Why would my computer just break down?

All right, I recently took my computer in to get the power supply replaced-the night before, it had been working just fine.

But when we got it to the repair shop, and the guy put the new one in, it just stopped working-the hard drives were spinning and all that, but nothing showed up on the monitor. We tried a new video card, a new memory chip, putting the old power supply back in-nothing.

I know that the guy blew some of the dust out with compressed air-could that be the reason?

I’m just wondering, because then when it comes to transferring the contents of my old hard drive to our new computer (in about a month), if I should trust this place or not. Could it have been something they did? Or was it just a fluke?

It’s possible something got knocked loose in transit, but in my experience, checking all the cards and connections would find the problem quickly. It’s more likely, IMO, that the technician screwed something up. I’d go someplace else, next time.

However, just in case he overlooked something, pull off each connector and push it back on firmly. So this one at a time. Remove each expansion card and replace it firmly. Remove each RAM stick and replace it firmly. Make sure all your external cables are plugged in tightly. When you start the machine are there a series of long and/or short beeps or no beeps at all? Or just one short beep like normal?

Q.E.D.'s suggestion of checking the various connections to make sure they’re snug is spot-on. My first thought is that if you’re seeing power to the drives, but aren’t getting any other response from the board (like, for instance, when you take the memory out but don’t hear the board beeping at you), then the first place you should look is to make sure the processor (assuming it’s not soldered on to the board) is seated correctly. If it’s loose, you’ll get results like you’ve described.

After that, do as Q.E.D. goes on to suggest by making sure all else is firmly attached. (And if you yourself are doing this at this point, make sure 1.) the system is off (I know, I know: no-brainer); and 2.) that you ground yourself beforehand by touching metal.)

I wouldn’t dare try it myself, since I wouldn’t know where to go, but I’m LOATHE to take it back (it’s 90 bucks an hour), especially with getting Captain Idiot again. (I swear, this guy matched EVERY stereotype of the geeky loser tech, complete with poor hygiene and plumber’s butt!).

And it’s definitely NOT beeping. I keep waiting for it to happen, but it doesn’t. It looks like the computer’s running, but the monitor isn’t on.

That’s bad. It almost certainly indicates a serious processor or mainboard problem. If you’re lucky, reseating the processor will fix the problem, but if not, you’re SOL.

At this point, you have a computer that completely isn’t functional. There’s next to nothing that you could do to wipe the data from the hard drive accidently, so you’re very unlikely to make things worse. Sounds like a perfect situation to try and learn something about the insides, to me.


Not me, I’d probably end up electrocuting myself.

So basically, my only option is probably just having them take the drive out and then transferring the data to CDs?

What could have caused this? (If only because it was working the last time I used it).

The possibilities ar myriad, but the most likely cause of failure is that the failing/ed power supply took something on the motherboard with it.

As said above, stir its guts up, you can’t make it any worse. It might even work. :rolleyes: It’s all low voltage stuff in the first place, but you don’t work on it when it is powered up anyway, too much risk of doing harm rather than good.

My guess would be a bad graphics card connection but only because of identical symptoms on a newly built machine [this one, actually] just needed a swift prod to seat it correctly.

Don’t worry about the data on the hard drive. Try and enlist the help of a friend/colleague. Pull the hard drive from your machine, slave it in theirs and transfer your data to theirs, then you can do anything you like with it, wipe it even, then recover your data when you are confident that all is well.

It really isn’t difficult, buggering about inside the tower and If you are saving $90 an hour, taking your time, looking through a couple of books and becoming familiar with your machine will save you a fortune, then when you need to upgrade or replace the current box o’ tricks, do it yourself. Save a bundle, get the machine you want and the satisfaction of building it yourself.

I’m an idiot and I have built dozens, never a failure.

The power supply was only replaced because the fan on it went, not the supply itself.

I would try to get it fixed-but I’m getting a new computer in a month, and this one has been around for three years-a cheap custom built one. It’s day has come and gone. I jsut wanted a few more weeks out of it, to tide me over.


I just want to know if I should go elsewhere to get the data off, as I said.

Sorry, went a bit overboard there, seemingly.

If you can do without your data for a while, put that hard drive in your new machine as a slave. Data all present and correct. Extra space for storage on the new machine.

