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Advanced Troubleshooting

Dell™ Dimension™ E521 Service Manual

  Power Lights

  Diagnostic Lights

  Beep Codes

  System Messages

  Dell Diagnostics

  Drivers

  Resolving Software and Hardware Incompatibilities



Power Lights

CAUTION: Before you begin any of the procedures in this section, follow the safety instructions in the Product Information Guide.

The power button light located on the front of the computer illuminates and blinks or remains solid to indicate different states:


Diagnostic Lights

CAUTION: Before you perform any of the procedures in this section, follow the safety instructions in the Product Information Guide.

To help you troubleshoot a problem, your computer has four lights labeled 1, 2, 3, and 4 on the front panel (see Front View of the Computer). When the computer starts normally, the lights flash before turning off. If the computer malfunctions, the sequence of the lights helps to identify the problem.

Light Pattern 

Problem Description

Suggested Resolution

The computer is in a normal "off" condition, or a possible pre-BIOS failure has occurred.

The diagnostic lights are not lit after the computer successfully boots to the operating system.

Plug the computer into a working electrical outlet and press the power button.

A possible BIOS failure has occurred; the computer is in the recovery mode.

Run the BIOS Recovery utility, wait for recovery completion, and then restart the computer.

A possible processor failure has occurred.

Contact Dell (see "Contacting Dell" in your Owner's Manual).

Memory modules are detected, but a memory failure has occurred.

  • If you have two or more memory modules installed, remove the modules, reinstall one module (see Installing Memory), and then restart the computer. If the computer starts normally, reinstall an additional module. Continue until you have identified a faulty module or reinstalled all modules without error.
  • If available, install properly working memory of the same type into your computer (see Installing Memory).
  • If the problem persists, contact Dell (see "Contacting Dell" in your Owner's Manual).

A possible graphics card failure has occurred.

  • If the computer has a graphics card, remove the card, reinstall it (see PCI Express Cards), and then restart the computer.
  • If the problem still exists, install a graphics card that you know works and restart the computer.
  • If the problem persists or the computer has integrated graphics, contact Dell (see "Contacting Dell" in your Owner's Manual).

A possible floppy or hard drive failure has occurred.

Reseat all power and data cables and restart the computer.

A possible USB failure has occurred.

Reinstall all USB devices, check cable connections, and then restart the computer.

No memory modules are detected.

  • If you have two or more memory modules installed, remove the modules, reinstall one module (see Installing Memory), and then restart the computer. If the computer starts normally, reinstall an additional module. Continue until you have identified a faulty module or reinstalled all modules without error.
  • If available, install properly working memory of the same type into your computer (see Installing Memory).
  • If the problem persists, contact Dell (see "Contacting Dell" in your Owner's Manual).

Memory modules are detected, but a memory configuration or compatibility error exists.

  • Ensure that no special memory module/memory connector placement requirements exist (see Memory Installation Guidelines).
  • Verify that the memory modules that you are installing are compatible with your computer (see Memory Installation Guidelines).
  • If the problem persists, contact Dell (see "Contacting Dell" in your Owner's Manual).

Another failure has occurred.

  • Ensure that the cables are properly connected to the system board from the hard drive, CD drive, and DVD drive (see Drives).
  • If there is an error message on your screen identifying a problem with a device (such as the floppy drive or hard drive), check the device to ensure that it is functioning properly.
  • If the problem persists, contact Dell (see "Contacting Dell" in your Owner's Manual).

After POST is complete, all four diagnostic lights turn green briefly before turning off to indicate normal operating condition.

None.


Beep Codes

Your computer might emit a series of beeps during start-up if the monitor cannot display errors or problems. This series of beeps, called a beep code, identifies a problem. One possible beep code consists of one long beep and then two short beeps. This beep code tells you that the computer encountered a memory test failure.

If your computer beeps during start-up:

  1. Write down the beep code.

  2. Run the Dell Diagnostics to identify a more serious cause (see Dell Diagnostics).

Code

Cause

2 short, 1 long

BIOS checksum error

1 long, 2 short

Memory test failure (bad memory during memory sizing)

1 long, 3 short, 2 short

No memory

1 short

F12 key pressed


System Messages

NOTE: If the message you received is not listed in the table, see the documentation for either the operating system or the program that was running when the message appeared.

A filename cannot contain any of the following characters: \ / : * ? " < > |  —   Do not use these characters in filenames.

A required .DLL file was not found  —  The program that you are trying to open is missing an essential file. To remove and then reinstall the program:

  1. Click the Start button, click Control Panel, and then click Add or Remove Programs.
  2. Select the program you want to remove.
  3. Click the Change or Remove Program icon.
  4. See the program documentation for installation instructions.

