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Dell Dimension 3000 Issue Replacing Hard Drive

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Dell Dimension 3000 Issue Replacing Hard Drive

  • OK, here is the deal, I am fairly adept, heck I would call myself an expert troubleshooter (used to do tech support for Apple), and I am attempting to help my Store Manager (McDonalds) repair/get his system back up and running after a virus attack.  He has a Dell Dimension 3000 with Win Xp Home and originally 512 MB RAM, the original drive was an 80 Gig Maxtor, which he replaced when it wouldn't take the OS reinstall.  I tried unsuccessfully over a two day period on the phone with him to resolve the issue.  I then had him bring it to me.  For four days now I have tried various methods of getting this new hard drive (Maxtor 500 Gig, partitioned to 80 Gig primary and two 192.5 Gig logical drives).  The diagnostic lights on the back are all green-solid no matter what, the dell diagnostic program on a bootable cd from the dell website locked up on the memory data path test, tested memory after manager bought (2) 1 Gig memory stcks and it still made no difference.  Checked all ram chips in another machine using DDR 400 memory and they worked fine.  Tried changing out the ribbon cables for both channels with brand-new 80-wire ultra ATA ribbon cables.  Tried putting the CD-ROM(DVD-ROM) unit as the second device on the primary chain.  Alo tried reversing the order of the hard drive and ROM unit.  Tried copying all the install files to the hard drive and installing direct to the hard drive that way.  All to no avail!  It still takes 16 + hours to install the OS and after it is loaded, it is EXTREMELY SLOOOOOOOOOOOWWWWWW to boot up and do anything in, even after installing the drivers in the recommended order from DELL.  By the way, this is a brand new Windows XP Home Retail CD bought from Staples and was completely sealed and the cd is clean (no scratches no dirt, no nothing).  This was his only option as he was not shipped the CD with his machine (which by the way was deemed illegal a couple of years back) and he is outside of the warranty period and can't get the restore discs, so buying the OS in a retail format was his only option.


    So someone please tell me, is there a known issue with the motherboard in these models where the IDE Channel Controller and the Memory Data Path Controller go bad but the diagnostic lights say all is fine?  Or is it that as an OEM, Dell alters the OS in such a way that it installs quickly and boots up quickly, and can navigate the OS quickly on their proprietary hard ware?  And what motherboard was used in this model?  Intel, IBM, ASUS, Foxconn?????


    On a sidenote, a possibility that ocurred to me was that the system looks for the Hidden OS partition and the hidden diagnostic partition on the hard drive; if either one or both are missing then the system might be hampered??????

  • Dell motherboards are dell, built by others. Dell does not do things that require their OS disks.  Owners can get replacement OS disk from dell.

    I hope that answers your questions.

     Does seem that you have a bad motherboard or possibly a power supply. Look for bad caps on the motherboard.

  • I think you are fighting a bad motherboard issue.  The owner (as stated above) can request one set of the original CD's for for more trouble shooting and a little faster install as far as the serial key goes but I assure you there is nothing preventing what ever OS disk you have from installing as far as something being "hidden" or "non-Dell".

    Cheers, Dave

  • Except that he (the owner of the system) is out of warranty!  Dell wants $300 to reinstate his "extended" warranty and then will gladly mail him the disks for free.  To me this is shoddy at best as they were, according to the law, supposed to have been shipped with the computer when the owner ordered it.  I believe however, that you are correct and that the mobo may be dying.  As a last ditch effort, I will try to re-flash the BIOS.  The most current version for this system is A03 and that is what is currently installed.   As far as what I said about the OEM changing stuff, I know this to be a fact as was a common practice by HP to alter the OS (they are allowed to do this under contract with Microsoft) to suit their own purposes, and will often change mobo drivers to suit their own purposes (case in point, a mobo's drivers are not quite the same when the board is used by an OEM as opposed to purchased directly from the mobo manufacturer).  So in that respect, I suspect that Dell, just like HP, modifies the OS and the Mobo chipset drivers and the BIOS files to siut the need, thus making the equipment extremely proprietary (much the same as Apple was accused of years ago).
  • ogrethemage

    Dell Customers can request a set of backup discs containing the factory-installed operating system as well as the device drivers and utilities specific to your system from here.


    Please don't send me questions about your system by DCF Messenger.
    Post the issue in the appropriate Board, where they will be answered.


    If my answer was helpful, please use the 'Did this answer the question' and click: Yes
    Forum Member since 2001
    I am not employed by Dell

  • shesagordie


    OK, obviously I didn't make myself clear, please read the entire post section. 


    When I started this process with my boss (the owner of the Dell Dimension 3000 that I am working on), I asked if he had the restore cd's.  He said he did not and that he never remembered getting any OS or Resource CD's when the computer was delivered to him.  I asked him if he tried to get them from Dell directly.  He replied that he was told that since the unit is out of warranty (it was bought in 2005) he would have to PURCHASE another extended warranty for nearly $300 US and then they would be glad to ship the cd's to him.  Now forgive me, but I do not believe that I am so stupid as to not believe that the site you provided a link to will not at some point ask for or look up when the system was purchased and see that it is out of warranty and then take the owner of the system to an order page where it will then ask for credit card info in order to facilitate a purchase of an extended warranty so that the disks can be sent to him!!!!!!!


