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mrlessk

Dell Dimension 4400

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Hi,

Dell Dimension 4400 (purchased Feb 2002)

Windows XP Home SP3

Intel Pentium 4, 1.60GHz-1600 MHz

1024MB Installed Memory

NVIDIA GeForce2 MX/MX 400

 

I'm hoping someone can shed some light on a problem I've been having lately with my 9-year old Dell Dimension 4400.

 

When I attempt to power on the computer I don't get the typical three flashes from the NumLock-CapsLock-ScrollLock LED's in the upper right of the keyboard. Instead I might get only one blink from those three LEDs plus the activity light in the CD Player will come on followed by a clicking noise (sounds simuilar to a relay) that I have traced to the CD Player itself.

 

This morning while troubleshooting further, I opened the case (at this point is where I was able to trace the clicking noise to the CD Player..four clicks - pause - four clicks -repeat sequence) and took note that the Green LED on the Mother Board inside the case was lit and constant.

 

I have replaced the original Western Digital Hard Drive (40GB) that came with the computer with a Seagate Barracuda (80GB) (purchased through Dell) but, unfortunately, this had NO affect on the power-up issue.

 

I've been suspecting the Hard Drive(s) but now I'm suspecting the CD Player itself, since this is where the clicking noise emenates from. I checked all the connections from the MoBo, especially to the CD Player, tried to power up the computer again but, with the same result...the whining sound typical of the Hard Drive trying to start and the clicking noise coming from the CD Player and, no display on the monitor with the OS failing to start.

 

Hoping someone on here has some experience with this same issue and can shed some light.

 

My inclination was to investigate and possibly purchase a new Power Supply through Dell but now I'm wondering if this is indeed the culprit (or not) and perhaps it could be something else...like the CD Player (which it seems strange that this could be the cause).

 

This Dimension 4400 has been a reliable work-horse through the years and is showing its age but, in figuring out the reason for this recent failure to start, perhaps I could get a couple/few more years out of it.

 

I'm presently using a newly purchased (last October) Dell Inspiron 570 Desktop but would like to continue to use the Dimension 4400 as a second computer if I can fix this issue.

 

Thanks for any help/advice.

 

Gene

 

:)

Edited by mrlessk

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What's the status of the power light.

It could be the PSU or the motherboard

Thanks for your reply jojesa.

 

Not sure what you meant by "power light" but if you mean the light on the tower's ON/Power button on front of the tower, it stays lit with a constant amber light. The "Activity LED" just to the right of this Power button does go out after a few seconds of trying to startup the computer. I noticed when I had the case open that the Motherboard's green LED stays lit while the power is on (even though the OS won't start). Also, the Dimension 4400 has a row of four diagnostic LEDs on the rear that are there to help in diagnosing problems. see Diagnostic Codes but, unfortunately none of the LEDs are lit when the power is on. According to the documentation, this apparently indicates a "Power Up Default".

 

I am technically restricted in that I don't have or have access to the proper tools (a Volt Meter for example) for testing the voltage of the Power Supply or any other electrical connections.

 

BTW, I should mention that last Thursday, being convinced at the time the problem was with the Hard Drive, I contacted Seagate and was able to get an RMA number from them (their warranty for this particular Hard Drive is two years while the Dell warranty is only one year and had already expired (I purchased the drive last January 14, 2010). I was planning to send the HD back to Seagate this Wednesday and hope, if the problem is the HD itself, this might fix the issue. But, I'm not so sure it's the Hard Drive and hence the reason for proposing this in this forum. If it's the Power Supply, I can get one from Dell for around $40. If it's the Motherboard, that will be where I draw the line. If nothing else, I will install the new replacement HD when I receive it from Seagate and hope this is the cure but, at this point, I have my doubts it is and it's probably the PSU or even the MB as you suggested since there was no change to the startup failure even when on Saturday I installed, as the Main drive, the old Western Digital Hard Drive I was using as a Slave.

 

Thanks again.

 

Gene

 

:)

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A quick and easy thing to check, it to just replace the battery for your bios!