Attachment failed to respond  —  See "Drive Problems" in your Owner's Manual.

Bad command or file name  —  Ensure that you spelled the command correctly, put spaces in the proper place, and used the correct pathname.

Bad error-correction code (ECC) on disk read  —  See "Drive Problems" in your Owner's Manual.

Data error  —  See "Drive Problems" in your Owner's Manual.

Diskette drive 0 seek failure — See "Drive Problems" in your Owner's Manual.

Diskette read failure —

See "Drive Problems" in your Owner's Manual.

Diskette write protected — Slide the write-protect notch on the floppy disk to the open position.

Hard-disk drive failure —

See "Drive Problems" in your Owner's Manual.

No boot device detected  —  Insert a bootable floppy disk or CD.

Invalid configuration information - please run SETUP program  —  Enter system setup and correct the computer configuration information (see Entering System Setup).

Keyboard failure  — See "Keyboard Problems" in your Owner's Manual.

Memory allocation error —

 

  1. Turn off the computer, wait 30 seconds, and then restart the computer.
  2. Try to run the program again.
  3. If the error message appears again, see the software documentation for additional troubleshooting suggestions.

No boot device available —

  • If the floppy drive is your boot device, ensure that a bootable floppy disk is in the drive.
  • If the hard drive is your boot device, ensure that the cables are connected and that the drive is installed properly and partitioned as a boot device.
  • Enter system setup and ensure that the boot sequence information is correct (see Entering System Setup).

Non-system disk error  —  Remove the floppy disk from the drive and restart your computer.

Non-system disk or disk error  —  Replace the floppy disk with one that has a bootable operating system or remove the floppy disk from drive A and restart the computer.

Not a boot diskette  —  Insert a bootable floppy disk and restart your computer.

Not enough memory or resources. Close some programs and try again  —  Close all windows and open the program that you want to use. In some cases, you might have to restart your computer to restore computer resources. If so, run the program that you want to use first.

Read fault —


Requested sector not found —


Reset failed —

See "Drive Problems" in your Owner's Manual.

Sector not found  —  

  • Run the Windows error-checking utility to check the file structure on the floppy disk or hard drive. See Windows Help for instructions.
  • If a large number of sectors are defective, back up the data (if possible), and then reformat the floppy disk or hard drive.

Seek error — See "Drive Problems" in your Owner's Manual.

Shutdown failure  —  Run the Dell Diagnostics.

Unexpected interrupt in protected mode — Run the Dell Diagnostics.

WARNING: Dell's Disk Monitoring System has detected that drive [0/1] on the [primary/secondary] EIDE controller is operating outside of normal specifications. It is advisable to immediately back up your data and replace your hard drive by calling your support desk or Dell  —

 If no replacement drive is immediately available and the drive is not the only bootable drive, enter system setup and change the appropriate drive setting to None. Then remove the drive from the computer (see Entering System Setup).

<drive letter>:\ is not accessible. The device is not ready  —  The selected drive cannot read its medium. Depending on its medium type, insert a floppy, CD, or Zip disk into the drive and try again.


Dell Diagnostics

CAUTION: Before you begin any of the procedures in this section, follow the safety instructions in the Product Information Guide.
NOTE: The Dell Diagnostics only operate on Dell computers.

Starting the Dell Diagnostics

  1. Turn on (or restart) your computer.

  2. When the DELL logo appears, press <F12> immediately.

NOTE: Keyboard failure may result when a key is held down for extended periods of time. To avoid possible keyboard failure, press and release <F12> in even intervals to open the Boot Device Menu.

If you wait too long and the operating system logo appears, continue to wait until you see the Microsoft® Windows® desktop, then shut down your computer and try again.

  1. At the Boot Device Menu, use the up- and down-arrow keys or press the appropriate number on the keyboard to highlight Boot to Utility Partition, and then press <Enter>.

NOTE: The Quickboot feature changes the boot sequence for the current boot only. Upon restart, the computer boots according to the boot sequence specified in system setup.
  1. At the Dell Diagnostics Main Menu, left-click with the mouse, or press <Tab> and then <Enter>, to select the test you want to run (see Dell Diagnostics Main Menu).

NOTE: Write down any error codes and problem descriptions exactly as they appear and follow the instructions on the screen.
  1. After all tests have completed, close the test window to return to the Dell Diagnostics Main Menu.

