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I had my PC out from under the desk with the sides off (as I have ordered more RAM and will be installing it soon) and my girlfriend accidentally knocked it over (and it landed hard!).

I started it up quickly this morning, and it refused to boot. Closest thing it did, was start up, give some beeps (I need to look up what the beeps mean, I think it was 3) and only a underscore/command cursor appeared, nothing else. There was no busy light on the machine. Just this:


I restarted, and the same thing happened.

Has this happened to anyone before? Do I need a new motherboard / CPU ? Is there any chance I would of lost data from my HDD?


I'll memorize these tips (or print them) and try it out when I get home from work. I'll accept the best solution then. Thanks a lot for your answers.

Might also put my computer back under the desk!

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you use SATA or IDE to plug your hard? – Am1rr3zA Sep 6 '09 at 23:11
SATA for hard drive – alex Sep 6 '09 at 23:19
up vote 3 down vote accepted

Beeps are your best friend in troubleshooting problematic posts. See this beep guide from computer hope. As already stated, 3 beeps indicates a problem with memory. The prompt sitting there is also common when there is a memory problem.

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First thing to do is to make sure everything (CPU, RAM, drive data cables, all power cables, PCI/PCI-E/AGP cards) are still connected and firmly seated.

Was the computer operation at the time it was knocked over? If not, then the data on the drive is probably safe. If the disk was operating at the time then there is a good chance that the heads impacted on the platters so it may be in very bad shape.

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Yes, I believe it was on. Not working on it, but it was definitely on. – alex Sep 6 '09 at 23:20
Then there is a fair chance that the drive is dead, or at least badly damaged. Though if you are very lucky and the heads and spindle still work you might be able to get at least some of the data off. Concentrate on checking the other hardware is all seated+connected properly first though - a dead hard drive should not cause a complete failure to boot. – David Spillett Sep 7 '09 at 0:04
@David Lucky the drive is fine :) Thanks for your answer. – alex Sep 8 '09 at 22:51

Try taking each stick of memory out in turn one by one.

I had this very same problem only last week and it was down to a bad stick of RAM.

Being as though you've already ordered RAM, you might be one step ahead of yourself!

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As a more permanent fix, I'd hide your computer away from your girlfriend. – Kez Sep 6 '09 at 23:17
@Ezwi Agree on that one .... ! – alex Sep 6 '09 at 23:21

3 beeps indicates memory problem. Try reseating your memory.

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It isn't that easy to tell if the machine is broken.

Beeping usually means a faulty component - the first thing I would do is reseat the memory, and check that are cables are firmly in.

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A good approach to troubleshooting is to disconnect all but the bare minimum, and see if the computer boots up then. That is, disconnect the hard disks from the motherboard, remove all extension cards (but keep the video card, unless you have an integrated one), remove all but one memory stick, etc.

If it still doesn't boot, if possible test any components that are still removable at another computer to see whether one of them is broken.

In this case: If the three beeps indicate a memory problem but the memory stick seems connected ok, try the memory in another computer, or try booting your computer with a new (inexpensive) memory stick to determine whether the problem is with the motherboard, or the memory stick itself.

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