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  1. #1
    New Lounger
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    This is going to be a long posting. Please bear with me. (I've built more than fifty systems for friends and former friends, so I'm not really new at this.)


    I'm a big fan and advocate of cloning. There are two HDD in an HP Compaq SR1954NX machine, that
    belongs to a close friend. So I'm not afraid of losing data. Trouble is, if some malware is in the drive,
    it's going to be in the sector-by-sector clone too.

    Right now I'm stymied because almost nothing works. The machine has Win XP Media Center Edition
    as OS, and is a year out of extended warranty. (Bought in Jan '07). It will not boot to HDD.

    I've been sent four disks by HP that are supposed to repair the C:\ drive entirely. The
    machine spits out either pair, saying they are not supported by this machine.

    I bought another set of XP Med Ctr, and when I try to install it, the machine turns off
    about 1/3 of the way through the process.
    No matter whether I try a repair installation,
    or try a fresh installation. It makes no difference whether I try installing XP Med Ctr, which is
    a 3-disk version of XP Pro, or try straight XP Pro. When I try to install Ubuntu, to a fresh
    NTFS partition, the same thing happens. Similarly if I try installing XP to a fresh partition
    with the C:\ hidden. The machine has SP3 duly installed, and has all the MicroCephalo$oftHead
    updates and patches.

    HP's tech help online recommends not trying to dual boot. Which is a bit nuts, but so
    what? But now perhaps there's some built-in glitch in the HP Software that causes this
    turn-off? HP Tech live help wants $100 to answer the question whether it's HP doing this.
    I resist.

    I am now running AVG's rescue disk on the machine, which has the original Seagate 200g
    HDD, and an added Maxtor 500g, divided into 4 partitions. The clone of the C:\ is on one of
    these partitions. Every time I run this disk, the process mounts and scans one partition,
    and then the machine shuts off, leaving no record of the scan result. I'm now running
    the scan on the fourth of nine drives, including two thumb drives.

    Dunno whether this machine turn-off is being caused by some sophisticated malware, or
    by the machine itself. If it's the machine, is it in bios? The machine could use a new
    mainboard, and I have several that could work. But maybe it's like a boot sector virus.
    The mainboard is made by ASUS, but it's proprietary and its associated software is not
    listed in ASUSTek support. (The machine has been protected by Comodo firewall, and
    AVG antivirus. Both Spybot S&D and MalwareBytes get run regularly.)

    I can try resetting the HDD firmware. I can use MBR Fix. If some malware has made its
    way onto the bios (which has been password-protected for a year and a half) this would
    have no effect. Messing with the bios could disable the bios badly, and even if the machine
    will boot only to CD (I run Bart's PE without problems) I can reflash the bios. But maybe
    the glitch is somewhere else on the machine. There are lots of smart chips on these boards,
    and all of them have chipset software. (The bios plugs into a socket
    and I likely can get a fresh one from folks who flash bios for a living.)

    Now, I'm aware that a vast majority of failures to install happen because of a damaged mainboard.
    But there has been no physical manipulation of the board, and odd troubles began when
    I installed new drivers at the recommendation of HP Update.

    Another tech told me this morning that the Nichicon capacitor blow-up that has thrown Dell
    to its knees is also present in HP mainboards on some models.

    This is the worst head-scratcher I've encountered yet.

    Absolutely *any* commentary will be much appreciated.

  2. #2
    5 Star Lounger chowur's Avatar
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    I did a search & asked this;what mother boards have Nichicon capacitor installed?
    I found this;My link
    My best advice is to take a really close look @ the mobo in question look for some numbers.Either in the lower left corner in the front or on the back side of it.As many computers you have put together in the past I'm sure you already know this.
    Problems cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them. -Albert Einsten

  3. #3
    New Lounger
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    Thank you, Chowur. The search results are interesting and at least a little surprising. Another hobby of mine is repairing and upgrading medium to high end audio systems, and I've used Nichicon capacitors with excellent results. Too bad some faulty batches got through.

    I hope against hope that this problem has a very simple solution. On a hunch, I removed the fan-heatsink from the CPU, and found that only a very thin smear of white paste thermal conductor had been applied, and although the sink was hot, the smear only partly covered the AMD AM2 chip. (None of the caps looked leaky or swollen, and none were Nichicon.)

    Heat could of course cause the failsafe to shut things down, and that would be compatible with all my symptoms. Tomorrow morning I'll apply some known good thermal paste, and hope things improve dramatically.

    Stay tuned.

