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  Troubleshooting Basics #04


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Things are popping here at The NOSPIN Group, taking up a great deal more time than I had imagined.  That is why I am a day late getting this weeks installment online.    

One issue I have not mentioned is accessing the CMOS settings.  Most standardized motherboards used today simply use the [ DELETE ] key to open the CMOS settings during the POST, (Power On Self Test), process.  This is the period when you will see the memory check run, hard drives activated and just prior to the system starting the Operating System or Booting. 

So, how do you access those computers or older motherboards that do not use the now standard [ Delete ] key to open the CMOS?   You can try this options, as I believe they are a fairly good representation of all the options used at one time or another: 

  • Press del during boot (AMI, Award).
  • Press Esc during boot-Toshiba.
  • Press F1 during boot (Toshiba; some Phoenix; Late PS/1 Value Point and 330s).
  • Press F2 during boot (NEC, newer Phoenix).
  • Press F10 when square in top RH corner of screen (Compaq).
  • Press Ins during boot-IBM PS/2 with reference partition.
  • Press reset twice-some Dells.
  • Ctrl Alt Enter-Dell.
  • Ctrl Alt ?-some PS/2s, such as 75 and 90.
  • Ctrl-Esc
  • Ctrl Ins-some PS/2s when pointer at top right of screen.
  • Ctrl Alt Esc -AST Advantage, Award, Tandon, older Phoenix.
  • Ctrl Alt +
  • Ctrl Alt S-older Phoenix.
  • Ctrl Alt Ins (Zenith, Phoenix)
  • Ctrl S (Phoenix).
  • Ctrl Shift Esc-Tandon 386.
  • Shift Ctrl Alt + Num Pad del-Olivetti PC Pro.
  • Setup disk-Old Compaqs, Epson (Gemini), IBM, IBM PS/2, Toshiba, old 286s.
  • Fn+F2. AST Ascentia 950N

 

LOAD SETUP DEFAULTS
The best place to pick this discussion up is the CMOS settings.  One of the most important tools inside of the CMOS is the option:  Load Setup Defaults.  If you or anyone has been tinkering around inside the CMOS, trying out new settings with a little too much zeal, this can put you back to point zero.   By using this option it will return the computer to the basic configuration.    Is this all you need to do to reboot?   No.   You will need to add just a couple of basic settings to at least reboot the system:

  • IDE HDD Auto Detection (this is required to allow the system to find and use the hard drives)
  • STANDARD CMOS Setup & be sure the floppy drive is right. 

This at least will remove any settings you have changed that you no longer can remember.    

I had decided to plunge into depth about the myriad of other settings in the CMOS, but I have been reminded that I am getting too far a field for the average trouble shooting novice.  So, I will add in a few other settings you should be aware at this point and then move on.    

Be sure you have set your CMOS to Boot from a Floppy, since this is a non-standard setting.   You also need the set the “Boot Order” to A-C, so that the system will look first to the floppy drive for a boot disk and then to the hard drive.  Otherwise, you will not be able to use a Floppy boot disk at startup, should the need arise. 

You should also disable the Virus Protection Feature.  I know this sounds scary, a virus will get your computer.  But, in the real world this feature causes far more problems than it is worth, mostly with hardware incompatibility issues.    

If your system uses USB devices, such as a printer, camera, zip drive, be sure that you have enabled the USB ports in your CMOS. 

Finally, if you have an internal modem, enter the Special Features section and disable either Com1 or Com2 that your modem will be using.  This only disables the motherboard’s com port, freeing it up to be used by the modem.   Some people will tell you that their modem resides on Com3 or 4, hence this is not important.  However, if Com3 is in use by a modem and Com1 is used by your mouse, they are forced to share IRQ 4, with different memory addresses.  Sharing this IRQ is mostly a formula for problems.  Keep your system to as few Com ports as possible and try not to share IRQs between them. 

I realize I have kept this very simplistic and I hope everyone has been able to follow me so far.  If you have any questions, be sure to write to me so I can improve on the quality of these newsletters.

 

Tech Tip of the Week

One of the best ways to save money buying computer components is the OEM or 'whitebox' parts.  Many people are concerned the they do not come with user manuals and drivers.   If you buy brand name parts, the manuals and drivers are easy to download from the manufacturer's web sites.  Typically you can save upwards of 40% on computer components by buying the OEM versions.  Do a little sharp shopping the next time and investigate OEM components before you buy.  You may be rather surprised at the savings.

Be careful and have fun...

    Bob

 

 

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