Why is a hard drive preventing my computer from turning on?
June 11, 2007 8:50 AM   Subscribe

Why is a hard drive preventing my computer from turning on?

My computer (a home built system w/ an Expox mboard / AMD 64 Venice) is having trouble turing on. It was running fine for about an hour this morning, but Acrobat went haywire so I shut it down.

I restarted and it would power up for about 5 sec, then shut off. The fan to the power supply would spin, as would the the fans on the cpu, and the various blue leds would light up. There were no beeps or anything. It's not very hot here today, maybe 70.

I removed all the cables, kvm, etc. that didn't work, then tried reseating everything on the mboard, till finally it seemed that disconcecting the slave drive allowed the computer to boot. I did some more reseating, etc. on that drive but the computer won't start w/ it connected.

I'd like to figure out if it's the drive or my power supply. I have a monitor program by Epox that shows the following numbers:

Vcore: 1.524, +3.3: 3.312, Chipset: 1.536, +5: 5.103, Vdimm: 2.752, Vbat: 3.136, 5VSB: 5.184

I'm going to take the drive home tonight and try to put it in another computer, I do have things on there I'd like to get off... but till then I'd like to know if you think it could be the powersupply (so I can order a new one), and if so can I test to see if it's dying, or have you ever had a drive cause this kind of problem?
posted by JulianDay to Computers & Internet (4 answers total)
During spin-up a drive draws far more current than it does steady-state. That might be enough to make the supply crowbar and shut down again.

It's not uncommon for homebrew systems, especially those that mutate with time, to eventually push the limits of their power supplies.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 9:02 AM on June 11, 2007

Other components also draw more current as they turn on (e.g. cooling fans). Some system bioses can permit you to set a delay on HD spin up precisely to relieve the bootup load on the supply a bit -- but of course, you have to get into the BIOS to set this up.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 9:04 AM on June 11, 2007

A new powersupply should do the trick, although the worst case scenario will be that your HD's IO board is shorting out your system.

The cheapest way to save any files on it is to swap the IO board with another HD (has to be the same make/model) as data recovery services aren't cheap and an RMA usually doesn't include saving data either.

(before you conclude its the drive though, test it out in another system, or try connecting it via an IDE to USB adapter...they come in handy for other things too so worth the 20 bills imo)
posted by samsara at 10:09 AM on June 11, 2007

If you do narrow it down to the power supply (by testing the drive in another system, as samsara recommends), don't try to mess around with boot delays and whatnot to get the system running with the power supply you have. If you're so close now to the edge of what your PS can support, you're only going to have trouble if you find some way to sneak by. It may boot fine, but the second you do anything the slightest bit processor-intensive (e.g. play a game for 15 minutes, watch a DVD, apply a Photoshop filter), you'll start getting random lockups and crashes. When you order a new PS, always get a better one than you think you need. Also, name brand matters more than (claimed) wattage; don't cheap out.
posted by Partial Law at 10:30 AM on June 11, 2007

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