Posted On: Wed, Jan-03-2001
Written By: jonny
Title: PC Troubleshooting: No boot
Introduction: Troubleshooting for when your PC powers up and POSTs, but when it's time to boot, the PC just freezes.
So it actually powers up and it POSTs, but when it's time to hit a drive the machine just freezes at "Verifying DMI Pool Data" and just doesn't boot off of the drive?
The first thing we should try is to boot off of the floppy drive. Let's check to see that the BIOS is set to default. Any BIOS that I can recall being made in the last 5 years has all of it's IDE controllers set to AUTO by default, and the boot sequence has the floppy first. This said, the best thing to do is to clear the CMOS and try your boot up again.
Still nothing? Let's take a look at how far you are getting... If the machine stops during the POST process with a "Floppy Disk Fail (40)" error, then we need to check your floppy first. Take off ALL of your IDE devices (unplug the IDE cable from the board) and grab a bootable floppy disk.
Is the light staying on on the floppy drive? If so, then your problem is that the ribbon cable is hooked up backwards on the back of the drive. Yes, it could very well plug in two ways and no, it's probably not plugged in backwards at the motherboard because the motherboard is likely keyed. But the fact remains that alight that stays on on a floppy drive is almost ALWAYS a sign of a backwards floppy cable.
Does the light come on on the floppy drive EVER? If not, check where on the ribbon cable the drive is plugged in. Floppy cables are not like IDE cables. See on the cable where there is the cut, split and twist? Because there are no jumpers on a floppy drive, this is what designates what drive is A and what drive is B. If you use the connector located by the cut and twist, that is the A drive. The connector that is where the ribbon is run straight is actually the B drive. Also, make sure that what the BIOS has set for your DRIVE A and DRIVE B jives with your current arrangement. Floppies DO NOT auto detect in the BIOS and therefore need to be checked and set manually. If the floppy STILL doesn't work, try another cable, another drive and worst case scenario, another motherboard!
If you're able to boot off of a floppy disk, then the next step is to try to boot off of a hard disk. Is there an OS on the hard disk? If not, it's not GOING to boot. If so, it should boot, but if it doesn't, we need to first check the jumpers on the hard drive.
The hard drive may have several jumper selections. The most I've seen is Master (with Slave Present), Slave, Cable Select and Single (No Slave Present). Western Digitals are NOTORIOUS for not working if you have the jumper set to Master when there is no Slave present. Single should be used if the drive is the only drive on the cable. You should have a label on top of the drive that describes what jumpers do what. UPDATE: Lately many drives ship set to Cable Select. When in doubt, use Master/Slave. Some drives don't like being together on the same cable set to CS and not all cables support CS.
Still nothing? Let's go back and check something here. Is the hard drive even being seen at POST? On your first screen when you first turn the PC on, if your IDE channels are all set to AUTO (which should be the default) your hard drive should show up. If it doesn't, pull the hard drive, and with power plugged into it, check to see if it's even spinning. You should hear it and feel it. If not, check the power connector. If it's still not seen, replace the ribbon connector and PLEASE make sure it's plugged into the motherboard and/or drive correctly (using the Pin 1 configuration). Maybe the hard drive is dead. Do you have another one to try? Try the hard drive in one of the other IDE controllers. If it's not seen in the Primary, maybe it'll be seen in the secondary. I've certainly had my share of motherboards where one IDE controller works and not the other.
If the PC boots with the hard drive, but not when you plug in one or more of your CD ROMs, you may have a jumper set wrong on one of those devices. Make sure that there is only one master and one slave to each IDE cable. Also, it wouldn't be "impossible" for a bad CD-ROM drive to hose the entire IDE channel to the point of not being able to boot up an IDE drive. Heck! I've had a defective CDROM drive keep the PC from detecting ANY drives, never mind boot off of them.
Just remember that the process of elimination is your friend.