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A Reader Asks: PC Slowly Getting More Unstable - A Reader Asks: PC Slowly Getting More Unstable
Tue, May 15 2007 | 5:08PM | PermaLink Feedback?

A Reader Asks: PC Slowly Getting More Unstable

Q: I really enjoyed your web site it has helped me out a lot but I couldn't find an answer to a problem I am experiencing now with the PC I work with at my church. My monitor screen is getting a smaller view. It no longer reaches the edges. The PC is also having trouble re-booting so I am leaving it on now. The system is no longer recognizing the USB drive. I am thinking there is a problem with the harddrive but I ran the chkdisk and the only errors are that the file system has some problems. All of the sectors are good. The OS is Windows XP home. It is a Dell PC with a 80 GB drive. The PC is about 4 years old. After we tried rebooting and it gets to the password screen for the user, it doesn't recognize the keyboard. I am thinking of replacing the harddrive and reloading Windows on it. I was able to save a lot of my data files. What do you think it is the problem? Thanks in advance for your help.

A: Well, our first recommendation is that you back up your data while can. This Beginners Guide details several back up options.

There are a couple possible causes why the system is slowly dying. I don't think it's a hard drive however, since it sounds like boot related issues. More likely the powersupply is failing (or the church has poor mains power supply, ie. less than 110VAC, interference etc. that a UPS might help resolve), the motherboard is suffering from burst capacitors, perhaps excessive dust build up.

If you're comfortable looking inside the PC, use this article as a guide to see if the capacitors on the motherboard arealright. If you see similar happenings inside your PC, it needs to be replaced.

I would normally next suggest swapping out the powersupply for one you know works, but Dell used to make its power connectors proprietary... so I do not know if the PC you have there will work with an aftermarket ATX powersupply. Check to see if the fan at the back of the powersupply is spinning, and clean out dust from the PSU with canned air. If the fan has stopped, that will cause overheating and the PSU will probably need to be replaced.

If dust is a big issue inside the computer, turn off the PC and get a can of compressed air to blow clean the circuit board, clean the CPU heatsink, etc. This Beginners Guide outlines the steps fully.

You mention the monitor screen is getting smaller. Check the cables to ensure they are attached securely, if they are use the monitor on-screen controls (buttons on the bottom front of the display) to adjust the screen properties - brightness, contrast, size, position, etc. If you can, test the monitor on another computer to see if it shows the same issues, if it does not then the Dell motherboard, or videocard is the culprit.

Original URL, circa 2007:

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