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Power Operating Systems Software Windows

Fixing Windows Boxes that Crash After Blackouts? 110

UnseenTomorrow asks: "Everytime there's a power outage in my house, my Gateway computer crashes. It's only 2.5 yrs old. After the crash the computer just will not allow Windows to boot (yes, this includes "Safe Mode" and every other boot option in that menu). Should I explicitly say that I'm tired of rebuilding or restoring the image everytime? Does anyone have any idea of what could be the problem. I've other computers running fine after the power outage with the same OS but different hardware manufacturer. Any clues or suggestions would be greatly appreciated."
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Fixing Windows Boxes that Crash After Blackouts?

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  • Think ahead (Score:5, Informative)

    by TheWanderingHermit ( 513872 ) on Wednesday December 14, 2005 @01:03AM (#14253594)
    That's why God invented the UPS. The last one I bought was $90, but you can get them for much less, use the networking connections, and install the software that'll automatically shut down the system.

    I don't use a huge UPS (actually I have two). I've noticed that if we get a power outage that's more than a flicker (i.e. lasting longer than 2 minutes, while circuits reset), that it'll likely be out for 45 minutes or more. So I don't worry about keeping my systems going for longer than 5 minutes (which is the 2 minutes plus 3 to shut them down -- which will change when I finally have time to set them up to communicate with the UPS).
    • Re:Think ahead (Score:4, Interesting)

      by toddbu ( 748790 ) on Wednesday December 14, 2005 @01:06AM (#14253602)
      I have two as well. For my 600VA unit, I pulled the stock 7VA battery and hooked up a car battery. Works real good.
      • Have you run it on the battery for a long period?

        Pretty much all of the ones that come with a 7AH battery are not rated for 100% power output for more than 3 or 4 minutes.

        In other words, it'll likely melt because they lied, it can only do maybe 200-300 VA continuous for more than a couple minutes.
        • Yup. See here [].
          • Well, that's interesting. I bet it didn't cost $90 though, which is what the original post in this thread suggested getting.

            If it did cost $90 I guess I just haven't kept up with the progress in UPSs.
          • OK, mod me down for completely off topic of commenting on a tag line, but I had to...

            If you don't want crime to pay, let the government run it.

            ...isn't that the way it already works?

      • Re:Think ahead (Score:3, Interesting)

        by flonker ( 526111 )
        You're better off using a marine battery. Car batteries are shallow cycle, meaning they put out large short bursts of current, ideal for ie. starting a car. Marine batteries are deep cycle, meaning that they're designed for a longer discharge.
        • Re:Think ahead (Score:3, Informative)

          by walt-sjc ( 145127 )
          This comes up everytime the subject of UPS's are mentioned.

          No, you don't want car OR marine batteries (car batteries are worse, but both are inappropriate.)

          In these batteries, the plates are more like lead sponges designed for high current output for short periods of time. What you want are industrial type batteries that are designed for many recharge cycles and long-term use - fork-lift batteries, or golf cart batteries are generally good choices. They have thick lead plates that hold up. Since they are no
      • Re:Think ahead (Score:1, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        I have two as well. For my 600VA unit, I pulled the stock 7VA battery and hooked up a car battery. Works real good.

        Your UPS probably isn't delivering enough charge current to support a car size battery, so the car battery will degrade much faster than it should. Lead-acid batteries that are charged too slow, and that aren't given enough current in their brief "over-charge" state at the end of a charge will sulfate and fail rapidly.

        You might get a lot of use per power failure cycle out of a car battery used
      • Re:Think ahead (Score:3, Informative)

        by unitron ( 5733 )
        "For my 600VA unit, I pulled the stock 7VA battery and hooked up a car battery."

        Car batteries (or tractor or marine or anything along those lines) do not belong indoors, and are probably a good way to void your homeowner's or renter's insurance, assuming that you're still alive to care.

      • It'll work real well until you burn up the guts of the UPS on an extended run off the batteries, or until you blow up the battery somehow. Car batteries should stay in cars, sealed lead acid batteries are what you want to use for a UPS (and especially indoors).

