Saturday, October 10, 2009

Fixing A Dead HP Computer

Friday morning my wife Sue found her HP desktop computer off. She pressed the button to start it and nothing happened. That evening she tried it again and when it remained comatose, she appealed to me for help. I tried it myself, did a couple of basic things to entice it to come alive again, but nothing. It's scary when the machine is totally dead and you know it has access to all the electrons it needs. Hard to know where to start, other than call the repairman or take it to the Geek Squad.

That evening after dining out and a few beers, I wasn't in the proper frame of mind to tackle complex computer problems, so I decided to put off trying to fix it until the morning. Sue was able to access her e-mail using her laptop from work and web mail.

Saturday morning, the first thing I did was consult the HP website for help. Since the computer is out of warranty, e-mail support seemed to be the best alternative available. My first e-mail, I thought, described the problem quite well. Basically it said "the computer is dead, help".

My first reply from the help center, an outsource somewhere on the other side of the globe, started with a list of instructions on what to do if various things appeared on the screen. Wrong. There is no screen, the computer is dead. Reading on, I found a suggestion of something to try if the screen was dark:

Motherboard beep test:

Ø Switch off the computer. Open the Tower Cabinet and look for the Motherboard, which looks like big rectangular sheet. It is the main circuit board of the computer. You can identify with the diagram
You will find RAM card on the motherboard, which looks like long narrow ruler fitted in the black slot with two white notches across it.
Pull the notches in the outside manner. As soon as you do so it will flip out from the slot.
Now pull out the RAM card and check for the beep sound if any.
If you find any beep sound then it indicates that the Motherboard is working fine.
Reseat the RAM and switch on the computer.

Now this may look strange to you, but I found I understood it pretty well, despite a few departures from the English most of us generally use. I performed the test and there was no beep. I replied with the results.

This is what I received in reply:

After reviewing your email, I understand that your system is totally dead. Neither light glows nor sound comes out from the system. (An apt description I totally agree with)
I appreciate that you have shared your concern with us and have given us a chance to assist you in this matter.
I, as a part of HP Total Care, take the ownership of your concern and would try to answer your queries accordingly and to the best of my abilities.
The most possible cause of this issue is that the power supply unit has gone bad or started malfunctioning.

Hence, in order to resolve this issue I would recommend you to check the power supply unit. I ma providing some steps below and recommend you to follow the steps that I have provided in order to comprehend it.

1. Turn
off your power switch and plug it out from the power supply.
2. Remove the cable from the CPU and start unscrewing the power supply section in order to remove the whole power supply (square metal box) from the CPU.

Once done, locate for the main ATX connector and find the green wire.
4. Also locate for the black wire near the green wire and with the use of a paper clip, connect and safely bond the two together with a piece of isolating tape.

5. Put back all the power supply and switch the system on again and ensure that your system ventilation is working.

To check whether the connection is correct, the Molex in between the yellow and black wire should display at least 12 volts.

Now we were getting somewhere. The problem seemed to be the power supply. However, I was reluctant to follow the instructions to the letter, since it was hard to tell which black wire to use, there were about 10 of them, and I didn't really like the idea of having my computer using a paper clipped power supply.

All was resolved happily when I purchased a new power supply from Best Buy and installed it. The computer came to life again and even runs better than it did previously. And it is noticeably quieter. The old power supply is pictured.

Today I got a follow up message from a different person at the help center asking if my problem had been resolved. I reported it had, and was pleasantly surprised when I got this message in reply:

Thank you for contacting HP Total Care.
This is technician Mrinal, from Hewlett-Packard Technical Support Team

After reviewing your email, I understand that the issue with your system resolved with the previous troubleshooting steps that have been provided to you.

I must admit that the issue would not have been resolved without your efforts.
We can only provide technical resolutions from our side. But, it is you who implemented the resolution to perfection. It feels good and boosts our confidence in working with such a well-informed user. It is always a pleasure to hear that all problems have been resolved.
Once again, thank you for your comments and the opportunity to serve you. It gives immense pleasure when we hear from our satisfied customer.

All's well that ends well.