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Old 10-25-2010, 11:48 PM
 
11,715 posts, read 36,343,249 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by poptones View Post
What kind of computer is it? More likely it's not just the power supply, but also the motherboard or (if it has one separate from the motherboard) the video card. If it's a Dell, HP, Gateway, Sony or emachine then it's a pretty safe bet this is not just a power supply (which costs like 40 bucks for a decent one) but also a motherboard issue. Problem is when you buy these big box pcs they usually use specially profiled internal components so the only place to get a new motherboard or power supply is their parts dept.
What are you basing this on? Yes it could be the motherboard, buts its more likely that its the power supply. I've replaced countless power supplies in brand name desktop PCs with similar symptoms.

I wouldn't take the Staples guy's word for anything. I had one tell someone their hard drive was bad when all they needed to do was plug the monitor into the right VGA port on the back of the PC. If the person above doesn't want to mess with it themselves, they're better off taking it to a local shop. If it is the power supply, its a 10 minute job most of the time. If not, then its probably not worth going further.
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Old 10-26-2010, 01:21 AM
 
783 posts, read 1,965,705 times
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I'm basing this on 20+ years experience. I'm basing this on the fact I trained people in Gateway call centers, worked with the gateway docs, and have been designing commercial electronic products since I was about 16 years old. Big Box PCs use the cheapest parts available, and the most common failure is the capacitor. Typical behavior pattern is after some time the computer starts shutting down mysteriously. If it's being started from sitting overnight, it will often do this once or twice soon after first being powered on, then may seem to magically fix itself. It may not shut down completely, it may just lock up - but it's the same pattern of behavior save these details. Once it finally "works" it may work until shut down, or it may shut itself down after some time.

This is not a memory problem, or a hard drive problem. Those problems usually cause other erratic behaviors. If it "shuts down" then it's power related, but it's usually not JUST the power supply. The reason is a combination of factors: the cheapest of cheap capacitors on the motherboard combined with even cheaper caps in the power supply. The power supply becomes noisy thus throwing more surge current through the motherboard capacitors, thus causing the erratic behaviors like shutting down or not working "cold" like a car with a bad choke.

I've seen the insides of thousands of PCs. Literally. My best friend ran a retail store and repaired them, I've sold them, built them and, like I said, trained call center people for two of the biggest PC makers in the country.

Listen to whoever you like. But I'm telling you: taking a big box PC to a shop and dumping anything over $50 into it is a waste of money. Yeah if they put a new power supply in it and that makes it work you'll think it's fine... for a few weeks, maybe a few months.

Here's an easy diagnostic: open the case and inspect the motherboard. Read this article.

Blown, Burst and Leaking Motherboard Capacitors - A Serious Problem? - PCSTATS.com
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capacitor_plague
If you see anything like this, don't even bother; go to mwave and buy one of their preconfigured barebone systems built with quality parts like Asus or Gigabyte. Anyone can swap drives from one box to another.
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Old 10-26-2010, 07:14 AM
 
Location: WV and Eastport, ME
11,733 posts, read 11,311,179 times
Reputation: 7705
Quote:
Originally Posted by poptones View Post
What kind of computer is it? More likely it's not just the power supply, but also the motherboard or (if it has one separate from the motherboard) the video card. If it's a Dell, HP, Gateway, Sony or emachine then it's a pretty safe bet this is not just a power supply (which costs like 40 bucks for a decent one) but also a motherboard issue. Problem is when you buy these big box pcs they usually use specially profiled internal components so the only place to get a new motherboard or power supply is their parts dept.
Several of the techs that frequent this board have seen many bad power supplies cause motherboard failures in eMachines; to such an extent that the have recommended replacing the power supply before even turning on the computer.

In my 25 years of working on computers, I have changed out (literally) hundreds of power supplies. I'm not saying there were none that had further problems, but I can't think of any right now. Most computer failures are single-cause events.

To the OP: If you think you may have a bad power supply, search the Internet for step-by-step instructions to change one. Then take the power supply out, got to a computer shop and ask them to test it. (Every decent shop has a power supply tester.) If it tests bad, buy a replacement and install it. Many people will tell you to get a stronger one, but if it worked before, an exact replacement will work again.