        Me, I managed to snarf two 2200VA rated UPS units from a client's office which closed down last year. Each unit has batteries internally, and has two external battery packs rated at 24V 75A each. That's a whole lotta backup power at home. :-)
    • If the industry really thought ahead, there would be a UPS built into the power supply, with enough juice to do a suspend to disk. Why this has yet to take place is beyond me.
      • Re:Think ahead (Score:1, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Size constraints (you know what it takes to make a UPS sans batteries, right?). Its challenging enough to make computer power supplies fit into smaller and smaller spaces (while increasing the DC power output as computers need more and more power).

        and, biggest of them all:


        these things don't last forever and they're a liability. a friend of mine had their UPS explode and catch fire due to a bad battery at a local ISP. Batteries don't last forever either. they have to be replaced. Oh, and they're heav
        • They seem to have solved the problem pretty well with laptops, which are a fraction of the size/weight of desktops...
          • But leaving a laptop battery in while running the machine on the mains quickly destroys the battery.. UPS batteries are designed to remain fully charged, unlike laptop batteries are designed to be discharged and recharged fairly often
            • so you leave the battery in just long enough to get it charged and then remove it? I've never heard of anyone doing that before to increase battery life. The only time I ever do it is when the machine is locked up and not responding to any of the power switches.
      • >>If the industry really thought ahead, there would be a UPS built into the power supply, with enough juice to do a suspend to disk. Why this has yet to take place is beyond me.

        Flexibility. If you're located in an area served by a large UPS already, having one internally would cause issues. We've had our facilities maintenance folks complain to us because our small UPSs were fighting w/ the large UPS installed for powering the data center. I left electronics back in college so all I can relay is that
    • I have been using UPSs since about 1998 and haven't regretted it. If a file is worth $50 in time to replace, then the UPS possibly paid for itself the first blackout. If a computer takes a couple evenings to reinstall and restore from backup, then it's well worth the $50. If you have to pay someone to come out and fix your computer, the UPS might pay for itself twice over or more from the first blackout. I have been buying APC BackUPS ES500 models for a while now, and they only cost $50.

      This isn't to sa
    • I picked up an old 2U 1400VA UPS for my two computers, it works great. You can probably pick one up on eBay for a decent price, though you may have to get the batteries changed out.
  • UPS (Score:1, Redundant)

    by nerd65536 ( 692353 )
    Just buy a UPS to allow your (screwed up (use Linux!)) operating system shut down.
    • You are recommending that someone who asks /. questions that are best answered on tech support boards to convert to linux?

      Cliff, (the editor for this story) would be overrun with questions. And I would pity him.

      I love converting users to *nix for whatever reason. But I do it responsibily. I offer tech support to anyone that converts.

      That being said, I've probably watched other people operate a *nix system for about 20 minutes of my life. What little I know is based on reading the best documentation I co
  • Um . . . (Score:3, Informative)

    by Seumas ( 6865 ) on Wednesday December 14, 2005 @01:04AM (#14253598)
    Yeah, it sucks and all and that kind of thing can tend to happen with a hard shutdown... But you know, it could all be avoided with a reasonable backup power supply unit. Either one big one for all of them or several small ones. YOu just need enough time for them to shut down gracefully. If you're running Windows they often come with software that will instruct the systems ot safely shutdown after the outage is detected and before the juice runs out.

    Sure, they're not free or cheap, but figure if you make $30-$40/hr and if you spend eight hours rebuilding a bunch of boxes, you might as well have just spent a few hundred on a nice power supply...
    • What filesystem are you using?
      NTFS has been much more reliable for me than fat32....

      Second, try resetting the bios. I've had very strange booting problems resulting from bios stuff...

      Third, start it up in step-by-step mode, and see what step or driver it crashes on. The google it and see what the hell is going on.

      Fourth, buy an OSX compatible, Linux powered, super penguinated, Red hat and Novell and IBM supported, Groklaw protected, wikipedia described, google searched, Ajax enabled, Firefox frie
      • As much as I throughly dispise working with Windows' GUI, etc., I have seen, so far, one instance of a problem with a hard shutdown on NTFS. Other than that seems to hold its own as a journaling file system.

