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HP and Compaq Desktop PCs - Testing for Hardware Problems Using PC-Doctor
This document applies to HP and Compaq desktop PCs with Windows XP and PC-Doctor diagnostic software.
NOTE: Your PC may have a version of PC-Doctor that appears different than the images in this document. Many HP computers built prior to 2004 do not come with PC-Doctor.
PC-Doctor is a software tool to assist in diagnosing possible computer problems. This tool does not resolve hardware problems directly, but it does help you discover what is wrong with the computer by troubleshooting and isolating hardware issues. In addition to information on using PC-Doctor, this document provides tips for resolving hardware issues.
When your PC cannot open Windows, download PC-Doctor Offline DOS Diagnostics utility and install it to onto a bootable floppy diskette or a bootable optical disc (CD) to verify hardware problems without Windows. Some computers come with the utility software on the hard drive. If so, you can make the bootable diskette or optical disc (CD) at your computer. If your computer not have the utility or does not work sufficiently to make the bootable diskette or CD, you can find and download the current version of the PC-Doctor Offline DOS Diagnostics software from the HP Web site. See (HP WWSG) Using PC-Doctor Offline DOS Diagnostics to Verify Hardware Problems .
PC-Doctor tests are divided into categories, such as Audio, Communications, System Test, etc... This document is formatted to match the same categories that PC-Doctor uses. Select a section that matches best. If you are not sure or you are curious about the health of the computer system, start at the " System " section. For your reference, this document also includes sections on starting PC-Doctor, system reports, and failure codes, and on making a diskette or optical disc to use PC-Doctor offline (that is, without starting Windows).
If the computer displays an error code after running any of the tests, you can contact HP support for further assistance. Write the error code number down so that you can provide it to a support agent.
NOTE: PC-Doctor is intended for use with the computer's original hardware configuration. Although it might work with hardware that was installed after purchase, PC-Doctor was designed to work specifically with the hardware HP originally installed in the computer.
Before you begin
Before performing any of the tests in this document make sure you do the following:
Figure 1: PC-Doctor main screen
Use the audio and microphone tests to help determine if a sound component is having problems. Because sound problems can be difficult to diagnose, the results from these tests help point to where the problem is occurring but might not tell you exactly what is wrong. Always double-check your connections and check speakers and microphones in other audio devices before assuming that a sound card has failed. The Volume Control is conveniently located in the Tools section so that you can easily check to see if sound has been turned down or muted.
The following two sections explain the Audio device tests and link to additional information for each possible error code.
Audio device - Speakers, headphones, and sound card
Test your speakers (and sound card) from the PC-Doctor Audio window. To run the audio device test, click Run Test. A window appears with several buttons on it. The buttons in the WAV section test the systems capability to play WAV files and they can be used to determine if sound can be heard through the sound channels. Use the various buttons listed below to test sound:
NOTE: Sound channels other than left and right are not supported by PC-Doctor. Systems connected to more than two speakers (and subwoofer) must use the speaker setting software that came with the computer or sound card.
Audio device - Microphone
Test the microphone inputs from the PC-Doctor Audio window. To run the microphone device test, complete the following steps:
Storage (hard drives, CD, DVD, floppy drives, and memory card readers)
Use the storage device tests in this section to test for a storage device's ability to write and retain data. Storage devices include memory card readers, CD and DVD drives, floppy drives and hard drives. The Disk Cleanup and Disk Defragmenter software tools are also conveniently located on the Storage screen.
The following four sections explain the Storage device tests and link to additional information for each possible error code.
NOTE: Storage items that are having problems may not appear in the list of items or in Windows. Optical drives (CD-ROM and DVD drives) and hard drives that are not connected or jumpered properly do not show up in Windows, PC-Doctor, or in the BIOS. On most modern CD and DVD drives, the jumper should be set to ‘CS’ (cable select).
Test the hard drive(s) on your computer from the PC-Doctor Storage window. To test a hard drive, double-click the icon for the hard drive that you want to test. The name of each hard drive or non-hidden hard drive partition is listed under the Hard Drive icon.
You will have the option of performing a short or long test.
NOTE: If PC Doctor reports a hard drive failure, see if a hard drive firmware update or an update for PC Doctor is available from the Software and Download page for your computer. If an update is available for PC Doctor or the hard drive, install it according to the instructions on the download page and test the hard drive again.
If any of the tests fail, it is a good idea to back up important data as soon as possible. A Smart failure is a good indication that the hard drive is wearing out and should be replaced as soon as possible. Seek, write, and surface failures may be the cause of "bad areas" on the hard drive. You can isolate these bad areas and extend the life of the drive by running ScanDisk with the fix and repair option followed by Disk Defragmenter. To run the ScanDisk utility with the fix and repair option, do the following:
CD and DVD drives
Test optical drives (CD, DVD, and rewritable drives) from the PC-Doctor Storage window. To start the test, click the icon above the name of the optical drive you want to test. These tests require the use of CDs or DVDs. Make sure that the CD or DVD that you use is in good working condition. If a test fails, test with more than one disc. Check the discs used in a failed test in other drives before assuming that a drive is bad. Bad CDs and DVDs are usually the source of most CD and DVD problems, not the actual drives.
