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  1. #1
    Lounger
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    98SE system file chkr

    I'm planning a diagnostic weekend with my wife's Dell 4500 laptop and I'm a novice of sorts. Symptoms are chronic boots to Safe Mode, after rebooting in normal it has switched to 600x480 in nomal mode with weird screen colors, dialog boxes in suddenly change to white tones, constant restarts, Word Perfect screens that turn dark gray, general unreliability. Will do a Scan Disk, a registry checker, defrag etc. If I run System File Checker and find corrupted files, should I use the original 98 CD or the 98SE CD? Is the next step reinstalling 98 if nothing else works? Proper process, install from Win98 CD, then 98SE update disk, followed by a trip to MS Windows Updates?

  2. #2
    Uranium Lounger
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    Re: 98SE system file chkr

    You didn't say which version of Win98 was actually installed, but it appears that it started as plain old Windows 98, and then was upgraded to 98SE.

    When running the SFC tool, use the CD for the version that is installed - i.e. if it was upgraded to SE then use the upgrade disk.

    From your problem description, I have to wonder if perhaps the video card is in need of new drivers, or perhaps is just on its way out. One thing that I would suggest (even though it's a pain in the rear) is powering down, opening the case, and making sure all the add-in cards are firmly seated in their slots. I would go so far as to take them out one at a time, use a pencil eraser on the gold contacts to remove any crud, and then firmly re-seating them just to eliminate the possibility.

    Do the scandisk with the thorough option enabled - let it scan the surface of the disk. I prefer to run this in DOS mode, but it's a bit trickier. You can run it manually at a DOS prompt by entering the following:

    SCANDISK /AUTOFIX /NOSAVE /SURFACE

    This will force SCANDISK to run, automatically fix any errors it finds, skip the "undo" disk and perform a surface scan.

    Make sure that all of your software drivers are up to date, not just the video driver. If you still can't correct the problem, re-installing *might* solve ti for you but you'd be better off installing Windows clean into a new directory (such as C:WIN98) instead of the default (C:WINDOWS).

    Good luck!
    -Mark

  3. #3
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    Re: 98SE system file chkr

    Mark thanks. I will see about an updated video card driver. The origianal OS was 98, then upgraded to 98SE. I wasn't sure if SE was a MS Service Pack or a Service Release. Since the problems occurs mainly with screen presentation, your comments about the video driver are appreciated. The machine starts just fine, save for some funky colors in a splash screen, but deteriorates with use. I don't have the kohones to open the case and go putzing around, want to be part of the solution, not contributory to a larger problem, but if outside intervention is sought, will pass along that idea.

  4. #4
    Uranium Lounger
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    Re: 98SE system file chkr

    First things first - don't be afraid to open the case and try these things out. Just don't remove all the cards at the same time!! Think of it as checking the air filter or adding oil to a car, the chance that you will hose something is slim to none. To boot this is a step that a tech working on the bench might not try; they would likely slap a new video card in the box and charge you for installation. It's profit and it's easier than figuring out a thorny problem....something to consider. <img src=/S/2cents.gif border=0 alt=2cents width=15 height=15>

    You say it deteriorates with use? That's a classic symptom of heat related problems. I don't know what vintage the video card is in the PC but if it's fairly recent, those suckers run <img src=/S/fire.gif border=0 alt=fire width=15 height=15> HOT HOT HOT <img src=/S/fire.gif border=0 alt=fire width=15 height=15> and could benefit from cooling. Some cards come with their own fan! Again opening the case and having a look-see will tell you if any fans are not running and then you have the power of knowledge if you take it in for repair.

    Best of luck to you. Isn't technology FUN? <img src=/S/evilgrin.gif border=0 alt=evilgrin width=15 height=15>
    -Mark

  5. #5
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    Re: 98SE system file chkr

    Also dealing with the heat issue... it could be your current CPU Cooling fan is either going, or gone. Consider looking at this when you (if you, that is) crack the box open.
    Christopher Baldrey

  6. #6
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    Re: 98SE system file chkr

    I ran all the diagnostics, no corrupted Win98 files, scandisk no errors, etc. We had heat related problems with an Iomega Clik PC card storage drive and this computer. Kept frying the Clik disks at 10 bucks a pop and the drive was replaced once under warranty. The video card is an ATI 4mb circa 6-1999. Maybe it has met it's waterloo? You mentioned the video driver, I found the original video driver in her Dell stuff. What are the chances of reinstalling it and finding the solution? Could I enter Setup and reinstall the driver over the existing installation? Not sure what happens if I delete the existing driver first? You are right about opening the case, I'd be a great deal more careful than a tech who's principal attribute is that I think he knows what he is doing whether or not he does and I'm sure I don't. Thanks again.

  7. #7
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    Re: 98SE system file chkr

    Hi
    Just to add a point or two:

  8. #8
    Uranium Lounger
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    Re: 98SE system file chkr

    Just so's ya know, the system file checker isn't perfect but it's a heck of a lot better than nothing. In the course of repairing an old 98SE box over the last week, I found a few missing files - core operating system files - and it didn't detect them. Just a heads up on that. <img src=/S/yikes.gif border=0 alt=yikes width=15 height=15>

    If you know the model of the video card, try to locate a new driver on the Dell website (you did say it's a Dell PC). Failing that you can re-install the original.

    The best way to do it is to copy it to the hard drive (more on that in a moment) and then reboot into safe mode. This will bypass the driver and use the stock VGA driver. You CD will not be available in safe mode although the floppy will still work. Go into the device mananger (Start-Settings-Control Panel-System) and removed the video card. Reboot and the system should detect the card again....when it does, it may install a standard driver, but I would hope you get a prompt for the driver. If you don't, you can update the driver yourself.

    Thye point of going through these steps is to force Windows to re-install the video card and re-copy the necessary files to make use of it.

    To answer your other question, reinstalling the driver over the existing might be fine, but then it might not work either. UIt's kind iof like re-installing Windows itself. Sometimes it corrects the problem(s) and sometimes it covers it up. Other times it doesn't do jack. <img src=/S/igiveup.gif border=0 alt=igiveup width=31 height=23> Good luck!
    -Mark

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    Re: 98SE system file chkr

    And you know what? Sometimes simple cleaning from dust inside computer solves overheating problems...

  10. #10
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    Re: 98SE system file chkr

    Mark, We want to thank you for your help, it was really appreciated and was certainly the extra mile. Will do the driver reinstall from your Safe Mode instructions. If no positive result, then will replace the ATI 4mb video card. It came with the laptop 3 years ago and I doubt it was the cat's meow even then. She uses this laptop in a port replicator as a desktop at work, so if wear an tear or heat are a generic laptop issues, they would be with this one. It is in Word Perfect hammerin' out legal documents mode for 6-8 hours everyday. Thanks again and have a Happy New Year!

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