        This is coming from doing lots and lots of hard reboots on Windows 2k* servers in a web hosting environment.

        That does not mean other programs or hardware, i.e. SCSI RAID w/big caches on both the drives and the RAID card itself, might have a problem with such actions.

        I can actually say that Mi

        • I'm curious what it is that you dislike about the NTFS permissions schema. It seems pretty featureful and straightforward to me.
          • I don't know about the gp, but I find Microsoft style ACL's to be overly complex and confusing. NTFS and SMB permissions on the same files? What a PITA. NFS does it much nicer. You set up the share permissions separate from the filesystem permissions -- Microsoft has them in the same place, causing a lot of confusion. Give me the standard Unix -rwxr-xr-- style permissions for my filesystem, and share permissions in a config file, and I'll be happy.
            Just my $.02
          • Here's one: there is no guarantee that the inherited permissions on a given file or folder will match the permissions from the parent that are supposed to be inheritable.
          • trying to customize permissions in xp home to not let guest write to my files
            i ended up screwing up and instead disabled sharing in the firewall
            and reverted my changes by doing this in cygwin's bash shell
            $ cd /cygdrives/c
            $ chmod -Rv 777 *
  • OS (Score:2, Insightful)

    by nerd65536 ( 692353 )
    There's obviously a problem with your operating system. Reinstall from scratch (not image).

    ...Or you could just go with Linux.

  • What's running? (Score:4, Informative)

    by NanoGator ( 522640 ) on Wednesday December 14, 2005 @01:07AM (#14253607) Homepage Journal
    Is something running on that computer that isn't running on others? I'm wondering if an important boot file is being left 'open' and never successfully closes unless Windows shuts down. Since you mentioned it being a Gateway computer, I would look closely at this. Maybe they have a recovery app that's shadow-copying your boot stuff so you can recover it later. (Maybe even the Windows save state for system files...?)

    On a different topic, years ago I had a problem where Windows 98 would hose itself if you shut it down. It'd actually wipe out the FAT table. Why? The HD was new with a bigger cache than most discs had at the time. Windows would shut the power off to the drive before the disc was done writing data from the cache. I don't have high hopes that this has anything to do with your computer, but if I had nothing else to try in your situation, I'd see if the problem happens with a different HD.
    • But apparently they released a patch to fix this (I just installed Win98 on a computer yesterday and it showed up in windows update). Apparently the problem was that as processors got faster and faster, they would shut down and cut power faster than the harddrive could dump its cache. This simply forces it to write out its cache before cutting power.
    • Along the lines of fixing your filesystem (because you can't boot, even in safe mode...)

      BartPE is your friend: []

      Download the basic BartPE CD builder and have it make you a standard BartPE ISO. Burn it to disk and then boot off the CD.

      Once it's done loading, launch a command window and run:

      chkdsk /r C:

      (checkdisk "repair" C:-drive)

      Or whatever drive needs fixing. Once it's done, reboot. This should repair your filesystem and probably get you going again.
  • Treadmill (Score:3, Funny)

    by TheCarlMau ( 850437 ) on Wednesday December 14, 2005 @01:08AM (#14253612) Homepage
    You could get a treadmill and start running during the power outage. You have to be quick to start running though; I hear power drains from the circuits pretty fast!
    • No, no, no.

      You've got that all wrong.

      You hook a mini-generator up to that little wheel your hamsters like to run around in.

      But, then again, your way works if your the typical geek that needs to lose weight, but a stationary cycle works a little better. (Actually, I tried an exhibit at the local science museum, and when I'm in shape, I can pedal hard enough to light at least 4 60 watt bulbs, which would power a smaller system (240 watts).
      • and when I'm in shape, I can pedal hard enough to light at least 4 60 watt bulbs

        Unless you're a serious athlete, I doubt you could put out 240 watts for long -- that's a lot of work. Even Lance Armstrong can only sustain around 500 watts [], and he's probably as good as it gets.

