would be (or quickly drop to) zero. Of course, be sure to switch to the correct current measurement range, most probably mA x1 (anyway, start with mA x10, just in case).

Best of all, remove the battery and take it to a computer store. They should be able to measure it for you and get you an appropriate replacement. Also write down the manufacturer/model of your motherboard, as well as your BIOS type, this would help them.

If it's not the battery, you may be having a CMOS chip or m/b problem, which is definitely worse (most probably you'd need to replace the m/b). What you describe looks very much like a fault in the CMOS power supply.

I hope it's just the battery...


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Desi_vdb
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:08
Dutch to English
+ ...
sorry, this doesn't make any sense Mar 3, 2004

Ivan Eikås Skjøstad wrote:

Hello!

My guess would be the mother board. The symptoms you describe may derive from a dead mother board, and everything should work when you replace it with a new (or used) one.

The bad news is that you will need to format the partition on your hard drive that holds your operating system...


[Edited at 2004-02-29 23:51]


why would you need to touch your harddrive (the formatting) if you have a problem with the motherboard? You can even take out your harddisk and connect it to another motherboard and you can make it work.

I would also first try to replace the battery. That is the most common problem if the cmos settings are not remembered.

I think it will work, since when you fooled around with the battery for a bit, the problem was gone. My bet is that you won't have to look further than that.

Let us know it if works or not.


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Geoffrey Barrow
Local time: 02:08
Norwegian to English
TOPIC STARTER
Tried the battery - doesn't help Mar 3, 2004

[quote]Desi_vdb wrote:

I would also first try to replace the battery. That is the most common problem if the cmos settings are not remembered.

I think it will work, since when you fooled around with the battery for a bit, the problem was gone. My bet is that you won't have to look further than that.

Unfortunately, I have now tried this, and it seemed to work, for a while. I could satrt Windows, and everything seemed to function, but after a couple of hours I gat a blue screen telling me that it was impossible to write to Drive C. The only way to get out of it was to turn off the computer. Looks like the disk was no longer being recognised, which again tends to indicate that if a low battery isn't the source of the problem, then the motherboard itself has failed in some way.

Unfortunately, this is an old motherboard. By old I mean 2 years - let's face it these days, that's old enough to mean "obsolete". I'm not sure I can get hold of a replacement, and how can I find out if some other make of motherboard will be suitable replacement? Even if I do find the right board, I'm not sure I'm competent enough to replace it. I can install memory chips and network cards, but something tells me that if I change the motherboard I am likely to land myself in a lot of problems.

I guess I could get this done professionally, but the question is whether the machine itself is worth what it would cost. I suspect it would be cheaper just to buy a new computer.


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Desi_vdb
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:08
Dutch to English
+ ...
seems your drive is recognised? Mar 4, 2004

The problem you are describing now seems to be another one than the one you started out with. So first verify the bios settings:
Go to the Setup (Bios) (your computer should tell you how when you start up).
-Is the date ok now?
-Are all your devices recognised?

If this is ok, then:
-change the bootmode to cdrom before the hdd (harddrive) and try to boot up from a bootable cd (for example windows). Does this work?

If so, the problem might not be the motherboard, but for example your harddrive. Can you boot up in safe mode (if you use windows)? (pressing F8 at starting up regularly)

Computer troubleshooting is a case of eliminating things. It can be quite tiresome, but try to see it as a challenge and don't despair! Two years is not so old for a computer. And if you did not buy a new harddrive it should have no problems dealing with it. Your harddrive could have problems recognising a harddrive that is very big for example.


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