If it wont even post, then there's a good chance that your bios battery is toast!

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Disconnect the CD drive's data and power cables, then power up.  What happens?

Good question Tom...darn, why didn't I think of that?

 

That would eliminate the CD Drive as being involved.

 

I might not get to that until the morning but I'm anxious to see what happens...

I'll report back with the result.

 

Thanks for reading the thread.

 

:)

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Disconnect the CD drive's data and power cables, then power up.  What happens?

UPDATE - PROGRESS MADE

1-I disconnected the Audio-IDE-Power cables from the CD/RW Player, powered up the computer and monitor and discovered the "clicking noise" is NOT coming from the CD/RW Player afterall but is definitely coming from the Hard Drive itself (as I first suspected).

 

2-Strangely, after reconnecting the cables to the CD/RW Player and re-checking other connections within the case, the computer actually booted but ONLY to the blue Dell Logo followed shortly by a black screen with:

 

BOOT FAILURE: SYSTEM HALTED_

 

in the upper left corner of the screen. I restarted the comp and the same thing happens.

 

3-However, the four Diagnostic lights on the rear are lit now indicating (by color, left to right): Green-Green-Green-Amber

 

Can we rule OUT the Power Supply as the culprit? (computer powers up)

 

Can we rule back in the Hard Drive as the culprit?

 

Why would I get the clicking noise from BOTH Hard Drives after installing each one separately as the only drive in the system? (the one-year-old Barracuda 80GB I am returning to Seagate tomorrow AND the original Western Digital 40GB that I have installed in the computer right now for the above evaluation (HD jumper is set to Cable-Select)?

 

(I have All the re-installation disks that came with the computer when I purchased it if we need to go there...XP Windows Home Re-installation - Drivers - etc.)

 

Or? It will be a couple of weeks before Seagate sends me a replacement HD for the one I'm shipping back to them tomorrow.

 

Gene :)

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Probably a motherboard problem (lights G-G-G-Y is "other failure"), but I would certainly test the power supply's output voltages — a low +5V would seriously mess with the drive logic boards.  It is extremely unlikely that two new drives are bad, and in a way that produce that same symptoms.

 

Any beep codes?  You might need to disable the Dell splash screen to see any on-screen messages.

 

If another computer is available, you should connect the suspect hard disks (separately) and run the manufacturer's diagnostics to verify their operation.

 

In any case, time to call Dell ...

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In any case, time to call Dell ...

Yep...way ahead of you.

 

Just got off the line after spending a couple of hours with Dell Support. Explained to him in detail all of the above that I've posted and, since I'm now able at least to access the blue Dell Logo screen, we were able to run the Diagnostics Utility Quick Test from the diagnostic disk I received when I purchased the comp back in Feb of 2002.

 

The test took about ten minutes or so to complete...diagnostic bottom line..."ALL GOOD".

 

However, upon inserting the XP Reinstallation disk to repair or reinstall Windows XP, the screen tells me:

"Windows could not locate a hard disk on your computer".

 

So it wasn't able to read the HD.

 

No...no beep codes.

 

After this thorough evaluation and diagnostic, the Dell Support tech tells me the problem is indeed a bad Hard Drive and the fact that BOTH gave me the same clicking noise is not unusual (the clicking was new to me however). All indications are the Power Supply is good, the Mother Board is good and nothing else beyond the Hard Drive is at fault.

 

I'll be sending back the Seagate Barracuda tomorrow and wait for the replacement to arrive in a couple/few weeks, at which time I can contact Dell Support again and they will guide me through the installation of the HD as well as a new installation of WinXP, Drivers, etc.

 

My biggest apprehension? I get the new Seagate Hard Drive, install it and still get that clicking noise. I guess we shall see.

