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Old 15th May 2008   #1
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Acer Laptop, No BIOS entry, where do I start


My friend's asked me to look at her laptop, on power up hard drive LED shows activity, however F2 does not give entry to set-up. The screen behaves as normal but the progress bar at the bottom stalls at about 50%.

Where do I start, Memory; Hard Drive? Or tell her it's fubar and get a new one?

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Old 16th May 2008   #2
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Bios access for acer seems to be <Ctrl> + <Alt> + <Esc>.

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Old 17th May 2008   #3
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Originally Posted by Arie View Post
Bios access for acer seems to be <Ctrl> + <Alt> + <Esc>.
On this system it is F2, however an update.

If I remove the Hard Drive (Hitachi 80GB SATA) I can enter the BIOS and set the DVD drive as 1st boot device, testing with an XP CD the system will boot but if I reconnect the HD even with DVD as boot device the system still stalls at the ACER Logo screen.

I know the HD is SATA (most likely IDE 0 in BIOS) and I'm fairly sure DVD is PATA (IDE 2 in BIOS) but I don't want to tell my friend to buy a new hard drive in case it's the onboard controller.

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Old 18th May 2008   #4
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Since you are F2 for setup, I'm going to assume this is a fairly new Acer (last couple of years). F2 should also throw you into a system restore mode and provide access to the hidden (not quite hidden on Acer) partition with the original factory image. If you do go the new HDD route, you are probably going to need to clone that partition (if readable) to the new HDD unless you have full restore discs.

For starters, you may want to pull the current drive and determine if its readable or detectable in another machine. You also mentioned Hirens in another post - can you boot to a BartPE and read anything on the drive? That might be the path of least resistance.


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Old 18th May 2008   #5
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Originally Posted by Rockster2U View Post
Since you are F2 for setup, I'm going to assume this is a fairly new Acer (last couple of years). F2 should also throw you into a system restore mode and provide access to the hidden (not quite hidden on Acer) partition with the original factory image. If you do go the new HDD route, you are probably going to need to clone that partition (if readable) to the new HDD unless you have full restore discs.

For starters, you may want to pull the current drive and determine if its readable or detectable in another machine. You also mentioned Hirens in another post - can you boot to a BartPE and read anything on the drive? That might be the path of least resistance.

It is a fairly recent system (Aspire 5610), the problem I have is if the HD is connected I cannot boot (no matter what boot device is selected) or enter setup. Testing the HD on another system may be an option but using Hirens or BartPE on this system with the HD connected is not an option.

I'm wondering... up to now I've been removing the HD, entering BIOS and selecting the CD as the main boot device, this does boot the system without problem. Is it possible that when I reconnect the HD the BIOS is automatically changed to select this as the main boot device.

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Old 18th May 2008   #6
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OK Just confirmed the DVD RAM drive is SATA (not as I suspected PATA), given that the system can boot from the DVD when the HD is removed is it safe to say the controller is OK so a new HD would resolve the issues?

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Old 18th May 2008   #7
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Nothing is certain but I'd call that a pretty safe bet, yes.


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Old 18th May 2008   #8
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Originally Posted by Rockster2U View Post
Nothing is certain but I'd call that a pretty safe bet, yes.


Thanks, will advise my friend accordingly... Now how to get the OS onto the HD

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Old 18th May 2008   #9
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Just a thought, SATA is hot pluggable. Any risks involved in connecting the drive *after* I enter setup (I don't want to fry my friends hardware).

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Old 19th May 2008   #10
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I admire your thinking and theoretically, you are right on. However, I'd still be inclined to take a different approach and try the suspected problem drive in another machine to determine whether or not its detectable and/or readable. If you don't have a test bench or another machine available, I'd certainly think a local shop would be willing to do this for you at little or no cost. All you're trying to do is check the integrity of the drive. We are talking about using a couple of minutes of someone's time - nothing more required. Then you know whether or not its the drive.


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Old 20th May 2008   #11
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Originally Posted by Rockster2U View Post
I'd still be inclined to take a different approach and try the suspected problem drive in another machine to determine whether or not its detectable and/or readable.
Thanks, at the end of the day that's exactly what I done. The drive caused exactly the same symptoms on a Compaq laptop (ie crash during post and no entry to setup).

Have advised my friend and will let you know how it goes.

Thanks for your help.

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Old 23rd May 2008   #12
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Originally Posted by wildfire View Post

Have advised my friend and will let you know how it goes.
HD Replaced, everything's fine, I've temporally installed linux but still investigating whether it is possible to rescue the recovery partition.

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Old 23rd May 2008   #13
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Nice work.


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