Did I kill my system with a new CD-RW?
December 11, 2003 11:05 AM   Subscribe

So, I bought a CD-RW a few weeks ago and figured I'd just slap it in my system at home. Took it home, cracked the box, put it in, plugged it up, and nothing. Now my monitor doesn't see my PC... all I get is the HDD light constantly on. It may be that it's loading the OS (Win XP Pro), but I've left it alone for a while, and the light stays on.

So, what'd I do? Any ideas? [Ask Mefi rules!]
posted by ajpresto to Computers & Internet (21 answers total)
I'm assuming that you connected the CD-RW via an internal IDE cable?

What jumper settings did you use? Are there any other devices on the same cable? If so, are they both set as master devices?

Is the machine booting at all? Is it making any funny beeping noises?

Have you checked your video adapter? It could be that you bumped one of the cards enough to unseat it, and so there's no video signal coming out of your PC.
posted by bshort at 11:09 AM on December 11, 2003

I second bshort's q regarding master/slave jumpers, especially if your primary HD is on the same cable as the new drive.
posted by daver at 11:12 AM on December 11, 2003

This is the very first thing I would suggest you check:

Does it go back to normal when you undo the steps of installing the CDRW drive? If so, that means one of those steps was wrong -- cabling, Master/Slave/Cable Select configuration, or something like that.

If it doesn't, it means something else went wrong while you were inside the system -- something came loose, unplugged, or was damaged.
posted by majick at 11:12 AM on December 11, 2003

Response by poster: Majick - I have done that. So, the diagnosis, I think, is something is "loose, unplugged, or was damaged." I've reseated everything (I'll try again when I get home late tonight) and it still has the same problems.

I don't think that I have another video card in another system, but I wonder if I should try that?

To the others - I checked the jumpers. I had one slave, one master, tried both on cable select.. nothing seemed to work. Although, I did make sure that they matched what the cable said (master on cable, master on jumpers)... Is that required? Should I try the opposite of what they say?

Thanks, you guys. I really appreciate it.
posted by ajpresto at 11:39 AM on December 11, 2003

If you can't get the PC to start or show anything on a screen, I bet you have the master/slave stuff mixed up.
posted by mathowie at 11:41 AM on December 11, 2003

ajpresto: just so I'm clear, you're not getting any video signal at all?

Even after you've taken out the new drive?
posted by bshort at 11:45 AM on December 11, 2003

Response by poster: Right, bshort. No video at all. Well, according to the monitor. The monitor DOES work, though.. I've plugged it into a laptop... I haven't done the same with the video card.

And just to make sure I'm not a complete idiot, video cards get whatever power they may need through the PCI/AGP (?) something connection, right? It's a basic, 2 year old video card, nothing fancy, but it has these prongs that stick out of it. They look like they want something plugged into it.

Matt - I hope it's that simple. I'll kick the computer again when I get home, double check all the master/slave things, etc..
posted by ajpresto at 11:56 AM on December 11, 2003

Even without any HD's installed or recognized, you'd still get your BIOS bootup and an error message, so I'm thinking motherboard or video-card.
posted by signal at 12:06 PM on December 11, 2003

Another procedure to try: Sometimes a system won't POST because the BIOS settings in battery-backed CMOS storage are hosed. This happened on one of my laptops recently. Try locating the battery on the motherboard, removing it for about an hour, and reinstalling it. If that fixes it, you'll need to poke around in the BIOS setup screen (probably hit F2 as it comes up) and make sure everything is set properly. The defaults are usually good enough if not great.

Another option is to re-seat the CPU, particularly if it's one of the slotted types. Sometimes just popping it out and back in again does the trick. I had a machine that needed this every so often because the mechanism that held the CPU in the slot wasn't very good.

If neither of those work, start unplugging stuff. If you can strip the system down to nothing but video and power, and it still fails, you've isolated the problem to the few items left plugged in.
posted by majick at 12:12 PM on December 11, 2003

Oh, and if you run yourself completely out of options, replace the power supply. Doing so has resolved quite a few seemingly impossible hardware problems for me in the past. Buy something good and expensive. Cheap power supplies die, sometimes taking more valuable system components with them.
posted by majick at 12:14 PM on December 11, 2003

Response by poster: The crazy thing is, is that I don't get any beep codes. I bet I turned that off in the BIOS at some point. Stupid me. I'm going to see if I can jump into BIOS and turn on the beeps again, while I'm blind. That should be fun.

On preview: majick, I've done a part of that.. I've unplugged both IDE connectors and the floppy drive connector from the mobo. Still nothing. So, yeah, I agree with either mobo or video card.

