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alanganes
07-29-2014, 09:05 PM
Sorry for the OT post, but this crowd knows everything:

So by default, I am the IT department for my pushing-eighty year old mother in law. No big deal, she is actually amazingly computer savvy for someone her age who came to computers as late in life as she did. I was by today to do some routine cleanup and checkout stuff. I did a reboot of the computer (full power down and switch back on) and noted something unusual. After the initial power-on, the splash screen from the MB manufacturer (ASUS in this case) that typically appears for a few seconds stayed there for almost 3 minutes. I've never seen that happen before, and my MIL said that she once timed it to take over 10 minutes before it cleared and started the normal OS boot up stuff.

During this time, there is no POST message, no HDD activity, nothing but that splash screen that says to hit DELETE to enter bios setup. I switched the bios to boot first from a USB device and tried starting from one of the portable linux thumbdrive distros, and it did the same thing, waited minutes seemingly doing nothing, then booted the linux distro from USB and otherwise behaved normally.

Any ideas what's going on here? I've never seen a computer do that before. Any ideas are most welcome!
Thanks,
Al

RichR
07-29-2014, 09:39 PM
Enter the BIOS setup and see if there is a setting for something similar to fast boot, which would bypass things like a RAM test on power up.

J Tiers
07-29-2014, 10:02 PM
Check for the stuff that is called on startup. There may be things you don't know about.

Also, check the clock battery.... sometimes a bad clock value can stall the boot for a while.

What sort of A-V and firewall is on it?

dp
07-29-2014, 10:36 PM
Do check the BIOS and see what the sequence is for boot devices. It may be looking for network device to boot from, and there being none has to time out. The sequence is generally CD-ROM, HD, NET. Depending on the system's age there may be flash drive or other options.

LKeithR
07-29-2014, 10:51 PM
The other answers you've gotten may be right but in my experience when a computer starts acting up like that it's usually time for a system refresh. You can tinker and patch for a while but eventually you're just going to have to start over...

J Tiers
07-29-2014, 11:07 PM
Do check the BIOS and see what the sequence is for boot devices. It may be looking for network device to boot from, and there being none has to time out.

Ah, yes... that's a goodie..... if the BIOS has gotten corrupted it may be looking for something that isn't there... or worse, that IS there, but has nothing to talk to..... If it just isn't there, it should detect that before too long, but if there really IS an adapter, it may have to wait a LONG time "pinging" to see if there is a functional network. With older units that was an issue.... I had an older unit that took about 5 min to boot for that reason until I figured it out.

These days, though, XP or more recent OS' usually figure things out fast enough, and put up the "a network cable is disconnected" icon in the tray.

I see the warning that "you are just postponing the inevitable" fairly often, but so far cleaning up bios settings, and removing unwanted startup software has done a good job, without ever re-installing. Re-installing just clears up that stuff automatically, so you may as well fix the actual problem.

RichR
07-29-2014, 11:44 PM
While you are in the BIOS, you should be able to disable the motherboards splash screen so it shows the POST messages instead. That might provide a clue
as to what's taking so long.

dp
07-30-2014, 01:26 AM
These days, though, XP or more recent OS' usually figure things out fast enough, and put up the "a network cable is disconnected" icon in the tray.

If it is trying to do a net boot there is no OS loaded yet so XP isn't part of it. Net boot is not common in people's homes. I have it because I want to be able to boot any of my systems from a network server if the HD fails. Some things from my professional life still linger :) . It is, however, a common way to image a lot of systems quickly from a central master. It is normally by accident that net boot is in the boot device sequence on home systems.

macona
07-30-2014, 02:02 AM
Also might be bad memory.

dp
07-30-2014, 02:16 AM
I'm not a PC guy, but don't they normally beep if there's a POST failure?

macona
07-30-2014, 02:28 AM
Depends, sometime they will get stuck is a memory check at startup and never trigger a post failure. The memory test at startup is anything but comprehensive, mostly just to see how much is there. There is a pretty good chance that there is more than one dimm on the mobo, pull one and see if it gets past post, if that does not work put that one back in and pull the other. Rarely do both dimms go bad. If you can get it past POST with all the memory in there download and boot memtest. That will do a deep memory test and tell you what is bad.

Memory is cheap. Stuff like this is always a good reason to upgrade it.

One other thing is a CPU heat sink plugged with dust or bad thermal compound in between the heat sink and the cpu. When either of these happen the cpu can overheat real fast and then it locks up.

MrSleepy
07-30-2014, 04:09 AM
It could also be the initial stages of (eventual) hard drive failure due to bad sectors/surface.

I've just had to send away a customers hard drive away for data recovery that failed (due to bad sectors/surface) , and the first signs of a problem were increasing delays in the boot period as the drive executes its POST routines.Eventually it dissapeared from the bios altogether.

Rob

alanganes
07-30-2014, 07:21 AM
Thanks for all of the replies, I've been away from my computer until now. so answer a few questions:

This is a Win7 system, a couple of years old. Using Avast AV, the standard windows firewall, regular Malwarebytes scans.

I checked the boot sequence (CD/DVD, HD, then USB device) which is what it appears to do. As an expirement I reset it to boot first from USB and stuck a thumbdrive with a bootable live Linux thing on it, and it behaved pretty much the same way. I did not time it, but it was an inordinately long time before it started to access the USB stick to boot. Ran normally after it started.

