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I need some help troubleshooting a strange issue. I have a HTPC running Windows XP SP3, 3 HD (two IDE, one SATA) and a via C7 Processor (underpowered I know).

Quite recently, the box rebooted in the middle of the night and displayed an error upon starting saying "No Operating System found". Upon investigating further, it appears the the BIOS boot order was changed so it tried to start with one of the other HDs first.

I thought I resolved the issue by changing the boot order back to normal... that allowed windows to start up again... but a day or two later, I noticed the same behavior.

What's the best way to troubleshoot this?


UPDATE #1:

  • The date and time seemed accurate when powering up and checking the BIOS.
  • When it was running, I ran chkdsk which claimed to have corrected some issues.
  • The now hangs on "Checking IDE devices...." which it didn't do before.
  • I also ran a memory test and it passed without error. Any other suggestions?

Could it be a faulty motherboard?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 1 down vote accepted

I´ve got the same problem a while ago. In my case it was an almost defect HDD. The Computer rebooted (with bluescreen which I saw after disableing the automatic reboot) and couldn´t propperly reinitialize the boot order because the disk wasn´t recognized as it should be. Try doing a HDD-Stress-Test with some live-system. If it passes without errors you can be sure it isnt´the hdd. In that case I would follow digitxps suggestion and perform a BIOS flash.

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Thanks. Can you recommend an HDD-Stress-Test? Would I use the dd command in Linux? –  Mike B Aug 24 '10 at 15:30
    
BINGO! Bad hd. After taking it out of the mix, the system is stable again. Thanks! –  Mike B Aug 30 '10 at 19:43

I don't know what could be causing the reboot, but the loss of BIOS boot order sounds like it could be a symptom of a dead motherboard battery.

Has the time reset?

If you sync to an external time server in Windows you might not notice. So shut down and power off, wait a couple of minutes (perhaps 10) and then power on and boot back into the BIOS screen to check.

If the time is reset back to 1970 (or some other date other than "today"), it's the battery.

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Different BIOS might have different reset dates. IIRC I had some that would reset to their "copyright" dates. But I agree the battery is a good first place to check. –  hotei Aug 21 '10 at 20:55
    
@hotei - Hence the original "thereabouts" commment :) –  ChrisF Aug 21 '10 at 21:06
    
interestingly enough, the date and time seemed accurate when powering up and checking the BIOS. I did notice that the BIOS now hangs on "Checking IDE devices...." which it didn't do before. I also ran a memory test and it passed without error. Any other suggestions? –  Mike B Aug 23 '10 at 20:58

Try Googling your motherboard for BIOS flashes.

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