The following tests are available, but appear only if the optical drive is capable of performing the function associated with the test:
Test floppy drives from the PC-Doctor Storage window. Insert a non-write protected 3.5 inch disk into the floppy drive and then click the Floppy Drive icon to start the test.
The floppy drive test performs four types of tests about reading data: seek, write, read, and surface scanning. If any of these tests fail, especially surface scanning, the most likely problem is the disk. Test a different 3.5 inch disk, and then try the disks in a different floppy drive before replacing the drive. Floppy disks are easily corrupted and are usually the source of the problem.
Memory card readers
Test memory cards from the PC-Doctor Storage window. Several memory card drives are shown when a multiple card reader is installed. To start the testing, place your memory card in its respective slot in the card reader and double-click a memory card icon from the storage screen. If a window appears asking you to insert a card, cancel and try opening the next Memory Card Reader icon from the Storage screen. Continue doing this until you find the correct Memory Card Reader icon for the slot that the memory card is in.
NOTE: Make sure that the in-use light on the memory card reader is off before removing your memory card. If the in-use light stays on after performing the test, open My Computer, right-click the drive name containing the memory card, and select Eject to turn off the in-use light. Removing a memory card while the in-use light is on may damage the memory card, the card reader, or both.
The memory card reader tests include a memory address scanner test and a read/write pattern test. These tests can be performed even if data is already stored on the memory card. Test failures should be verified by using a different memory card or by testing the same memory card in a different card reader on another computer (or camera).
From the Video Devices screen, you can test the video card, the monitor, and your computer's ability to play the AVI video file format. You can also access Desktop settings (also called Display Properties) and the DirectX diagnostic utility. Use the Settings tab from Desktop settings to quickly change display resolutions, color depth, and enter into the advanced properties of the video card. Use the DirectX diagnostic utility if video games that use DirectX do not work or have graphics problems. The following diagnostic tests are available:
Video device - Video card
Test a video card or the video chip on the motherboard, depending on your hardware, from the PC-Doctor Video Devices window. To start the test, click the icon above the name of the video device that you want to test. Keep in mind, the video test can take several minutes to perform. The video test does not use one test but uses several graphical element tests and a memory test.
If the test still fails, make sure that the video card is fully seated into its socket and that all of the video card settings are set to the card's default settings, especially voltage settings for both the video memory and the processor(s).
If 3D or texture mapping tests fail, the issue is probably software related. Double-check these failures by opening the DirectX diagnostic tool to get a more specific error. If the error is DirectX related, download and reinstall the latest version of DirectX from Microsoft. Otherwise, uninstall and reinstall the video drivers. You can also check HP or the video card manufacturer support Web site for an updated video driver.
The video test also includes a memory test that writes and reads the memory on the video card. If the memory test consistently fails more than three times in a row, replace the video card (or the memory on the motherboard for on-the-motherboard video).
Video device - Multimedia
Test your computer's ability to play a multimedia file from the PC-Doctor Video Devices window. Start this test by clicking the Multimedia icon. If the AVI does not play and the other video tests pass, the problem is in the software codecs. Try installing the latest version of Windows Media Player from Microsoft's Web site to correct the problem.
Video device - Monitor
Test and adjust your monitor from the PC-Doctor Video Devices window. Start this test by clicking the Monitor icon.
Red, Green, or Blue tests: Use the three color tests to help determine if a red, green, or blue color is missing. Click the Red, Green, or Blue button to display an entire screen of that color. If you have a conventional tube monitor, the entire screen or large section of the screen is black if red, blue, or green fails. If you have a flat panel LCD display or a projection device, look for small dots showing up as differently colored dots on the field of red, green, or blue. If the monitor is still in warranty, the manufacturer of the monitor may replace the flat-panel display or projector if enough colored dots are missing.
VESA tests: Use the VESA tests to help determine the following:
Press the button of the test pattern that you would like to use and visually inspect for problems. These tests make it easier to detect problems, but determining the issue may still be subjective. If you think there might be a problem with the monitor brightness, focus, or geometry, try using these same test patterns (or the combination test) to adjust the monitor. Lastly, be aware that the display image is affected by the type of light and its angle reflecting on your monitor screen. Try to adjust the monitor or the light if needed.
Communications (modems and NICs)
Test network interface cards (NICs) and modems from the Communications window. When testing these devices make sure that the hardware is connected to a network using the proper cable.