 

Gene

 

:)

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It sounds like the hard drive is not getting enough power, Power supplies deteriorate with age and your is very old. You can get a replacement power supply from dell or order one on line. At one time Dell had propriety power supplies that needed a fancy adapter, this web page shows that the Dell 4400 does not require the adapter

http://www.endpcnoise.com/cgi-bin/e/std/sku=dellconverter

So you can get a standard power supply, get a name brand rated at a higher wattage output than the one you have in there now. Also, on an older pc like yours, you should look at the capacitors on your motherboard to make sure they are still o.k. Back in '02 there were a lot of bad capacitors in the market and a lot of motherboards had these capacitors. Here is a pic of what a bad cap looks like

Posted Image

 

look to see if any of the tops of the capacitors on your motherboard are bubbled up ( supposed to be very flat) and or leaking any brown crap

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Diagnostics Utility Quick Test ... The test took about ten minutes or so to complete...diagnostic bottom line..."ALL GOOD".

 

However, upon inserting the XP Reinstallation disk to repair or reinstall Windows XP, the screen tells me:

"Windows could not locate a hard disk on your computer".

Gene, I would not proceed with a course of action based on only the opinions of Dell support. I would certainly run SeaTools and WDC Data Lifeguard to test the Seagate and WDC drives.

 

SeaTools for Windows and DOS

http://www.seagate.com/support/seatools/

 

Data Lifeguard Diagnostic for Windows

http://support.wdc.com/product/download.asp?groupid=502&sid=3&lang=en

 

Data Lifeguard Diagnostic for DOS (CD)

http://support.wdc.com/product/download.asp?groupid=502&sid=30&lang=en

 

Dell Support tech tells me the problem is indeed a bad Hard Drive and the fact that BOTH gave me the same clicking noise is not unusual

The clicking is generally due to continued actuator recalibrations, caused by the drive repeatedly attempting and failing to access tracks.  Both drives failing so as to produce the same symptom would be a remarkable coincidence indeed; more so since one drive is new.

 

All indications are the Power Supply is good, the Mother Board is good and nothing else beyond the Hard Drive is at fault.

Again, both hard disks would have to be faulty for this to be true.  This is unlikely, hence the need to test each hard disk to confirm.

 

That you could boot from the XP CD (and got to "Welcome to Setup") suggests that the system is at least 90% functional.  The power supply cannot be verified without physically measuring the voltages.  At least the +12 and +5 leads should be checked.

 

Can you access BIOS with either drive connected?  With both disconnected?  Have to tried connecting one hard disk to the secondary IDE controller?

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One more thing.  I can't help but wonder if Dell sold you a refurbished drive.  It probably would have been shipped without testing ...

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Gene, I would not proceed with a course of action based on only the opinions of Dell support.

Well, over the years it's been my experience in times when I've contacted Dell Support that I've received thorough and satisfactory service from them with my issue being resolved...but, that's just me.

 

I would certainly run SeaTools and WDC Data Lifeguard to test the Seagate and WDC drives.

Good suggestion but unfortunately I've already returned the drive back to Seagate (delivery there estimated at March 2).

 

Since the Dim4400 cannot access the Hard Drive, hence I can't use a browser, I'm unable to avail myself of these services.

 

The clicking is generally due to continued actuator recalibrations, caused by the drive repeatedly attempting and failing to access tracks.  Both drives failing so as to produce the same symptom would be a remarkable coincidence indeed; more so since one drive is new. Again, both hard disks would have to be faulty for this to be true. This is unlikely, hence the need to test each hard disk to confirm.

Yes, this bothers me to no end and I can only hope it's not the case and the "new" replacement drive will be the cure-all.

 

The power supply cannot be verified without physically measuring the voltages.  At least the +12 and +5 leads should be checked.

Unfortunately, I don't have access to a voltometer or any other test tools.

 

Can you access BIOS with either drive connected?  With both disconnected?  Have to tried connecting one hard disk to the secondary IDE controller?

I think what I'll do at this point is simply wait for the new HD to arrive from Seagate, contact Dell Support for their assist (which they offered last Friday) in installing the drive and the XP Home OS, Drivers, etc. and see what happens then. If no joy, I'll see what Dell Support has to offer in the way of further diagnosis and take it from there.

