Blog » Computer Dies, but it's Only the Power Supply

Computer Dies, but it's Only the Power Supply

I got a bit of a scare today when my AmigaOne XE G4 computer stopped working. Unlike standard PCs, this computer cannot be replaced by simply walking down to a computer store and buying another machine. If this machine did have to be replaced, I would have to order one from overseas. Since I am hard at work with various Amiga projects (particularly this one), this would have been quite a setback.

I have had trouble switching it on for a while now, but thought that this was due to a flaky power switch. As it turned out, it wasn't. The power supply was nearing its end. Today, I was alerted to a problem a beeping noise that sounded like a wrist-watch alarm. Looking at my Amiga, I saw that it was coming from the fan controller, which showed that the temperature was 60 degrees, and rising. So, I quickly shut it down. After opening the case and waiting a minute, I tried to switch it back on, but it failed. A few more attempts later, the fans switched on, but rotated very slowly and made a horrible noise. The power LED remained off. Clearly, something was broken.

Since I was already suspecting the power switch, I pulled the power switch out, and performed some quick tests with a multi-meter. Sure enough, the switch was perfectly fine. Besides, the switch could not have caused the strange fan behaviour that was observed.

By this stage I was thinking in dismay about how long it would take for a replacement machine to arrive. Added to that, I'd rather not spend money on a new computer until I can get my hands on an AmigaOne X1000. Anyway, given the way that the fans were sort of turning, but making a dirty rasping noise, I started suspecting that the power supply might have died. Fortunately I happened to have a spare 230W ATX power supply lying around (was going to be a power supply for an electronic project; not any more), so I swapped the power supply around, plugged the machine back in, and pressed the power button. The machine immediately started; no trouble with the power button, no noisy fans, just a computer working as it should. Phew, that was close.

This incident has reminded me just how disruptive hardware failure can be. In this case, shipping a replacement Amiga would take weeks. However, the last time that I had to reinstall Windows on my laptop (after the audio stopped working), it took me two days before I had everything reinstalled, and back to approximately how I wanted it. First, a restore from backups on a network drive failed, then the Windows install CD failed due to some mysterious problem with the DVD drive. Finally, a copy of Windows XP x64 installed, but it still took a very long time to reinstall all the software. I cannot remember if it was Norton Ghost or Acronis True Image that failed with restoring from backups. All I know is that neither program has worked properly for me, and so I'm still facing the possibility of a lengthy reinstall the next time that disaster strikes. This is a problem despite my rigorous backups of all critical data.

Maybe a better idea would be to have a system that backs up only the user data, and keeps a record of what programs were installed with what settings. Then, instead of attempting a whole system restore (which seems to fail a lot), the restore utility would run the appropriate installers to get a fresh copy of all applications, and then restore the user's data. In theory, this should be more reliable, result in a more stable reinstalled system, and save a lot of space with the backups. To date I have never found a product that works like this, so this is a free idea for anyone working in the data backup industry.

In the meantime, all my machines are once again working as they should.

Blog » Computer Dies, but it's Only the Power Supply

Post your comment


No one has commented on this page yet.

RSS feed for comments on this page | RSS feed for all comments

Blog » Computer Dies, but it's Only the Power Supply