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  1. #1
    Star Lounger
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    Aug 2008
    Cleveland, Ohio, USA
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    Series of events causing snowball effect on computer system!

    Hello. I've been doing pretty well as I haven't needed help in awhile but now I think I am in serious trouble.
    My computer is a Dell E310 and I have added a second CD Burner, Memory and an external 500 GB HD among other possible items; a Belarc Advisor report is attached.
    The computer runs 24/7 unless I am home and there is a severe thunderstorm. I noticed lately that my C: drive is small and was filling up and I have way too many programs to try out when I have time (sure!) Also, photos, music and downloads were in multiple files so I condensed the photos, music and downloads and put them on the external drive. I haven't removed the extra programs yet.

    I was burning a CD and thought I smelled something; the person I was with assured me that I didn't. I burned a few more and I knew I smelled something although he still did not smell it. Shortly thereafter, the computer shut itself down. It came back up after awhile but I didn't try to burn again. He borrowed almost an exact Dell power supply from his office for the weekend and it didn't shut off once but when I burned a CD I smelled the smell faintly - like a leftover. Now we thought it was a power supply problem. Put mine back in and took the one back to work. Mine is working. I did smell a bit of burn when I made a dual layer DVD but nothing like before. Now I'm thinking DVD drive.
    When the computer was booting, I noticed a BOARD FAILURE and I fainted (ok, I wanted to) but the computer still boots up. However, the functionality of F2 Setup or F12 boot menu is gone so I can't use the diagnostic CD Dell supplied as I can't change the boot order. I downloaded the same diagnostic program (for those who can't find their CD right away) and even have an instruction page How to run the Dell 32 bit Diagnostics Utility but am referred to number 6 for instructions and #6 isn't a link or anything except #6. I know that software was downloaded and has an exe file that was run at least twice.
    Also an odd thing when booting, it makes the sound of hardware being added and there is none.
    I'm trying to keep a sense of humor as this computer is right after my 20 year old car breaking down (it is waiting its fate in the driveway), problems with my cell phone and a washing machine that had to be replaced. End of my rope? I think you'll tell me!
    Thank you for any time and assistance anyone puts into this matter. Always appreciated!

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    "You must be the change you wish to see in the world."
    Mahatma Ghandi

  2. #2
    Super Moderator CLiNT's Avatar
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    Dec 2009
    California & Arizona
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    Can you elaborate on "BOARD FAILURE". See if the event viewer can provide more information. (look for the date/time of occurance)
    Type "eventvwr.msc" into the run box, without the quotes.

    I would also check your computer's temperature as well. There are many temp monitoring apps like HWMonitor that can do the job.

    Smelling something burning is not a good sign of things to come.
    If you are comfortable working inside the computer's case, open it up and ensure that power cables are seated securly and inspect
    for any potential signs of damage. Clean the dust out of there while you are at it, but be careful how you do it, gently is the word I would use.

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    Citsme (2011-04-22)

  4. #3
    4 Star Lounger I.M.O.G.'s Avatar
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    Mar 2011
    Rootstown, OH
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    A few thoughts here I hope are useful to you... First of all, ignore the fact it was noticed while you were writing discs, that almost certainly has nothing to do with it aside from the fact you are sitting around the computer waiting for something to finish and you may be less distracted by what you are trying to do on the computer.

    Burning smells are most often 1 of 2 things in my experience. A. Failing component, most commonly a capacitor problem in PSU or on motherboard, or a fan motor burning up and stopping spinning. B. Dust buildup on parts being converted to smoke

    You ruled out the PSU being a major problem by replacing it with another one - good job.

    Take the side panel off your computer (easy to do by removing 2-3 screws), and look inside - is there a lot of dust? Clean out dust buildup with a can of compressed air. Are there any bulging capacitors on the system board (leakage or bumps on top of the capacitors are easily seen by visual inspection and are a certain sign of failure)? You can see what normal and bulging capacitors look like here:

    Check to ensure all fans are spinning when the system turns on - case fans as well as heatsink fans should be spinning. If any aren't you have a dead fan and that may be contributing to the burnt electronics smell (the motors burn up when they get old, and sometimes if the sleaves/bearings fail they melt plastic which can stink a little for a while).

    As for dust cleaning - compressed air works well as I mentioned. People have also used leaf blowers with good results.
    Matt Bidinger
    Online Community Engagement

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  6. #4
    Plutonium Lounger Medico's Avatar
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    Dec 2009
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    One thing I do not see mentioned here. Create an Image of your system so that WHEN it fails (you notice I did not say if) you will have a possibility of restoring from the Image after the hardware has been fixed or replaced. With many years working in electronics, I can almost guarantee something is about to fail, even if it overheated because of dust and dirt, Once you have overheated electronics, they become stressed and will fail abruptly.

    I would think a fan not spinning to speed for whatever reason could be a likely problem. Be advised that if the CPU fan is causing the CPU to overheat, it is stressed and will fail. The kind of overheating shutdown in my experience is due to 1) power Supply, 2) CPU, 3) RAM, 4) M.B.
    Have a Great Day! Ted

    Sony Vaio Laptop, 2.53 GHz Duo Core Intel CPU, 8 GB RAM, 320 GB HD
    Win 8 Pro (64 Bit), IE 10 (64 Bit)

    Complete PC Specs: By Speccy

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    Citsme (2011-04-22)

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