Machine shuts down, can't find boot device


E

Enkidu

Allen said:
No, I'm using a USB KB, but I might try another. just in case.
It's cheap and easy to check, even if it's unlikely to be the problem.
Further
comments: you mentioned pressing F keys multiple times--my rule is to
press them at least 60 times, unless something happens sooner.
Yeah . . . by the time you see the prompt, it's too late to hit the
right key. But every system I have tells me what key combo to hit during
the boot process to enter the BIOS set up. Yours doesn't? If not, you've
got to find the manual.

One other thing you could try if you can get to the BIOS is to change
the boot device to USB or DVD, and have something bootable there. You
can create a bootable Linux USB thumb drive using a different system
with UNetbootin. Versions for Windows or Linux. Then you could see if
you can boot at all. You can use the Linux OS to at least look at your
hard drive and see if it will even mount. If you don't want to use Linux
to look at your drive, you could pull it from the system and place it in
a USB drive housing (under $25) and try to read it with any other
system, Windows, Linux or Mac. If the drive is damaged, you might need
to do this to salvage as much as possible of your files from the disk.
You might need to do this anyway if you trace the problem to a bad
mother board, because you'll have to reinstall Win7 after you replace
the MB and you'll lose whatever is on the drive.

One last idea is fixmbr, a utility that came with XP to fix a damaged
master boot record. If you've a damaged MBR, you wouldn't be able to
boot, of course. The Win7 DVD must have something like this utility,
because the problem still occurs. This would require booting from your
Win7 DVD, and that requires changing the boot device in your BIOS. If
you can't access your BIOS, you are truly hosed, and it's likely time
for a new mother board. That would suck.

And about
BIOS batteries--my computer is never off for extended periods, except
for opening the case or when bad weather indicates chances for damage; I
have had very, very few hardware problems over the years, going back to
analog days starting in 1954.
I've only had one battery go out, and that was a truly ancient system I
was using as a file server. But I don't see how that would kill access
to your bios, because it has power it it's trying to boot. You might
lose settings, you might lose the time, but you should still be able to
access the BIOS.

I think you can fix everything if you can access the BIOS, and you can't
fix anything if you can't.
 
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D

Dave-UK

Allen said:
No, I'm using a USB KB, but I might try another. just in case. Further comments: you mentioned
pressing F keys multiple times--my rule is to press them at least 60 times, unless something
happens sooner. And about BIOS batteries--my computer is never off for extended periods, except
for opening the case or when bad weather indicates chances for damage; I have had very, very few
hardware problems over the years, going back to analog days starting in 1954.
Allen
F2 is the key to enter bios but you have to be quick, see here
under System Setup (Dell 531 manual):
http://support.euro.dell.com/support/edocs/systems/inspd531/en/OM/appendix.htm
 
R

R. C. White

Hi, Allen.
No, I'm using a USB KB, but I might try another. just in case.
There are several versions of USB KBs. My Microsoft Wireless Keyboard 6000
v3.0 is wireless, with a little thumb drive size USB transceiver that plugs
into the USB port and communicates between the motherboard and the keyboard
(and mouse - this is a wireless desktop set). The previous version of the
same keyboard used a USB plug with a 6-foot cable to the fist-sized
transceiver setting on my bookshelf. Years ago I tried a Bluetooth set with
a dongle that plugged into a USB port, but I couldn't even reboot from Vista
into WinXP because the Bluetooth drivers wouldn't work until after Windows
was loaded - classic chicken/egg problem.

This current KB has given me a variety of problems, depending on WHERE I
plug in the transceiver. If I plug it into the USB port on the motherboard,
at the back of the computer case, it works fine when booting - but the KB
gets narcolepsy and falls asleep for about 2 minutes right in the middle of
typing a word in a message like this. If I move the transceiver to a 4-port
hub about a foot closer to the desk, the sleeping sickness is cured - but
the KB doesn't respond during boot. Which means I can't get into the BIOS -
like your problem.

After fighting this for months, the solution finally dawned. I plugged the
hub into the mobo USB port, rather than a port on a PCI card. Problem
solved! I can press <Del> to enter BIOS, or <Esc> to boot from DVD
one-time-only, or select from the multi-boot menu on reboot - and my
keyboard doesn't go to sleep in the middle of a word any more. ;<)

So simply saying "USB KB" doesn't tell the whole story. There are several
different ways of using one of those.

