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Chapter 22. PC Diagnostics, Testing, and Maintenance

Chapter 22. PC Diagnostics, Testing, and Maintenance

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PCDiagnostics

NomatterhowwellbuiltyourPCisandhowwellwrittenits

software,somethingiseventuallygoingtogowrong,andyou

mightnotalwayshaveasupportsystemavailabletoresolvethe

problem.Diagnosticsoftwarecanbevitallyimportanttoyou

anytimeyourcomputermalfunctionsoryouareintheprocess

ofupgradingasystemcomponentorespeciallybuildingan

entirelynewsystemfromscratch.Thischapterexaminesthe

typesofdiagnosticssoftwareavailable,andparticularlythose

utilitiesyoumightalreadyownbecausetheyareincludedwith

commonoperatingsystemsandhardwareproducts.

Youalsomightfindthatyoursystemproblemsarecausedbya

hardwaremalfunctionandthatyoumustopenthecomputer

casetoperformrepairs.Thischapteralsoexaminesthetools

andtestersusedtoupgradeandrepairPCsboththebasicitems

everyusershouldownandsomeofthemoreadvanceddevices.

Ofcourse,thebestwaytodealwithaproblemistopreventit

fromoccurringinthefirstplace.Thepreventivemaintenance

sectionsofthischapterdescribetheproceduresyoushould

performonaregularbasistokeepyoursystemingoodworking

order.Thischapterdescribesseverallevelsofdiagnostic

softwarethatareeitherincludedwithyoursystemoravailable

fromyoursystemmanufacturerandthirdparties.Thischapter

describeshowyoucangetthemostfromthissoftware.Italso

detailsthevariousROMBIOSaudiocodesanderrorcodesand

examinesaftermarketdiagnosticsandpublic-domaindiagnostic

software.







DiagnosticsSoftware

SeveraltypesofdiagnosticsoftwareareavailableforPCs.Some

diagnosticfunctionsareintegratedintothePChardwareorinto

peripheraldevices,suchasexpansioncards,whereasothers

taketheformofoperatingsystemutilitiesorseparatesoftware

products.Thissoftware,someofwhichisincludedwiththe

systemwhenpurchased,assistsusersinidentifyingmany

problemsthatcanoccurwithacomputer'scomponents.In

manycases,theseprogramscandomostoftheworkin

determiningwhichPCcomponentisdefectiveormalfunctioning.

Thetypesofdiagnosticsoftwareareasfollows:

POST.ThepoweronselftestoperateswheneveranyPCis

poweredup(switchedon).Theseroutinesarecontained

withinthemotherboardROMaswellasROMsonexpansion

cards.

Manufacturer-supplieddiagnosticssoftware.Manyofthe

largermanufacturersespeciallyhigh-end,name-brand

manufacturerssuchasIBM,Hewlett-Packard,Dell,and

othersmakespecialdiagnosticssoftwareexpresslydesigned

fortheirsystems.Thismanufacturer-specificsoftware

normallyconsistsofasuiteofteststhatthoroughly

examinesthesystem.Insomecases,theseutilitiesare

includedwiththesystem,oryoucandownloadthese

diagnosticsfromthemanufacturer'sonlineservicesatno

charge;otherwise,youmighthavetopurchasethem.Many

vendorsincludealimitedversionofoneoftheaftermarket

packagesthathasbeencustomizedforusewiththeir

systems.InsomeolderIBMandCompaqsystems,the

diagnosticsoftwareisinstalledonaspecialpartitiononthe

harddriveandcanbeaccessedduringstartup.Thiswasa

convenientwayforthosesystemmanufacturerstoensure



thatusersalwayshaddiagnosticsavailable.

Peripheraldiagnosticssoftware.Manyhardwaredevices

shipwithspecializeddiagnosticssoftwaredesignedtotest

theirparticularfunctions.AdaptecSCSIhostadapters,for

example,includediagnosticfunctionsinthecard'sROM

BIOSthatyoucanaccesswithakeystroke(Ctrl+A)atboot

time.Soundcardsnormallyincludeadiagnosticprogramon

adiskalongwiththedrivers,whichtestandverifyallthe

card'sfunctions.Networkadaptersusuallyincludea

diagnosticspecifictothatadapteronadisk,alsonormally

withthedrivers.Otherdevicesoradaptersalsomight

provideadiagnosticprogramordisk,usuallyincludedwith

thedriversforthedevice.

