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  1. #1
    Lounger
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    Error booting Win 3.11 486 PC

    I'm desperate for help! My ancient 486 PC running Win 3.11 over DOS is choking before it even gets started. Immediately when I flip on the power switch it gives three long warning beeps and I know I'm in trouble. The boot process appears to be fine but when I type "Win" at the DOS prompt it starts to load Windows (3.11) and then aborts with the message:
    Error loading 256_1280.DRV

    I can use DOS but not Windows.

    I know there's a relatively simple fix because I ran into this four years when I was preparing the machine for Y2K. The person who developed the Y2KPCPRO utility walked me through a number of tests when the PC refused to work then (same exact thing) but it turned out that is was nothing to do with the Y2K issue and something to do with the BIOS and the order in which I turned on the CPU and monitor. I wrote everything down at the time but now of course I cannot find those notes anywhere. I've tried every combination I could think of for turning things on and off but still nothing but beeps and errors. I have this PC connected to a switch box because the monitor is shared by another PC, in case that has something to do with it. I also use this computer only about four times a year...and at tax time!

    Has anyone run into anything like this? Any ideas as to what the problem is?

    Thanks and gratitude in advance,
    Virginia

  2. #2
    Plutonium Lounger
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    Re: Error booting Win 3.11 486 PC

    Wow, this is an oldie but goodie! First of all, when you turn on a computer and encounter beeps, it is usually a problem with the motherboard or possibly MEMORY. Since the thing goes into DOS OK, I suspect it's not the motherboard. But you may have a bad memory module in there and I think that would be the first thing I'd check. Don't know anything about your RAM but it would help if you could get a stick or two of temporary memory to see if the problem persists. I also assume since you're using a KVM switch that you do know to set it for this computer BEFORE you turn on the power, right?

  3. #3
    Lounger
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    Re: Error booting Win 3.11 486 PC

    Thank you for taking the time to reply. Miracle of miracles, just a short while ago I tried rebooting again and it worked! I don't know what exactly I did differently so I'm none the wiser, unfortunately. I guess these things don't run forever even when they are not used very often. As I discovered today, I can't remember more than three DOS commands or anything about this old computer's file structure so even if I had to use DOS to recover my data, I'd have been severely 'challenged' on that issue as well!

    I'm pretty sure that what screwed things up in the first place is that I did NOT remember to set the KVM switch over to this old computer before I turned it on this morning. The part that is still a mystery is what sequence of actions finally allowed it to 'reset' so that when I did start with the switch in the right position, it behaved OK. There was a long period of time in between then and now where the monitor switch position on bootup didn't matter ... something else had to happen while it was on and when I shut it down but I never figured out what that was. At least it's working now. I've just finished formatting a slew of diskettes so I can do a fresh data backup in case things go wrong again. Looks to me like this is handwriting on the wall telling me to move to a new computer before it really is too late.

    Thanks again for your help!

  4. #4
    Plutonium Lounger
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    Re: Error booting Win 3.11 486 PC

    The only additional info I can give you is that I too had a KVM that I've now taken out of service. It was 5 or 6 years old. I hear that the newer ones don't have that problem of needing to be in the correct position at computer boot time. Nevertheless, things like power glitches or spikes, failing to switch at bootup and other mysteries would occasionally make mine go crazy too. I could punch the two-button reset combo and it sometimes would clear it. But, often the only way I could get it back to normal would be to POWER DOWN the computers and the KVM. Then, turning on the KVM and then the computers, one at a time, would always clear up the problem. FWIW.

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