Test the modem from the PC-Doctor Communications window. Start this test by clicking the Modem icon. The test consists of various internal hardware features and a line or dial tone test.
If only the dial tone portion of the test fails, make sure that a telephone cord is plugged into the modem and that the phone cord is carrying a dial tone. You can check dial tone by connecting the cord to a phone and listening for the dial tone.
If the hardware portion of the modem tests fail, the modem hardware is likely to be bad. Make sure that the modem is seated fully into its PCI socket inside the computer and test again to make sure. One of the leading causes of modem failure is power spikes through the phone line, usually during inclement weather. Purchase and use a surge suppressor that supports a phone connector (RJ-11) to avoid future modem damage through the phone line.
Test the networking hardware from the PC-Doctor Communications window. Start this test by clicking the Network Device icon. Before testing, you have to be connected to a network and you have to have a valid gateway address in your network settings or the test will fail. Make sure that you are using the proper network cable (that is, do not use a cross-over cable with a hub or a standard RJ-45 between two network cards). The test communicates with other devices on the network and verifies that the data sent and received is not corrupted or missing. When a failure occurs, make sure that other computers on the network are not experiencing similar issues and that you are using the correct settings for your network.
NOTE: The most common networking problems are caused by incorrect network settings for the network protocol used.
Test various components that relate to the motherboard from the System Device window. The components you can test are as follows:
Other devices (keyboard and mouse)
Test the mouse, keyboard and other peripherals, like printers, from the Other Devices window. Printers and other peripheral tests vary depending on the type of device that is connected to the computer. These tests are not covered in this document. Tools that are easily accessible from the Other Devices window are Printers and Faxes and the Mouse and Keyboard properties windows.
Input device - Keyboard
Test the keyboard from the PC-Doctor Other Devices window. Start this test by clicking the Keyboard icon. A window opens showing an image of a keyboard. Press a key to remove the key from the image. Continue to press keys until all of the keys are removed. If a particular key does not go away, the key is not registering. If several keys are bad, check for a bent pin on the PS/2 port and cable. In some cases, keys can be removed and cleaned. In other cases, the keyboard will have to be replaced. Test the keyboard on another computer to determine if the keyboard is actually failing.
Input device - Mouse
Test the mouse from the PC-Doctor Other Devices window.
Start this test by clicking the Mouse icon. If your mouse does not appear to be working, you can start PC Doctor and the mouse test with the following steps:
Most mouse problems can be resolved by cleaning the mouse hardware (the ball and rollers or LED window) and making adjustment to the mouse settings. For total mouse failure, check the PS/2 port for bent pins (for a PS/2 mouse), test the USB port (for a USB mouse), or replace the mouse. Test the mouse on another computer to determine if the mouse is actually failing.
System reports provide a list of what software and/or hardware is installed on the computer. The reports also list what state the computer is in and the status of the system. At the time of this writing, there is only one system report available in PC-Doctor: System Information. System Information displays the following information:
NOTE: For more system information that is not included in this report use Microsoft's System Information tool by clicking Start, (All) Programs, Accessories, System Tools, and then System Information.
PC-Doctor Offline DOS Diagnostics
The PC-Doctor Offline DOS Diagnostics is a utility for use with your HP or Compaq desktop PC to verify hardware problems without starting Windows.
Before using PC-Doctor Offline DOS Diagnostics, make a bootable floppy diskette or optical disc (CD) that has PC-Doctor Offline DOS diagnostics. Some PCs have the utility available, if so, you can make the bootable diskette or optical disc (CD) at your PC. If your PC does not have the utility, you can find and download the current version of the PC-Doctor Offline DOS Diagnostics software from the HP Web site; refer to Using PC-Doctor Offline DOS Diagnostics to Verify Hardware Problems . This document provides information on how to download and create the floppy diskette or optical disc (CD), along with how to use the offline diagnostics diskette or disc, and a list of the failure codes.
Before you can use PC-Doctor Offline DOS Diagnostics to test your PC, you need to insert the bootable diskette or disc into your PC and restart the PC.
PC-Doctor Offline DOS Diagnostics: making the bootable diskette or optical disc (CD) at your PC
NOTE: You need a blank floppy diskette or a blank CD-R disc.If your PC has PC-Doctor Offline DOS Diagnostics, you can make the bootable diskette or optical disc (CD) from your PC. Do the following:
PC-Doctor failure codes
PC-Doctor displays an error code, problem description, and helpful tips at the completion of the test. For example:
Use the problem description and suggested fixes to help in resolving the problem.
NOTE: In the event of a support call, it is important to provide the error code and problem description to the HP online support agent. This will greatly assist the agent to resolve the problem.
More Troubleshooting Information
The HP Customer Care Web site provides additional troubleshooting information. Search for support information by entering the symptom of your problem, the device you want to troubleshoot, or the computer model. For example, search on "sound problems" or "modem troubleshooting".