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Archive for March, 2010

Troubleshooting a Computer that Turns ON, then Immediately Turns off

March 29th, 2010 5 comments

 

I press the button to turn the computer on, and the button lights up. Nothing appears on the screen and after about 2 seconds, the computer turns itself off.

I have pulled the power cord out and in, hoping that would fix it, but nothing happened.

Is there any way to turn the computer on?

There may be one or more of the following reasons, why your computer shuts down immediately after powering ON. You should go through each of the below troubleshooting steps to solve this problem.

1. Is this a newly built computer?

Did you recently build this computer? If yes, you should re-check your configuration. There may not be a problem with the hardware but something may not be properly configured, which is causing the computer to power off, after turning on.  Check your motherboard manual and see if the jumper settings, if any, are correct.

2. Has something inside the computer become loose?

Remove and re-insert all the cables, cards and RAM. A loose connection can also make the computer to power on and then immediately power off. This is a basic step in computer troubleshooting and more than 50 percent of the computer problems are due to loose cables or cards.

3. Do you hear a musical siren from the computer speaker?

If your computer gives a musical siren (a sound like dee-doo-dee-doo) for sometime, before finally powering off, it’s shutting down because of the CPU overheat protection circuit. This may happen if there’s a loose or improperly connected heat-sink/fan, or if the fan becomes defective and stops. Check and make sure that the heat-sink is tightly fit to the processor (the CPU) and the fan connected and working at a good speed. Most motherboards have a CPU fan  speed monitor in the BIOS setup.

Here are some YouTube videos about properly installing a CPU, heatsink and fan:

Intel Cpu Install 

Installing a Processor and Heatsink

How to Build a Computer – 15 – Installing the CPU

How to Build a Computer – 16 – Installing CPU Fan

4. Is the 110/220v voltage selector switch at the back of the power supply, set up correctly?

Most computer power supplies have a power selector switch at the back-side. The selected voltage is printed on the switch. Setting this switch to an incorrect voltage setting can damage the power supply and your computer. In most cases, your computer won’t turn on at all, if you set it wrongly, but it’s possible that the computer may turn on and immediately turn off.

The voltage that this switch should be set to depends on the country where you are. In some countries, it is 110v, in other countries, it is 220v. If you’re travelling to a foreign country with your computer, you should check this information before using the computer in that country, and then set the power supply switch accordingly, before you power up the computer.

If your power supply doesn’t have such a switch, it selects the voltage automatically and you shouldn’t worry about this. Click here to watch a video showing power supply removal. The voltage selector switch is clearly explained in this video.

5. Test the computer power supply.

A simple and easy way to test the power supply is to remove it from the computer and connect it to a working computer. Then, power it ON. If the computer boots up, the power supply is fine.

Another method to test the power supply uses a power supply tester.

You can get a cheap power supply tester for less than 8 USD. Click here for a list of power supply testers, which you can buy online.

If you don’t have access to another computer or can’t test the power supply in another computer for any reason, don’t want to spend on a power supply tester, here’s an easy way to test it yourself. But be careful, as shorting the wrong pins can have bad results. Also note that just the power supply fan spinning doesn’t always mean that the power supply is good, but if you can’t test it in other ways, this method can be useful.

On the ATX power connector, as shown below (a 20 or 24 pin connector, which connects to the motherboard), simply short pin no. 14 (in case of 20 pin connector) or pin no. 16  (in case of 24 pin connector), which is the green wire), to any of the (black) ground pins, which are 3,5,7,13,15,16,17.  These pin numbers are usually printed on the back of the ATX power connector, but even if they are not there, you can still recognize the green colored wire. There is only one green wire on the ATX power connector, so you can’t go wrong.

SNAP0104 SNAP0107 SNAP0108

Note: Shorting means connecting a piece of metal wire between two points.

For this, you may even use a U shaped, metal hair pin. Or use a paper clip straightened and made into a U shape, to short the two pins, as shown in the above images. After you short them with the paper clip or hair pin, turn on power to the power supply. The power supply fan at the back should start spinning. This tells us that the power supply is good.

Here’s a YouTube video about testing a computer power supply, using the above method.

If you tested the power supply as shown in the video above, and the power supply fan doesn’t spin at all, the power supply is dead or the fan is defective. It’s dangerous for non-technicians to try to replace the power supply fan, or repair the power supply, so just get a new power supply or use an old but good and working power supply.

6. Check and replace the power ON switch.

In rare cases, the power ON switch (on the front panel of the computer case), may be faulty.

You may test it with a multi-meter, which is set for the continuity test.  But an easier way to test the power ON switch is by plugging-in the reset switch’s connector in place of the power switch connector, on the motherboard. And then, power on the system.

