How to Create a Bootable Floppy Disk

How to Create a Bootable Floppy Disc:

The “Create Startup Disc” option will allow you to make a bootable floppy disc with the diagnostic program installed. Make sure you have a BLANK floppy disc available as the program will overwrite any data that is currently on the floppy disc. [Don't use your family photos disc, or the disc you save your homework to.]

I recommend formatting any disc you plan to use prior to creating it with the program. This way you can avoid any issues with the disc not working once it has been written to. You can do this by clicking on “My Computer” and then right clicking on your “A:\” drive and selecting the format option from the menu. Make sure the drive you have selected is in fact your floppy drive to avoid wiping out data on any of your hard drives.

Once you click the Create Startup Disc option it will bring up a smaller window that says “Select the floppy disc you want to use and then click create”. Since the floppy disc should be ready to go now, go ahead and click “create”. You will see the lights on your floppy drive come on, and a progress bar that will let you know when the process is complete. Once it is done it will say “Success – Floppy Created Successfully”. You have now created your diagnostic disc.

Check the disc by clicking on “My Computer” and then by clicking on your “A:\” drive to make sure that you can see files on the disc to ensure it has been created successfully.

You can now close the disc maker application and leave your floppy disc in the floppy drive. [If this is the system you want to diagnose.] Once you have closed out of the program select the option to “Restart” your computer, and make sure the floppy disc is still in the drive.

Once the computer restarts it should automatically go into the diagnostic program on the floppy disc. Some computers may need to have the boot order changed in order to run from a floppy disc on boot. If this is the case, when you reboot your computer it will just go back into Windows.

If it does simply restart the system again and look for a message to hit a certain key to enter “setup”. On most systems it is the “DEL” key. This will take you to a screen with a blue background. You are now in the BIOS of your computer. Be carefully when working in the BIOS as any changes you make can affect the system.

You are looking for a section that has something similar to “Boot Order” which should list about 3 or 4 devices. To boot from a floppy disc you want to make sure that the first device listed is “floppy”. If it is something else, highlight the device and then click enter which should bring up a menu with several devices. You can use the arrow keys to select the “floppy” option from the list. Once you have it selected hit enter again and it should take you back to the boot order screen. If t does not, then hit escape and just make sure the first device listed is now your floppy drive.

One other thing that can keep the system from booting from the floppy drive is an option that says “Boot Floppy Seek”. This must be set to enable in order for the system to check the floppy drive when it boots up. If it is disabled follow the above procedure to select a different option from the list.

Once you have made the necessary changes, hit the F10 key and the system will ask if you want to save changes and reboot. Say YES or “Y” and then hit enter. The system will now reboot and if you have your floppy disc in the system, it will automatically go into the diagnostic mode.

[If you have problems getting into your BIOS or finding a section that is referenced in this guide, please contact the company you purchased your computer from and their tech department should be able to walk you through enabling the necessary steps in order to get your system to boot from the floppy drive.]



Basic Modem Troubleshooting Guide

Basic Modem Troubleshooting:

Basic modem troubleshooting is preformed when you are unable to get onto the internet with your dial-up modem. It has become more and more common for people to switch over to “high speed internet” to avoid the hassles caused by using dial-up internet. If you are still using a standard modem or are unable to get high speed access in your area this guide will walk you through what you need to know to get your modem working.

You will need the following three items to ensure proper testing can be preformed. They are; a verified working phone cord that is about 6′ feet long, a working phone & phone line in the house, and an internet account with your local ISP. [Internet Service Provider] You NEED an ISP account to access the internet because if you do not have one you will be unable to dial in to a server.

Once you have the listed items, you can begin to work off the guide to resolve the problems you are having with your modem. The most common errors are getting a message that the computer does not recognize the modem or is not getting a dial tone.

Other common issues are getting a busy signal when you dial out to your ISP. Getting a dropped connection where you are constantly getting disconnected from your ISP. Or speed issues which result from using dial-up internet.

We DO NOT support those issues as they are a problem with your ISP. If you are experiencing busy signals, dropped connections or speed issues, you will need to contact your ISP’s tech support line for help. There are many issues with software configuration, initialization strings and external hardware on your phone lines that we cannot determine as the reseller of your hardware. Your ISP is best equipped to walk you through fixing those listed issues.

Now that you are ready to troubleshoot your hardware, please follow the steps below to ensure proper steps are taken to diagnose your problem.

01.  Check Your Connections

Make sure all your phone cords, and the phone line you are connected to is working properly. To do this connect a telephone to the phone line you are using for your internet connection. Use the phone to dial any outside number to verify that you can complete the call. If you are able to reach the number you are calling you can verify that the phone line is working so you can rule it out as a problem. The next step would be hooking up the phone cord you are using between your computer and phone jack to the telephone you tested the first step with. Perform the first step again with the phone “cord” that you use to connect to the internet and verify it is working. [Bad cables and cords are rare but are easy to overlook when they go bad, since most people assume a cord stays good forever. It can also be important to test them if you have recently had an electrical storm in your area.]