RC
--
R. C. White, CPA
San Marcos, TX
(e-mail address removed)
Microsoft Windows MVP
Windows Live Mail 2009 (14.0.8089.0726) in Win7 Ultimate x64
 
A

Allen

Enkidu said:
It's cheap and easy to check, even if it's unlikely to be the problem.


Yeah . . . by the time you see the prompt, it's too late to hit the
right key. But every system I have tells me what key combo to hit during
the boot process to enter the BIOS set up. Yours doesn't? If not, you've
got to find the manual.

One other thing you could try if you can get to the BIOS is to change
the boot device to USB or DVD, and have something bootable there. You
can create a bootable Linux USB thumb drive using a different system
with UNetbootin. Versions for Windows or Linux. Then you could see if
you can boot at all. You can use the Linux OS to at least look at your
hard drive and see if it will even mount. If you don't want to use Linux
to look at your drive, you could pull it from the system and place it in
a USB drive housing (under $25) and try to read it with any other
system, Windows, Linux or Mac. If the drive is damaged, you might need
to do this to salvage as much as possible of your files from the disk.
You might need to do this anyway if you trace the problem to a bad
mother board, because you'll have to reinstall Win7 after you replace
the MB and you'll lose whatever is on the drive.

One last idea is fixmbr, a utility that came with XP to fix a damaged
master boot record. If you've a damaged MBR, you wouldn't be able to
boot, of course. The Win7 DVD must have something like this utility,
because the problem still occurs. This would require booting from your
Win7 DVD, and that requires changing the boot device in your BIOS. If
you can't access your BIOS, you are truly hosed, and it's likely time
for a new mother board. That would suck.



I've only had one battery go out, and that was a truly ancient system I
was using as a file server. But I don't see how that would kill access
to your bios, because it has power it it's trying to boot. You might
lose settings, you might lose the time, but you should still be able to
access the BIOS.

I think you can fix everything if you can access the BIOS, and you can't
fix anything if you can't.
F8 is the key, but it DOES NOT OPEN the BIOS. Believe me.
Allen
 
A

Allen

Dave-UK said:
F2 is the key to enter bios but you have to be quick, see here
under System Setup (Dell 531 manual):
Actually, I have tried F2, F8, and DEL (which Dell used for many years),
all with no positive results. F12 will start the machine just fine, but
if there is a way to access BIOS other than at boot I would really like
to know about it. Just being able to read the current settings (sans
changing them) would be a help.
Allen
 
E

Enkidu

Allen said:
if there is a way to access BIOS other than at boot I would really like
to know about it. Just being able to read the current settings (sans
changing them) would be a help.
I have never run across such a utility for any OS any time, anywhere. I
don't know if such a thing is even possible, unless it was written by
the motherboard manufacturer.
 
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G

Gene E. Bloch

F8 is the key, but it DOES NOT OPEN the BIOS. Believe me.
Allen
I find that hard to believe, but I'm not Enkidu...

In Windows, F8 is the key to get to the safe mode boot, and I sorely
doubt - but only with 99% certainty - that Dell would use it as the
BIOS key :)

An additional possibility, besides the usual Delete and F2 and F10: on
my computer (not a Dell), Esc brings up a BIOS menu with a list of BIOS
keys, such as F2 to enter BIOS setup, F11 to enter the recovery
partition, something else for a one-shot boot from another device, and
a couple of others that I forgot.
 
G

Gene E. Bloch

Good information.

