Thursday, July 17, 2008

Computer Fixes (Dell Dimension 8400)

We have a 4 1/2 year old desktop computer -- a Dell Dimension 8400 -- that has served us very well for e-mail, digital pictures/video, online music, web surfing and the occasional work task in Word, Excel or Powerpoint.

But, in the last 6 months our trusty Dell 8400 has begun to show its age. First, the CPU would not stay powered on. I'd be able to turn it on, begin the start-up stages, but then it would suddenly die. After a few days of trying to diagnose the problem via the web on my wife's work laptop, I found the most likely culprit to be the power source inside the machine. I took the leap of faith and ordered a new power unit at and opened the 8400 for the first time when it arrived. 20 mins. of tinkering and moving wires this way and that, I had the new power source in. Closed everything up, and....success!

Three weeks ago the DVD and CD drives stopped being recognized. The drives were still receiving power, since I could open and close with the external buttons, but no application recognized them. I tried downloading new drivers, uninstalling and reinstalling via hardware/software remove, all to no avail. It wasn't until I decided to upgrade to the new PhotoShop Elements 6.0/PhotoShop Premiere 4.0 that I got really serious about it. For, there was no way to load the new programs into the computer. So, I scoured a bunch of user group postings and registered for private ones only to find nothing helpful. But, by chance, some kind soul posted a direct link to an obscure Microsoft Support article on the subject. It involved going into the Registry and deleting UpperFilter and LowerFilter, and restarting the computer, and crossing your fingers. If that didn't work, the only other suggestion was to load the CD Drive installion CDs. But, how was I supposed to do that with OEM hardware that didn't come with installation CDs, and besides, what good would loading an installation CD be if Windows was not recognizing the CD drive?!? There was no reason to fear, because upon restart, I heard a reassuring whir in the drive, and saw a familiar hourglass on screen that then diappeared and the CD started playing. Success!

It feels good to be able to fix these computer problems myself, saving lots of money on the process.

Now that we are 99% done with our kitchen (I'm waiting for a few small details to be finished before I post some pictures), and the desk area is complete, we are talking about buying a family laptop for that space. But, it's my goal to keep the Dell 8400 running for many years to come.

No comments: