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John of Phoenix
03-30-2009, 10:52 AM
I upgraded the memory on a Dell Dimension 2350 desktop from a single 256Mb DIMM to a pair of 512s (1Gb total) and now the BIOS won’t detect the SATA drive and controller card that I installed last year. It won't boot.

What I’ve checked-
the memory type is correct PC2100, 266MHz, non ecc, etc
the computer will in fact support 1Gb of memory
the BIOS does recognize the new memory, the two old CD drives and the floppy
the BIOS does not recognize the SATA drive

How would adding memory alter the BIOS?
Any suggestions wise ones?

marshcat
03-30-2009, 11:08 AM
Will it still boot if you put the old memory back in? At least you can tell if you static zapped the controller card while you had the case open.

willmarsh3
03-30-2009, 11:10 AM
I'd put the old memory back in and see if it works. Edit: Marshcat beat me to it.

John of Phoenix
03-30-2009, 11:16 AM
I'll try that. I was very careful about static though.
Any other possibilities?

Mrleft8
03-30-2009, 11:19 AM
I'll try that. I was very careful about static though.
Any other possibilities?

:cool: You could try offering it a bong hit...:D

John of Phoenix
03-30-2009, 11:23 AM
:cool: You could try offering it a bong hit...:D
I added memory and now you want to wipe it out? :D

Mrleft8
03-30-2009, 11:30 AM
I added memory and now you want to wipe it out? :D
Dude! It's a DELL! :rolleyes:

Kaa
03-30-2009, 11:30 AM
Most likely either the controller or some chunk of the motherboard gave up the ghost in the process of changing memory. Presumably you tried reseating the controller card, right?

If putting the old memory back in does not fix the problem, I think it's time for some new hardware.

Kaa

Popeye
03-30-2009, 11:34 AM
hold down f12 key while booting up to enter bios setup

marshcat
03-30-2009, 11:35 AM
Are you running XP or earlier? If so, could it be an IRQ conflict with the second memory slot? Control Panel -> System ->Hardware -> Device Manager.

As a test, try putting one of the 512s in the same slot the original memory was in, then seeing if it boots.

htom
03-30-2009, 11:40 AM
There might be a problem with memory mapping; the SATA card might have used a part of the memory map that you previously were not using, but now are. I don't know -- if that is the case -- whether you can use it; at a minimum, if this is the problem, you'd have to remove and reinstall it, so that it would see the new memory during its install.

Michael Beckman
03-30-2009, 11:43 AM
I would test the hard drive in another computer. I just had one totally die on me without warning. Worked fine one they, dead the next. Couldn't see it in bios on two different computers. Probably could have paid for data recovery.. not worthwhile in my case though.

TMny
03-30-2009, 11:48 AM
>the BIOS does recognize the new memory, the two old CD drives and the floppy
-just curious , is that 'two old CD drives' ,or old HDDs?

-SATA is a new spec. It may require BIOS settings to be configured (can't explain why/not now/before!). The BIOS may have reverted to default settings ??
The SATA may (stretching it) require SATA drivers to be loaded onto it -- it is possible that there are no 'drivers' in the OperatingSystem which can recognize the SATA specification. (??) {i realize that as far as the PC is concerned , nothing should have changed with the new memory installation , it simply communicates and forgets when there is a power-down}

-The BIOS performs an initialization test each time one boots the PC. This test should check the memory , and complain ('beeps', etc) if it is not 'nice'.
As mentioned above , the first thig to do is re-install the previous memory set ....
(i see your BIOS has not balked ...)

-Memory should not affect BIOS ... but the BIOS version may not recognize the amount of memory you loaded. Each motherboard/BIOS is designed with certain limitations, beyond the apparent pinouts. So you might want to check on Dell's website for the specification regarding the PCs capacity for memory. I upgraded the BIOS in my desktop before maxing out its memory. I have one PII with a max of 256MB, a PIII with 1GB max and a duo-core with a 4GB max.
Updating the BIOS can be (discouraged by Dell) somewhat nerve-wracking, but is suggested before a lot of service operations. The Dell support forum was helpful for my desktop problems.

-Dell also has picky specs regarding its memory - you may need specifically 'Dell-Approved' memory. I got Dell-approved memory from Crucial ... and i just maxed-out two used IBM laptops with nice/cheap DIMMS from SiliconMountain....

TMny
03-30-2009, 11:53 AM
'Nother thing ... connections in multiple pin connectors are critical. Might want to administer some Tweek/Stabilant22 to all the memory and drive connections.

Otherwise most of the advice from other posters is better than mine.

How'd the bong hit work out ?

John of Phoenix
03-30-2009, 11:54 AM
hold down f12 key while booting up to enter bios setup
That's what I've done, but the SATA drive doesn't show up. I've tried auto detect and still no joy. The boot sequence had been HDD, CD then floppy. Now there's no hard disk detected.


Are you running XP or earlier? If so, could it be an IRQ conflict with the second memory slot? Control Panel -> System ->Hardware -> Device Manager.

As a test, try putting one of the 512s in the same slot the original memory was in, then seeing if it boots.
Yes XP pro. I pulled the original 256 and replaced it with a 512 and added another 512 in the adjacent slot.

So you're saying go with a single 512 in the original slot to try to get it to boot, then get to Device Manager and look for an IRQ conflict? What about the second slot? Hmm, I'm still wondering about the BIOS though.

htom, I'm not sure what to reinstall. The memory or the SATA controller.

TMny
03-30-2009, 12:29 PM
some boards are designed to accept only pairs of memory , so i'd start by re-install original pair... if all else fails , check the manual!

>I'm not sure what to reinstall. The memory or the SATA controller.
You want to return to the last functioning configuration (as a start). The SATA controller might be suspect , but if it wasn't disturbed , don't now/yet.

Maintain ESD precautions ... write a log of tests performed .

marshcat
03-30-2009, 12:33 PM
Yes XP pro. I pulled the original 256 and replaced it with a 512 and added another 512 in the adjacent slot.

So you're saying go with a single 512 in the original slot to try to get it to boot, then get to Device Manager and look for an IRQ conflict? What about the second slot? Hmm, I'm still wondering about the BIOS though.


Sorry, too much coffee. I forgot you won't be able to see an IRQ conflict if it won't boot. Here is the sequence I would go through, to (1) make sure your controller and HD are still OK, and (2) explore the possibility of an IRQ problem:

1. Put the machine back in its original state, and see if it still boots, if so, then your controller card and drive are OK. If not, you probably fried something.
2. Put one stick of 512 in (just replace the 256), and see if it boots.
3. Put the second stick of 512 in the second slot, and see if it boots. If not, you could move your controller card to another PCI slot (take out the soundboard or something), and see if it boots.
4. If not, start googling, or see what the other posters have to say.

htom
03-30-2009, 12:41 PM
What Marshcat said.

If that 256M stick was error correcting, and error correction was turned on in the BIOS, and the new memory is not error correcting, you could have something like this happening (and it might not even look for a hard disk), but I would think there would be an error message (but then, Dell.)

George Roberts
03-30-2009, 12:42 PM
If I had this problem (I must have had such problems in the past) ...

Put the old memory back in and determine if the computer works.

I suspect everything will go back to working in the original configuration. That probably means that the SATA card is using a memory address that the new memory is occupying.

But if it does not work, re-seat all the cards and cables. Something might have been jarred out of position. When it does work again, insert the new memory.

---

I find it easier to simply spend $200-300 and buy an up to date motherboard, CPU, and memory.

John of Phoenix
03-30-2009, 01:04 PM
Thank you gentlemen, I'll report back a little later.

John of Phoenix
03-30-2009, 08:36 PM
Well ain't this something...

I returned the system to its original MB stick and still have the problem. The BIOS still doesn't see the SATA drive and I get a message "Primary Hard Disk failure" when I try to boot BUT... if I put the Windows installation CD in the CD the machine boots from there and the SATA drive is there and perfectly usable. Device manager shows no conflicts and no problems. WTH??? SATA controller card maybe? It too shows up on device manager as ok.

More odd stuff -
As I was disconnecting things to open the case and switch the old memory back, I noticed the wireless router was inop - no lights, nothing. Turns out the little power supply wasn't working. It's plugged into a fancy Belkin power/surge strip but it got toasted somehow. I had a spare power supply so it's back up.

Second thing, once I got the computer to boot, I connected the modem cable directly to the machine (internal modem is built into the motherboard) because the of the router problem above but had no internet. Fiddled around with some settings as there was no problem indicated on Device Manager then decided to just uninstall it and reboot. It reinstalled and works just fine. WTH???

It seems SOMETHING happened to the LAN that fried the power pack and messed up the internal modem settings and I suspect that's what (maybe) got the SATA controller card too.

I'm going to switch slots on the controller card and see if it shows up.

Flying Orca
03-30-2009, 08:42 PM
It's the time of year for bizarre computer mishaps. I just had to replace both hard disks in my home machine because they failed simultaneously. I've never had two go at the same time before, and with no apparent cause, but at least the data were recoverable. Not that I don't back up the important stuff; learned that the hard way many years ago.

Hope you solve the puzzle, John!

marshcat
03-30-2009, 08:47 PM
Good luck. Sorry it was not something more simple.

John of Phoenix
03-30-2009, 09:08 PM
Orca, two disks at once. THAT sounds like a cosmic force field induced failure if there ever was one.

Ok, back to fiddling.

Kaa
03-30-2009, 09:25 PM
It's the time of year for bizarre computer mishaps. I just had to replace both hard disks in my home machine because they failed simultaneously. I've never had two go at the same time before, and with no apparent cause, but at least the data were recoverable. Not that I don't back up the important stuff; learned that the hard way many years ago.

Happens -- usually when the cause is something like a local power surge (inside the computer case). That is the reason why two hard drives inside the same case are not really considered to be a backup.

Kaa

John of Phoenix
03-30-2009, 09:57 PM
Well swapping slots on the controller had no effect. It shows up on Device manager as fully operational as does the SATA drive but the BIOS refuses to recognize this drive? Would a new controller card "trick" it into finding it?

BTW, the new memory is working fine.

Kaa
03-30-2009, 10:06 PM
I'd reflash BIOS at this point, or at least re-init it (there's usually a jumper to short on the motherboard).

You might also have an MBR (master boot record) failure on your hard drive. That's consistent with failing to boot off the hard drive, but being able to boot off the Windows CD. Try getting a Linux live CD (Knoppix is the original one) and see if the hard drive is fully working in Linux.

Kaa

TMny
03-31-2009, 09:05 AM
>You might also have an MBR (master boot record) failure on your hard drive. That's consistent with failing to boot off the hard drive,
+1...
maybe even boot sector virus ... but why the co-incidences ?

John of Phoenix
03-31-2009, 10:26 AM
Well, I ran CHKDISK last night (for several hours) and did a complete virus scan with no faults. Either should have identified a MBR problem. I think.

This look interesting-

"What is the MBR?
At the end of the ROM BIOS bootstrap routine, the BIOS reads and executes the first physical sector of the FIRST floppy or hard disk on the system. This first sector of the hard disk is called the master boot record (or sometimes the partition table or master boot block). There is a small program at the beginning of this sector of the hard disk. The partition information, or partition table, is stored at the end of this sector. This program uses the partition information to determine which partition is bootable (usually the first primary DOS partition) and attempts to boot from it."

So it could be either BIOS or MBR. I'm going for the easy one first.


How To Repair the Master Boot Record In Windows XP:


Boot using the Windows CD.
Enter Windows XP Recovery Console (http://pcsupport.about.com/od/fixtheproblem/ss/rconsole.htm).
When you reach the command prompt (detailed in Step 6 (http://pcsupport.about.com/od/fixtheproblem/ss/rconsole_6.htm) in the link above), type the following and then press Enter.

fixmbr

The fixmbr utility will write a master boot record to the hard drive (http://pcsupport.about.com/od/componentprofiles/p/p_hdd.htm) that you're currently using to boot into Windows XP. This will repair any corruption or damage that the master boot record may have.
Take out the Windows XP CD, type exit and then press Enter to restart your PC.
Assuming that a corrupt master boot record was your only issue, Windows XP should now start

Thanks again folks. The new memory makes a huge difference.

Henning 4148
03-31-2009, 12:14 PM
In some Bioses, you can select a "waiting time" until the machine starts to boot after power on. You can try extending this waiting time.

TMny
04-02-2009, 01:16 PM
>{Henning 4148} In some Bioses, you can select a "waiting time" until the machine starts to boot after power on. You can try extending this waiting time.
+1 --- A power dropout caused by excessive power drawn at startup might have caused some of the symptoms , and the 'local power surge' hypothesized by Kaa.

Scott Mueller reported as recently as a few years ago [in his chapter on power supplies] that shakey/degraded power supplies were yet the source of many/most PC failures ... and such (true , i've not described , only labled) disruptions cause both data problems and smoke , at intervals. A delay in the POST timing could allow stabilization. It is highly unlikely , but possible that the new memory , or some dust , could have imposed an extra load.

>>Cheap used corporate PCs are available on Ebay , if you tire ...