        Though to be fair, a small computer generally uses a good deal less than 240 watts. Even though you may have a 450 watt power supply, that's just a peak rating -- the average should be closer to 200 watts for most computers (t

  • Buy a UPS (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Matt Perry ( 793115 ) <(moc.oohay) (ta) (45ttam.yrrep)> on Wednesday December 14, 2005 @01:08AM (#14253614)
    There's not enough information to speculate on what the problem could be. When you say "will not allow Windows to boot" what do you mean? What displays on the screen? Is it blank or do you see an error? If there's an error what exactly does it say?

    Also, have you looked into purchasing a UPS? They are pretty cheap now (less than $100). You would have enough time to shut down your machine safely if there was a power outage.

    • There's not enough information to speculate on what the problem could be. When you say blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah...

      Just stop! Please! First, it's a Gateway. Second, it's a Gateway. And anyway, the only real answer here is the second part of your suggestion, buy an UPS.

    • This same thing happened to my girlfriend's HP Pavilion (running Windows 2k Pro at the time) a few times. Basically, the power went out and when it came back on Windows would boot to the black screen with the half-ass bar going across the bottom and hang, no matter what boot options it was given. There wasn't anything wrong with the computer though. Reinstalling fixed it.
  • by Kris_J ( 10111 ) * on Wednesday December 14, 2005 @01:11AM (#14253631) Homepage Journal
    About a quarter of the Dells in our computer labs forget all their BIOS settings after being without power for a few hours. That's the sort of place I'd look for your problems.
  • Everytime there's a power outage in my house, my Gateway

    Well, there's your problem right there! Buy yourself a new computer and quit bothering us.

    • Everytime there's a power outage in my house, my Gateway

      Well, there's your problem right there! Buy yourself a new computer and quit bothering us.

      Heh. I used to own a Gateway way back when. For some reason, I kept having issues with DSP errors and the modem. Every time I would get one of these mysterious errors, I'd have to reload the system and replace the modem. Thank all of this was covered under warranty. I eventually took the possessed computer to a Gateway store several miles from my hous
    • > Everytime there's a power outage in my house, my Gateway

      >> Well, there's your problem right there! Buy yourself a new computer and quit bothering us.

      Better yet, learn to build your own computer and install the OS from scratch. No vendor out there ever installs Windows without tons of crap trialware that ultimately ends up bogging down your machine. ('cept maybe Alienware...)
  • Does your system hard drive have write caching enabled? If you don't want to splurge for an uninterruptable power supply, you might want to try turning write caching off and see if that helps with your problem.

    I've seen many problems in the past with write caching-enabled hard drives that become heavily corrupted when an unexpected power outage occurs, which we usually attributed to cached data being lost before it could be written to the hard drive. Granted newer hard drives and operating systems are more
  • I keed, I keed...
  • Wow... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Jerf ( 17166 ) on Wednesday December 14, 2005 @01:40AM (#14253765) Journal
    "My machine won't work. Here's no relevant details. What's wrong, and how can I fix it?"

    Cliff, if this is the best you could find for an Ask Slashdot, it's time to decommission the category.

    The only answer this deserves is this []. Why don't you read it too, Cliff?
    • Have you read this []? The Omelette Rant? That's part of the reason.

      The other part of the reason is that many people will come in here and suggest things about crashing computers that probably have no relevance to the asker but will be relevant for hundreds of readers of the site. Ask Slashdot is like Dear Abby or something: Abby's not going to answer a question about a specific instance with a specific answer, but she will say something general like marriage counseling because that's usually a good starting p
      • Omelettes require good ingredients, especially at the foundation. This was not. The fact that you could summarize basically the entire conversation in one brief paragraph, normally an impossibility for any decent Ask Slashdot, is an effect of that.

        On the scale of possible results of 1 to 10, this questioned resulted in a 1 or 2. Pointing out that that is better than zero isn't a very compelling response, when, unless the queue is entirely empty, any number of at least 5s or 6s were available for equal effor
    • Well, you've got the rudeness section figured out.

      I do so dislike crashes that cause kernel corruption.

  • I have PLENTY of experience with Windows being unreliable.

    If you are using Windows XP, just re-load the operating system over the old system, and that will very likely fix everything. Boot from the Windows XP CD. Important: Skip the first "Repair" chance. The second is what you want.

