Revision as of 18:40, 29 April 2009 by Petar Mitrevski (talk | contribs)

Diagnostic Beep and Error Codes

Mac / Apple computers

  • The install disk that Apple ships with every computer, also contains the AHT -- Apple Hardware Test. See Apple Hardware Test.
  • If you need to run diags on a Mac, you can also go to SR and ask Amy, Nate, or Petar for Protégé (a memory stick of sorts with the Mac diag program on it). Once you have Protégé, plug it into the Mac and then press Option. The program will then come up and you choose which set of tests you'd like to run.

Dell diagnostics partition / CD

  • Press F12 at boot-up to access the optional boot menu
  • Scroll down to "Utility Partition" (may appear as "Diagnostics" as well).
  • (Start with the Quick/Basic diags) Laptops will run quick diags automatically at this point. Newer desktops will do the same. On older Desktops you are given a choice between Basic, Extended and Custom - start with Basic.
  • If the Quick/Basic diags pass, decide if extended diagnostics are needed, based on the particular case.
  • Hit enter and continue as per the prompts and your need.

Most, but not all, Dell computers come with the diagnostics partition and occasionally you might come across one with the wrong diagnostics software on it. Do not despair, instead do the following:

  • There is shelves with CDs in the Walkin-In, as well as the SR closet
  • Look for a midd bcd disc (Midd BCD 3/4 are fine) or a "Dell Utilities and Drivers" disk.
    • If you cannot find one, click here
    • Follow the directions to download the ISO and burn it to disc
  • Start the Dell computer and press F12
  • This time choose CD/DVD drive from the boot menu
  • Follow prompts to desired diagnostics utility

Other manufacturers

Actually, very few have a diagnostics partition, CD or software. Please go to the manufacturer's site to find out what to do. Often times, there may be a RAM test and a hard disk test in the BIOS. Again, see the manufacturer page to find out what diagnostic tools are available.

Generic diagnostic tools


Hard disk drive

External hard drives


  • The Ultimate Boot CD has the above and more: http://www.ultimatebootcd.com/
  • The Midd BCD also has some generic tests
  • Finally, you can use a Linux Live CD to test hardware bits. Bad display settings in XP? No sound in XP? Wondering if it's a bad driver or damaged hardware? Boot the machine with a good Live CD -- does the sound work there? do the graphics look good? If they do, it's a pretty good indication that the hardware is healthy. Good Live CDs:

Identifying point of failure

  • POST - Power On Self Test - if no power, alternate power cord/ AC adapter, power supply, check for sounds, beeps, lights
    Failure to POST most often due to power source, memory, video card, processor or motherboard issues
  • Initial instructions for booting - BIOS (Basic Input Output System) or Firmware are built-in operating systems in ROM (Read-Only Memory)
    check that hard drive is recognized, has operating system, selected as boot source
  • Boot Volume - floppy, CD, network, hard drive, etc. - Windows, Linux, Mac OS, etc
  • While running, some possible hardware problems:

- cursor moves, no response to clicks, no hard drive activity light (if applicable) - possible hard drive failure
- locked up, cursor does not move, keyboard caps lock light unresponsive - USB or chipset driver problem, RAM, video card
- vertical or horizontal lines on screen - check if they display on different screen - sometimes specific to screen, often video card
- shuts down unexpectedly - overheating, often due to clogged fan - cleaning required

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