Operatingsystemdiagnosticssoftware.Operatingsystems,

suchasWindows9x/MeandWindowsNT/2000/XP,include

avarietyofdiagnosticsoftwareutilitiesdesignedtoidentify

andmonitortheperformanceofvariouscomponentsinthe

computer.

Aftermarketdiagnosticssoftware.Anumberof

manufacturersmakegeneral-purposediagnosticssoftware

forPCs.Thistypeofsoftwareisoftenbundledwithother

systemmaintenanceandrepairutilitiestoformageneral

PCsoftwaretoolkit.



ThePowerOnSelfTest

WhenIBMfirstbeganshippingtheoriginalPCin1981,it

includedsafetyfeaturesthathadneverbeenseeninapersonal

computer.Thesefeatureswerethepoweronselftest(POST)

andparity-checkedmemory.Althoughparity-checkedoreven

errorcorrectingcode(ECC)memoryisnolongeravailablein

mostlow-endchipsets,everyPCstillexecutesaPOSTwhenyou



turniton.Thefollowingsectionsprovidemoredetailonthe

POST,aseriesofprogramroutinesburiedinthemotherboard

ROM-BIOSchipthattestsallthemainsystemcomponentsat

power-ontime.Thisseriesofroutinesispartiallyresponsiblefor

thedelaywhenyouturnonyourPC;thecomputerexecutesthe

POSTbeforeloadingtheoperatingsystem.



WhatIsTested?

Wheneveryoustartupyourcomputer,itautomaticallyperforms

aseriesofteststhatcheckstheprimarycomponentsinyour

system,suchastheCPU,ROM,motherboardsupportcircuitry,

memory,andmajorperipheralssuchastheexpansionchassis.

Thesetestsarebriefandaredesignedtocatchhard(not

intermittent)errors.ThePOSTproceduresarenotvery

thoroughcomparedwithavailabledisk-baseddiagnostics.The

POSTprocessprovideserrororwarningmessageswheneverit

encountersafaultycomponent.

AlthoughthediagnosticsperformedbythesystemPOSTarenot

verythorough,theyarethefirstlineofdefense,especially

whenitcomestodetectingseveremotherboardproblems.If

thePOSTencountersaproblemsevereenoughtokeepthe

systemfromoperatingproperly,ithaltsthesystemboot

processandgeneratesanerrormessagethatoftenidentifies

thecauseoftheproblem.ThesePOST-detectedproblemsare

sometimescalledfatalerrorsbecausetheypreventthesystem

frombooting.



HowErrorsAreDisplayed

ThePOSTtestsnormallyprovidethreetypesofoutput

messages:audiocodes,onscreentextmessages,and

hexadecimalnumericcodesthataresenttoanI/Oport

address.



POSTerrorscanbedisplayedinthefollowingthreeways:

Beepcodes.Heardthroughthespeakerattachedtothe

motherboard.

POSTcheckpointcodes.Hexadecimalcheckpointcodessent

toanI/Oportaddress.Aspecialcardpluggedintoeitheran

ISAoraPCIcardslotisrequiredtoviewthesecodes.

Onscreenmessages.Errormessagesdisplayedonscreen

afterthevideoadapterisinitialized.



BIOSPOSTBeepCodes

Beepcodesareusedforfatalerrorsonly,whichareerrorsthat

occursoearlyintheprocessthatthevideocardandother

devicesarenotyetfunctional.Becausenodisplayisavailable,

thesecodestaketheformofaseriesofbeepsthatidentifythe

faultycomponent.Whenyourcomputerisfunctioningnormally,

youshouldhearoneshortbeepwhenthesystemstartsupat

thecompletionofthePOST,althoughsomesystems(suchas

Compaq's)beeptwiceattheendofanormalPOST.Ifa

problemisdetected,adifferentnumberofbeepssounds,

sometimesinacombinationofshortandlongtones.



BIOSPOSTCheckpointCodes

POSTcheckpointcodesarehexadecimalnumericcodeswritten

byPOSTroutinestoI/Oportaddress80haseachmajorstepis

begun.TheseareoftensimplycalledPOSTcodes.ThesePOST

codescanbereadbyonlyaspecialadaptercardpluggedinto

oneofthesystemslots.Thesecardsoriginallyweredesigned

forsystemmanufacturerstouseforburn-intestingofthe

motherboard.Severalcompaniesmakethesecardsavailableto



technicians.Micro2000,JDRMicrodevices,DataDepot,Ultra-X,

andTrinitech(searchforPCAnalyzer)arejustafew

manufacturersthatmarketthesePOSTcards.Seethevendor

listontheaccompanyingdiscformoreinformationaboutthese

manufacturers.