If your replacing the old machine anyway, use it as a test lab. If you don’t get it going, you have lost nothing.

Just as an indicator, I had to replace a power supply a couple of months ago that just stopped working on power-up.

Bought a new one, better than the original, from the shop 1/2 a mile away, for £13 - about $20? installation took less than 10 minutes.

You CAN do it, honest.

Yeah, but that would void my warranty-putting the old drive in the new machine.

Like I said, it’s not a BIG deal, because I’m getting a new one, it’s just annoying.

Basically, I’m looking for reccomendations for where to go-and I’m NOT comfortable doing it myself.

Um, I know that you said you’re not comfortable with doing it yourself, but have you compared the wattage of the old and the new power supply? There was a time when my computer wouldn’t boot up because there wasn’t quite nearly enough power. Maybe you’d like to check if the wattage of the old and new power supplies are the same… Just a WAG.

It’s difficult to recommend anything because there really aren’t any standards people have to meet to call themselves computer technicians. When I used to work in tech support I’d get calls from people who were ripping off their client by taking their money and then calling me because they didn’t know what a driver was. Your best bet is to find a friend who knows this stuff.

You know, I wasn’t comfortable doing it myself, either, with my first computer. The most I could do was to open the case and gawk at all the circuit boards and wires. But now, years later, after educating myself with information from the Internet (as well as some first-hand trial and error) I have no problem assembling a computer from parts, or diagnosing and repairing hardware failures. And with all the work I’ve done on my computers over the years, had I been paying $90/hour to have it done I’d be out several thousand dollars by now. Not to mention the money I’ve saved by cannibalizing my old computers to build new ones.

The point being, even if you’re not comfortable, you can’t make it any worse than it already is, and you could learn something and potentially save yourself tons of money in the future by tinkering around with your dead computer.

As far as transferring data from your old computer to your new one, I highly recommend hooking your old hard drive up to your new computer. Don’t worry about the warranty, because no one would be able to tell that it ever happened anyway. Hell, I once had Dell come out to do some warranty work (bad power supply fried several components) on a computer that I had installed a second hard drive in and left it in there, and the Dell tech didn’t even blink. Just went about his business and replaced the damaged components.

I couldn’t agree more. And, unless the task is horribly complicated and time consuming, a friend usually won’t want any compensation – beyond maybe buying them a drink or something.

I mean, I once did a virus scan and removal for a friend of mine. Fairly simple task. Took about half an hour from start to finish, most of which involved waiting for the virus scanner to finish running. Did it for free. The computer shop down the road from me does virus scans for $60. That seems way over priced for a tack that is mostly automated.

If you are concerned about invalidating the warrantee, ask the supplier of your new machine to install the old drive as a slave. They have done the installation, ipso facto, work is waranteed.

Over the years, I’ve found that plugging the ribbon cable into the drive backwards can cause the problem you mentioned.

Don’t take it back. Odds are good you know somebody who can handle the problem.

Also, you’ve built computer repair up to the level of brain surgery. Unless you do something stupid (I noticed a lot of dust inside the computer, so I washed the whole thing with soap and water, then polished it with lemon Pledge) you’re not going to break anything. Unplug the computer. Remove the case. Look at everything with a flashlight. Is anything obviously melted or burnt? Is anything loose? Look at all the connecting cables. These are usually marked to indicate the proper way to plug them in. Some have a bump so that it’s impossible to put them in upside down. Others have a red stripe or an etched triangle on one side. Are the cables plugged in incorrectly? If you’re not sure, unplugging them and putting them back upside down shouldn’t hurt the computer. In all my years of fiddling around inside computers, this has only caused damage once. Every other time, an upside down cable simply causes beeping, drive spinning, and keeps the computer from booting up.

This is a difficult task to accomplish, actually. Allow me to list some of the ways this might happen:

[li]working on the computer with the power on[/li][li]taking apart the power supply (this does not include just handling it)[/li][li]taking apart the monitor[/li][li]biting the power cord[/li][li]spilling water all over the circuitry[/li][li]using the computer while taking a bath[/li][/ul]

You get the idea. As long as you aren’t a drooling moron, you’ll be fine.