  4. #4
    Gold Lounger
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    Quote Originally Posted by drkurtz View Post
    Heat could of course cause the failsafe to shut things down, and that would be compatible with all my symptoms. Tomorrow morning I'll apply some known good thermal paste, and hope things improve dramatically.
    drkurtz,
    Hello... recently i had experienced the same problem with my HP desktop ( just shut itself off non "BSOD" no error log) i could "tap" on the case to make it do it. Turned out to be a loose "mother board" all the screws were loose (including the ones in my head ) After tightening all was well again , could bang on the case and not shut down. Check it out . Regards Fred
    PlainFred

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  5. #5
    Gold Lounger Roderunner's Avatar
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    drkurtz, have you tried powering OFF the PC, disconnect from wall socket, press and hold power button for 30 seconds to release static electricity ?
    O wad some Power the giftie gie us, to see oursels as ithers see us!

  6. #6
    New Lounger
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    Thanks All --

    Fred, I had tried the unplug and discharge capacitors method, but it had no observable effect on the problem.

    Runner, I've been guilty of leaving some screws loose, but thought the mass manufacturers would have better quality control. (These ones were tight.)

    My tech buddy's hunch was right. Applying some ordinary Radio Shack white thermal grease (fairly liberally) solved the shutdown problem. Still, the bios reports temps ranging from 59 to 66 C, and I think the heat sink should keep things under 50. So I may install a more robust fan/heatsink.

    But my main problem still exists. The machine won't let me do a repair installation of XP Med Cntr. I reformatted the partition I'd intended for Ubuntu, and installed XP Med Cntr to that. It works, although if I have to use this iteration it will take a long time to load all the additional gear. Would much rather repair the original.

    I found a website with an interesting article. "How to Create a Bootable Windows XP Setup Disk on a Preinstalled / Preloaded Windows System"

    http://www.howtohaven.com/system/cre...etupdisk.shtml

    The author says he has not tested the method on XP Med Cntr, but I'm going to give it a try. Has anyone else ever attempted this kind of move?

  7. #7
    Super Moderator CLiNT's Avatar
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    It looks like an interesting and detailed article. Even though the media addition isn't specifically mentioned, I don't foresee any issue in creating a setup disk with it. Perhaps you could also look into making it slipstreamed with as many of the Windows service packs & updates in place as well.

    As you may know this might not work with any kind of "imaged" setup disks or partitions that some manufacturers are using nowadays.

    I created a slipstreamed XP Pro, SP3 setup disk with a Dell OEM disk at one time in the past with very good result. I ended up selling it with the computer on Craig's List later on. Unfortunately, I can't recall the specific site I got the article on for the project.
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  8. #8
    Super Moderator Deadeye81's Avatar
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    Paul Thurrott's Supersite has an excellent article on slipstreaming XP and SP3. He also has a link in the first couple of lines for slipstreaming SP2 as well.

    Also it is best to clean the old thermal paste off the heat sink and the mating top of the processor with as pure an alcohol as possible applied sparingly with q-tips or some other small soft material. 90% pure and above will do nicely. 90% pure can be found in most drug stores. There are other solutions made specific for the task, but in my neck of the woods they are more difficult to come by. And it only takes a dab of thermal paste about the size of a grain of rice in the middle of the heat sink to provide adequate thermal transfer. Some have thought if a little is good then more is better, but too much thermal paste can hinder the thermal transfer and cause the processor to run at higher temps.
    Deadeye81

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  9. #9
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    Gerald is right about the paste. A little dab'll do ya, if you get full coverage. On some CPUs with circuitry near the rectangular chip, Arctic Silver can cause problems. Almost any grease is going to have *some* capacitance, so it's not good to apply too much especially if electronic components are going to be exposed. (This is an AM2 chip, so that's not a problem here.)

    I still have found no source of good information regarding restoration of the original software on this machine. It's now running with the XP Med Ctr Ed on the first partition on the Maxtor HDD, and the original Seagate 200GB drive is dormant. (It's a good SATA drive with the old 5 yr warranty and ought to be used.) The Med Ctr Ed installation went just fine using the boughten 3 disks, and deploying the CD Key decaled on the side of the HP case, instead of the one that came with the 3 disks.

    HP's instructions about running the system repair warn that all the files on the C-drive will be wiped, and that the re-installation from drive D will put the system back at the state it was in when it left the manufacturer.

    Does anyone know anything about the options available once the System Restore choice has been made? Periodically it's good to write zeros to a drive and start over, but HP's repair system is pretty draconian. I know of no good way to restore all the e-mail database files in the bowels of Documents and Settings, for just one mentionable hassle.

  10. #10
    Plutonium Lounger Medico's Avatar
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    I'm jumping in rather late on this post, but, this definitely sounds like a heat problem. Are the fans all running to speed? I would also check the power supply voltages after warm up. The heat transfer gel is an almost necessary component of the CPU/heatsink system. The more robust heat sink with a larger capacity fan may help. I have found however that the power supply was the culprit more often than other components. A slight operating voltage change will have dire consequences on all components in the system.
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