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A Unique type of problem with Windows-XP (or is it a hardware problem ?) RRS feed

  • Question

  • I am using an old desktop with Pentium4 processor, 1GB RAM, 40 GB hard disk since the past eight years or so.  It originally had only 256 MB RAM, which was replaced about 18 months ago because of some problem.  I have dual boot of WindowsXP with SP3 and Kubuntu 11.10 --- I have automatic updates enabled for windows and office and the last update must have been on 18 December when I worked on the computer for some time with windows.  I know very well that eight years is a very long life for a desktop and it is due for complete replacement.  However, I am not yet ready for that action till at least after April 2012, when I will be moving into a bigger apartment.  Now coming to my problem and worry.

    For the last fortnight or so, when I switch ON the computer, a message used to come on the screen saying "No signal.  Check data cable" and the display on the monitor used to just go OFF.  And, the CPU is running as per the light & sound indications on it but no indications on the monitor --- it is as if the computer has gone off to 'sleep' and keyboard or mouse does not 'wake it up.  If I restart using the button on the CPU, I can see the CPU going through the process of restart but, no indications about that on the monitor.  And if I try to switch off using the on/off push-button on the CPU, it just won't switch off.  If I switch off the power supply and again start up, there was a chance of the BIOS loading, sometimes after about four or five such attempts.  During this start up process, a message usually says that something seems to have gone wrong and press F2 to enter BIOS utility and make changes or the system will load default BIOS.  Once this message appears, it is success . . . . 'GRUB' comes up and from there, I can load either WindowsXP or Kubuntu as chosen by me.   I have left the BIOS at its default settings or minor changes about which I am very sure.

    About four days ago, once during start up of windows, the message said that something is wrong with one of the hard disks and it wanted to do a disk check.  I let the system go through with that disk check.  First time in my life I saw some messages popping up during windows disk check saying something is truncated in some sector and something is being deleted in another sector and so on but the disk check was successfully completed.  And  . . . . . .after the restart, when I choose to go to the windows, the first screen of windows came on but before the desktop display came on, some dark blue screen with white writings flicked on just for a second and the system went for a restart without displaying the desktop back ground.  This process is repeating whenever I try to go into windows and the screen flicks through too fast without letting me read that message on the dark blue screen.  Maybe, the only thing that has happened is that an important program file has been accidentally deleted by the 'disk check' utility of windowsXP.   I do have my WIndowsXP original CD [without even SP1 in it] and can probably re-install windows using that CD --- I have not tried it.  But, at the moment, I am not willing to 're-install' windows just because I also fear that there could be a hardware problem as I have explained further down below.  

    A good thing now is that I can login into the computer through Kubuntu without any problem and access whatever data is there including the section of Windows.  And, I am not bothered about losing whatever data that is there on this hard disk.  After this 'disk check' incident, the 'check data cable' message never appeared during at least 30 starts that I had performed.     Every time, I have a very clean start and switch off using Kubuntu but if I try to go into windows, the same restart problem occurs.     The only problem that I am facing now is that my operations are a bit restricted because I am not so very confident with Kubuntu and libre office as I am with windows and MS office 2007.    

    Now let me come to my main worry about the hardware problem that I mentioned above.   Something similar had happened with a laptop that I own about 18-20 months ago.  I had it configured for dual boot with Windows-7 and Kubuntu.  That piece had just finished its one year warranty period when it started giving a lot of problems of overheating --- extremely hot air coming out of the small exhaust system on its back side.  Then, the display used to 'freeze' and there was no way to switch off with its keyboard, mouse and on/off switch was non-effective.  I even tried keeping it idle for an hour or so but nothing happened once the display has frozen.  The only solution was to disconnect power and remove battery.  I did that about five or six occasions and kept a visit to the repair centre pending just because of some other engagements.  This problem used to occur only while working with windows and well . . . my usage of Kubuntu was extremely limited although it was installed on the computer.  After some more days, the system used to go into auto shut down when it gets overheated.  If I try a start immediately, windows will not start but Kubuntu will start and give some indications on the desktop to say that system temperature is high and all.   Windows-7 could be started only after a gap of 15 minutes or so when the system had cooled down.  Finally one day windows just refused to start.  When I took the laptop to the repair centre, the technician diagnosed the problem to two things -- firstly some cooling pads near the fans had been damaged and needed replacement [a very minor issue] to allow free airflow near the processor for efficient cooling and a permanent damage to the hard disk, which had about 100 GB of very important data.  The only solution was to buy a portable hard disk and copy all the data from this one using Kubuntu which was still operational and thereafter, replace both the hard disk and the cooling pads.  Thanks to Kubuntu [I think it was 10.04 version I had then], I managed to save the data from the damaged hard discs. That laptop is currently being used by my daughter who lives separately.

    With experience about the laptop in the background, I am a bit scared that if I try to re-install Windows, this desktop will immediately die off and the technician will detect some hardware damage too.  Can anyone please suggest what I can do?

    Thursday, December 29, 2011 1:19 PM