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Posts Tagged ‘computer repair’

Solved: “A disk read error occurred, Press Ctrl+Alt+Del to restart”

April 22nd, 2013 2 comments

This is a mysterious problem that seems to come out of no where. The best discussion I have found on it, for the general case is here. The solution presented here is for what I believe is a special case (still, it might provide some insight to the general case).

My customer wanted a computer repair on an old Dell Inspiron 6000 running Windows XP. The problem she complained of was that she could not boot the computer and that it only would display the error “A disk read error occurred, Press Ctrl+Alt+Del to restart”. All conventional diagnostics indicated that the hard drive was OK, the file system was OK, Windows was OK, the boot records were OK. Everything was OK. Yet still we got this error.

The hard drive in this machine was a Seagate 160GB PATA drive. As I recall, it had a single partition (suggesting maybe that Windows had been reinstalled on it at some point in the past, perhaps the whole hard drive had been replaced at that time). That single operating system partition was sized at 149GB. Here is where my special case lies. The Dell Inspiron 6000, an a few other Dells of that vintage, can only access partitions of 137GB and less. If you opened the BIOS screen on this machine, you would see that it was reporting the drive size as 137GB. Well, that dog don’t hunt.

I pulled the drive from the machine and resized the Windows partition to 80GB (I had an 80GB drive standing by in case I needed to change hardware). As soon as I re-installed the drive it booted to Windows perfectly, no problems.

Now, why did this ever work and why did it stop working? I don’t know. The Windows installation had some malware on it but nothing that looked vicious to me. Perhaps some malware tried to mess with the partition on the drive or the boot records to install a hidden boot partition and this upset some delicate balance the unit had maintained. This is not a very good guess but it’s the only one I have.

For Computer Repair in Lexington KY call Hartland Computer at (859)536-4107

Solved: Broken keyboard clip

January 14th, 2013 10 comments

Last week, a customer brought me a laptop on which the retainer clip for the keyboard connector had broken off. This problem is the fear of many of us who work on laptops because this clip is soldered to the motherboard and is not really replaceable, breaking it off means you’re buying a new motherboard. Until now! Using a hot glue gun and some materials I had around I was able to fix this problem in a way that I believe is permanent.

To replace the functionality of the keyboard tab locking clip you need to create downward pressure on the tab (to ensure electrical contact between the tab and the socket) and inward pressure (to ensure the tab doesn’t slip out of the socket). To create downward pressure, I made a shim out of a piece of that hard plastic bubble-packaging they use to package stuff that hangs on the shelf and Best Buy. I measured the length of the socket and cut a piece of plastic a little over 1/4 inch or around 8mm deep.

Computer Repair - cutting plastic

Cut a notch matching the length of the socket

Now, insert the keyboard tab into the socket fully, making sure that the it is seated straight and fully into the slot, wiggle it around until it’s in place, it should fit snuggly with no right/left wobble. Once you have the tab securely in place, slide your plastic shim in the slot above the inserted tab. At this point, you want to made sure you are curling the keyboard tab in such a way that it puts constant, even, hard pressure forward on the inserted tab so that it doesn’t wobble or come out of place.

Computer Repair - Keyboard tab

Slide shim in above the tab

Next, holding the tab securely in place in the socket, manipulate the rest of the tab so that it sits flat against the motherboard for another 1/4in or 8mm past the end of your shim. Holding everything steady, drop a small bit of hot glue onto the edge of the tab that extends from your shim, if you can catch a bit of the shim, that’s great. Do this on both the left and right of the tab.

Computer Repair Lexington - keyboard repair

Bend tab down so that it's flat, then apply hot glue

You’ll see in the picture above that I have a little glue “stopper” in the middle of the tab, this was to keep the shim from squeezing out prior to gluing the edges. Hold this in place for a few minutes until the glue sets.

Finally, flip the keyboard over into place, start the computer and test it. You need to test all the keys (use notepad or something) to make sure all your contacts are contacting. If you find that some of the keys don’t work, it probably means that your tab is not inserted properly and squarely into the socket. Use your fingernail to pry up your hot glue and try the procedure again. It took me 3 tries to get this all just right.

Hartland Computer, Computer Repair Lexington KY, (859) 536-4107

 

Solved: Dell 1526 Black Screen, Blinking Lights

November 1st, 2010 4 comments

I had a Dell 1526 in here this week that would not start, POST or boot. When the power button was pressed you would normally get a little fan action, one light on the palm rest and two fast blinking lights above the keyboard (the scroll lock and caps lock I believe). I tried everything I know including clearing the CMOS and replacing RAM, HDD, CD drive, no battery, only battery, everything all to no avail. As it turns out the problem had to do with the CMOS battery, which after being replaced, revived the computer (to my amazement). I was amazed because changing this batter requires completely disassembling the computer. This seems like a really bad design.

I don’t necessarily recommend doing this yourself but if you want to try, there is a pretty good rundown of how to change the Dell 1525 CMOS battery here. Good luck.

How to Completely Erase Sensitive Computer Data

May 31st, 2010 4 comments

Most computer users are unsure of what to do when getting rid of an old PC. What, they wonder, should I do with my machine before I give it to a friend or acquaintance? What, they may ask, should I do with it before I send it off to the local recycling plant? These individuals want to get rid of their unnecessary electronics; however, they do not want to worry about someone else accessing their personal, and potentially, sensitive computer documents.

Fortunately, the solution to this problem is relatively easy: all you need to do is securely wipe your hard drive before getting rid of it. So how does one “securely wipe” a computer’s hard drive, you may be asking?

If you have ever used the recycle bin within the Windows operating system then you have “wiped” some data from your computer. In other words, you have told your computer that this information will no longer be needed and, consequently, it should be erased from your machines memory. Unfortunately, while it appears that the data (computer files or folders) has been completely destroyed, this is not the case. Windows may forget about the deleted data; however, it still physically exists on your hard drive (the physical device that stores all of your folders and files). As a result, someone can potentially use a file recovery application to bring this data back from the dead.

A “secure wipe” is more rigorous than a “wipe”. First of all, rather than simply forgetting about data, a “secure wipe” actually erases data. Secondly, a “secure wipe” uses an algorithm which virtually guarantees that file recovery software will be unable to retrieve erased data.

There are a number of applications out there which allow you to securely wipe your PC; however, the two most popular free alternatives are DBAN (Darik’s Boot and Nuke) and Eraser (created by Heidi Computer Ltd.). We have a great deal of personal experience with DBAN and highly recommend it. In order to make use of it you simply burn it to a CD, boot it up, and then type in “autonuke”.  DBAN takes it from there and completely formats your hard drive using a DoD-Compliant algorithm. Although we have not used Eraser, we have heard great things about it. It is a robust package which allows you to specify exactly what you want to securely delete (a file, a folder of files, or even a drive) as well as when you want this to be done. Once again, it makes use of a DoD-Compliant algorithm meaning it is extremely safe.

If you have any further questions about the use of these applications or hard drive formatting in general then feel free to come on over to Computer Repair Vancouver where we discuss a variety of computer repair related topics.