    I mean c'mon, I have been through that before.  You see, he also had a couple of Dell laptops that he sold to a couple of our shift managers.  And when they had problems, and I worked on them and needed that restore disk, it (the web page), asked for that kind of info.  And had the laptops not been in warranty, the system would have advised me of that and taken me to a secure page where I could pay for the extended warranty before the disks would be shipped to me or in this case the owner of the systems.


    So as you can see, I am not that naive!


    I hope this clarifies the situation and makes it easier to get some kind of RELEVANT help that isn't a standard "CANNED" answer. 


    What I need is a possible/plausible explanation to validate my theory, that an OS install taking over 16 hours and then once it is done the whole system is still slow with 2 Gigs of RAM and a BLAZING fast Intel P-4 @ 2.8 GHz, means that the controllers on the board are shot and the diagnostic lights on the back of the unit are not picking it up.  Now he has already spent $160 US on the RAM and $189 US on a Retail version of WinXP Home SP2 and $159 US on a Maxtor 500 GB hard Drive.  So I think that asking him to "pony-up" an addition almost $300 US just to get the disks that he should have gotten when the system shippped to him, and in light of the possibility that the motherboard may be failing, IS A BIT EXCESSIVE.......RIGHT??????





    OK, after some trial and error (buying a mobo that wouldn't work in the DELL case) the owner of the system was able to order from Dell the replacement mobo for about $120.........if this works, it will be a welcome end to a nightmare both on his and my end of things.  The only other thing I need to do is get ahold of the proper partition scheme with a list of what is/was installed at the factory in the utilities partition and possibly the version of the Dell PC Restore software used to create the restore image in the restore partion and maybe the Dell MBR so that his system with the new drive is just as if it had shipped from the factory.  I would try to get that from the old hard drive; however, since it was attacked by a virus and the system owner tried to utilize the restore procedure to no avail, and tried to format the drive without success, I am assuming that the drive's info concerning partitions and stuff is basically trashed.

    Message Edited by ogrethemage on 05-24-2008 11:13 PM
  • Can anyone give me info on the edit I posted to my last post in this section?  I would appreciate it.
  • If you image the original drive you can recover the factory images, then delete the files in the OS install, perform a new clean install of the OS, download and install correct drivers for the new motherboard and the other devices in your system.  That should put you  back as close to factory as you can get.


    The factory image probably doesn't contain current service pack info and may be quite old, you will be much better off getting the CURRENT drivers and updates for the system and installing them.  Attempting to do what you are proposing is a pure waste of time and hard drive space because the files and info you want to restore has been outdated and superseded by improved versions.


    Cheers, Dave

    Message Edited by Digital28 on 05-25-2008 10:38 AM
  • Unfortunately, as stated in the original post in this section, the original hard drive died and CANNOT be resurrected!  And since I don't have access to another Dell Dimension 3000 so that I can look at the partiton scheme (what partitions exist and in what order they are in) and recreate the same scheme on the new hard drive and make a restore image after he installs his retail copy of MS WinXP Home SP2.  I will still need the Dell MBR file, the Dell PC Restore application or loader that will be resident in the restore partition and a way to re-enable the <ctrl - F11> command so that if he has future problems, he can just restore from the new restore image that he and I will make.










    Machine specs


    Dell Dimension 3000  -- Purchased September 2005 (I believe)

     Intel Pentium 4 2.8 GHz. Processor

     2 GB. DDR 400 (PC3200) RAM

     BIOS Rev. A03 (Most Current for this machine)

     Hard Drive(s)  (Both Parallel ATA EIDE Hard Drives)

       Old HD: Maxtor 80 GB.

       New HD: Maxtor 500 GB.

     Operating System(s)

       Original OS: Win XP Home SP1a (I believe)

       New OS: Win XP Home SP2 -- (Purchased May 2008 from Staples)




    Troubleshooting steps


    (A) Over phone with owner of system


      (1) Tried to get the restore app to do its job as system was corrupted and machine was slow (virus attack)

      (2) Hard drive failed to initialize during this process

      (3) Attempted to format from the DOS environment  -- this also failed

      (4) Advised system owner that hard drive was bad and to get a replacement, which he did the following day

      (5) Tried to advise owner over phone again the process for reinstalling OS to new hard drive

         Note: By this time owner had purchased Retail Win XP Home SP2 because of no Dell OS Discs available

      (6) This process took almost 16 hours, I advised owner to bring machine to me and I would try some things


    (B) With me having direct access to machine 


      (1) Tried unsuccessfully for four days to get unit to work the way it should

      (2) Poured through the forums (Dell) to see what might be problem, also asked a couple of other techs here

      (3) It was general concensus that Motherboard was failing, I advised owner to get another Motherboard

      (4) He ordered a Mobo from the internet; however upon getting it, he realized it wouldn't work and sent it back

      (5) Ordered replacement board from Dell, should be here Tuesday 5-27-08


    (C) What I would like to do


      (1) Get the new hard drive and format to proper Dell Specs (number and size of partions includ hidden ones)

      (2) Install proper software and utilities onto hidden partions

      (3) Install Retail Win Xp Home SP2 onto main boot partition

        (a) Install all Drivers

        (b) Install all Microsoft Security Updates

      (4) Make a restore image from the main partion with OS on it

      (5) Save this image to the restore partion

      (6) re-enable the <ctrl - f11> command so that next time a problem is had, the process can be started

    Message Edited by ogrethemage on 05-26-2008 09:06 PM