POSTcheckpointcodescanbeusedtotrackthesystem's

progressthroughthebootprocessfrompower-onrightupto

thepointatwhichthebootstraploaderruns(whenthe

operatingsystemloadbegins).WhenyouplugaPOSTcode

readercardintoaslot,duringthePOSTyouwillseetwo-digit

hexadecimalnumbersflashonthecard'sdisplay.Ifthesystem

stopsunexpectedlyorhangs,youcanidentifythetestthatwas

inprogressduringthehangfromthetwo-digitcode.Thisstep

usuallyhelpstoidentifythemalfunctioningcomponent.

Originally,mostPOSTreadercardspluggedintothe8-bit

connectorthatisapartoftheISAorEISAbus.SomeolderPCIbasedsystemsdostillhaveISAconnectorsthatcanusethese

cards.However,themotherboardsfoundinmostnewerPCs

havenoISAslotsatall,soobviouslyanISAPOSTcardwon't

work.Fortunately,thecompaniesthatmakePOSTcardsmore

oftenthannotmakePCIversions.Micro2000hasacardcalled

thePost-Probe,whichhasbothISAandPCIconnectorsonthe

sameboard.PCCertifyhasasimilarcardcalledthePCISA

FlipPOST(seeFigure22.1).



Figure22.1.ThePCCertifyPCISAFlipPOST

diagnosticscardworkswithbothPCI-andISAbasedsystems,anditalsotestsmotherboard

voltagelevels.



Althoughrareatthispoint,ifyoumaintainolderCompaqor

EISA-basedsystemsfromanyvendor,thesesystemsmightuse

anI/Oportaddressotherthanport80.SimplerPOSTcards

monitoronlyport80,butmoresophisticatedcards(suchasthe

PCISAFlipPOSTshowninFigure22.1)haveDIPswitchesor

jumperblockstoconfigurethecardtomonitorthedifferentI/O

portaddressesthesesystemsused.



Note

ListingsforadditionalPOSTcheckpointcodescanbe

foundintheTechnicalReferencesectionofthe

accompanyingDVD.Also,seeChapter5,"BIOS,"to

learnmoreaboutworkingwithyourBIOS.

Remembertoconsultyourmotherboard

documentationforcodesspecifictoyourBIOS

version.Also,thedocumentationincludedwiththe

variousPOSTcardscoversmostolderaswellas

newerBIOSversions.



BIOSPOSTOnscreenMessages

Onscreenmessagesarebriefmessagesthatattempttoindicate

aspecificfailure.Thesemessagescanbedisplayedonlyafter

thepointatwhichthevideoadaptercardanddisplayhavebeen

initialized.

ThesedifferenttypesoferrormessagesareBIOSdependent

andvaryamongBIOSmanufacturers,andeveninsomecases

amongdifferentBIOSsfromthesamemanufacturer.The

followingsectionslistthecodesusedbythemostpopularROM

BIOSversions(AMI,Award,Phoenix,andIBMBIOS),butyou

shouldconsultyourmotherboardorROMBIOSmanufacturer

forthecodesspecifictoyourboardandBIOS.

MostPOSTcodecardscomewithdocumentationlistingthe

POSTcheckpointcodesforvariousBIOSversions.IfyourBIOS

isdifferentfromwhatIhavelistedhere,consultthe

documentationforyourBIOSortheinformationthatcamewith

yourparticularPOSTcard.



Note

I'vealsoincludedadditionalBIOSerrormessagesin

theTechnicalReferencesectiononthediscincluded

withthisbook.



AMIBIOSPOSTErrorCodes

Table22.1.AMIBIOSPOSTBeepCodes

Beeps ErrorDescription



Action



1



MemoryRefreshError Cleanthememorycontactsandreseatthemodules.

Removeallmodulesexceptthefirstbank.Replacethe

memory,powersupply,andmotherboard.



2



MemoryParityError



Cleanthememorycontactsandreseatthemodules.

Removeallmodulesexceptthefirstbank.Replacethe

memory,powersupply,andmotherboard.



3



Base64KBMemory

Error



Cleanthememorycontactsandreseatthemodules.

Removeallmodulesexceptthefirstbank.Replacethe

memory,powersupply,andmotherboard.



4



TimerError



Checkforpropermotherboardinstallation,loose

screws,foreignobjectscausingshorts,andovertightenedscrews.Replacethemotherboard.