I'll check about disabling the splash screen to see any POST messages. I'd sort of forgotten that you can often do that in the bios. Thanks for the reminder. Clock battery is another that had not occurred to me. I'll see if it has one that I can get at.

From the look of things, it is not even getting as far as attempting to access the HD, so for the moment I'm thinking this is not likely an OS thing. But I'm not discounting anything completely yet.

The suggestions to check the memory sound like good ones to me, I'll likely try that next along with a general cleanup of any dust and junk in the case. I know there is thermal grease on the CPU (I installed it) but it is likely due for a good cleaning anyhow. Besides, that is probably the easiest thing to do at this point. It does run pretty normally once it starts, so running a memtest is another good thought. I have other HD's around I could put in just to see if it changes anything as well if it comes to that.

Thanks again for taking the time to reply. The adventure continues...

macona
07-30-2014, 06:48 PM
Oh, I remembered one other thing. Sometimes defective USB devices will cause a hand in POST, especially storage devices. If it is a flash drive it may just keep looking for an OS to boot off of before finishing.

Mike Amick
07-30-2014, 08:27 PM
Oh, I remembered one other thing. Sometimes defective USB devices will cause a hand in POST, especially storage devices. If it is a flash drive it may just keep looking for an OS to boot off of before finishing.

I agree.

I usually find that it is trying to resolve some type of conflict. Sometimes its just a cd that the
person leaves in the drive .. or a flash drive. Many times after installing software, it doesn't
complete the install properly and is just trying to figure out what needs to be done.

Mike A

CCWKen
07-30-2014, 09:09 PM
The POST no longer tests memory. It hasn't done that since memory went over 200Mb or some such. It took too long. All the BIOS does now is check to see if memory is present through the module detection circuit. So if there's a module plugged in, the BIOS is happy even if the memory module is full of dead cells.

danlb
07-31-2014, 01:01 AM
In the old days, I'd occasionally find a device sharing an interrupt that was not able to handle the shared IRQ. Rearranging the IRQ assignments sometimes helped.

In your case I'd suggest unplugging all USB devices. I had a phone that charged off my USB port. If I rebooted with it connected the PC hung while it tried to find a boot sector on the cell phone.

My mom (also 80) had a similar problem and I traced it to the USB backup hard drive that I'd installed for her to do automated backups. It worked for 3 years and then died. Never did need to restore any files.

If unplugging all USB devices does nothing, try unplugging the disk drives. I've had a bad ATA drive cause the ATA bus to get noisy and it took forever to do anything.

Dan

macona
07-31-2014, 01:53 AM
The POST no longer tests memory. It hasn't done that since memory went over 200Mb or some such. It took too long. All the BIOS does now is check to see if memory is present through the module detection circuit. So if there's a module plugged in, the BIOS is happy even if the memory module is full of dead cells.

Some still does. My dell laptop does test it every once in a while and it can take forever when it does. And it usually picks to do it when I want it the most.

Cuttings
07-31-2014, 11:35 AM
I had a similar problem lately and came upon a fix so I will pass it on here.
My computer executed items reasonably quickly until recently. Then it seemed to bog down and also start quit slowly.
The other day I was checking out a problem I had with mouse wheel switch. The settings were for a double click but it did not do that.
I did some digging around and found that I had Microsoft Mouse and keyboard center running these things.
It appeared to use a lot of memory and some people had been removing it.
So I took the bull by the horns and removed it and installed the latest version of Intellipoint.
My double click wheel switch now works again and the computer is executing things more quickly.

bdarin
07-31-2014, 04:46 PM
Ditto macona. If the cpu heatsink fins are aimed at the memory chips, the fan will blow gunk all over the mem module nearest. Eventually a contact gets dirty, fails to make, and voila....boot problems. A little contact cleaner would fix that in a jiffy and I'd become a hero....for a fee. Hopefully your MIL doesn't smoke, at least not around the puter. People would sacrifice animals and place gold at my feet for swabbing the nicotine crud off their cd laser lenses.

3 Phase Lightbulb
08-01-2014, 12:45 PM
For additional help, the following is advice I would provide and follow...

Do not top off any fluid levels. Although temping, do not fill the case with fresh oil. Do remove any oil that a previous owner may have added.

Never physically kick the chassis -- it only helps in extremely rare conditions and the proper procedure requires the correct type of boots and often requires re-booting many times.

Never use a hair dryer to attempt a warm start of your computer. If the ambient room temperature is well over 140F then you may use a hair dryer to help circulate air, but this is unusual and typically not necessary.

If a garden hose is connected to a spigot on the back of the system, make sure you carefully disconnect the hose and turn off the spigot valve before attempting to use the computer. This is often overlooked and can cause fatal system errors. The spigot is a common manufacturing defect that occasionally passes through QA undetected.

Adrian

alanganes
08-01-2014, 02:51 PM
Thanks all for the additional input. I have not gotten back to this yet, likely will this weekend. No smokers or pets in the house, but there usually is a good bit of accumulated dust and stuff that gets cleaned out. Pulling, contact cleaning and re-seating memory and assorted cards is on the agenda. Thanks again!