02.  Make Sure Your Modem is Recognized by Your PC:

This can be done in two different ways. The methods are slightly different on Windows XP and Windows 98 / ME.

For Windows XP Users:

  1. Click “Start” then “Settings > Control Panel” or “Control Panel”.
  2. In Control Panel select the “Phone and Modem Options” icon.
  3. Select the “Modems” tab in the top middle, of the new window that opens..
  4. Then on the next screen select the “Properties” button in the lower right.
  5. You should now select the “Diagnostic” tab in the top of the new window..
  6. Then click on the “Query Modem” button in the middle of the window.

At this point a dialog box will pop up and tell you “Please wait…” “Communicating with Modem”

Once this is complete you should now see a text readout in the “Command” “Response” window below the “Query Modem” button. If you see the text displayed there you have now verified that Windows sees your modem hardware.

If the modem fails this test you should try to uninstall and reinstall the modem software. [STEP #4]

For Windows 98 / ME Users:

  1. Click “Start” then “Settings > Control Panel”
  2. Double click on the “Modem” icon and then click the “Diagnostics” tab.
  3. Select the “COM Port” that lists the modem.
  4. Click “More Info” button.


At this point the computer will run a series of tests to ensure you hardware modem is working correctly and is recognized by Windows.

If the modem fails this test you should try to uninstall and reinstall the modem software. [STEP #4]

03.  Make Sure You can Connect to Your ISP:

Now we need to check to make sure the modem can communicate with the outside world. To do this follow the listed procedure to ensure you are testing your modem correctly.

  1. Click “Start” then “Run” and type HYPERTRM into the run line.
  2. Once you hit ENTER, and you will see a new window pop up with a world spinning around in it. Once this goes away it will take you to the “Connection Description” window. [If a default Telnet window opens click "No"]
  3. Click the “Cancel” button on the “Connection Description” window.
  4. Once that window is gone, click somewhere into the white space of the window behind it to move your cursor to this command field. [NOTE: Characters may not show up in the HYERTRM window as you are typing them.]
  5. Type ATZ and press ENTER [The word OK should appear and the Modem is now reset]
  6. Type ATX0 and hit ENTER. [The number zero not the letter "O". It should now say OK again, this disables dial-tone detection.]
  7. Type ATDT 123   [Do not press ENTER this time]
  8. Pick up the phone receiver that is on the same phone line as the modem / PC and listen carefully.
  9. Press the ENTER key now.
  10. The modem will now attempt to dial out and will dial the numbers 1, 2, 3.

If you can hear tones on the phone line at this point the modem is able to dial out. You have now completed Step #3 of the modem troubleshooting guide.

If you do not hear tones at this point it means the modem needs to be moved to a different PCI slot in the computer and retested. If it fails the test once it’s in a new PCI slot it is a sign that the modem may be defective and you should contact the store you purchased your hardware from to find out about an exchange

04.  Reset Your Modem and Com Ports:

For this next step you will be resetting ALL the modem properties by uninstalling and reinstalling your hardware modem. To uninstall your modem follow these steps:

  1. Right Click on “My Computer” and select “Properties”
  2. Click on the “Hardware” tab in the top middle of the new window, and then select the “Device Manager” button.
  3. Scroll down the list of hardware and click on the + sign that is next to the “Modems” sections in device manager.
  4. Select your modem and right click it and select the “Uninstall” option from the menu. [Or the "Delete" button in Windows 98']
  5. Once your modem has been removed from the list, click the “Start” button and then select the “Shutdown” option.
  6. Once you restart the computer you should see a window that says “Detecting new hardware” or something similar to that when you load back into Windows.
  7. At this point you will need to go back into “Device Manager” and you should see your modem back on the list.


If you can now see your hardware modem listed try reconnecting to the internet to retest your connection.

If you do not see your modem on the list shut down your PC and try moving the modem to a different PCI slot to test whether the modem itself may be bad. If it doesn’t show up in device manager after it has been moved to a new PCI slot you may have a bad modem, and will want to contact the company you purchased it from to find out about an exchange.

05.  Uninstall and Reinstall Your ISP Software:

The last step of the guide will walk you through how to remove your ISP software to rule out any possible problem with a bad installation. Since all ISPs can vary on how their software is installed out guide will walk you through how to remove your software only. If you need help reinstalling your software you will need to contact your ISP so they can give you the detailed settings you need to connect to their service.

Work off the following steps to ensure you are able to completely remove your ISP software from your computer to ensure problems are not occurring from corruption or a bad installation.

