Trouble of the Day

  • They just said they did switch some power last night.
    When the power is cut off, the computer switches off, some apps then report "crashed" but the system starts normally. Not this time.
    I saw the "Samsung" starting screen for longer. I clicked some key and ended up with black screen. Next try I waited - there appeared a black screen with text on it, not normal blueish when you do something just outside the OS, but really rather black, text saying there was a power cut or shortage and some trouble, below some highlighted line saying "Windows will start" with countdown.
    Started as if normally, but the system clock appeared reset to some 2008 midnight, mended soon but still - what did it mean to have had the system clock reset and that text to have appeared? Some wrong with my system or BiOs or how do you spell it?

  • How old is this computer?

    There is a small battery in the computer (if it is a desktop) to keep the system clock working and to maintain some BIOS settings when the power is off, however yours is dead. Not a serious problem really other than needing to reset the clock every time you turn it off - I had one I used like that for several years.

  • Unfortunately, there can be some problems if the computer's clock is set significantly older than the date/time of various saved file headers if certain software happens to check the file dates/times for updating purposes, only to discover the file is dated in what the computer (and thus the software) thinks is the future.

    In any case, as @sgunhouse noted, check for a dead or weak BIOS battery (that flat silver disc on the motherboard) - it's what keeps the computer clock alive and current during power-off conditions.

    Also, keep in mind that whenever a computer suddenly loses primary power, all the electrical functions in the computer 'collapse' within milliseconds, though not necessarily each one at the same instant. In the case of files that happen to be 'open' at the interruption time, there's a chance that the system will be attempting to write them back to disk just as the disk goes unpowered and spools down - this can cause file corruption of the stored file. That, in turn, can create problems upon a restart if a critical file(s) on disk was trashed during the outage. This is a key reason to either use a UPS power supply with enough storage capacity to both alert you to the outage and provide enough time so that you can properly power-down the system, or else one should consider shutting the system down when leaving it unattended. While computers are now more robust in this regard than they were perhaps 10 years ago, it's still tempting fate to subject them to abrupt power-downs.

  • How old is this computer?

    Several years. I wonder if I could learn it not resorting to digging out the box, like some "info" within the system :confused:

    There is a small battery in the computer (if it is a desktop) to keep the system clock working and to maintain some BIOS settings when the power is off, however yours is dead.

    Actually, mine is not desktop. And no "silver thingy" I can see.
    But there should still be a battery, and I'll see if there's trouble next time I reboot.
    Thank you, guys. :banana:
    To you, @leocg, too :cheers:

  • This is a key reason to either use a UPS power supply with enough storage capacity...

    What's the animal, Bird?

  • This is a key reason to either use a UPS power supply with enough storage capacity...

    What's the animal, Bird?

    A UPS is an Uninterruptable Power Supply, intended to provide limited backup power during a short outage. It assumes the user is nearby and can respond in a timely way to properly shut down his system manually to avoid data loss or corruption. Most USA computer stores sell them for anywhere from $75-$150 each, depending on their storage capacity. They plug into a primary AC power outlet and you plug all your computer gear (computer, display, modem) into them. When primary power is interrupted, the UPS instantly switches its AC power output to a built-in, heavy-duty battery/inverter so that your computer stays powered up for however long the battery lasts so that you can 'gracefully' close your programs and shut down the system. A UPS's specs will advertise how long a given unit will supply various amperage loads... typically anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour. Most units also provide an audible beeping alarm if primary power fails in order to alert you to the need to save your data and shut down the system.

    I assumed you were using a desktop system, but from your recent post, it sounds like it's perhaps a laptop. In that case, is its internal battery not working, since that should have kicked in to provide power during a loss of primary power?

    Most folks have to deal with sudden and brief power glitches that may only last a few seconds to a minute, but which are long and deep enough to completely dump and crash an active system so that a UPS works well to bridge such gaps. For short glitches, the UPS battery kicks in immediately and when the AC comes back up, the UPS immediately switches back to primary power transparently - but the computer itself never realizes anything has happened. On the other hand, if you're dealing with power outages lasting for long periods or you aren't nearby to react and shut down a system in response to a UPS alarm, then anything other than your own private power generator won't outlast it - in that case, one should always shut off their computer when leaving it unattended for long periods of time.

