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Computer wont start without PCI card?!

by ShoeShane / June 30, 2008 2:55 AM PDT

Hello all,

MODEL: Gateway GT4016 (Desktop)
OS: Windows XP SP2
PROCESSOR: 2.20 Gigahertz AMD Athlon 64
MOBO: First International Computer inc. KTBC51GPCB1X


My dilemma started a few weeks ago when my USB mouse quit functioning. I soon noticed that the rest of my USB peripherals were having the same problem.

The devices all, themselves, recognized that they were plugged in, but windows failed to respond to the devices.

After ensuring that USB was enabled in BIOS and checking to make sure that all of the drivers were properly installed and updated, I began to research and found several other people that encountered the same problem.

The general consensus that I've found, is that I'm pretty much screwed. However, a cheap USB PCI card looked like a cheap fix to my problem.

So anyway, I secured a Nexxtech USB 2.0 4+1 Port PCI Card for about 40 bucks at circuit city, popped open the case, and plugged it in. After powering up my computer, and starting Windows, I was expecting to see a prompt for "New Hardware Found". Well, the prompt never came, and after a frustrating process of attempting to get the card functioning, I gave up.

I was planning on returning the card to get my money back. So I removed the card, sealed up my computer and attempted to power it back on. The fans turned on, the CD/DVD player began to blink as it normally does--but the blue "power" light on the front would not come on and the monitor stayed blank. Curious, i plugged the PCI card back in and the computer started up like normal.

My question is, Why wont my computer start without the PCI card in place?

This entire process has been incredibly frustrating, and I would really appreciate any kind of help at all.
Thanks for your time.
-Shane

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possible virus?
by satish_997 / June 30, 2008 3:13 AM PDT

That's the only thing I can think which already seems pretty far fetched from what you're saying. Have you do any scans lately and, if so, with what?

The other thing you might try is testing as much of your hardware as you can. Do you know how to do this?

oh... one more thing, try unplugging all your usb cords to your computer and then booting up.

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It's a long shot
by ShoeShane / June 30, 2008 4:06 AM PDT
In reply to: possible virus?

But I'll give it a try and do a full scan with Mcaffee (So far, I'm clean) I have also cleaned my registry with registry mechanic within the last few days...so I should have a pretty good health status.

As far as the peripherals go, all USB devices have been unplugged for quite some time.

And, no, I'm not quite sure how to test my hardware. If you could explain, it would be greatly appreciated.

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to check hardware...
by satish_997 / June 30, 2008 4:21 AM PDT
In reply to: It's a long shot

one other thing that just popped into my head... does plugging a couple of your usb devices into the ports at the front of the case, not the motherboard, change anything?

It's kind of a tedious process so hopefully the scans will find something first. Anyway, to check your hardware, you're going to start with as few pieces of hardware attached as possible.

1) Open your case

2) Unplug everything except the power to your motherboard, optical drive, the hard drive with your os, and leave one ram stick in (obviously leave the cables connecting the optical drive to the motherboard and hard drive to the motherboard)

3) Try booting

If it turns on and stays on, start re-attaching one piece of hardware at a time. sound card, video card, second optical or hard drive if there is one, etc... until the problem arises again. Obviously, once the problem resurfaces, you can find which of any piece of hardware is defective.

The next slightly more tedious thing you can try is, if you have the extra hardware, swap those pieces of hardware you first started(cpu, power supply, optical drive, hard drive) with those of another computer provided they are compatible. Hopefully, you won't have to do this. Silly

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I Have 7 USB ports
by ShoeShane / June 30, 2008 4:43 AM PDT
In reply to: to check hardware...

There are 3 ports in the front, and 4 in the back. Believe me, I've tried all of them. Windows fails to recognize anything. The devices, however, recognize that they are plugged in. MP3 players will draw power, (but not charge for some reason) my mouses LED with flash red for about a second, and my phone also detects the connection. But for some reason, Windows WILL NOT prompt me for a new device.