Let me anecdotally corroborate what you're saying. My (very cheap) USB
wireless keyboard can be unresponsive at BIOS time; I need to hit F2 a
couple of times in order to be successful 50% of the time :)

Hi, Allen.
There are several versions of USB KBs. My Microsoft Wireless Keyboard 6000
v3.0 is wireless, with a little thumb drive size USB transceiver that plugs
into the USB port and communicates between the motherboard and the keyboard
(and mouse - this is a wireless desktop set). The previous version of the
same keyboard used a USB plug with a 6-foot cable to the fist-sized
transceiver setting on my bookshelf. Years ago I tried a Bluetooth set with
a dongle that plugged into a USB port, but I couldn't even reboot from Vista
into WinXP because the Bluetooth drivers wouldn't work until after Windows
was loaded - classic chicken/egg problem.
This current KB has given me a variety of problems, depending on WHERE I plug
in the transceiver. If I plug it into the USB port on the motherboard, at
the back of the computer case, it works fine when booting - but the KB gets
narcolepsy and falls asleep for about 2 minutes right in the middle of typing
a word in a message like this. If I move the transceiver to a 4-port hub
about a foot closer to the desk, the sleeping sickness is cured - but the KB
doesn't respond during boot. Which means I can't get into the BIOS - like
your problem.
After fighting this for months, the solution finally dawned. I plugged the
hub into the mobo USB port, rather than a port on a PCI card. Problem
solved! I can press <Del> to enter BIOS, or <Esc> to boot from DVD
one-time-only, or select from the multi-boot menu on reboot - and my keyboard
doesn't go to sleep in the middle of a word any more. ;<)
So simply saying "USB KB" doesn't tell the whole story. There are several
different ways of using one of those.
 
A

Alan Larsson

Actually, I have tried F2, F8, and DEL (which Dell used for many years),
all with no positive results. F12 will start the machine just fine, but
if there is a way to access BIOS other than at boot I would really like
to know about it. Just being able to read the current settings (sans
changing them) would be a help.
Allen
Per Dell:

Dell™ Inspiron™ 531 Owner's Manual

Entering System Setup

1. Turn on (or restart) your computer.

2. When the blue DELL™ logo is displayed, you must watch for the F2
prompt to appear.

3. Once this F2 prompt appears, press <F2> immediately.

NOTE: The F2 prompt indicates that the keyboard has initialized. This
prompt can appear very quickly, so you must watch for it to display, and
then press <F2>. If you press <F2> before you are prompted, this
keystroke will be lost.

4. If you wait too long and the operating system logo appears,
continue to wait until you see the Microsoft® Windows® desktop. Then,
shut down your computer (see Turning Off Your Computer) and try again.

http://support.dell.com/support/edocs/systems/inspd531/en/OM/appendix.htm
 
A

Allen

Gene said:
Good information.

Let me anecdotally corroborate what you're saying. My (very cheap) USB
wireless keyboard can be unresponsive at BIOS time; I need to hit F2 a
couple of times in order to be successful 50% of the time :)
I repeat: my keybord IS NOT wireless. It plugs directly into a USB
connection. My mouse is wireless with a USB receiver, but my keyboard IS
NOT WIRELESS.
Allen
 
E

Enkidu

Allen said:
I repeat: my keybord IS NOT wireless. It plugs directly into a USB
connection. My mouse is wireless with a USB receiver, but my keyboard IS
NOT WIRELESS.
If your system has a PS2 keyboard connector, you could try that - if
you have an old PS2 kyboard. Might work, probably not . . . but I always
try the cheapest, easiest fixes first, even if they aren't the most
likely to solve the problem.
 
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T

TheBee

If your system has a PS2 keyboard connector, you could try that - if
you have an old PS2 kyboard. Might work, probably not . . . but I always
try the cheapest, easiest fixes first, even if they aren't the most
likely to solve the problem.
Boot a Ubuntu Linux livecd and see if it happens with that as well.

1.If it does, you have crappy hardware.

2. If it does not, then Windows 7 is to blame.

#2 is far more likely to be the case as Windows 7 hardware support
sucks big time. Linux has far more and better hardware support than
Windows and especially Windows 7 which is the worst version of them
all.

TheBee
 
G

GreyCloud

Allen said:
No, I'm using a USB KB, but I might try another. just in case. Further
comments: you mentioned pressing F keys multiple times--my rule is to
press them at least 60 times, unless something happens sooner. And about
BIOS batteries--my computer is never off for extended periods, except
for opening the case or when bad weather indicates chances for damage; I
have had very, very few hardware problems over the years, going back to
analog days starting in 1954.
There is a slim possibility that your BIOS rom died. It happens once in
a rare while. But I don't know if the battery has anything to do with
it. Usually the battery is for the system clock. Had this problem a
long time ago with an ACER model, in that on bad setting in the rom
caused it to not respond anymore to any access to resetting it.