 

I'll report back with an update (and hopefully good news) at that time.

 

Thanks again Tom for your valuable input.

 

Gene

 

:)

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maybe i missed it, but did you try putting the original 40GB that came with the 4400 back in to see if it boots?

I also have an old Dell , i just swapped out the power supply with a 480watt unit, it fit fine, just had to trim the back plate a bit so i could make it fit.

btw dell was known for bad capacitors back then, they would leak all the time, i replaced hundreds of system boards in the Optiplex line (GX270's) under warranty.

Edited by PowerChucker

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WDC Data Lifeguard tools can be run from a bootable floppy.

support.wdc.com/product/download.asp?groupid=502&sid=2

 

I'd be interested in giving this a try BUT, a "bootable floppy"?

 

I'd be using my new Dell Inspiron PC to download this file BUT, the floppy disk technology is so antiquated the new systems don't even come anymore with a Floppy Disk drive (my troubled Dimension 4400 has one but not my Inspiron PC).

 

So, can I use a CD for this?

 

If so I can proceed but I have to admit I'm a bit hazy when it comes to utilizing DOS and BIOS and could use some dumbed-down instructions on how to proceed once I download the file onto a CD and insert the CD into my Dimension 4400. Also, this test would have to run independent of any internet access or OS since the problem is (apparently) within the Hard Drive itself.

 

I ask this because of this section "How to test a drive for problems using Data Lifeguard Diagnostics for Windows" instructions in the Lifeguard Tools Knowledge Base.

 

UPDATE:

I saw this in the Downloads section: Data Lifeguard Diagnostic for DOS (CD) and presume this is the one I can use?

 

I now have the Diag504fCD.iso on a CD and can insert it into the Dimension 4400 at any time.

I'm not sure about these instructions however:

 

You can now boot the computer to the diagnostics CD. Make sure your boot order in your BIOS is set to boot to the CD-ROM drive first.

How do I ensure that I can:

Make sure your boot order in your BIOS is set to boot to the CD-ROM drive first.

once I insert the CD into my Dimension 4400 CD drive?

 

Any help would be appreciated before I proceed.

 

Thanks.

 

Gene

 

:)

Edited by mrlessk

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maybe i missed it, but did you try putting the original 40GB that came with the 4400 back in to see if it boots?

Yes, I returned the 80GB Seagate Barracuda with an RMA number back to Seagate yesterday and will be waiting for their replacement in a couple of weeks.

 

The Dimension 4400 now has the original 40GB WD HD, and which I've been using for the recent troubleshooting (please refer to Post #9 of this thread).

 

I appreciate all the feedback which certainly suggests a variety of reasons my Dimension 4400 fails to boot or recognize the WD 40GB Hard Drive that is in there now:

 

POWER SUPPLY

MOTHER BOARD

CONNECTIONS

BATTERY FOR BIOS

BAD CAPACITORS

and of course

THE HARD DRIVE ITSELF

It will be interesting to finally determine the culprit once all is said and done (if it ever gets to that point of resolution).

 

Thanks everyone for your input.

 

Gene

 

:)

Edited by mrlessk

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If the WDC drive is recognized when connected to another computer (either internally or via an external drive case), then the Dell is the problem. This test should not be skipped, as it is definitive.

 

EDIT: I'm presuming that you've tried a known good IDE cable, of course ...

Edited by TomGL2

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If the WDC drive is recognized when connected to another computer (either internally or via an external drive case), then the Dell is the problem.  This test should not be skipped, as it is definitive.

EDIT: I'm presuming that you've tried a known good IDE cable, of course ...

Tom, I was updating Post #16 about the same time you were posting this.

 

I was asking for help on this:

 

How do I ensure that I can:

Make sure your boot order in your BIOS is set to boot to the CD-ROM drive first.

once I insert the CD into my Dimension 4400 CD drive?

No, unfortunately, I don't have access to another computer where I can test the WD drive so I'm going on the presumption the drive is bad, unless proven otherwise. Same thing with the IDE cable, it's the same one that originally came with the computer.

