It’s alive (again!), pt.2

PC and laptop on my desk
The remarkable thing is that this photograph was taken about two months ago and the scene is almost exactly as it is today: laptop on desk next to PC! Only now I have a new keyboard.

The relief

Well, praise the Lord! Thank you for all your prayers and positive vibes today: my PC is once again in the land of the living, and I didn’t even have to swap motherboards or buy a new CPU, which was my greatest fear.

The culprit

It turns out that the culprit was a dodgy USB connection to my Belkin SD/MMC/CF card reader! As soon as I unplugged it the PC moved on from its unhealthy pause at the Power On Startup Test (POST) page and booted as normal. Very weird.

Even weirder is that the PC happily boots now that the card reader is plugged into another port on my Belkin USB 2.0 hub. Belkin vs. Belkin, huh!

The method

I was pleased with how I worked it out.

  1. I unplugged all the peripherals and then removed my CPU heatsink, cleaned it up a bit, applied some new heatpaste and attached a new heatsink and fan, on the off-chance that it might be a heating problem. The AMD Athlon XP Thoroughbred CPUs run hotter than the sun!
  2. I plugged in the mouse, keyboard and one monitor and rebooted — it loaded fine. Success!
  3. So I plugged everything back in again and rebooted … it hung again at the POST.
  4. I said “Bah!” loudly.
  5. So I unplugged all the peripherals again and it rebooted fine.
  6. So I knew that it must be a peripheral that’s interrupting the boot sequence and started to plug in each peripheral one by one. Plug in, boot up. Repeat.

I’m mightily relieved I can tell you.

The lesson learned!

And so, do you know what I’m going to be doing this evening? Backing everything up to DVD and then going online to investigate new PCs and network storage.

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