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  1. #1
    Ogr8nwmypstmksnosnse pgoat's Avatar
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    improper cpu hang - PC won't boot up -HELP!

    ok - my new computer problem of the month....

    Looks like we bought a new Mac just in time - the old PC we've been using since 2000 started shutting itself off at random times about two or three weeks ago. Since Sunday it has been difficult to reboot - today I can't even get it to start up. Power up, then clicks off instantly.

    We kept getting a safe mode screen saying there had been an improper CPU hang, and we needed to confirm the frequency an save its settings (It was always at the proper frequency so we saved as is.)

    Any ideas what is causing this and how to fix? We really don't wanna dump major repair shop $ into this one anymore, but if I can salvage it as a backup and for use with MS apps I'd like to keep it running.

    Is this a motherboard issue? Motherboard battery? Processor?

    The only things that changed around the same time as the problem started was that we added a new PCI slot card with USB 2.0 ports and got a new surge protector strip.
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  2. #2
    Crushing souls Hickeydog's Avatar
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    try clearing the COMS. If you have the mobo manual, it should show you were the jumpers are to clear the COMS. Sounds like an overclock error.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member shoerhino's Avatar
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    Power supply might not be a bad place to start either, although you can't be sure that's the problem. Did you build the computer or buy it? Has anything changed recently?

  4. #4
    Senior Member DannoXYZ's Avatar
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    Check the following:

    - CPU fan
    - power-supply fan
    - motherboard battery
    - power-supply output (voltage-drop). There's inline power-gauges you can get that sits in between the power-supply and motherboard and gives you read-out on voltage-drop per power-output. If your power-supply drops too much voltage while supplying a normal load, it's bad.

  5. #5
    J E R S E Y S B E S T Jerseysbest's Avatar
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    Maybe start by taking the PCI card out, followed by other unnecessary stuff?

    If you bought a new PC, it'd be easy just to take out the hard drive to take what you want off, but I don't think Mac's will let you do that.

    If all else falls, before spending any money, find a friend with an old PC and hook your hard drive up to that.
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  6. #6
    Ogr8nwmypstmksnosnse pgoat's Avatar
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    Thanks guys.

    I certainly didn't over clock intentionally - the CPU has always been left alone to run at 866mHz, its original spec. Could popping a 2.0 USB card in there have over clocked it? Should I have yanked the old 1.1 USB card first?

    The power supply is pretty new - replaced the original about three years ago when it literally went up in flames! The PS fan is operating as smoothly and quietly as the day we first had it.

    Fwiw, We use a surge protector - we had just replaced the old generic one used for years with a more expensive model right after installing the 2.0 USB card (the new strip has a 2500ish Joule rating, which is undoubtedly higher than the old one, purchased in the early 1990s and worked fine other than the flame out mentioned...)

    I did get the PC up and running last night by simply taking the mobo battery out, waiting a few minutes and replacing (same battery, just allowed defaults to reset automatically and manually reset time/date).

    No leaking or bulging caps were visible on the mobo (one was leaning a bit) and I pulled the new 2.0 and original 1.1 USB cards. It ran fine all night and this morning. (Fingers crossed - I am putting the 2.0 card back in tonight*).

    Interestingly it appears the processor is now running at half-speed - down to 400 something from the spec'd 866. This is not something I set....dunno why but am not questioning this as it is working, albeit more slowly than before. The CPU fan is spinning fine; perhaps I should take it out and clean it? It was pretty dusty in there when we installed the 2.0 card a month or so ago, and the dust built up again when I opened it last night...or could the shut-downs and slower speed mean the processor is on its way out from age and wear? (eight years old, 2 hours or so minimum daily use)

    I needed to put our external HD back on the PC, as I was getting some issues using that external HD with our new Mac - certain folders from the PC were 'locked' (?? I didn't lock them, though they came form my work PC - maybe locked from there?), and I could not delete them from the Mac - they went to the Trash okay, but couldn't Empty Trash, even holding down the Option key....eventually I wound up moving them from trash back to the external, though that created a mess with duplicate files on the external....

    *Now I need to clean up the external drive, so I am using the old Windows soldier to do this (hence putting the 2.0 card back in - I already miss the Fire wire 8 on the Mac tho!! )

    Would you pop a fresh battery in since this has gotten it up and going so far?
    Take out and clean/inspect CPU fan?
    Last edited by pgoat; 03-27-08 at 09:14 AM.
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  7. #7
    Recreational Commuter
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    Try pulling the PCI card. I've seen a anumber of machines hang solidly with the installation of a new PCI card.