 

Gene

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UPDATE

 

Before proceeding with what I've just completed below, I again opened the case, checked all the connections, especially to the HD and also took notice of the CMOS Battery location (Battery: MAXELL CR2032 3V).

 

After closing the case and connecting the monitor, I started up the Dim4400 to see if I could use the Data Lifeguard Diagnostic for DOS (CD) that I created and, after clicking F12 once the blue Dell Logo appeared I got to the "Please Select Boot Device" window and had two choices to highlight:

1) Removable Dev

2) ATAPI CD-Rom

 

I chose and highlighted ATAPI CD-Rom and after a minute or so this message appeared:

 

No Drive Found

Error/Status Code: 0120

 

I knew it was running the WD Diagnostic because on the black screen was:

Data Lifeguard Diagnostic and the version: Version 5.04f

 

Unfortunately, since no drive was found, I was prompted to hit key F3 to EXIT.

 

I removed that CD and restarted to see if I could at least duplicate the diagnostic I did yesterday along with the Dell Support guy on the phone using the Utilities Diagnostic CD and...after F12...got the: Please Select Boot Device...but the activity light next to the power button on the tower went out and the screen froze. I had to power off the computer using the button on the tower.

 

In a couple of days I'll pick up a new CMOS Battery and at least install a new one just to rule that out.

(btw, what's the trick to removing that button-coin battery without damaging the housing that it's seated in?)

 

So, that's the status of where things stand right now. Basically, neither diagnostic is able to locate or read from the Hard Drive on the system.

 

Any opinions? Are we still considering a Power Supply issue, a Mother Board issue or are things pointing directly at a failed Hard Drive?

 

Thanks!

 

Gene

 

:)

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what's the trick to removing that button-coin battery

For most coin-cell holders, the cell is held in place at three positions.  Two are simply ridges that extend the edge inward a few millimetres to overlap the cell.  The other is a small, spring-loaded catch that is often overlooked.  Push the catch outward a little to release that edge of the cell, and remove it in that direction.

 

I do not recommend using a screwdriver (or any other metal tool) for the purpose — screwdrivers are the number one destroyers of motherboards.  The tip of golf tee is about the right size and shape for the job.  I'm sure that any number of household items will be suitable, just avoid metals.

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The other is a small, spring-loaded catch that is often overlooked.  Push the catch outward a little to release that edge of the cell, and remove it in that direction.

Thanks Tom, yes I could see that catch when I had the case open and found the location of the battery, I just wasn't able to easily remove it at that time. I shouldn't have any problem replacing the battery once I get the replacement Seagate Hard Drive back and get to that point of the installation.

 

I was still curious about that "clicking" noise I heard from the drives and during some researching today came across this article which has an audio sample (Audio: Listen to a noisy Western Digital hard disk with severe initialization problems) which is exactly the sound I've been hearing when I try and boot up the computer (four clicks - pause - four clicks).

 

To me this audio sample is further confirmation that the problem is indeed with the hard drive. Of course, total affirmation will be once I install the replacement and see then if all systems are go.

 

A Dell representative called me on Thursday as a follow-up to my service call on Tuesday to let me know Dell Support is standing by to assist me in the installation of the Hard Drive and the Windows XP OS once I receive the drive from Seagate. One advantage of purchasing this particular computer in 2002 is that I get "lifetime" phone support (I'm told computers purchased in 2004 and after get limited or contractual support and/or have to pay a fee).

 

Gene

 

:)

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Gene

It sounds like you've got more than one problem going on there. Did you eventually win?

If you got to the point where your hard drive was working then save yourself the 30+ hours I have wasted trying to get my Dell 4400 to install Windows XP SP2 by updating your drivers before upgrading from SP1 to SP2.

I used drivermax - it worked really well. When I then installed SP2 ontop of SP1, it all worked perfectly. Since then, it has updated to SP3 and further updates on top....it works just as fast as when I bought it in 2002, which is just as fast as my most recently purchased computer! It really is like it's been 'born-again'!

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