computer problems

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I really hope that someone can help me with this. I have a P233 with
American Megatrends  AMI bios.This computer was working perfectly but
has been sitting without drives in it for a couple of months. I just
returned from a Ham Fest yesterday with a box of 35 hard drives which
I bought for 5.00 The drives range in size from 1 to 15 GBTS. My
intention was to try these drives in a known working computer without
a hard drive to see if any of them would come up. What I planned on
doing was to go into bios before post and try to auto detect the
drive.Then I was going to format that good drive and add it to another
working computer which I'm presently using. Then I planned to copy my
pertinent files from the existing C drive to the new D drive. I
reasoned that even if the unknown drive had a virus, it could only
affect the RAM in which case a power cycle on/off would clear that and
so installing it into a stripped down box could not harm the computer
in any way. I've tested drives like this before without any problem it
seems. Afterward formatting would take care of any virus.

Well apparently I was wrong. Things didn't work out the way I had
hoped. The first drive I selected came right up without my first going
into bios and auto detecting it. How it did that without my first auto
detecting it made no sense to me. I would have expected to se some
message along with some beeps telling me that the configuration was
wrong and directing me into bios to correct it. Initially during this
boot up the screen  had some logo talking about a server of some kind
and then I saw something about Linux. Then there was miles it seemed
of code displayed on the screen one line after another. It looked like
a program was unpacking or something but I'm not sure. Finally the
computer just hung. I turned it off and then on again. I managed to
access the bios screen and auto detected the drive. I also changed the
date and updated the configuration to show just a master and one 3.5
floppy. Everything seemed as it should be. I then exited bios saving
the configuration however it never completed post. I then tried a
power cycle again and this time the bios screen came up with gibberish
super imposed on it. After this and repeated tries I was not able to
get into bios again. My son suggested a possible "bios virus". I had
no idea that such a thing was possible. Isn't bios ROM? That being the
case how can something "write" to it? I pulled the battery overnight
and this morning re installed it. Everything is pulled except the RAM
and the video board. I then tried it again. The first time it let me
into bios. I noted that the date as well as the configuration was
wrong so I assumed I dumped everything that was not burned into the
chip. I did the re configuration, saved and exited but now its not
letting me back into bios again. And it's not completing post either.
It's really frustrating and discouraging to realize that I have now
apparently damaged a previously good machine by performing a seemingly
innocent act. Does anyone have any ideas what happened and if there
might be a way to correct it? Any help would be most sincerely
appreciated. Lenny

Re: computer problems
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Re: computer problems

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Your BIOS was set up to boot off the hard drive and it did. You should
have set it up to boot off a floppy, considering you have a floppy
drive. Next time, make a boot floppy.

For now, you're going to have to remove the BIOS chip from the board
and get it reflashed somewhere else.

Re: computer problems
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Ive heard the term "reflashed" before. What is that? Lenny

Re: computer problems
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Your BIOS chip is a flash memory device. The BIOS was flashed at the
factory (i.e. the proper ones and zeroes were set in it). I suspect
that those ones and zeroes are no longer proper, and the BIOS chip
needs to have the proper ones reset into it, i.e. reflashed.

I once bought a "refurbished" (i.e. returned) PC that wouldn't boot.
Although it apparently had the proper revision of the proper BIOS, I
reflashed the BIOS from a file I downloaded from the manufacturer, and
it booted properly.

Re: computer problems
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.....


First of all, if you are worried about viruses download the bootable antivirus
checker disks provided by several of the antivirus software companies. I
prefer AVG and it has found viruses that the others missed.

I fix about one computer a week these days by running the AVG standalone
antvirus. :-)

Second, download a recent copy of the UBUNTU Linux distribution. One of the
options is a standalone memory test. Only really bad memory fails the POST.
Bad memory can pass it and then mess things up.

Third, if you have a BIOS virus, you are effectively screwed. Most modern
computers have their BIOS in an EEPROM (electrally eraseable progamable
read only memory) chip. You can update the BIOS "on the fly".

For a computer of that age, there may have been a jumper on the motherboard
to allow or disallow it.

Most likely, you just messed things up.

To fix them, start by downloading the manual for your motherboard and the
last version of the BIOS if it is updateble.

