Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Dell Computer Keeps Booting to Diagnostic Screen

Today, I encountered a unique problem with a brand new Dell computer. One of my clients had bought a new computer from Dell and asked me to come by and set it all up for him. Oddly enough, as soon as we plugged everything in and booted up the computer, we encountered the diagnostic screen.

Although there was an option to exit the diagnostic screen, doing so, only brought you right back to it. Running the tests worked great, but again, you were back to the diagnostic screen (which you still couldn't exit out of) when finished.

I even tried rebooting the computer and pressing F8 to bypass the normal start up process, but that did nothing. After every trick I knew failed, my next instinct was to reload Windows XP using the System Restore disk and start over.

But before doing that, I called Dell support and decided to talk to them about it. Dell suggested I ship the computer back to them and they would reload everything (also suspecting a software problem at the time the computer was first set up). I suggested using the System Restore disk first and if it failed to correct the problem, I would then be willing to ship the computer back.

Starting the restore process, gave me the opportunity to look at the partitions that Dell had set up at the factory. As it turns out, they were wrong. Somebody had loaded the "C" partition with the Dell Diagnostic program, and loaded the operating system (WinXP) on the "D" partition.

Because of this arrangement, the computer had no choice but to keep booting the Diagnostic program (wasting my time and causing frustration).

To fix the problem, I had to delete both partitions, create a new single partition and reload the Operating System from disk. Then of course, once Windows was restored, I had to reinstall all of the drivers and software that came with the computer. But the problem was solved and I didn't have to ship the computer back to Dell!

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