I've had the computer for about 2 years. The small price point and media possibilities were very attractive at the time (especially the USB ports)Until now, everything has worked flawlessly. Right now, I am navigating around using keyboard shortcuts because my cheap PS/2 ball-mouse broke. (Very frustrating)

I'm a little scared to take everything apart (I'm an amateur at this stuff) so before I do that, do you think flashing the BIOS could resolve this problem? I've already ordered the upgrade from E-support and am just waiting for them to E-mail me the zip file. I've read that flashing the BIOS can assist with many different kinds of Hardware conflicts.

I'm just completely dumb-struck right now on this whole PCI card problem. I cannot understand why the computer will not boot without it inserted, and have never heard of anyone else having this problem. The computer started up fine before I bought the card...But after inserting it, I can't boot up without it.

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something else to try
by satish_997 / June 30, 2008 4:58 AM PDT
In reply to: I Have 7 USB ports

I've read about flashing the BIOS a few times but truthfully don't remember anything about it so that's up to you if you want to give it a try. As far as taking it apart, I can certainly understand your reluctance; don't do anything you're uncomfortable with. There's something else you might try.

1) System restore--I can't remember when/if you said the problem started. System restore is a handy tool that comes with xp. Basically, it's just a huge reset for Windows; you can use it to reset to a date before you started having problems. It does erase all the files and installed programs after the chosen date so back everything up if you haven't already; you'll understand about the date when you try it. I know this sounds kinda scary, but it is actually pretty safe. You can even go back to the state it was in before you did the system restore if you want. I would just highly encourage you to make a backup of everything first. Here's how to do it:

start-->all programs-->accessories-->system tools-->system restore-->open and follow directions

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Allready tried it
by ShoeShane / June 30, 2008 5:18 AM PDT
In reply to: something else to try

That was one of the first things I did when the problem started. It seemed like a sure thing. But it didn't have any effect.

Thanks for all of your ideas though.

I'll start with flashing the BIOS, and if that doesn't work, I'll give the hardware testing idea some more consideration.

I'll post back after the flash (They still haven't sent me the file though)

Thanks again

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start from the beginning???
by satish_997 / June 30, 2008 6:10 AM PDT
In reply to: Allready tried it

I doubt you would want to try this option, and I didn't suggest it in the last post because I thought the system restore would work too. Silly With my Dell laptop, there is an extra partition in which Dell, smartly in my opinion, used a Symantic program, not sure which, to save its original shipped settings. I used it to wiped my hard drive, except for that partition, effectively resetting my computer back to the way I first got it. I didn't have any files or programs which I really cared about and my laptop was getting a bit quirky, probably from all my tweaks, so I was really pleased after I used the program to rest. Does your Gateway desktop have an extra partition, probably about 6-8GB, that was already there when you first got it? If you don't care about the programs on there (files you can back up), you might consider this?

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If all else fails
by ShoeShane / June 30, 2008 7:02 AM PDT

I have way too many files that I can't afford to lose. Generally, the best idea would be to transfer all of my files/programs/media to an external HD and then to re-upload them after restoring to factory settings...But is there any way to connect an external Hard drive without USB ports?

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firewire maybe
by satish_997 / June 30, 2008 9:28 AM PDT
In reply to: If all else fails

A lot of external drives have a firewire cable that you can use provided of course your computer has a firewire port.

Also, this would require getting into the guts of your computer again, but a more radical way to do it would be to take your hard drive put it in a different desktop and then copy it to an external drive or even the other drive in that desktop if there is enough space. Silly

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Yes
by ShoeShane / June 30, 2008 11:54 AM PDT
In reply to: firewire maybe

I have 2 firewire ports mounted to the front. But I'm afraid I can't even tell you if they work or not because I have never had the need to use them before.

I guess I'll have to test them out. But for now, I guess I'll try to convincve one of my buddies to let me borrow his externalHD. Do you know if firewire ports are as fast as USB? I ask beacuse I have over 20 gigs of music alone that I would have to transfer.

Oh and by the way, I decided to test out your hardware testing idea...I unplugged just about everything and tried booting with just the basics...but no matter what i try, the computer refuses to boot without the USB PCI card. It's the strangest thing. It starts up just fine without the PCI modem card plugged in...but the USB card does not want to leave.