Each of the following steps needs to be done with the computer and monitor
unplugged from the wall, plugged in to test them and then unplugged if you
need to go on. I epxect you understand this, but I mention it in case
someone else reading this later does not.

Then remove everything in the computer that is not permanent, all expansion
cards, drives, etc. It's ok to leave drives in brackets, just disconnect the
signal cables from the motherboard and remove the power plugs.

Remove everything that can be plugged into an expansion socket.
DO NOT remove connections to switches, speakers, etc.

Remove the battery. Check the voltage. If it is a lithium coin cell replace
it anyway. They often seem ok when they are not. Let it sit overnight before
replacing the battery. If it was less than 3.3 volts, it's a cause of some
of, if not all of your problems.

Remove all RAM.

Assuming you don't have a video card on the motherboard,  turn it on. It should
go on and do nothing.

Some BIOSes have "no memory" beeps, most just do nothing.

Turn it off, unplug and put in ONE memory stick (two if the manual says you
need to and pay attention to where it says to put it (them)). You usually
can turn it off by holding in the power button for 8 seconds.

Plug in and turn on. It should now give you the "no video card" beeps
(probably 8).

Turn off, unplug and insert video card. Connect a monitor, plug in and turn on.

You should see the BIOS screen. You may see the video card BIOS message first.

If you get splotches on the screen, turn off unplug and try different video
cards or memory sticks. It's most likely one or the other.

You can also (unplugged) make sure any socketed chips are in their sockets
securely (slow even pressure, but not enough to break anything) and
use a clean (no lead on it) pencil eraser to clean off the the contacts
on the bottom of the cards and memory.

If it's clean, press the startup anyway option and it should attempt to boot.

If it's not clean, look in the manual for BIOS recovery options and follow
the instructions.

If you can run setup, go in and turn OFF "quick boot" or anything like it,
you want it to boot as slowly as possible (most POSTing and most messages).

If you get a clean POST, you can start replacing drives, memory, etc, one
at a time until something fails. If nothing fails, attach an optical drive
(CD/DVD) and boot from the Linux disk. Run a full memory test.

It's not perfect, it does not detect minor memory timing errors which will
cause the computer to crash, but it will find almost all of the ones the
POST missed.

Based on what you said, my GUESS from at least 6,000 miles away is bad
memory, which can be caused by dirty contacts, loose chips, or even
memory that is actually bad.

Geoff.


--
Geoffrey S. Mendelson,  N3OWJ/4X1GM
My high blood pressure medicine reduces my midichlorian count. :-(



Re: computer problems

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   BIOS is stored in an EEPROM, so it can be updated. That allows idiots
to write code that will damage the BIOS.  Who made the motherboard, and
what is the model number?  Someone might have a board with the right
BIOS chip on it. I may have a similar motherboard I can send you, as
well.  A P233 is win 95/win 98 grade, and I don't repair those computers
any more.  I get them donated for parts, and scrap them for hardware &
scrap metal.  Some of the drives are big enough for older machine tools,
so I test & keep those and the CD-ROM drives.


   A computer with a P233 should be new enough not to require the BIOS
to be set up for a hard drive.  Do you have a working computer running
ME or newer?  Buy one of the USB to IDE/SATA adapters to test them
outside the computer.  You can get them with, or without a power
supply.  That way you can scan the drives for any virii before putting
them into a computer.  Server & Linux suggests that it was running
Apache, a free server platform and used for a web server.


<http://www.ebay.com/itm/USB-2-0-SATA-IDE-Cable-ATA-Converter-Adapter-Hard-Drive-2-5-3-5-DVD-CDR-/400249044101?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_2&hash=item5d30b3bc85
<http://www.ebay.com/itm/USB-2-0-SATA-IDE-Hard-Drive-Adapter-Converter-Cable-/150505362908?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item230ad195dc

   There is a size limit for hard drives in the BIOS of older computers
that may


--
You can't have a sense of humor, if you have no sense.