  • If a laptop is continuously plugged in, the battery degrades (it degrades anyway, but faster when constantly plugged in). On one of mine, it lasted about 3 years that way.

  • I assumed you were using a desktop system, but from your recent post, it sounds like it's perhaps a laptop. In that case, is its internal battery not working, since that should have kicked in to provide power during a loss of primary power?

    It is a 'nettop', with its factory battery removed.

    Yeah, long never mind. Nothing to lose when unattended, if no night autoupdate-like.
    Short - yes, it'll do, with or without a beep*:up:*


    If a laptop is continuously plugged in, the battery degrades (it degrades anyway, but faster when constantly plugged in). On one of mine, it lasted about 3 years that way.

    Which one?

  • afaik some modern laptops shut off the charging on 'battery fully loaded' when running continuosly on a mains power connection to avoid cooking the battery by constantly topping it to 100%.

    apple macbooks for example.

    on my older laptops from the stack i have to disconnect the battery to avoid premature exhaustion. but even in storage they tend to loose 10-15% of their capacity per year. happens even to NOS still in the box.

  • It was hot, and there was a notice about unstable power due to works. So I shut it down for the night, day before yesterday. It showed some page that I had time to read, with options to "change configuration". I went there, but didn't get where the stuff to change was.
    They people who wrote the notice are dumb, so this last night I didn't shut down, but the cut there was.
    And some stuff "offered" was different (additional): first time I booted, I clicked F1-"Resume", but it ended up with a black screen, so I hither-thithered the switch again; now I got "Russian" page about starting "safe", or "last good configuration" (I picked).

    It hasn't always been like that since the problem occurred - once or twice it booted all right. And the only trouble for me to attend (that I'm aware of) has been setting the clock.

  • When the system offered to 'Resume', it attempted to pick up where it was just before the internal power quit (whether because the unit's battery didn't last long enough or because the system isn't set to auto-switch to battery upon loss of AC). It black-screened when it was unable to successfully boot itself using the now-evaporated data that was sitting in RAM at power-out, and it probably indicates that the power outage trashed something in the registry or on the drive as the system power was dropping away. Your subsequent choice of 'last good configuration' would have led to the restoration of the registry and key system files saved from a prior good-boot, which all the Windows versions now auto-preserve after a successful boot, ever since the introduction of XP.

    You dodged a bullet. Whenever there's a power outage with Windows still running and holding data in RAM, there's a risk of trashing code in the registry or in some of the Windows files that happen to be open on disk when the outage occurs. Sometimes, everything starts up just fine after such an event; other times, one has to restore to a prior OS backup (which you were fortunately able to do). At rare times, a user may discover that they can't even get restarted with a last-good configuration - or even an earlier stored configuration (assuming the Windows version offers those). There are a number of reasons why that last kind of disastrous situation occurs, but when it does (and I've run into it twice in my years of Windows usage), your only option is to restore the system from a backup image file or perform a full OS reinstall.

    My harsh experiences over a lot of years have taught me several lessons: first, I use UPS backup power units between my computers and primary power. Second, if I'm going to not be immediately available at the computer site for more than a half-hour (the dwell time of the UPS), I shut the systems down. Third, I backup, backup, backup - mainly because my systems all carry certain data that is absolutely critical to not lose. YMMV.

  • O.O , so you say, it can be that Windows won't find itself to start or something?
    It'll still be on the disk somewhere, won't it?

    (Getting that oops would be a good option, I surmise.)

    I shut down yesterday, and now it started with flying colours :happy:

  • When Windows attempts to resume after hibernation (when it keeps data alive at low-power in RAM), it attempts to reactivate its various code modules with that 'session' data still in place. When it attempts to resume after sleep (when it copies RAM data to a special place on the hard drive), it tries to retrieve the 'session' data from the drive, put it back in RAM, and resume from there just like it would come out of hibernation.

