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Can't Start Dell GX270 after 2 Days of Shut-Downs

by comp2cnet / November 19, 2012 11:39 AM PST

I have a Dell Optiplex GX270 with Dell installed software, Windows XP Professional Service Pack 3 Build 2600 (not the 64 bit) with all the updates, and I installed a lot of updates the last few days. It also rained a lot the last few days. I have the computer plugged into a surge protector.

Two nights ago 11/17 I fell asleep with the computer on, (I don't remember if it was updating while I slept) and the next day when I tried to use the computer I realized that it had turned off. (And it is not set to turn off automatically.) The screen didn't turn off,just the hard drive.

When I turned on the hard drive, I saw the Dell logo, and at the top of the screen the choices were

F2 = Set Up
F12 = Boot Menu.

Then after a second or two that screen goes away and another screen comes on which is black except for a message in white which says:

Alert! Previous shutdown due to thermal event.
Strike the F1 key to continue, F2 to run Set Up utility.

When I hit F1 key, the following appears on the screen:

We apologize for the inconvenience but Windows did not start successfully. A recent hardware or software change might have caused this.
If your computer stopped responding, restarted unexpectedly or was automatically shut down to protect your files and folders choose
Last Known Good Configuration to revert to the most recent settings that worked:

If a previous startup attempt was interrupted due to a power failure or because the power or reset button was pressed, or if you aren't sure what caused the problem, choose Start Windows Normally.

Safe Mode
Safe Mode with Networking
Safe Mode with Command Prompt
Last Known Good Configuration (your most recent settings that worked)
Start Windows Normally

Use the up and down arrow keys to move the highlight to your choice.
Seconds until Windows starts....

I chose Last known Good Configuration, but when the Windows icon flashes on the screen, the hard drive shut down.
None of the other choices work at all.
I have done this at least 10 times.
A few times I have gotten Windows to start and I can log in, but after several minutes, whether 5 or 15, the hard drive shuts down, whether I am in a Word document or on the internet or in an email.
I did a system restore to before this past weekend (before the rain which also got rid of a lot of the recent updates) and that didn't stop the hard drive shutting down on me

Someone suggested that the CPU might be getting hot from dust build-up, so I opened the CPU which I had never done in 9 years.

It was full of dust and I cleaned it very well with canned air.
I unscrewed the fan and cleaned that as well.

I noted that there were approximately 9 cylindrical things that were black on the outside and silver on the top with hatchmarks on them to the rear of the fan (there were others in the CPU elsewhere) that had some crud on top. This crud looked like the crud that batteries get when you leave thenm in a device too long, but the crud on touching was softer and not metallic. I removed the crud gently and blew it away with the compressed air.

After all that work, I re-connected the CPU, and it is still the same thing.

Except now I cannot get it to start at all.

After I press the choice of "Return to last good configuration", I see the Windows logo for a nanosecond and then the CPU turns off.

This has happened 4 times now after my cleaning it thoroughly.

What should I do now? Please explain very simply, I don't know much about computers.

Thank you in advance.

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All Answers

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Bad caps
by Willy / November 19, 2012 12:27 PM PST

The GX2xx series of Dell PCs tend to fail due to "bad caps". Google for examples of bad caps. But, often you had reboot issues off and on for sometime and it now is more or less isn't doing well. Your mention of crud atop those "caps" seems if not dust are bad caps. I've swapped mtrbds. out rather than repair the caps and usually you have to do the whole caps found or group in order to make things work. That seems to be your problem, probably due to being an older PC and finally showing it's age. repair or replace mtrbd. is your best option. GX2xx are readily avilable on eBay or Craigslist if you want to remain using GX270. BTW, swapping out the mtrbd. with the same mtrbd. is a shoe-in, it will work again(excluding any other h/w fault) as if nothing happened provide all ram, cpu and connections etc. are properly swapped.

tada -----Willy Happy

Collapse -
by comp2cnet / November 20, 2012 2:13 AM PST
In reply to: Bad caps

I am not especially bonded to the GX270, but lack of funds precludes buying another one for a while.

I found a motherboard on eBay this am, thank you for the suggestion. I called the site and it does replace all the caps, and they helped me figure out which motherboard was the right one for my computer. They even said they would include for free the liquid need for installation to go between the heat sink and processor. I have no idea what that means. I'm hoping I can google the installation and not botch it.

When I think back, a few years after I got this computer, Dell had to replace the motherboard for free (the tech did it, it was on a service contract). Apparently the motherboard was the achilles heel of the GX270, and Dell was replacing them for free until 2008.

If I am having difficulty with the motherboard installation, should I repost on this thread, or start a new one?

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Do what you gotta do...
by Willy / November 20, 2012 3:17 AM PST
In reply to: Motherboard

Heatsink compound is the item that was offered free for re-install of the cpu. This is fairly easy DIY. However, if you like, checkout:

This is the same application for practically all cpus. Don't over do it, a dab goes a long way. Also, Dell provides basic teardown or access of the PC for repair, get the docs. to review. This really isn't hard repair and once you do it after due care, you wonder why you didn't do this sooner.

Post a different thread when you start all this, so its new to other users, etc..

tada -----Willy Happy

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Will Changing Motherboards Mess Up HDD?
by comp2cnet / November 20, 2012 9:43 AM PST

Now I'm worried.

I had posted my issue on another computer website (bleeping computer) and here is an answer I got.

"Yes, you could replace the motherboard.

There is one small problem with doing this though, and that's an issue with your hdd.

When you take a hdd with a Windows OS installed on it that you have been using on one computer and then install it as the primary hdd in another computer you are asking for major problems. The excerpt below is from a Intel article which describes in detail what happens. The article also mentions a reference to an article by Microsoft, it can be seen here .

"Moving a hard drive with Windows* 2000 or Windows XP* already installed to a new motherboard without reinstalling the operating system is not recommended.

If a hard drive is moved to a new computer, the registry entries and drivers for the mass storage controller hardware on the new motherboard are not installed in Windows for the new computer you may not be able to start Windows. This is documented in Microsoft's knowledge base article. This is true even if you move the hard drive to a motherboard with the same chipset, as different hardware revisions can cause this issue as well.

Additionally, moving a hard drive to a new motherboard may not exhibit any errors until you install new IDE drivers. This is because each chipset uses a different Plug-n-Play (PNP) ID to identify it. If you move your motherboard, your registry will have multiple PNP IDs (for the old hardware as well as the new hardware). If there are multiple entries in the registry, Windows cannot determine which hardware to initialize and therefore fails with a STOP error."

There is a slim chance that you could get away with this, but I would strongly suggest that you back up all of your important data to an external form of media, CD, DVD, flash drive, etc.

If you have the installation disc for the operating system I would suggest that you do a fresh install."

What do you think of this?

Of course, doofus that I am, my data and emails are not backed up anywhere.
I don't know how to get the information that is in my non-functioning computer out of to to back up into something.
I don't know how to do a re-install either.


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