    Another phrase for the business strategy of an unreliable mainstream operating system is "maximizing shareholder value". Many people who begin to have trouble simply buy another computer, and Microsoft makes more money, si
  • by redheaded_stepchild ( 629363 ) on Wednesday December 14, 2005 @02:14AM (#14253932)
    Ok, here's your answer. I'm guessing your Gateway has GoBack on it. GoBack does not play well with other software or hardware, and likes to shit itself^H^H^H^H^H and can cause data inconsistencies when you pull the plug.

    Basically, what it takes to fix it is get rid of the problem (GoBack) This will require, when you boot up, hit the space bar and turn GoBack off. Leave it off. Then, do what all the other nice people on /. are telling you to do, and get a UPS and plug a new computer into it.

    To the editors: ARE YOU SERIOUS?? What, today is 'any old story will do' day?
    • BTW, not to sound redundant, but have you tried here []?
    • To the editors: ARE YOU SERIOUS?? What, today is 'any old story will do' day?

      It really doesn't count as a story since it boils down to " some version of Windows won't start up in some vague way on a Gateway of unknown model number after a power outage ".

      News for Nerds indeed.
      • Exactly, we can`t diagnose the problem without more information..
        What i would suggest however, is that one of the drivers is screwing the system over, hence why it works after a reinstall and doesn`t exhibit this problem on other hardware (therefore with different drivers)
  • Check the BIOS settings -- at work after a power outage I got a rash of calls of systems that just kept rebooting. Sure enough changing the sata control feature in the bios fixed hte problem
  • This is not normal Windows behaviour. If you're using NTFS and are not, say, editing important system files that have been saved to disk in an inconsistent state (being in the middle of a service pack install, for instance), Windows would just happily boot up and keep going in event of a power failure.

    I can't tell you how many times I've accidentally shut the power down to one of my PC's, or had a power failure. Never had a single problem such as Windows not booting. With NTFS, there's not even an annoyi
  • by Ed Almos ( 584864 ) on Wednesday December 14, 2005 @06:55AM (#14254865)
    1) Reset your BIOS to the default settings.

    2) Check your hard disk(s) and make sure that they are spinning up OK by the time the BIOS finishes.

    3) Check for services starting which address programs or hardware which may have been removed.

    4) Swap the power supply.

    5) Wipe the hard disk and (if you must use MS Windows) reinstall from scratch. I've seen machines from big manufacturers that had all sorts of weird problems which went away with a default install.

    The above checks cost nothing but your time, but then there's option #6.

    6) Buy a UPS.
  • CHKDSK (Score:3, Informative)

    by RzUpAnmsCwrds ( 262647 ) on Wednesday December 14, 2005 @06:55AM (#14254866)
    Looks like your system crashed during a write and NTFS is unclean. Boot off a Windows CD. Press "R" to run the recovery console, log in, and type "chkdsk /f c:".

    9 out of 10 times, chkdsk will be able to restore FS consistency. If not, do a "repair" operation to put down fresh OS files. Unplug the net until you enable the firewall, though.
  • Buy (get, whatever) a copy of Acronis True Image Backup or comparable application. Schedule once per week full backups and daily incremental backups in the wee hours of the morning. Put the backup set on a secondary partition or hard drive. Create a recovery disk. Sit back abd relax.

    Acronis' True Image Backup product has saved my butt on several occasions, and has been reliable and rock solid. You'll never lose more than a day's worth of data which is more than enough for a home user.
  • reset the CMOS. if you're not even booting to the graphical part of windows chances are there is something wrong way before that. gateway machines are weird. you may have noticed that when you plug the computer in a bunch of capacitors on the motherboard will charge. i have yet to run across another mobo that does it. it might have something to do with that and the fact that the mobo isnt completley isolated from the outside world when its turned off. so yeah, reset that cmos and try again.
  • by lpcustom ( 579886 ) on Wednesday December 14, 2005 @09:55AM (#14255508)
    I have a computer. I got it at a flea market for 20 dollars. It doesn't work. Anyone have any idea why? How do I fix it? I've tried everything I know. HELP!