    The problem in all of this is what can happen in a power-interruption event, since many times those events are unique from one another. In some cases, the interruptions occur as clean dropouts; in other cases, as the primary power disconnects, it may briefly surge back and forth for a variety of reasons (especially when large motors sharing the primary power mains spool down and backwash into the lines). The back and forth, flickering interruption events are the worst and are the most likely to cause problems for a Windows computer, particularly when the transients trigger Windows to try to come out of sleep or hibernation. When power is interrupted, hard drive files that Windows may happen to have open when the computer internal voltages die can be improperly closed or written-to, leading to file corruption. If those corrupted files are OS system or driver files, that means those disk files will still be damaged when a restart is attempted. Hence the system may not be able to start if the files are essential to the restart. If, for some reason, significant drive sectors are damaged in the unexpected power down, then even the drive boot sector or Windows' backup/restoration file copies may also be damaged, in which case the whole system partition may have to be restored from external media. The worst-damage scenario is the least likely, but it remains a possibility nevertheless.

    Depending on where one lives and the reliability of their primary power, protective measures as I've described may need to be employed. I live in a semi-rural area, and prior to a few years ago the power was very unreliable during storms or strong winds. Consequently, I experienced a variety of Windows restart 'issues' during those years and had to develop my own protective methods. The last few years, power has been much more reliable here since many of the primary power feedlines have been buried. In any event, I still choose to keep my protective practices in place 'just in case' because my systems' integrity matters that much to me. However, whenever users are greatly concerned about power interruptions, I suggest the measures I've outlined earlier.

    1. I never use either "sleep" or whatever mode.
    2. I usually keep my nettop always on plugged to the socket.
    3. Knock on wood, power supply here seems rather reliable. And drops are rare, those due to works are usually announced (however sloppily).
  • I never use either "sleep" or whatever mode.
    I usually keep my nettop always on plugged to the socket.
    Knock on wood, power supply here seems rather reliable. And drops are rare, those due to works are usually announced (however sloppily).

    I misunderstood what you posted earlier about the state of your computer when the power went down. In any case, most of what I wrote earlier certainly also applies in the case where power goes down with the computer and Windows actually on and running, rather than it hibernating or sleeping. While running, Windows will keep files open on the hard drive and will copy parts or all of them back and forth between the drive and RAM (as do many apps, if they're active). If power suddenly goes away without a normal computer shutdown occurring, particularly if at that moment the OS is writing data from RAM back to the drive as it often does in normal operation, the files on the drive can become corrupted by incomplete or bad 'writes' since the power goes away before things are able to finish. This can be particularly true for elements of the registry files, which act as Windows' master index for many of the things it does. If write corruption occurs to files necessary in starting or running Windows upon system restart, then the result can be an inability to fully boot into the OS like what you saw.

    As I've noted, critical damage doesn't always happen from unexpected power outages, but it does occasionally occur. More often, subtle damage to less important files can occur and may only be discovered days or even weeks after a power crash, when some lesser-used function or program is exercised and fails consistently for no then-apparent reason. Again, the advice is to regard a computer's primary power reliability with caution, or at least to maintain sufficient backups to get things back up if needed - particularly when the OS won't boot from the main drive.

    1. About that "oops" thingy. What if the computer's running and I'm not about? Is it possible like a device like indicates that power's dropping while keeping it somehow for a couple of seconds when the system kinda gets "warned" and uses those seconds to shut down or something?
    2. You mentioned some system image to back up. Would you mind elaborating on that regarding - what the heck is that exactly? how much disk space to back it up?
  • 1. Some brands of Universal Power Supplies (eg: APC) include a data port, adapter cable, and installable software that work with a computer's USB port to automatically close your Windows and system 'properly' when a primary outage occurs that causes the UPS to switch to its internal battery backup. Typically, the UPS shutdown of the computer only occurs when the UPS's battery has been depleted to a preset low level; otherwise, the UPS bridges the gap seamlessly for shorter outages and your computer never knows there has been a power issue. Personally, I'll never again be willingly without a UPS for my systems.

    In the US, at what we call 'big box' stores, they typically cost about a third to a fourth the cost of the cheapest laptop (eg: $75 and up for the UPS); the price is in part set by the internal battery capacity of the USB, which should ideally be sized by the power load placed upon it by your system when power dies. For just a laptop and possibly a modem, that would usually be the lowest-priced model in a given product line.