If the computer powers ON with the reset switch, the power ON switch or the connecting wire is faulty. In any case, you can use the reset switch in place of the power ON switch, without physically replacing the switch. Just leave the power ON switch disconnected and use the reset switch on the front panel, to power ON the computer.

If you don’t like to replace the power ON switch with the reset switch, you can get a switch at electronic stores like RadioShack. A switch shown here may work for you, or you can search RadioShack for more such switches.

7. Does the computer power up with minimal parts?

Open up the computer and remove any add-on cards. Disconnect any drives including the hard drive and the CD/DVD drive. Also disconnect any external devices like printers, scanners or any USB devices.

The minimal parts needed to boot the system are – the motherboard with the processor, heatsink and fan, RAM, video card and the power supply. If the computer powers up in this way, then add the other parts, one at a time. Then, power up after adding each part. This way, you can easily identify the part or device that is causing the computer to shutdown. After identifying the problematic part, you can then test it in another computer, or replace it.

8. Does the motherboard power up on the bench?

Power off and unplug the computer’s power cord. Then, remove the motherboard out of the case, along with the RAM and the processor with its heatsink and fan. If there’s a separate video/graphics card, use that too. Also, remove the power supply and connect power to the motherboard. Don’t use any other card or device. Connect the output of the video card to the monitor and check whether this barebones system powers up on the bench. If it powers up this way, the problem is somewhere inside the case.

Here’s a set of images, showing the motherboard powered up on the bench:

Motherboard on bench (Image 1) Motherboard on bench (Image 2)

Here’s a set of videos, showing how to take a computer apart:

Part 1 Taking a Computer Apart

Part 2 Taking a Computer Apart

Part 3 Taking a Computer Apart

9. Is there an electrical short inside the computer case?

If the computer doesn’t power ON, even with minimal parts inside the case, power it off and unplug the computer from the mains. Then, closely inspect the computer case for any shorts. Usually, shorts are caused by screws that fall inside the case. These screws may come in contact between the motherboard and the case, and cause a short. The motherboard may also be touching the metal case at some place to cause a short. There could be other causes of a short and again, you should closely inspect the case.

Hold the computer case and gently shake it sideways. If there’s a struck screw, it may come loose by doing this. If you see a screw at a place where your hand can’t reach, use a pair of long nose pliers or tweezers to remove the screw.

If you tried to power up the motherboard on bench (see point no 8), and it powers up fine outside the case, an electrical short inside the case is most likely the cause of the computer not powering on. But at times, this may cause the computer to power on for a second and then power off immediately. If you’re unable to detect the reason of the short inside the case, you may want to take the help of a computer professional, or replace the computer case.

10. If you tried all the above steps and your computer still powers off, after turning on, you should take the help of a computer professional, or from a computer repair service. You can also take help from your computer manufacturer. Here’s a list of computer manufacturers and here’s a list of computer hardware device manufacturers.

HD Mouse SW Driver Update

March 24th, 2010 No comments

The HD Mouse software Version 2.1.0.5 is from Bella and can program keystrokes, macros and mouse clicks to any of the buttons, the scroll wheel or even mouse movement (X and Y axis). This also recognizes an active application and loads application settings automatically.

HD Mouse SW was released on March 1, 2010 and was added on March 24, 2010. It is classified under the driver category and subcategorized under mouse driver. This can be downloadable free to try for 14 days and $9.95 after trial. It can be used with Windows 7, Vista and XP.

Click here to update your HD Mouse SW.

Categories: Hardware, Input Devices Tags:

Troubleshooting RealTek AC97 Drivers

March 14th, 2010 4 comments

RealTek AC97 Troubleshooting

Audio drivers for your computer can come in many different types depending on the computer  and operating system you are using. One typical audio driver that is often found on many PC  systems is the Realtek AC 97 Audio driver. When there are problems with sound from your PC, you will need to troubleshoot your sound card  to find the cause. This can involve many steps so to help with the process of troubleshooting RealTek on your system we have compiled the following steps:

  1. Check the BIOS settingsThe first thing you need to consider when encountering problems with RealTek AC97 is the settings on the BIOS, especially if the computer is newly-bought. The audio controller for your computer may be disabled. You may also encounter this issue when you have recently reset your BIOS settings to defaults, or when you just upgraded or “flashed” your BIOS.To go to the system BIOS, you need to restart your computer. Then, while the computer is performing some memory tests, press the F2 (or delete) key repeatedly until you see the BIOS screen of your computer. The following image shows how the BIOS screen looks like:

    RealTek Bios Settings

    BIOS utilities may differ in interface and parameters, depending on the manufacturer. The above figure displays an AwardBIOS setup utility. If you there is anything unclear with your BIOS setup, consult your manufacturer’s documentation.