    Check the power supply as well.
    Riding the Ohio MS Central Ohio Challenge tour, July 12th.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Will G's Avatar
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    Definitely clean the dust out. The dust insulates and keeps the heat in and heat is the biggest killer of electronics.
    Flying a jet is no different than riding a bicycle. It's just a lot harder to put baseball cards in the spokes.

  9. #9
    Ogr8nwmypstmksnosnse pgoat's Avatar
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    Ok - I fired up my PC last night with the 2.0 USB card in place and a 300GB external HD plugged in there.

    I took time to pull the internal HD from its rack and blow out dust in the bay, used a paintbrush to loosen and blow out caked dust from the CPU fan and cooling fins, and double checked the power supply - its fan looks spiffy clean and the PS case does not seem very hot to the touch, fwtw.

    It booted smoothly as the day before (since pulling and replacing the battery) and ran fine all evening; I ran a full Symantec virus scan overnight (nothing found). Btw, I am currently running it on the dining room table, side panels off tower and plugged into an old school cheapie power surge strip from Walmart ca. 1990.

    Coupla questions:

    1. Even though my date/time were not having issues before I figure I'll replace the battery - it's eight years old, and I've seen lifespan estimates of anywhere from 5 to 10 years on these, but for a few bucks, why risk it it, Yes?

    2. There is no fan in the front of the case, which seems to be solid plastic - there is a plastic housing inside which looks made for a standard fan. Would you try and pop off the case front or somehow cut a hole for a fan to draw air in? Right now there is just the PS fan at rear and the CPU fan.

    3. Most importantly - the CPU is still set at 433 mHz - basically half the speed it has been at since we bought this computer. We had it assembled at a local mom & Pop store (long since shut down) in 2000 and we specifically asked for a Pentium III 866 mHz processor, which was, I believe, quite decent for our modest home use at that time. We've had this computer in the shop three or four times since then for a new PS, new OS (wiped ME and installed XP, which was a bazillion times better!), new CD-ROM drive, max out 512k RAM. Each time it came back with the CPU at 866.

    Why would it reset to half speed after popping the battery? Does this mean 433 is the default setting for the mother board? Or for our processor (did the mom & pop sell us a slower chip and overclock it to our requested specs?)? It is an Intell Pentium III ACPI X86 Family, if that means anything....

    While the machine is running smoothly and quick enough in basic functions, it takes a LONG time to boot up and is incredibly slow accessing the external HD, even with the 2.0 USB ports.

    Should I just deal with this and leave well enough alone at 433mHz?

    If I should change it how do I do that? Something with the CMOS jumper when replacing the battery? (Assuming I can even find it - this is all very new to me, hence the moron questions). Or do I need to go into the BIOS and presumably get the same screen as when it was starting safe mode, and then change the CPU to 866? And if so, how does one get into that BIOS screen (or whatever screen is needed to adjust the CPU speed)?

    Thank you as always for this help.
    Last edited by pgoat; 03-28-08 at 10:49 AM.
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  10. #10
    Ogr8nwmypstmksnosnse pgoat's Avatar
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    also - dumb question - what should I be seeing on the voltage switch at rear of the case? I didn't touch it intentionally but wondering if it got bumped accidentally? I am seeing "115" upside down; the switch is in the top position.....
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  11. #11
    crazy bike girl msincredible's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pgoat View Post
    also - dumb question - what should I be seeing on the voltage switch at rear of the case? I didn't touch it intentionally but wondering if it got bumped accidentally? I am seeing "115" upside down; the switch is in the top position.....
    That is correct for the US.

    Set it to 230 for Europe, most of Asia (not Japan and Taiwan), and Australia.

    It's not so bad to have it on 230 and plug it into 110V.
    But it is bad to have it on 115 and accidentally plug it into 220V.
    (Don't ask me how I know....)

  12. #12
    Ogr8nwmypstmksnosnse pgoat's Avatar
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    thanks

    I always forget this - i thought US was 120, but I gather 110-115 is more or less the same thing, vs. the European.....

    I bought a new battery - was just waiting to get more info before rebooting with the new one installed - assuming this will reset everything again....

    I am pissed that there are no vents in the case, front, rear, top or sides.... Was hoping I wouldn't have to drill to put in another fan to draw cool air in.

    Is it possible a case would have a mounting bracket for a 80mm fan up front - but solid plastic behind it (the front of the case)?
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  13. #13
    Hey guyz? Guyz? Wait up!! Siu Blue Wind's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pgoat View Post
    improper cpu hang - PC won't boot up -HELP!
    OMG!! At a quick glance I SWORE this thread was about lopsided bra issues!! ("improper cup hang?" "won't boot up?")
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  14. #14
    Ogr8nwmypstmksnosnse pgoat's Avatar
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    Well, it's doing the shut off thing again, but only if I boot up with the external HD hooked up and turned on.

