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   >  Diagnosing Hardware Failures


Tools for Diagnosing Hardware Failures

Tools for helping to diagnose Hardware Faults

If you have a major hardware failure, the BIOS POST check will detect it and emit a number of "beeps" indicating the source of the problem. Be sure to listen carefully (-reboot multiple times if necessary) and note the number/frequency of beeps. This can then be compared this against the list given in your motherboard manual (-or the manufacturer's website if you still have web access) to see if this helps you to identify the problem component.

.. the BIOS POST check will detect [any hardware failure] emit a number of "beeps" indicating the source of the problem ..

If this does not help, there are tools out there, at nominal cost, to help you track down the problem, notably:

  1. Assuming the PC will power up, you can download a standalone tool, such as #1-TuffTest from the web and burn the .iso image to CD/DVD or USB memory stick. Reboot your PC using the boot disc or USB and the utility should immediately load and start running: the Main menu will (eventually) display:

    TuffTest#1 Main Menu

    From the Main Menu, select F3 for the Certification Menu. From here, press the following keys, to deselect all but the first two tests: c,d,e,f,g,h,i : you should just see options a) and b) listed with an asterisk against them:

    TuffTest#1 Certification Menu

    Press ENTER then choose the test type ("a" for "Abbreviated" or "b" for "Extensive") that you want to perform:

    TuffTest#1 Choose Certification Type

    There is a spurious message about connecting cables and diskettes - as you are just testing the CPU, you can ignore it and press ENTER:

    TuffTest#1 : insert cables/diskette

    The test will run. Leave it running for a while then hit the Esc key to end it:

    TuffTest#1 : test in progress

    Finally, pull the power on the machine once you are finished, as there is no exit function

  2. Purchase a PC diagnostics card that fits into one of your PCI Slots. These normally only cost a few pounds and can be found on the web by typing something like "pc diagnostic card" into a search engine. The photo below shows a typical card:

    A PC diagnostic card which fits both PCI and ISA slots

    Always follow the manual for the card but you normally just need to plug it into a free PCI or ISA slot on the motherboard (-some also allow connection via the external serial or printer ports) and power up the PC. The card will display a 2 or 4 digit code representing what the BIOS is currently doing (-some cards store these so you can scroll back through the list). You then manually look up the meaning of the code in the accompanying manual. If the PC encounters an error or hangs, the last code will remain in the card and should give a clue as to what was happening just prior to the problem

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