Problems and Solutions

1. Computer components were not properly connected. When preparing computers for nuking and Win 98 install, we had to make sure to check that everything is properly plugged in. In a few cases, we were confused as to why the computers weren’t working, until we opened them up and found that the hard drive or power supply had not been properly plugged in.

2. Boot order was incorrect in the system setup. Sometimes the computer would try to boot off of a network, which would cause problems. By changing the boot order to boot from the floppy or CD drive first, we were able to get past the “Boot Failure” error message.

3. Boot-n-Nuke or bootable disks were corrupt or no longer working. If nothing seemed to be working and the computer seemed to be working well before we tried nuking it or installing Win 98, we tried different CDs and floppies. This resolved the problem in a few cases.

4. Jumpers and drive configurations were not correct or did not match each other. Another place we checked when trying to nuke or install Win 98 was to make sure that master/slave configurations are properly configured, both on the motherboard and in the system setup.  We encountered this problem with a computer that was not recognizing its hard drive, and the problem was that the hard drive had not been jumpered properly. The drive had a Master Cable attached to it, so we moved the jumper to CS instead of Master and that solved it.

5. Passwords prohibited being able to nuke the computer. Some of our computers were donated with password protection, making it impossible to get beyond the setup menu. By changing the jumper on the motherboard, then deleting the passwords in the setup menu, we were able to get the computers to nuke and then to install Win 98.

6. In some cases, a computer simply will not recognize a hard drive, and we had to fiddle with one of our computers quite a bit before it would recognize the hard drive.

7. Installation did not go according to the directions or as expected. When installing Windows 98, we had to try different drive letters, restart often, and do everything we could think of to get the computer to copy the proper install files. We are not sure how it happened, but in some cases, we would get error messages, but after trying out different combinations of commands, the files copied properly and we were able to proceed with the Win 98 install.

8. Installed devices conflicted with each other, causing one to not work properly. Zip drives were not necessary but installed on many computers. On some, the zip drive prevented the floppy drive from working. Unplugging the unused zip drive and plugging the floppy in its place, the problem was solved.

9. Computers would seem to work properly, only to inexplicably fail on the next step of installation. We were able to install Windows 98 on one of our computers. Then, when trying to install updates, the computer crashed and said there were damaged files.  We eventually decided that the hard drive was the problem, and after replacing the hard drive several times, we were able to install Windows 98 successfully, along with proper updates and software.

10.Broken parts needed to be repaired becasue they were not replaceable. One of our computers made a lot of noise when it was picked up to be placed on the shelf. Upon opening the computer, we saw that the heat sink had disattached itself from the CPU.  We removed the CPU and heat sink, and some work with a screwdriver (using it to press down the tabs that attach the CPU and heat sink) repaired the problem, and soothed our fears that the computer was ruined.

11. Boot Failure messages. The last computer that was giving us problems kept giving us a boot failure message. We tried nearly every floppy imaginable, and finally, one of them seemed to work. So we decided to replace the floppy drive.  A Windows 98 boot disk worked this time, and we were able to use the diagnostic tools to format the hard drive.  However, when the bootable Windows 98 CD was inserted, we got error messages and could not proceed with the Windows 98 install. At this point, it was decided that the CD-ROM drive was the problem. After this was replaced, we were able to install Windows 98 successfully, along with updates and software.

12. System not recognizing drivers that had been installed. Two of our computers had the same soundcard but no drivers. We were able to download the proper drive online and installed it successfully on one of the computers. However, when we downloaded the driver on the second computer, the file no longer seemed to be working. At the suggestion of a classmate, we deleted the soundcard from the Device Manager and rebooted, causing the system to recognize the soundcard as “new hardware”. We were able to use the driver wizard to point the system to the driver (which we had successfully downloaded), and our problem was solved.

13. Using the resources that were available to us to obtain those that were not. One of our computers did not have a sound driver or USB support. We had the driver on a USB drive, but when we tried to install the driver for the USB drive, the floppy disk was corrupted. Luckily we had already prepared the computer for connection to the Internet and downlaoded browsers, so we connected to the Internet and were able to download the sound driver directly to the computer.

14. Last minute changes in the design of the lab. When we arrived to install our lab, we faced several changes in the plan. For one, the electricity had not been installed how we had planned, and we had to use only two outlets for all of our computer. Also, the DSL line had not been run into the room and was not going to be brought in until the next week. The biggest change was that the electrician had dictated where he wanted the computers placed, which was very different than our planned layout. Instead of having 7 computers in one room and one in the other, we had four in each. This affected the length of our network cables, rendering most of them the wrong size. Thankfully we had brought the cable making supplies, because we had to make several at the last minute.

15. Difficulty finding time to work as a group outside of class. One of our greatest non-technical issues was trying to arrange times outside of class for us to work on the computers. Everyone had very busy schedules. We decided to work in groups of 2 to get things done, and this worked out well. To keep track of what was accomplished on the computers each time, we made sure to write on masking tape and attach it to the computers. This way, group members who were not present knew what had been done and what needed to be accomplished.

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