Resurrecting a Dead Computer

Last Update: September 20, 2015

I have an older desktop computer, and just lost a couple of days when it refused to boot up. It turns out that there's a tiny battery that desktops and laptops need to boot up. After five years or so, mine gave up the ghost - and my computer couldn't remember how to boot itself up anymore. Who knew?

Warning - geek talk ahead. Turn back now!


We've had some fairly hot weather recently, and my computer started randomly shutting itself off while I was working. I assumed it was the heat getting to it, so I opened the case, put a couple of fans nearby, and kept working.

We left the house briefly, and found the computer had shut itself off while we were gone. It was trying to reboot again - unsuccessfully.

Not good


I wondered what the problem might be. Possibilities included the computer's motherboard, its CPU, the graphics card, or the power supply - all pricey bits and pieces. <sigh>

I waded in, expecting the worst. I didn't find any blown capacitors or other indications of heat distress on the motherboard. All the fans within the computer seemed to be spinning, so I pulled the heat sink off the CPU to have a look. Mind you, there's not much to look at there, but I thought I'd clean the dust off the the heat sink and fan blades.

There wasn't that much dust on any of the fans, but I felt like I was doing something productive - even if all I was doing was rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

I don't have the equipment to load test the power supply, so I just contented myself with making sure its fan was spinning when the computer was turned on. Check.

Reassemble, and cross your fingers


I tried booting the computer - without success. No real surprise there, since all I'd done was a bit of housekeeping within the case.

Suddenly, I had a revelation. There's a tiny battery in the computer called a CMOS battery. That battery's sole purpose is to preserve the computer's settings while it's turned off. Without that battery, the computer has no clue how to awaken. As luck would have it, I had one in my desk drawer, a CR 2032, a little Lithium button battery.

The bottom line? It cost me dearly in time, but could have been much worse financially. If your computer is misbehaving, consider replacing that 50 cent battery, and see if that fix works it's magic for you too!

Dennis

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chengckalex Premium
If you can, blow the inside of the computer with air gun periodically. Dust build-up can drag the computer.
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Prestones Premium
Greetings Alex!

Sound advice - I think I was just going through the motions of cleaning out dust to keep my hands busy while my head was wondering "what next?"

Fortunately, there was a happy ending - this time ;)

Dennis
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Lazyblogger Premium
Thanks for that tip Dennis, you should name him Lazarus, lol. Thanks for the information. Will check one that I have.

Bishop
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Prestones Premium
Greetings Bishop ~

I've taken to calling the computer Poindexter (http://www.phrases.org.uk/bulletin_board/19/messages/498.html ;) but I'll have to give some consideration to your excellent suggestion, adding Lazarus as a middle name.

Dennis
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Lazyblogger Premium
lol
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AllMadeUp Premium
I feel like I've just learned one of life's great secrets! I am not kidding. This is awesome!
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Prestones Premium
Greetings Elizabeth!

It seems stupid to have a computer with 100 times the computing power used for the Apollo moon mission - but it's dependent on a IDBD (that's iddy biddy) battery to work.

Good Grief!!

Dennis
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AllMadeUp Premium
So tell me, is there a one-button way to share your blog on Facebook or do I need to copy and paste the link? I'm sure I have some friends who would love to know about this!
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allchristie Premium
Dennis - looks like I've been holding hundreds of these repair kits without knowing. Thanks. Larry
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Prestones Premium
Hi Larry!

I like the hat in your signature - I have one that's very similar. Sometimes it's a challenge getting close enough to the part to bring it into focus!

Dennis
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krazykat Premium
Hmmm. Thanks Dennis. Geek talk is often necessary :-)
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Prestones Premium
Thanks for your understanding Val!

When I open the computer, sometimes I feel like I'm just looking in the jumble of wires and printed circuits for a giant on-off switch or fuse to fix whatever ails it and bring it back to life.

Thankfully, this time I was able to sort it out before tearing out any hair!

Dennis
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