My computer is broken! Help! (please?)

It’s broken. I need it. I stand to fail some classes if I can’t get my computer fixed so I can use it to work. I’m very panicky. Among other things–this little problem only adds to the precarious level of stress that’s slowly crossing my head across the line between “stay calm and persevere” into “Grab a gun and head for Tijuana” territory. (Hey–funny story–I might have a warrant out for my arrest right now–if I’m not a felon right -now-, at least I would be by the time I got to Mexico! Woohoo!)

But -YOU-, yes you! You can help push back the inevitable a little further by giving me suggestions on how to fix my computer! Anything from possible explanations for the symptoms of my trouble, or just hints on where to go to get cheap replacements.

Basically–I think the hard drive is crapping out. Every time I boot up–I’m getting registry errors. Every time I scan the drive–it finds ‘free roaming’ data which the computer suggests be deleted (even though the drive was formatted and completely blank except for the partition itself.)

I currently can not even get the computer to boot up, because having just installed Windows 98–it encountered registry errors–rebooted, the registry-checker kicked in and backed up the system files–then rebooted. And the process repeats.

But I’m also worried about the video card. It’s an old Voodoo3 3500, and it’s running a little ‘hot’. the kicker is, I don’t really have a way of knowing whether or not it’s malfunctioning. It’s hot–but it’s still delivering video to the monitor. I’m worried it may damage the mainboard or surrounding components.

My current mainboard is an Abit KT7A-RAID Via the Apollo chipset. Just in case knowing the systems specs will help at all. The CPU is an AMD T-Bird 850.

Any help would be appreciated! I could really use it! I love each and every one of you!


Many possibilities:
1). It could be a virus. Run an Anti-Virus.
2). It could be a failing hard drive or one with a loose connection. Try checking the cables.
3). It may be an overheating motherboard. Make sure the fan on the processor is still working. Does it run better with the case off?

I always boot to DOS with a floppy if necessary, Type: SCANREG /RESTORE

Then I select an earlier registry & Viola, two minutes later its all back working.

I can tell you from recent experience that prayer works.

It does indeed sound like your hard drive is about to tank. A hot and/or failing video card may cause boot or video problems but it typically won’t corrupt drive data via overheating the MB per your registry corruption issues. If the drive is failing additional attempts to restore the registry if the first one or two don’t work are probably only going to frag the data structures you are trying to recover more.

Just for the hell of it you might also want to remove and replace your DIMMS one by on the unlikely off chance that it’s a flaky memory module causing the data corruption.

Anyway you need to do the following.

1: Go buy a new drive. You can get 20 gig units for as little as 80.00 - 90.00 or so at Staples etc. Partition-format and install it as the master and slap windows 98 SE on it. Any major brand like Maxtor etc will do.

2: Install your apps then install Norton’s Utilities (in non-autostart mode if possible).

3: Install the mis-behaving drive as a slave (or second channel master). If the needed data is accessible copy as much of your data to a directory on the new drive as possible.

4: If the drive is not accessible run Nortons and see if you can recover the drive data (you may not be able to).

Good Luck.

Sounds like the Master Boot record {MBR} is corrupted.
Boot the computer off the startup disk and use FDISK to remove the partitation and recreate it,WARNING This Will Erase All Data On The Drive!
Now format (useing the /S switch) the drive and reinstall the operating system and software.
This should fix the problem.

You didn’t mention what the hard drive is. Each manufacturer will usually have diagnostic software for their brand of drives. Try to get it downloaded and run it. Use their low level format software, if indicated that the drive has problems.

What to check for after diagnostics pass on the hard drive.

  1. Memory not stable.
  2. Processor flaking out.

I would load the operating system as a clean install.

to help test the drive to see if it is crapping out you can download a file from the gateway website ( yeah yeah, you may not have a gateway computer, but it will test any drive out there. Its called GWSCAN.

download 7510009, extract it to a floppy. go to a dos prompt and run the program (Gwscan) and there will be a option to test the drive. any error code except for 0000 is a HDD that is getting ready to crap out

  1. Replaced hard drive with new drive just out of box-- no luck.

  2. Tried both hard drives with a different power supply, taking time to clean-format each one and reinstall OS-- no luck.

  3. Tried different copy of OS installation CD-- no luck.

  4. Switched video card-- no luck.
    So ends the last of my free time for the night…with absolutely zero net productivity.

Could it be the RAM? I’m not getting any messages during the POST. But could it be the RAM anyways? I’ve lost so much money from my savings trying to get that damn box fixed–I’m gonna be pissed if it’s the RAM crapping out. Heads will roll.


set your bios to check (count) you mem on startup. Slow down you clock speed. remove a bank of memory if you have more then 1 (note some older systems requires 2 banks to run so in that case remove 2 if you have another 2.) - try switching the mem if the problem still exists. make sure your cpu fan is turning. Unplug (unseat) EVERYTHING and re-plug re-seat) it. remove all drives except for your harddrive. Remove all cards that are not needed (sound, modem, lan).

[smart-ass hat off]

Ashtar, do you mean to say after your last post that you’ve replaced your hard drive with a clean-installed (basically nothing but the OS) hard drive and you’re still getting the same symptom (registry errors on booting)?

You’ve definitely got a hardware problem somewhere with whatever your registry is trying to make a connection to at that point in its processing. A clean install of the OS on a fresh, new hard drive should work without any problems at all.

I’d take k2dave’s advice and go through methodically reseating every connection you can, up to and including the processor and RAM. Hell, reseating the BIOS chip won’t hurt anything if you’re careful.

[smart-ass hat on]

And I meant to say, by “methodically,” to make reseat one thing, reboot, then repeat with the next thing. This way, when you find the culprit you’ll know what it was.

FWIW, I had a similar problem with an ABIT board (BP6 - a couple of years old) - in my case, the master boot record in Win2K was getting corrupted almost every time I rebooted. Turned out it was the secondary IDE controller (Highpoint 366) on the motherboard. Switched my drive over to the primary and I haven’t had any further problems. If you’re using the RAID controller, try using the primary. Also don’t rule out the fact that your motherboard may be bad (it’s probably still under warranty, right) - it took me four tries until I got a good BP6. ABIT’s quality control appears to leave something to be desired.