Re: computer problems

The first thing to do is get the machine to finish POST.
To do this I suggest you zero out cmos, disconnect all
drives, and try to get into setup again.  To zero cmos
you have to find the 3-post jumper near the battery.
If you have the manual for the motherboard you can find
it. If no manual, then look for a 3-post jumper near the
battery. A jumper will be connected between two of the
posts, say the left and middle. With the power off,
connect the jumper between the middle and the right post.
Then re-connect the jumper to the original way.

After this, with all drives disconnected, try to start
the machine and go into setup. If you get into setup
then set the time-date and find the option to set all
settings to factory-default.

If you get this far you can try connecting your original
drive only and see if the system boots.

Re: computer problems
On Sun, 16 Oct 2011 10:16:51 -0700 (PDT), klem kedidelhopper

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Here is one well-known example:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CIH_ (computer_virus)

"CIH, also known as Chernobyl or Spacefiller, is a Microsoft Windows
computer virus written by Chen Ing Hau of Taiwan. It is one of the
most damaging viruses, overwriting critical information on infected
system drives, and more importantly, in some cases corrupting the
system BIOS."

- Franc Zabkar
--
Please remove one 'i' from my address when replying by email.

Re: computer problems
I was going to keep my nose out of this, but I'm so thoroughly confused that
I have to butt in.

What are you trying to do? Test the drives? If so, this seems about the
worst possible way. It would make more sense to set these drives as slaves
and boot them on a known-good computer (as someone else suggested). Even
better, if they're IDE-ATA drives, you can mount them in a box with a USB
interface, and simply attach them to a running machine.

What is the question you're asking? I suspect it's the wrong one.



Re: computer problems
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William
Thank you for "butting in". I appreciate everyone's input, yours
included. I thought that I was being very concise. However I have to
ask seriously did you read the OP? And if I did follow what you just
suggested how would that have prevented a CMOS virus, if that's what
this problem is? But to address another question I have why would
these engineers in their infinite wisdom write a bios to anything
other than a non writable eprom. It would seem like some things should
be sacred. Lenny

Re: computer problems


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Because BIOSes need to be updated fairly often. New hardware comes out,
things are improved, bugs are found.

Geoff.

--
Geoffrey S. Mendelson,  N3OWJ/4X1GM
My high blood pressure medicine reduces my midichlorian count. :-(



Re: computer problems
 > On Oct 16, 8:22A0%pm, "William Sommerwerck"
 >
 > > I was going to keep my nose out of this, but I'm so thoroughly
confused that
 > > I have to butt in.
 > > > What are you trying to do? Test the drives? If so, this seems
about the
 > > worst possible way. It would make more sense to set these drives
as slaves
 > > and boot them on a known-good computer (as someone else
suggested). Even
 > > better, if they're IDE-ATA drives, you can mount them in a box
with a USB
 > > interface, and simply attach them to a running machine.
 >
 > >What is the question you're asking? I suspect it's the wrong one.
 >
 > William
 > Thank you for "butting in". I appreciate everyone's input, yours
 > included. I thought that I was being very concise. However I have
to
 > ask seriously did you read the OP? And if I did follow what you
just
 > suggested how would that have prevented a CMOS virus, if that's
what
 > this problem is? But to address another question I have why would
 > these engineers in their infinite wisdom write a bios to anything
 > other than a non writable eprom. It would seem like some things
should
 > be sacred. Lenny

What William suggests is something I and many others have done many
times without problems. I saw a computer (not mine) that was so
infected the processor was 100% busy and would do nothing useful,
including running a virus scan. Of course they needed to salvage the
apps and data and couldn't just re-format and start over. The drive
was first slaved into a good machine and subjected to a virus scan.
Remember those pesky viruses have to execute to become active. The
slave drive executes nothing during boot so activates nothing (unless
the boot drive has its own viruses). That's when I became convinced
about Norton utilities. Norton wouldn't dump a virus because it was
running. AHAH, I'll boot into safe mode and kill it before it's
running. Norton (at least that version) will not run in safe mode. I
don't have Norton.

As far as booting from unknown drives, I wouldn't even attempt that.
The OS installation gets tweaked during install for the hardware on
the machine. Who knows what the original hardware was?