  2. Clean the Prefetch and Temp Folders (Windows only)Some temporary files that your operating system has created may prevent your AC97 driver from functioning correctly. In order to remove those files, you may need to log in to your system in safe mode. To enter safe mode, restart the computer, and while the system is performing memory tests, press F8 repeatedly until you see the Windows Boot Menu. Select either Safe Mode or Safe Mode with Networking in the menu. Note that if you see Windows XP loading without displaying the boot menu first, then your computer will enter in normal mode and not in safe mode. You will need to repeat the procedure all over again, until you have successfully entered the Windows Boot menu and selected safe mode as the boot option.You may need to restart the computer after cleaning the prefetch and temp folders.

    Realtek Safe Mode

  3. Reinstall the Device Driver The reinstallation of a device driver generally involves two steps:
      • Uninstallation of the driver
      • Fresh installation of the driver

    To completely reinstall a driver, the uninstallation of the current driver is necessary. This is to ensure that all driver files will be replaced.

    To uninstall the RealTek AC driver, go to the device manager by clicking on Start and giving a right-click on the My Computer or Computer icon. Then, click on Manage. The Computer Management window would appear. Click on Device Manager and the window would display all the devices installed on your computer. Click on the plus (+) sign before Sound, video and game controllers. Right-click on the AC97 audio controller. Then, click Uninstall.

    RealTek device Manager

    There is another way of going to the device manager. Click on Start->Run. Then, type devmgmt.msc. Press enter and these steps will lead you to the same device manager.

    For a Realtek install, you may use the driver installation CD, download the latest RealTek ac97 driver from the manufacturer, or run a system scan to automatically update the RealTek AC97 Drivers. When installing the driver from the CD, simply insert the CD into your optical drive. You will then given the necessary instructions in installing your device driver.

    Alternatively, a RealTek 97 driver download is available at the Realtek website, or at third-party Realtek download sites. You should be able to find there the correct driver for your operating system, especially a Realtek driver for Windows XP. If the downloaded file is in compressed (ZIP format), you will need to extract the ac97 drivers first. Then, simply run the setup application and follow the installation instructions.

    If the controller is missing in device manager, it means that the driver is not currently installed on your computer. Skip the uninstallation phase and proceed with the installation of the driver. If the controller is followed by a yellow question mark (?) or exclamation point (!), there is a problem with the device driver currently installed on the system, and the instructions in this troubleshooting step must be strictly followed.

    Before uninstalling the Realtek driver AC97, make sure you already have a copy of the driver installation files so you wouldn’t end up with a driverless device. Uninstalling the driver for a device would render that device completely unusable by your computer.

    You will need to restart your computer for the changes to take effect. Restart right after uninstalling the driver, and after reinstalling it.

    Reinstalling a device driver is a lengthy process. If you don’t want to get involved with this procedure for some reason, you may run this automated driver scanner to install the correct driver for your sound card with less effort on your part. This is particularly useful when the driver CD is missing, or you encounter issues with a Realtek download.

  4. Reinstall the Chipset DriversIn some computer systems, chipset drivers also play a part in the performance of your audio device. If you still encounter a problem with the device after installing the driver, you may need to reinstall your computer’s chipset drivers.To reinstall the chipset drivers, simply follow the instructions as mentioned in the previous troubleshooting step (Reinstall the Device Driver). The only difference is that you need to find where the chipset drivers are located in your device manager. They are usually found under Display Adapters.
  5. Download the Latest Updates for Your Operating SystemIf the device is still not working after performing the steps mentioned above, you may need to perform an update on your operating system. Your operating system will usually notify you if there are critical or important updates that would need to be downloaded and installed on your computer. For windows users, you may update your OS by clicking on Start->Control Panel and then selecting Windows Update.
  6. Test another sound cardIf you have reached to this point in troubleshooting and the device is still not working, you may need to test the functionality of your sound card. Remove your sound card and replace it with a similar device that is known to be in good condition. If the newly-installed sound card solves the issue, the other sound card is faulty and may need to be replaced. Otherwise, proceed to the next troubleshooting step.

    If you are using a sound controller integrated into your motherboard, or if there is no alternative sound card available, ignore this troubleshooting step and proceed to the next one.

    Each type of computer has its own architecture. For instructions in removing and installing the sound card for your computer, consult your manufacturer’s or distributor’s documentation.

  7. Reinstall the Entire Operating SystemReinstalling the operating system may not sound good. But if the previous troubleshooting steps did not resolve the issue with the AC97, this procedure may be necessary.

    If this is the first time that you are going to reinstall the operating system, you may need to ask for professional help. Contact one of your computer or operating system manufacturer’s technical support staff for assistance.