  1. Click “Start” then “Settings > Control Panel” or “Control Panel”.
  2. In control panel select the “Network and Dial up Connections” icon.
  3. In the new window find the connection that has the name of your ISP, and highlight it and then click the DELETE key. [or right click and select delete from the menu]
  4. Say “YES” to confirm that you want to delete this connection. If there is more than one dialup connection you may want to remove the others also.
  5. Once you have removed your dial up connections you will also want to remove the software provided by your ISP so you can do a clean reinstall of it.
  6. While still in control panel select the “Add Remove Programs” option.
  7. The new window will show you a list of all your installed software.
  8. Check for any software with the name of your ISP [for example: AOL, Chorus, AT&T, etc]
  9. Once you have found the software select the “Remove” option to uninstall the software.
  10. Now that you have removed your dial up connections and ISP software you can do a clean reinstall to ensure all the settings are configured back to default. If you run into any problems while reinstalling your software and dial up connection please contact your ISP’s tech department and they can walk you through the steps needed to setup your software again. In some cases you may need specific details from them for configuring your connection so it can be a good idea to work with them anyway to ensure the software gets reinstalled and configured correctly.

Conclusion:

You have now completed the Basic Modem Troubleshooting guide. If you are still running into issues with your modem you may have a bad modem or you may be running into another issue that is not covered by this guide. If this is the case you will want to contact your ISP for further troubleshooting. Most any company that you purchase a modem from can only support the hardware troubleshooting for it, but won’t go more in depth than that because there can be so many variables with dial up modems.

As mentioned before, if you have access to “High Speed Internet” in your area, I would highly recommend getting it. The cost is hardly that much more over dial up now a days, and the return far surpasses the quality of dial up internet. I would compare it to paying $1000 dollars for a Gremlin [dial up internet] as vs. $1500 for BMW. [High speed internet]. It is also much easier to troubleshoot high speed internet because it usually consists of two steps.

01. Turn off your modem.

02. Turn your modem back on.

[You should now be back online.]

All in all, this guide took you through configuring and troubleshooting your hardware based dial up modem. If you have worked through the guide, you should now be comfortable in diagnosing the majority of problems that can occur with a dial up modem. This should help you for any possible problems you run into. Just remember to be patient when working with a dial up modem since it is an older technology that requires more patience and knowledge to keep working, into the future.



How to POST Test a Motherboard

Building Your Own PC – Performing a POST Test

Hi everyone. I wanted to write a brief guide today to help people with one of the most common questions we get in the computer industry, how to do a POST test.

A POST test is one of the most important steps in building your own computer that can sometimes give users problems. Follow the steps below to ensure your components are installed correctly, or to troubleshoot any problems in a “No POST” situation.

A POST test can be performed outside of the case, but needs to be done on an insulated surface. Using the foam insert that came with your motherboard, or POST testing the board on top of the motherboard box are two suitable methods.

01. The first thing you need to do is make sure you have all the needed computer hardware to perform a POST Test. To do a POST test you will need:

Computer Hardware for POST Test

  1. Motherboard
  2. CPU / Processor
  3. RAM / Memory
  4. Power Supply

These are the basic hardware requirements to perform a POST test.

(You may need a video card also if your motherboard does not have onboard video)

02. Install the processor on your motherboard. All CPUs have markings which show how they need to be aligned when they are installed. An Intel (Socket 775) CPU commonly has two notches in the sides which align with indents in the CPU socket. An AMD CPU (Socket AM2, Phenom, etc) have an arrow located on one corner that needs be aligned with an arrow on the CPU socket.

Intel CPU and Processor Tabs AMD CPU and Processor Markings

03. Once the processor is installed make sure you secure the lever on the side of the CPU socket. This holds the processor in place. Double-check to make sure you have properly installed your CPU before securing this lever to prevent against bent pins or damage to the processor or CPU socket.

04. Once the lever is down, and the processor is locked into the socket you will need to install your CPU heat sync (Cooler). When installing an Intel cooler make sure the 3 pin wire from the fan can reach the 3 pin connection on your motherboard. To secure the heat sync you will need to push down on each of the four pegs on the sides of the cooler. You should feel a small click as each one latches through the motherboard. (If you do not feel a click make sure the pegs are oriented the correct way to prevent bending the teeth on the pegs.)

For an AMD CPU cooler you will fasten the metal tabs on the heat sync onto the tabs located on the CPU socket. (Make sure the 3 pin wire from the fan can reach the 3 pin connection on your motherboard.) Once the tabs are in place, turn the swing arm on the cooler over to lock the cooler into place.