And the worst could be a hard drive interface failure, where any HD
requests won't make it.
 
G

GreyCloud

TheBee said:
Boot a Ubuntu Linux livecd and see if it happens with that as well.

1.If it does, you have crappy hardware.

2. If it does not, then Windows 7 is to blame.

#2 is far more likely to be the case as Windows 7 hardware support
sucks big time. Linux has far more and better hardware support than
Windows and especially Windows 7 which is the worst version of them
all.
That was one of my other suggestions. In the past I've had to use a
linux boot disk just to see if the hardware will respond. I've seen
this missing OS error message before and clearing that one isn't easy.
On one machine I had to use Linux to format the entire hard drive to
clear out any junk on the hard drive. At that point I'd stop and then
resintall windows, which worked.
 
A

Allen

GreyCloud wrote:
There is a slim possibility that your BIOS rom died. It happens once in
a rare while. But I don't know if the battery has anything to do with
it. Usually the battery is for the system clock. Had this problem a
long time ago with an ACER model, in that on bad setting in the rom
caused it to not respond anymore to any access to resetting it.

And the worst could be a hard drive interface failure, where any HD
requests won't make it.
Greycloud, I suspect you are right; I've had a suspicion all along, but
didn't want to accept it. I suppose that means a new MB, and my
80-year-old fingers aren't up to doing a replacement. Thanks very much.
Allen
 
G

GreyCloud

Allen said:
GreyCloud wrote:


Greycloud, I suspect you are right; I've had a suspicion all along, but
didn't want to accept it. I suppose that means a new MB, and my
80-year-old fingers aren't up to doing a replacement. Thanks very much.
Well, there is a good possibility to save some money, rather than going
out and buying a new PC... go to a mom and pop PC shop and have them fix it.
 
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L

Lord Vetinari

GreyCloud said:
Well, there is a good possibility to save some money, rather than going
out and buying a new PC... go to a mom and pop PC shop and have them fix
it.
Heh...living in one of, if not the most, wired city in the U.S. (soon to be
the home of the Blues Waters petascale supercomputer), we have many to
choose from. I often have to tell people where to go (heh)...it's so sad
that so many people don't know they have an alternative to the Geek Squad's
overpriced, and underpowered service.
 
A

Allen

Lord said:
Heh...living in one of, if not the most, wired city in the U.S. (soon to be
the home of the Blues Waters petascale supercomputer), we have many to
choose from. I often have to tell people where to go (heh)...it's so sad
that so many people don't know they have an alternative to the Geek Squad's
overpriced, and underpowered service.
I would rather go to a blacksmith with my problem than the Geek Squad
and its clones, based on what I've heard. Incidentally, I live in
Austin, which is also one of the most wired/wireless in the US. My first
experience in computers was with an analog fire control machine 56 years
ago, and have been almost continuously dealing with them ever
since--mainframe, minis, micros, you name it. This is the first time
I've ever felt the need to take a PC to an outsider for repair.
Allen
 
G

GreyCloud

Frank said:
Got that MS hatred cranked up again huh cody?
hehehe...they sure know how to push all of your "stupidity buttons"
don't they!
Oops!...LOL!
Ever pay for their online support services? Their services aren't all
that good if nothing more than take your money and run, as compared to
other companies doing the same thing.
 
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G

GreyCloud

Allen said:
I would rather go to a blacksmith with my problem than the Geek Squad
and its clones, based on what I've heard. Incidentally, I live in
Austin, which is also one of the most wired/wireless in the US. My first
experience in computers was with an analog fire control machine 56 years
ago, and have been almost continuously dealing with them ever
since--mainframe, minis, micros, you name it. This is the first time
I've ever felt the need to take a PC to an outsider for repair.
Allen
Ah, same here. I used to work on the old MK113 FCS and the MK114 FCS.
Then there was the older MK101 FCS. That one was almost all gears.
Too bad they didn't keep that paradigm, as for navy ships on an analog
computer you always have a running solution present, unlike a digital
computer solution.
 

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