    Make sure you backup your important files first before performing this step, since this procedure will wipe out everything in your hard drive.

  8. Flash the BIOSEvery device on your computer has its own driver. But how about the motherboard? The fact is, the BIOS is somewhat the “driver” for your entire motherboard.  It synchronizes almost every hardware installed on your computer system. Flashing the BIOS is similar to updating your operating system e.g. Windows update, etc., except the fact that with this procedure, you are dealing with your BIOS and not with your OS.Before flashing your computer’s BIOS, you will need to determine where your computer system came from. If your computer system is custom-built, visit the manufacturer of your system’s motherboard for the BIOS updater application. If your system is pre-built by computer manufacturers such as Dell, Asus, or HP, visit their website and see if there is an update available.

    Make sure you have performed the previous troubleshooting steps before going on with this procedure. You may skip reinstalling the operating system and do this right away, especially if you do not have the time or the resources needed to install a fresh copy of your OS into your computer. However, this is not advisable. If your BIOS experienced an error during flashing, the process can ruin your motherboard. This is the reason why flashing the BIOS is one of the most feared steps in computer troubleshooting. Should you feel uncomfortable in performing this procedure, you may need to request assistance from professionals.

  9. Replace motherboardProvided that all of the above-mentioned troubleshooting steps have been performed, and the problem still persists, this may mean that your motherboard is unable to handle your AC97 device correctly, and may need to be replaced.

Pen Tablet Driver Update

March 4th, 2010 No comments

The Pen Tablet is a new driver from Wacom Technology Corp. (WTC) for Graphire3 pen tablets running on Windows computers.

Pen Tablet keyboard driver was released on March 4, 2010 and was added on the same date. This can be downloadable free of charge and can be used with Windows XP.

Click here to update your Pen Tablet driver.

Categories: Hardware, Input Devices Tags:

CD drive or DVD drive is missing in Windows Vista

March 2nd, 2010 2 comments

Q. Help, my CD drive or DVD drive is missing?

A. I am taking this to mean your CD/DVD drive is not recognized, so you can’t play a CD or DVD.

You probably have either corrupted or deleted Windows registry entries. To solve this problem, you need to use the Registry Editor. ***Note: By using Registry Editor, you are modifying the registry. Serious problems might occur if you modify the registry incorrectly. Make sure that you follow these steps carefully. For added protection, back up the registry before you modify it. For more information about how to back up and restore the registry, click here to read the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base.

Make sure you are logged into your computer as a administrator.

  1. Click Start
  2. Click Accessories, and then click Run.
  3. Type regedit, and then click OK. If you are prompted for an administrator password or for a confirmation, type the password, or click Allow.
  4. In the navigation pane, locate and then click the following registry subkey: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Class\{4D36E965-E325-11CE-BFC1-08002BE10318}
  5. In the right pane, click UpperFilters.
    *Note – You may also see an UpperFilters.bak registry entry. You do not have to remove that entry. Click UpperFilters only. If you do not see the UpperFilters registry entry, you still might have to remove the LowerFilters registry entry. To do this, go to step 8.
  6. On the Edit menu, click Delete.
  7. When you are prompted to confirm the deletion, click Yes.
  8. In the right pane, click LowerFilters.
    *Note – If you do not see the LowerFilters registry entry, unfortunately this you will need to contact Microsoft for additional support.
  9. On the Edit menu, click Delete.
  10. When you are prompted to confirm the deletion, click Yes.
  11. Exit Registry Editor.
  12. Restart the computer.
  13. Click Start button, click Computer, and then see whether the drive is listed.

If you can’t play or access a CD or DVD, you might have to reinstall some programs. Some programs might not be able to use your CD or DVD drive until you reinstall those programs. If the problem occurs again when you install or uninstall those programs, check to see if the manufacturer of the program has an update available. Some examples of programs that might be affected are:

  • iTunes software by Apple
  • Nero software by Nero Inc
  • Roxio Creator software by Sonic Solutions
  • Zune software by Microsoft

After reinstalling your programs, if you can play or access a CD or DVD, you are finished (yahoo!)  if the drive is not listed, remove and reinstall the existing drivers.

  1. Click Start button, and then click Control Panel.
  2. Click System and Maintenance, click System, and then click Device Manager.
    *Note If Control Panel is in Classic View, double-click System, and then click Device Manager. If you are prompted for an administrator password or for a confirmation, type the password, or click Allow.
  3. In Device Manager, expland DVD/CD-ROM drives, right-click the CD and DVD devices, and then click Uninstall.
  4. When you are prompted to confirm that you want to remove the device, click OK.
  5. Restart your computer.

After the computer restarts, the drivers should be automatically installed.