    I had it running all night, no probs, worked on the external drive's folders for several hours (cleaning up and deleting files, got rid of about 5 GB of crap and it's more organized now). One thing that was odd was that the system was running at 871mHz, when we set it manually for 866 after putting in the new battery.....????

    Shut it off this AM so we could go buy a Fan (I decided to chop off the lower section of plastic covering the front of the generic metal case, which has grille holes pre-cut and an inner plastic bracket for an 80mm fan).

    When we came back (no fans in our hood - gotta wait till I'm in Manhattan next week), I tried to reboot. It kept shutting off and had two improper hang messages again...finally I shut off the external and it started up fine. I waited and turned on the external and it is running a little slowly when accessing the largest folder (50 GB or so), but it's staying on.

    I may not have mentioned: The external is a 300 GB iOmega (about 55GB on there, the rest is empty). The Machine running it is a 20GB HD (about 60% full) with the 866mHz CPU and 512MB RAM (Maxed). Is this a recipe for disaster? could the large volume of the external be overwhelming the PC?

    Also, there is an old dial-up PCI card installed we never use anymore. Should I yank it? I am wondering if, with the USB 2.0 card in there, and planning to plug a added fan into the mobo, will I be doing more harm than good (added strain on mobo canceling out the extra cooling factor)?
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  15. #15
    Ogr8nwmypstmksnosnse pgoat's Avatar
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    time to chuck it and start off fresh?

    Now it's doing it without the External HD, Either USB card or internet PCI card. In other words, It's now operating with just the video card, sound card motherboard, internal HD and three disk drives (CD, CD-r, 3.5" Floppy), and it STILL shuts down and gives the "Improper hung CPU" message. And regardless of how many times I reset to 866 mHz, it keeps showing 871 when I check the System Info in "My Computer"

    I give up.

    I was about to buy some case fans but as it is shutting down after sitting cool all day with the side panels off, I doubt this is a heat related problem.

    So, would it be insane to buy a new motherboard, CPU and memory, and try to salvage the old drives and PCI Cards in this old case? Or is the problem likely the PS?

    Am I better off just trashing this one, (maybe parting out on ebay?) and just buying a $500-1000 PC as a backup for our new Mac? I am not so comfortable having only one computer in the house, and I kinda want a windows machine around.
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  16. #16
    Senior Member shoerhino's Avatar
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    That is a really strange problem. Honestly, if I had a system like that, I would be tempted to buy a cheap windows machine somewhere and transfer your data onto it. Older components, especially hard drives, tend to age and I think you'd be throwing good money after bad attempting a salvage. You could buy a new motherboard, ram and CPU for a couple hundred but it's likely you'd also need a newer power supply because of the power demands and the fact that they interface between the motherboard and the power supply changed. You'd end up with a new computer using older drives and cards.

    You could look at buying an old CPU/Motherboard/RAM combo on ebay on craigslist but I would be tempted to pick a cheap computer at a big box store. Is it the greatest computer? No, but it would be all new. Probably the only problem would be that it has Vista...

    How are you setting the the processor speed? Do you set the front side bus to 133?
    Last edited by shoerhino; 03-31-08 at 10:57 PM.

  17. #17
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    I'd buy a new PC, best would likely be to buy all the parts from Newegg and build it, unless you find a good deal on a HP box. Then, you have more parts to cannibilize (DVD drives I have had outlast generations of machines, as not much changes.)

  18. #18
    Ogr8nwmypstmksnosnse pgoat's Avatar
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    that's the way we're leaning...even if it's nowhere ner state of the art it'll be miles beyond what we had here (20GB HD, 512 MB Ram, 866 mHz CPu)

    I didn't do anything to the Front side bus. If I can ever get it to actually boot again I'll check. It's been dead for 24 hrs now, so I'm losing hope...

    The Good news:

    -I managed to keep it alive long enough to clean out essential stuff from the hard drive (to migrate for my use - I know the drive isn't 'wiped'....I'll have to have a 'kill the HD' party one day...)

    I only wasted about $50 max in the last year on this one, for a 2.0 USB card and a new mobo battery -glad I resisted the temptations to go out and buy more remedial measures!

    -I might be able to reuse the optical drives

    -We bought Windows XP when we had the old machine switch OS from Millennium (shudder!), so theoretically we could buy a vista machine and switch to XP....

    One bright side is as a complete computer ignoramus, I was able to roll up my sleeves and - with help from you nice folks - poke around and learn a lot more about what makes the things tick. Knowledge is always a good thing.