5



ProcessorError



Checkforpropermotherboardinstallation,loose

screws,foreignobjectscausingshorts,andovertightenedscrews.Makesuretheprocessorandheatsink

areinstalledproperly;removeandreseatthem.

Replacetheprocessor.Replacethemotherboard.



6



8042GateA20Error



Checkforpropermotherboardinstallation,loose

screws,foreignobjectscausingshorts,andovertightenedscrews.Replacethekeyboard,motherboard,

andprocessor.



7



ProcessorException

InterruptError



Makesuretheprocessorandheatsinkareinstalled

properly;removeandreseatthem.Replacethe

processor.Replacethemotherboard.



8



DisplayMemory

Read/WriteError



Checkthevideocardforproperinstallation.Try

replacingthevideocardmemory,andreplacethevideo

card.Replacethemotherboard.



9



ROMChecksumError



TryreseatingthemotherboardROMchip.Tryreflashing

themotherboardROM.Replacethemotherboard.



10



CMOSShutdown

RegisterRead/Write

Error



ReplacetheCMOSbattery.Replacethemotherboard.



11



CacheMemoryBad



MakesurecachesettingsinBIOSSetupareproperly

configured.Replacetheprocessor.Replacethe

motherboard.



1

Conventional/Extended Cleanthememorycontactsandreseatthemodules.

long, MemoryError

Removeallmodulesexceptthefirstbank.Replacethe

3

memory,powersupply,andmotherboard.

short

1

Display/RetraceError

long,

8

short



Checkthevideocardforproperinstallation.Try

replacingthevideocardmemory.Replacethevideo

card.Replacethemotherboard.



AMIBIOScodesusedbypermissionofAmericanMegatrends,Inc.



IfyouhaveaPOSTcard,youcanfindtheAMIBIOSPOST

checkpointcodesintheTechnicalReferencesectionofthedisc

packagedwiththisbook.



AwardBIOSandPhoenixFirstBIOSPOSTErrorCodes

Currently,onlyonestandardbeepcodeexistsintheAward

BIOS(alsoknownasthePhoenixFirstBIOS).Asinglelongbeep

followedbytwoshortbeepsindicatesthatavideoerrorhas

occurredandthattheBIOScannotinitializethevideoscreento

displayanyadditionalinformation.Ifmultipleorcontinuous

beepsoccurwithanAwardBIOS,thisusuallyindicates

problemswiththepowersupplyormemory.

Table22.2.AwardBIOS/PhoenixFirstBIOSPOSTBeepCodes

Beeps



Error

Description



Action



1long,2short



VideoCardError Checkthevideocardforproper

installation.Tryreplacingthevideocard

memory,andreplacethevideocard.

Replacethemotherboard.



1long,3short



VideoCardError Checkthevideocardforproper

installation.Tryreplacingthevideocard



memory,andreplacethevideocard.

Replacethemotherboard.

Continuous

beeps



MemoryError



Cleanthememorycontacts,andreseat

themodules.Removeallmodulesexcept

thefirstbank.Replacethememory,

powersupply,andmotherboard.



IfyouhaveaPOSTcard,youcanfindtheAwardBIOSand

PhoenixFirstBIOSPOSTcheckpointcodesintheTechnical

Referencesectionofthediscpackagedwiththisbook.

Table22.3.AwardBIOSPOSTOnscreenErrorMessages

Message



Description



BIOSROMchecksum

error-Systemhalted



ThechecksumoftheBIOScodeintheBIOSchipis

incorrect,indicatingtheBIOScodemighthavebecome

corrupt.Contactyoursystemdealertoreplacethe

BIOS.



CMOSbatteryfailed



TheCMOSbatteryisnolongerfunctional.Contactyour

systemdealerforareplacementbattery.



CMOSchecksumerrorDefaultsloaded



ChecksumofCMOSisincorrect,sothesystemloadsthe

defaultequipmentconfiguration.Achecksumerrorcan

indicatethatCMOShasbecomecorrupt.Thiserror

mighthavebeencausedbyaweakbattery.Checkthe

batteryandreplaceifnecessary.



CPUatnnnn



DisplaystherunningspeedoftheCPU.



Displayswitchisset

incorrectly



Thedisplayswitchonthemotherboardcanbesetto

eithermonochromeorcolor.Thismessageindicatesthe

switchissettoadifferentsettingthanindicatedin

Setup.Determinewhichsettingiscorrect,andthen

eitherturnoffthesystemandchangethejumperor

enterSetupandchangetheVIDEOselection.



PressESCtoskip

memorytest



TheusercanpressEsctoskipthefullmemorytest.



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