    2. What I referred to by system image was a generic term whose meaning kind of depends on what you feel you need. That, in turn, depends upon what you feel you may need to recover from. As a minimum, you should be using a "system restore" kind of imaging, which Windows at XP and above does include, assuming a user hasn't disabled it somehow. That will cover many of the most common OS file corruption issues, as you've already discovered. However, it won't cover the situation where the disk's boot sector gets corrupted and the failure to startup exists because the system BIOS can't get off the ground enough to even boot into the OS 'safe boot' panel. Likewise, it won't cover cases of major hard-disk corruption that includes even some of the recovery image's files. In that case, you need a full-drive image file that includes the MBR data, saved on external media made with imaging software like Paragon, True Image, Macrium Reflect, etc. along with the appropriate bootable rescue media (CD, flash stick, etc). Some of these backup programs have free versions.

    While I use both system-restore and full-image methods, for myself I really rely most on making and keeping full-image external backups of all my computer data because there are some 'small-business' records involved that are critical to preserve those operations, as well as because I really dislike the time and effort involved in manually re-installing all my apps software and setting things up the way I like. That approach has saved me from data loss on at least 5 major-crash occasions over the last 20+ years. For a user who only uses their computer for Internet browsing and such, probably the built-in system-restore backups are sufficient if they keep the recovery image version reasonably current, and especially if they have access to OS installation media in case their drive completely crashes. Without available installation media, they're largely dead in the water if the recovery image(s) on the drive gets trashed, unless they can find somebody else's installation media to borrow, along with remembering their Windows registration number.

  • Without available installation media, they're largely dead in the water if the recovery image(s) on the drive gets trashed, unless they can find somebody else's installation media to borrow, along with remembering their Windows registration number.

    Come again?
    :confused:

    So you're saying, you back up the whole disk?
    What should I use, if any? And how much is it in disk space?

  • The case I was addressing was if the disk or all of the OS's on-drive backups die or are rendered unusable, you have to have a source outside of that drive from which to reinstall the operating system. That means either the original installation CDs/DVDs and the OS registration number or else a full system-grade image file made from the drive earlier and saved somewhere else must be available to the user. While some computers are sold without physical reinstall disks and instead use a special hidden partition on the drive for recovery, the problem there is that if the drive itself fails, usually the backup partition is gone as well, hence a physical copy of the OS is good to have.

    If one uses a full image backup on external media, a user still needs a way to boot the computer and to properly read the file format of that image in order to restore the image to a new or reformatted drive. Most disk imaging programs have built in mechanisms that allow you to create a bootable 'rescue' disk that will let you install that program's image files onto a drive, even if the OS on the drive is rendered unbootable... but you have to create the rescue disk before any problems occur that block access to the imaging program itself on the computer. If reinstalling from OS disks, the first disk in the set will itself be bootable and you simply go from there.

    What one needs for backup is governed by the consequences of the different kinds of possible failures of a computer and software. Eg: the businessman or a user with lots of family photos values his data perhaps more than the computer, so he needs to back that up securely and often, particularly somewhere physically removed from the computer's main drive. In their case, multiple backups are often used: smaller and more frequent ones of just the data files; larger and less frequent ones of the OS, all the apps, and the data files on the drive.

    The user who only browses the Internet has little or no irreplaceable data; everything important to him can be reinstalled from original media or web downloads, though the inconvenience might be great depending on how much there is. The one thing such a user MUST have, however, is a source and mechanism for reinstalling his OS.

    I back up everything about monthly to full-drive images kept on one of two external 2Tb hard-drives which are alternated every couple months and stored off-site. I back up critical data and various settings files daily to a second hard-drive within the system and weekly to an external flash stick stored off-site. I also employ multiple Windows restore files automatically made on my system for OS issues, just in case. The Windows folder on a system for Windows 10 will run to 18-19 Gb on many systems; obviously, the program file folders will be additional, depending on what apps have been installed. As I've noted before, data recovery is critical to me, so I use a 'belt, suspenders, and even a piece of rope' to back things up. Personally, I use a paid version of Paragon for image backups.

  • :faint:

    Tb ... Gb ...

    Terabits? Gigabits?

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