    Any idea who has the best deals on a PC? Best Buy? Wally World even sell computers these days?
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  19. #19
    Senior Member shoerhino's Avatar
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    I think you could find a pretty good computer at Best Buy, Circuit City, or Walmart. If sounds like you don't need a lot of horsepower so anything would probably work ok.

    Did the shop give you the XP installation disc when you bought XP? Do you know if you own an OEM copy? OEM copies are only licensed for use on a single computer so when the computer dies, the license is no longer valid but I'm not sure if Microsoft has a way to enforce that and I;m not really sure what defines a computer in those circumstances. A retail copy is only limited to a single machine but can be transferred from computer to computer. All of OS software that is preinstalled on machines these days is OEM. Just thought I would mention it...

  20. #20
    Ogr8nwmypstmksnosnse pgoat's Avatar
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    Hmm....good question. Yeah, we got the disc when we had the the shop wipe ME and install XP. Before this PC died we were gonna install XP on the new iMac and run Parallels or Fusion. Hope that's possible...

    I checked out New Egg and HP's websites, and it looks like I can save a little money by reusing the case and a few other doo-dads from the old machine but then I still gotta put it it together. Much as I would like to try it, I may just go for a pre-built and maybe try a refurbished.....I was hoping for a 300-500 GB hard drive and a decent processor, maybe 2 GB RAM. I don't do games or watch dvds, just the odd internet video (you tube etc.) or sound files (my own bands). I am thinking with refurbished I should be able to get all that for under a grand?
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  21. #21
    Senior Member DannoXYZ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pgoat View Post
    I was hoping for a 300-500 GB hard drive and a decent processor, maybe 2 GB RAM. I don't do games or watch dvds, just the odd internet video (you tube etc.) or sound files (my own bands). I am thinking with refurbished I should be able to get all that for under a grand?
    For those needs, you can get in for under $300, new! Here's a $379 Dell Vostro 200 system that's easily 10x faster than your current one and it comes with a 19" LCD widescreen monitor! Sell off the monitor if you don't need it and you practically get the computer for free!
    Last edited by DannoXYZ; 04-02-08 at 04:11 AM.

  22. #22
    Ogr8nwmypstmksnosnse pgoat's Avatar
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    That looks great! Thanks!

    Under $500 with a monitor - and XP to boot...I may jump on this....

    tho my wallet is hurtin' - tax time (ouch), one computer dies, just bought a Mac, both our VCRs died within weeks of each other (we watch a LOT of old movies) and I just had to dump $700 into the car for tires and a battery....my wife says it's because Mercury is in retrograde (her new cell phone also died)...I say it's Murphy's law....

    But $379 - with monitor!! sweet!

    Guess that solves the issue of what to do with the old box...
    I'd definitely move over my cd burner and possibly the floppy disk drive (ya never know) and I do have the old CRT monitor working perfectly but I would prefer the smaller footprint and nicer display of the new flatscreen...
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  23. #23
    Ogr8nwmypstmksnosnse pgoat's Avatar
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    I think my wife was right - both the elevated trains and subways were all messed up this AM - froze my butt off waiting for almost an hour!

    Time to start riding to work again....but with my luck and Mercury's influence, my dérailleur would prolly fall off......
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  24. #24
    Senior Member DannoXYZ's Avatar
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    Look on the bright side, there could be parts falling that'll hurt you a lot more than a derailleur...

  25. #25
    Ogr8nwmypstmksnosnse pgoat's Avatar
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    this is true! (even more so now that i've personally overclocked past 40!)

    Danno, pls check your pm - that configuration expired before I could print it out and I must have done something differently on my custom specs- mine came out to the same price or more without the monitor (???).

    I might go for the 500 GB HD (the $50 or so is worth it to me) but I defer to your picks on CPU and Memory (I'd probably over spec these - due to ignorance - and already did so on our new iMac - fastest chip they sell, upgraded to 4GB RAM, etc - tho we're using that machine for video editing, music recording, etc). If you could remind me of these and the other specs, I'd greatly appreciate it!

    here is a really stoopid newb question (gulps with embarassment before asking). If there is a bay available for a second HD (should be, as a second hd option is offered on the 200) and I put in the 9 yr old 20 GB Western Digital from my old PC, will the Microsoft Office suite installed on there be usable on the new Dell? This inane question is motivated by both ignorance and miserly cheapness (not wanting to shell out $400 just to have MS Access....)...It has the 2002 or 2003 Access, but better that than nothing...I might have to shell out the bucks for 2007 Access, but curious if that old HD is even worth throwing in there for the extra 20GB?

    I also have the XP disc, though dunno if/how much that would save me from Dell, HP, etc. Plus the newer version would no doubt be better.....
    Last edited by pgoat; 04-02-08 at 12:52 PM.
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