  2. Close the Main Menu window to exit the Dell Diagnostics and restart the computer.

Dell Diagnostics Main Menu

  1. After the Dell Diagnostics loads and the Main Menu screen appears, click the button for the option you want.

Option

Function 

Express Test

Performs a quick test of devices. This test typically takes 10 to 20 minutes and requires no interaction on your part. Run Express Test first to increase the possibility of tracing the problem quickly.

Extended Test

Performs a thorough check of devices. This test typically takes an hour or more and requires you to answer questions periodically.

Custom Test

Tests a specific device. You can customize the tests you want to run.

Symptom Tree

Lists the most common symptoms encountered and allows you to select a test based on the symptom of the problem you are having.

  1. If a problem is encountered during a test, a message appears with an error code and a description of the problem. Write down the error code and problem description and follow the instructions on the screen.

If you cannot resolve the error condition, contact Dell (see "Contacting Dell" in your Owner's Manual).

NOTE: The Service Tag for your computer is located at the top of each test screen. If you contact Dell, technical support will ask for your Service Tag.
  1. If you run a test from the Custom Test or Symptom Tree option, click the applicable tab described in the following table for more information.

Tab

Function

Results

Displays the results of the test and any error conditions encountered.

Errors

Displays error conditions encountered, error codes, and the problem description.

Help

Describes the test and may indicate requirements for running the test.

Configuration

Displays your hardware configuration for the selected device.

The Dell Diagnostics obtains configuration information for all devices from system setup, memory, and various internal tests, and it displays the information in the device list in the left pane of the screen. The device list may not display the names of all the components installed on your computer or all devices attached to your computer.

Parameters

Allows you to customize the test by changing the test settings.

  1. Close the test screen to return to the Main Menu screen. To exit the Dell Diagnostics and restart the computer, close the Main Menu screen.


Drivers

What Is a Driver?

A driver is a program that controls a device such as a printer, mouse, or keyboard. All devices require a driver program.

A driver acts as a translator between the device and any other programs that use the device. Each device has its own set of specialized commands that only the driver for that device recognizes.

Required drivers are already installed on your computer—no further installation or configuration is needed.

Many drivers, such as the keyboard driver, come with your Microsoft® Windows® operating system. You may need to install drivers if you:

Identifying Drivers

If you experience a problem with any device, identify whether the driver is the source of your problem and, if necessary, update the driver.

Windows XP

  1. Click the Start button, then click Control Panel.

  2. Under Pick a Category, click Performance and Maintenance.

  3. Click System.

  4. In the System Properties window, click the Hardware tab.

  5. Click Device Manager.

  6. Scroll down the list of devices and check for an exclamation point (a circle with a [!]) next to the device name.

If an exclamation point appears next to the device name, you may need to reinstall the driver or install a new driver.

Reinstalling Drivers

NOTICE: The Dell Support website at support.dell.com provides approved drivers for your Dell™ computer. If you install drivers obtained from other sources, your computer may not function properly.

Using Windows XP Device Driver Rollback

If a problem occurs on your computer after you install or update a driver, use Windows XP Device Driver Rollback to replace the driver with the previously installed version.

  1. Click Start, then click Control Panel.

  2. Under Pick a Category, click Performance and Maintenance.

  3. Click System.

  4. In the System Properties window, click the Hardware tab.

  5. Click Device Manager.

  6. Right-click the device for which the new driver was installed, then click Properties.

  7. Click the Driver tab.

  8. Click Roll Back Driver.

Manually Reinstalling Drivers

  1. After copying the required driver files to your hard drive, click the Start button and right-click My Computer.

  2. Click Properties.

  3. Click the Hardware tab and click Device Manager.

  4. Double-click the type of device for which you are installing the driver.

  5. Double-click the name of the device for which you are installing the driver.

  6. Click the Driver tab and click Update Driver.

  7. Click Install from a list or specific location (Advanced) and click Next.

  8. Click Browse and browse to the location to which you previously extracted the driver files.

  9. When the name of the appropriate driver appears, click Next.

  10. Click Finish and restart your computer.


Resolving Software and Hardware Incompatibilities

If a device is not detected during the operating system setup or is detected but incorrectly configured, you can use the Hardware Troubleshooter to resolve the incompatibility.

To resolve incompatibilities using the Hardware Troubleshooter:

  1. Click Start, then click Help and Support.

  2. Type hardware troubleshooter in the Search field, then click the arrow to start the search.

  3. Click Hardware Troubleshooter in the Search Results list.

  4. In the Hardware Troubleshooter list, click I need to resolve a hardware conflict on my computer, and then click Next.


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