On Dell computers, the failed capacitors resulted in a startup message indicating that the last shutdown was caused by a thermal event, so there was a clue that it was a capacitor problem. On other machines, I've seen overheated processors cause the machine to lock up, cause a BSOD, and create other strange failures. We had some HP machines at work a couple of years ago that turned themselves off, seemingly randomly. That problem turned out to be a software issue (believe it or not).

Last edited by mensaguy; 10-26-2010 at 07:19 AM.. Reason: Memory failure.
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Old 10-26-2010, 07:21 AM
 
Location: Las Flores, Orange County, CA
964 posts, read 2,376,591 times
Reputation: 577
You guys sound like a bunch of engineers (like the old joke "you might be an engineer if you try to fix a $5 radio"). It might be a power supply, it might be a mother board, it might be this, it might be that....you'll spend hours troubleshooting to fix a (three year old???) PC.


Look, computers are so cheap (and I doubt the original poster needs a high end PC),. Why not just copy the important data off the failing pc hard drive and throw the pc in the trash (or if any pc skills at all, salvage known good parts if easily pulled out like video cards, or nic cards, etc)?
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Old 10-26-2010, 10:10 AM
 
783 posts, read 1,965,705 times
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I AM an engineer. A RETIRED engineer. OK, well not exactly RETIRED more like burned out. Still, I have 30 years experience. And I can tell you those "power supply testers" are absolutely worthless in this context. They don't test the QUALITY of the power at all, they simply test for functionality. It's power supply noise that causes reliability issues to begin with, and most "power supply testers" don't even begin to test this. An AC coupled oscilloscope is a better power supply tester, and most shops don't have one of those, either.

My suggestion to buy a bare bones PC from mwave is not based on getting a "high end pc." It's because you can buy a PC in components for only about 10% more than one of those crappy consumer pcs that will last longer, perform better, and work far more reliably. No reason to even "copy the data" if your pc is relatively modern and uses sata drives - open the case, remove the drive and cable, and install it in the new case. In many cases you don't even need a screwdriver.
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Old 10-26-2010, 10:59 AM
 
28,631 posts, read 40,609,166 times
Reputation: 37303
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr.Cat View Post
What's is the procedure of installing an external hard drive and transferring the data from the old one to the new one?
Computer illiterate here.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr.Cat View Post
The computer is about to crash and I don't want to lose my pics and important stuff. 1. It is turning off by itself when in use and it is kind of old. I bought it in 2006 brand new.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr.Cat View Post
That's what I was told (about to crash) 2. because the storage capacity is almost full. But I really appreciate your help. I will try Carbonite and see where it goes. I will be getting an upgrade in a few months so hopefully nothing will happen (cross my fingers) until then.
1. This can be caused by overheating. Something I didn't see mentioned earlier. Open the case (assuming a desktop here) and clean out the inside. While the side of the case is open turn on the PC and make sure all fans are turning. There should be one on the CPU and there might be at least one other connected to the case.

2. Download and run Ccleaner. It will clean unneeded data off the hard drive and might clear enough space that you will buy some time. Search this forum for Ccleaner and you will find posts I and others have made about how to download and use it. You might also consider downloading and running Defraggler if your PC is running slow. Both programs are freeware.
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Old 10-26-2010, 11:09 AM
 
28,631 posts, read 40,609,166 times
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On the plus side we're not in the middle of a certifications bragabout.
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Old 10-26-2010, 01:17 PM
 
Location: WV and Eastport, ME
11,733 posts, read 11,311,179 times
Reputation: 7705
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tek_Freek View Post
On the plus side we're not in the middle of a certifications bragabout.
That's the first time I've heard you mention certs, Tek!
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Old 10-26-2010, 01:20 PM
 
783 posts, read 1,965,705 times
Reputation: 528
LOL you won't get that from me. I see no value in certification, although I did take Novell training in Ky back in the 80's. Y'all do understand the difference between a tech and an engineer, right?
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Old 10-26-2010, 01:22 PM
 
28,631 posts, read 40,609,166 times
Reputation: 37303
Oh, I assuredly do. I've worked extensively with both.
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