Intel CPU Heatsync and Cooler AMD CPU Heatsync and Cooler

05. Next we will be installing the RAM. Whether you are using DDR or DDR2 memory you will want to make sure you are aligning your RAM correctly when you install it onto your motherboard. Memory has a notch in the teeth which needs to line up with the notch in the memory socket. Place the RAM gently in the memory slot and check to make sure these notches are aligned before applying pressure. Once you have confirmed the RAM is aligned correctly apply moderate pressure from the top and you should feel the memory click into place. You can double-check that the RAM is secure by making sure the tabs on the sides of the memory slot have latched into the memory module you are installing.

DDR2 RAM and Memory Module DDR2 Memory Slot for RAM

06. Now we need to hookup the power connections for the motherboard. You should have two leads from your power supply that need to be connected to the motherboard. One lead will be a 20 or 24 pin ATX power connection. The other will be a 4 pin ATX power connection.

Check on your board for these connections. The 20/24 pin power connection will commonly be located near the memory slots, and the 4 pin power connection will usually be located between your CPU and the rear I./O connections on your motherboard.

Each connection has a tab (or notch) that locks the power connection in place. Check the connections on the board and align the notch with the tab on the power connection. (These connections are “keyed” so they will only fit one way. If you insert the cable into the power connection on the board and it goes in you have it aligned the correct way.) You should feel a small click when you insert the power cable which ensures it has been fully inserted.

ATX 20/24 Pin Power Connection on Motherboard ATX 4 Pin Power Connection on Motherboard

20 / 24 Pin ATX Power Cable on Power Supply 4 Pin ATX Power Cable from Power Supply

07. Now that we have everything connected you will want to hookup your keyboard and monitor to the motherboard. Also make sure you have plugged in the AC power cable to the power supply and ensure the power supply is set to on. (The black button on the back of the power supply).

(If you do not have onboard video you will need to install a video card to connect your monitor.)

Once you have these things hooked up you are ready to try and POST the motherboard. Refer to your motherboard manual to identify the 2 pins on the motherboard that are for your “power” switch. Take a flathead screw driver and tap these two pins to power on the motherboard combo.

Motherboard Front Panel Wiring Power Button Pins

Conclusion

You should now see basic POST information coming up on the screen. If you do not you may want to double check the steps listed above to make sure you did not miss a step.

If you have performed all the steps above correctly check the list below of common troubleshooting checks to check for any configuration problems or hardware issues.

  1. Make sure you are jumping the correct pins on the motherboard for the “power” switch. Refer to your motherboard manual as the colors can vary with every motherboard.
  2. Make sure the VGA cable from the monitor is securely connected to your onboard video or video card.
  3. Make sure your monitor is turned on.
  4. Check to make sure the CPU fan is plugged into the 3 pin connection on your motherboard. A fan that is not spinning can lead people to believe the board is not powering on.
  5. Check to make sure your memory is aligned and installed correctly in the memory socket. It is not uncommon that one side of the memory latched into place but the other side did not. When in doubt remove your RAM and reseat it in the memory socket.
  6. Double-check that your ATX power connections are firmly inserted into the board. Give each one a slight tug to make sure it doesn’t pop out of the connection indicating that it wasn’t making solid contact.
  7. Check the power switch on the rear of your power supply. It is a black switch that has a one and zero on it. 0 indicates the power supply is turned “off” and 1 indicates the power supply is turned on.
  8. Try resetting your CMOS. This can be done with the 3 pin jumper indicated in your manual. (This is commonly located near the battery.) You can also remove the battery for about one minute from your motherboard. Make sure the AC power cable is disconnected from your power supply when you do this as any slight charge in the board will allow the system to retain the settings we are trying to reset.
  9. Make sure that the wall outlet you are plugged into is not controlled by a wall switch. If it is, make sure the switch is turned on.
  10. Check to make sure the AC cable connected to your power supply is securely plugged in.
  11. If you are plugged into a power strip try plugging directly into a wall outlet to eliminate any variables between the motherboard combo and the outlet. (For testing purposes, It is recommend to use a power strip for normal use.)
  12. Reseat your CPU by removing the processor from the motherboard, and reinstalling it. When you remove the CPU visually inspect the pins on the CPU or the CPU socket to make sure none of them are bent. Double check the tabs or arrows on the CPU and the CPU socket to make sure the CPU is aligned properly. The CPU should lay flat in the socket, and requires no force to install. You should be able to place it gently into the socket.

If none of the techniques listed above work you may be running into an issue with faulty hardware or a problem that goes outside the scope of this guide. If this is the case contact the hardware manufacturer for help, or check online and in forums for advice from other users about things you can check.

I hope you all enjoyed our first “How-To” guide on the Custom PC Blog. Please feel free to leave any feedback or comments with questions or suggestions.

If you are looking for a great place for computer hardware, that offers component testing, barebones and combo build services for less than $10 dollars, and a FREE one year warranty check out www.cpusolutions.com for some of the best service around.


By Paul in Hardware  .::. Read Comments (5)


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