    WTF is slashdot posting this for? What kind of news is this? This has to be the stupidest "story" I've ever seen on the front page of slashdot. Please for the love of geekdom, put in a story moderation system.
    Though I will say, judging by some stories that make the front page of Digg, it won't help a whole lot. Maybe you could make it +/- mods...not just + mods. I think that would actually make it better than Digg. Right now you either "Digg" a story or you don't. If enough people digg it then it makes the front page. You should be allowed to give negative mod points to the story as well. Please give us Negative Mod points for "news" stories on Slashdot. This "ask slashdot" should have never made front page.
    At least give the subscribed users story mod points or something. If we are this desperate for "stories", I'll come up with a nice question like "I installed Linux now I can't find windows, what do I do?".
  • by Jamesie ( 615784 )
    You left out some important information, like ...
    There are several versions of windows, which one are you using?
    What actually happens when you try to reboot? Is there an error message? A blank screen?
    Which model gateway are you using?

    Here are a few things to try.
    Try googling that model with 'reboot' and any other useful info about the problem.
    Could it be the cmos battery? Swap with another pc and see if that works.
    Could the power supply be on it's last legs? Swap in one from another pc
    While I am no
  • Buy a $50 UPS Battery backup power supply. Some now come in the form of a surge protection power bar. When a power outage occurs, they force your computer to shut down gracefully thus preventing system crashes.

    But in reality, there is little you can do to prevent Windows, or ANY other OS out there from becoming corrupted after a power outage, this isn't an XP only situation. If your hard drive was in the process of writing data, especially if it was transfering cached data from virtual memory, then there
  • Could it be that hard-disk write-caching is enabled on the dying computer, and disabled (or less aggressive) on the others? Check your IDE driver's settings and disable write caching if it's enabled.

    Oh, and like eleventy-billion other people said: Get a UPS.

  • It could be the fact that its a Gateway. Cheap powersupply, motherboard, hard drive. My guess is that something is not behaving properly during the low power condition. I believe the PS should shut off completely when its not able to maintain 5/12V, but due to a design flaw or defect, yours may still be outputting, leading to unknown states in various components of your system.

    Easiest answer: UPS.

    Otherwise, a fresh, clean install of Windows; swap power supplies; swap hard drives; swap motherboard, etc.
    • I believe the PS should shut off completely when its not able to maintain 5/12V

      Shouldn't the voltage regulators on the motherboard offer protection from circumstances like this?
      • Shouldn't the voltage regulators on the motherboard offer protection from circumstances like this?

        That isn't their job. They convert power from the power supply to local power sources that meet whatever special needs (CPU power, etc.) the motherboard has.

        The main power supply is supposed to shutdown all outputs if any output is out of spec. Some chips will destroy themselves if one of their supply voltages is missing.

  • I feel you. I had the power go about just about a year ago. When it came back on, my hard drive was so damaged I had to replace it. Luckily, I use a disk imaging program with the backups saved to another drive, so I didn't lose a whole lot.

    Just spend the hundred bucks for a UPS. Save yourself the headache.

  • "My printer won't print and gives an error of 'PC-Load Letter'. Can someone tell me please how to get my printer working?"

    News for Nerds indeed. Someone please email me at when this site no longer is worse than C-Net forums.

    PS this question would have been marginally interesting if the OS in question was Linux. But as it is, please go ask your 13 year old kid how to keep windows running.

  • It is likely that your system fails to boot up because a stupid driver is tryting to read a log file or data file that it keeps freeking open all the time when running


    Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to hunt this driver down, and without mercy destroy it!

    One path you might take to begin this task is to install plain vanilla windows without any drivers - don't even think about using the windows disk that came from Gateway!. Now unplug the
  • Another Slashbot troll submission (I'll say goodbye to my karma now).

    The submission infers that MS Windows is at fault for this individuals negative experience.

    Let's be a little more objective.

    The environment: Individual has a computer running an OS. The computer is 2.5 years old. The user has placed the computer into an environment where the unfiltered power is unpredictable due to environmental causes, and cuts out often and without warning.

    The problem: When the power is cut to the box, the OS (Windows

Karl's version of Parkinson's Law: Work expands to exceed the time alloted it.