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not sure
by satish_997 / June 30, 2008 11:59 AM PDT
In reply to: Yes

I almost never use my firewire ports. I read a detailed article on this awhile ago though and, from what I remember, the latest of each, which is probably what you have, is about the same. firewire might be a bit faster.

All in all, 20GB is going to take quite a bit of time. My suggestion would be to do it over night.

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Thanks
by ShoeShane / June 30, 2008 12:15 PM PDT
In reply to: not sure

I'll start doing a little firewire research. If restoring windows back to it's factory settings doesn't work, then the only other option, i guess, would be to replace the motherboard...And if thats the case, I would probably be better off getting by using the PS/2 and firewire ports.(provided that they work)

Again, thanks for all of your advice. Happy

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Hard to say exactly why, but ...
by Edward ODaniel / June 30, 2008 8:21 AM PDT

(with the PCI Card installed in its slot) how about you booting into safe mode then using Device Manager (START | SETTINGS | CONTROL PANEL | SYSTEM then device maqnager tab) to remove the PCI card.

Shut down the computer then physically remove the card then reboot and see if it now boots properly.

Removing or installing USB devices forces the OS to refresh the USB driver stack which sometimes causes a shift in IRQ assignment - this might be at least part of the reason booting fails with the card not present.

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...Still nothing
by ShoeShane / June 30, 2008 9:20 AM PDT

I Uninstalled "Standard Enhanced PCI to USB Controller" and physically removed the card...But still no boot.

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And that's my reason of not using usb keyboard or mouse;
by ahtoi / June 30, 2008 11:34 AM PDT

NEVER!!!

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TRY THIS FIRST
by satish_997 / June 30, 2008 1:35 PM PDT

I'm happy to help. Happy

You actually probably already did this but just to make sure... there are a couple settings in your BIOS that might work. One is enabling Quick POST(Power On Self Test). That might have your motherboard skip over testing to see if the usb card is there. If it's already enabled, try disabling it and see what happens just for my peace of mind. Second, in my BIOS at least, there is actually an option to have the boot stop if one of the POST tests fails. For example, the option might be to "stop on optical drive error," "stop on any error," or "stop on no error." That last one is obviously the one you want to try. Look through your BIOS for options like this.

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No POST settings
by ShoeShane / July 1, 2008 9:50 AM PDT
In reply to: TRY THIS FIRST

I looked everywhere in BIOS and failed to locate any settings relating to POST.

I disabled every USB device on my computer, (including root hubs) powered down, and rebooted...Windows recognizes new hardware, installs drivers and says that the new hardware is ready for use. But, still does not recognize any USB peripherals.

Earlier, I tried disabling in safe mode and then removing the card, but to no avail. Computer will not boot without PCI card.

Something to note...After checking the properties on the PCI to USB device, I noticed something that seemed a bit odd. It doesn't list the slot location of the device.

Device manager screen shot:

However, my only other PCI card (Fax modem that i never use) lists its location at PCI slot 2.

Which you can see here:
Any thoughts?

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nope sorry
by satish_997 / July 1, 2008 2:51 PM PDT
In reply to: No POST settings

checking the BIOS was my last idea. I was almost completely positive one of those settings, if you had them, would be your answer. Sad

I'll post again if I can think of anything.

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Great News!
by ShoeShane / July 3, 2008 6:46 AM PDT
In reply to: nope sorry

I basically gave up on everything and went into office depot to buy a PS/2 mouse, when I saw a Belkin 4 port USB PCI card. I figured it was worth a try.

I installed the driver and installed the hardware and it was recognized right away and began working immediately! All 4 ports work great. I finally have access to my USB mouse, printer, and MP3!

But, the defective PCI card is still in PCI slot 1, and taking it out still prevents startup. So I guess I need to write Circuit City an email. Because I want that card out and my money back.

Now that I actually have a way to plug in an external HD, I'm still thinking about restoring windows to factory settings. But I'm not to eager to start that process.

Thanks again for all of your help. And I'll post back if I can ever figure out how to get the defective card out.

For anyone else that is reading this. DO NOT BUY NEXXTECH USB PCI CARDS. SPEND YOUR MONEY ON BELKIN!

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