I also had a machine with a BIOS bug that was fixed with an update. It
was FLASH so I didn't have to get a new BIOS chip and install it
though one time I didn't follow the procedure EXACTLY and corrupted
the BIOS. That machine was old enough to still have a socketed chip
and it 'only' took $30 and a few days wait. My current Gigabyte boards
all have dual flash BIOS chips. If you foul up a BIOS update (and I
did THAT once too) it defaults back to the known good one and boots
back up and yes, you can copy the current BIOS to the backup. The
Gigabyte boards will now update the BIOS online while running Windows.
That is about the easiest. I would think that a BIOS virus would be
harder to write as it would be specific to a board model. Or do all
the BIOS writes behave identically?

GB2%

Re: computer problems
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I noticed something else now. If I leave the computer off for example
overnight, the next day it will let me get into bios only once. I can
change things and exit and it appears to save the changes. However on
the next attempt to access bios, hitting DEL during the period where
the RAM is counting up will not get me into bios again. It just gives
me a black screen. This "once only" thing has repeated several times
with the same end result. And my changes aren't appearing to work
either. Tthe last time I did this I changed the boot sequence to
floppy then IDE0 and I enabled floppy drive seek. When I exited and
saved, it did seem to do those things, and then on subsequent attempts
it just goes to a black screen again. So it does appear that the bios
is screwed up somehow. Now here is another interesting thing. The
working computer I have with all my important customer files seems to
have the same bios chip in it. Both chips have a yellow and blue label
that covers about 2/3 of the top of  the chip. The label reads: BURN-
IN and under that: 24HRS. There is a smaller white label on the other
side of the top of each chip. The chips read as follows:

Possible corrupted chip:
Chip in working computer:
AMIBIOS
AMIBIOS
586
1985-95
586 1985-95
American
American
Megatrends
Megatrends
D167887
D174223

If I had to guess I would say that these bios's are identical, however
I don't dare  mess with that good one. Does anyone have any
suggestions or perhaps if there was a way to copy the good bios to my
bad machine? I don't know how I would ever install it though. I just
don't want to do anything that could possibly harm my good machine.
Thanks, Lenny

Re: computer problems
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This didn't display as I thought it would. This is how the two chips
should look:

Possible corrupted chip:

AMIBIOS
586 1985-95
American
Megatrends
D167887

Chip in working computer:
AMIBIOS
586 1985-95
American
Megatrends
D174223

Sorry but the system formatted my script. Thanks Lenny

Re: computer problems
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I just found a third machine sitting here with no hardware in it. It
also has an AMI bios chip in it  The chip has similar markings, (date
etc), no blue and yellow label but it bears the number EO56165. Does
anyone know what the differences if any might be in these three bios's
and if perhaps they might be interchangeable? Lenny

Re: computer problems

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Probably not. They are all simiar products, but customized for different
manufacturers and motherboard models.

BTW, did you try the instructions I posted?

Geoff.

--
Geoffrey S. Mendelson,  N3OWJ/4X1GM
My high blood pressure medicine reduces my midichlorian count. :-(



Re: computer problems
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I couldn't find any information on my mother board but I did try
following the steps you outlined. I was very hopeful that things would
start going better when I pulled the video board and I got the 8 beeps
as you said I might. But it still is doing the same thing. It seems to
be corrupted somehow. So I guess that I would need to have a chip
burned especially for my particular mother board. The chances of that
happening are slim at best. I was hopeful when I saw all the AMI
bios's. Do you suppose it would hurt anything to try the last one I
found in the dead machine? Lenny

Re: computer problems
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Did you check to see if there is a BIOS recovery function on the motherboard?

If not, you could try one of the BIOSes and hope it works. You may end up
with a useless motherboard, but you already have one. :-)

IMHO if the old motherboard was close enough to the new one, the BIOS
will work.

Geoff.


--
Geoffrey S. Mendelson,  N3OWJ/4X1GM
My high blood pressure medicine reduces my midichlorian count. :-(



Re: computer problems
On Tue, 18 Oct 2011 14:31:10 -0700 (PDT), klem kedidelhopper

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When the BIOS goes through POST, it will display a BIOS ID that
identifies the motherboard.

AMI BIOS motherboards identification:
http://www.wimsbios.com/aminumbers.jsp

- Franc Zabkar
--
Please remove one 'i' from my address when replying by email.

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