Thanks again, everybody. I'll give you an update (like you care) after I try everything everybody mentioned.

As a side note, I've posted this same question on about 4 different boards and have gotten maybe 1 answer, none of which was as detailed as the question bshort asked. So, I greatly appreciate the troubleshooting help.

On preview again (stop that majick! :P ): If all else fails, I'm buying a Dell and moving the hard drive over to it. Thanks.
posted by ajpresto at 12:19 PM on December 11, 2003

"The crazy thing is, is that I don't get any beep codes."

Between that and the HD-light-stuck-on symptom (I assume there's no sound of the HD seeking and making like it is booting, right?), it sounds to me like you aren't even getting far enough down the POST to get beep codes, let alone to be able to run a BIOS setup. I don't think you're "flying blind" right now so much as "not flying nor rolling nor crawling nor creeping."

Maybe check around on the board to see if it has fallen victim to Exploded Cap Syndrome: you'd see a thin film of shiny goo seeping out of one or more barrel capacitors.

On preview: Oh. Sorry. =)
posted by majick at 12:29 PM on December 11, 2003

ajpresto: I'm glad we could help. I know how frustrating a misbehaving computer can be.

And yeah, definitely keep us updated.

Oh, also, when I was building my first computer I had installed the motherboard, seated the processor, hooked up the fan, plugged the power leads into the motherboard, and when I tried to get it to POST for the first time....nothing happened.

It turns out it was that my powersupply was set to 220V rather than 110V.
posted by bshort at 12:37 PM on December 11, 2003

What a coincidence, I had that very same problem with my first buld attempt.

Actually, I've had power supplies that seemed to be dead but upon flippling the 110/220 switch back and forth a few tiems, they started miraculously working again. For a few months, at least.
posted by majick at 12:54 PM on December 11, 2003

Master/Slave shouldn't stop the computer from POSTing iirc. A wild guess is you have one of those IDE cables without notches/closed holes to prevent you from putting drives on the wrong way around and that's what you did. And maybe I'm skimming too quickly but I couldn't find whether the system worked after you removed the drive again. That's definately the first thing to check, if it doesn't work without drives it's not a drive cable or master/slave issue.
posted by fvw at 2:45 PM on December 11, 2003

My best terrible hardware problem killed about a week of my time with troubleshooting, plugging, unplgging, flipping, unflipping... Eventually, I had the entire machine built outside of the case, and, whaddya know, it works... Turns out there was a screw shaft that was in contact with part of the motherboard, causing the whole thing to short out violently. Luckily the board wasn't damaged, and it only took a bit of electrical tape to fix.
posted by kaibutsu at 7:59 PM on December 11, 2003

Response by poster: Holy, goddamn, motherfucking shit!

It works!

I complained to HP and asked for help. They suggested resetting the BIOS. I figured, "What the hell?"

I punched the keys and forgot about it (I took my daughter to the ER last night because my wife was paranoid.. both of them are fine).. This morning I turned on the computer for shits and giggles.

And I get the HP blue screen!

It's alive!

I'm still not out of the woods, though.. I haven't had time to try to plug everything back in yet, but at least I know that the HD didn't die and the mobo is okay...
posted by ajpresto at 2:07 AM on December 12, 2003

So what did you have to do to reset the BIOS?
posted by bshort at 5:31 AM on December 12, 2003

Congratulations! It sounds like there was a procedure to effectively do what I was suggesting above with yanking the CMOS battery, but without all the prying of parts on the motherboard. Was it a special key combination or something like that?
posted by majick at 6:10 AM on December 12, 2003

Response by poster: I hit F1 to enter the BIOS screen, then F5 to reset the BIOS to original, factory settings, then F10 to save the settings to the BIOS.

And, yes, majick, just like you said about the battery thing. I tried the battery trick once before, about 10 years ago on a 386 and it didn't work. I couldn't figure out why, but I was leery about that approach again.

I'll update you guys about ultimate success or relative failure of putting all the components in place. I figure it'll work as long as I keep putting the BIOS back each time. (So, I'll add the original CD-RW, then reboot and check BIOS. Then I'll add the original DVD-ROM drive, reboot, etc., then the new CD-RW, reboot, etc..)
posted by ajpresto at 6:26 AM on December 12, 2003

A lot of motherboards (like... all of em) now have a line of three jumper pins somewhere on the motherboard, with a jumper over two. you swap it over to the other two pins, then back, and the BIOS is reset. The battery trick is long dead.
posted by armoured-ant at 8:12 AM on December 12, 2003

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