Here, we will discuss different troubleshooting techniques for Dell computers.
If you cant boot to the utility, there is no utility partition on the hard drive or a need to use the Dell Resource CD for that model.
The resource disks can be easily obtained from Dell by calling their customer support line. The resource disks can also be downloaded online as ISO images. The other option for obtaining resource disks is to buy them from well-known online auctions.
The resource disks include various testing features that are inbuilt in the motherboard or on the hard disk drive in a separate partition. Get to this point by restarting the computer.
Place the Resource CD ( it can be called the Driver and Utility CD) inside the computer. Restart the computer, when the Dell logo appears, press F12 repeatedly.
Highlight option CD/DVD.
Select the Custom Test.
Dell desktops have diagnostic LED lights. This is what the diagnostics can tell us about the fault.
Faulty graphics card
If the Dell tools do not show any fault whatsoever then we should use traditional diagnostic tools such as bootable CDs. If you have a desktop, open it, make sure it is clean, and then check the usual hot components to ensure that they not overheating. The CPU, North Bridge, South Bridge, and the MOSFETs temperature can be checked only using your fingers.
Check the biggest chips which are located next to the CPU and while you are at it, check out the North Bridge and the South Bridge.
There is no high voltage circulating the motherboard, but for safety, keep one hand in your pocket and use one hand to check the temperature.
Sometimes, a Dell desktop PC uses a hard drive in a RAID array. This, I just to warn you that if RAID is in the system, tools such as the UBCD or another data recovery software will not understand the data structure. As mentioned earlier, desktops have a problem with power supply units or the PSU. We had a few Dell computers that had PSU's switching off or PSU's that had voltage spikes coming of the + 5 and the +12V rails. In the result, only one hard drive was damaged, and an oscilloscope is the tool that helped identify this problem.
I should also mention hard drive temperature here. Sometimes, the system will show a warning that it can’t read data or something similar. There is only two places to look in this case, one of which is the RAM and the other is the hard drive. The RAM showcases interesting behaviour. When a bad cell is at 3 GB, it will not be seen for long, and, when it has reached the computer, it will hang or crash. Usually, it hangs with no activity whatsoever and the mouse becomes frozen.
If Dell diagnostic tools can’t help and nothing seems to be wrong with the hardware visually, the next step is to use our tools.
First, I like to use the Memtest. This test will stress the system to such a level that if something is wrong, it will show up, or the system will switch off. This has happened many times before. If a component is overheating, Memtest turns it off. For example, we had a faulty CPU and the system was crashing randomly. After a couple of minutes on Memtest, it crashed again and we noticed a hot CPU. After measurement tests for the CPU Vcore resistance, which was below 4 Ohms, everything was clear, including the fault.
If the system is able to boot to the Windows desktop, the same stress test effect can be achieved with OCCT also.
For a hard drive diagnostic utility, with the exception of Dell, use the GSmartControl. First impressions are confusing, but the GSmartControl is the best utility to date.
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