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Problems to boot

Also, how to handle CD-R error messages. Tech advisor hed: Problems to boot dek: also, how to handle CD-R error messages.

Q: There are several different terms used when it comes to restarting your computer (e.g., soft boot, hard boot, restart). What do all these terms really mean?

A: There are a lot of terms, but there are basically just two different levels of booting: a warm boot, and a cold boot–all the other names that you see are really just terms for one of these levels. A cold boot is just that-the PC is started from the Power Off state (a throwback to the old days of computing when the unpowered chips would have cooled off). It will go through the entire Power on Self Test (POST) sequence before loading the operating system. This is usually called a hard boot, and takes a bit longer to accomplish, but this may be necessary with serious hardware problems. A warm boot is basically a reset–restarting the PC without turning it off (i.e., pressing the Reset button or selecting Restart from the Windows shutdown menu). In most cases, the POST is abbreviated during a warm boot, so booting is a little bit faster, and this is handy for dealing with program crashes. This is sometimes called a soft boot.

Q: I installed a Promise Ultra66 drive controller card in my system-and it works-but my system seems to freeze up for several minutes at boot time. Did I break something when I disconnected the drives from the motherboard and attached them to the Ultra66?

A: You probably didn’t damage anything if the drives are working and the system is booting. Ordinarily I’d say that you have a conflict between the motherboard’s controller and the Ultra66 card, but according to Promise, the Ultra66 should install “around” the motherboard’s controller, allowing you to use both controllers. However, it’s possible that the BIOS is wasting time searching for the drives that you disconnected from the motherboard’s controller. Also, the BIOS on your current system may not be capable of configuring the Ultra66 properly alongside the motherboard’s controller, or there are not enough free resources for your system to configure the Ultra66.

Start by accessing your motherboard’s CMOS Setup, and verify the drive entries for each hard drive that you transferred to the Ultra66 controller are set to “None” or “Not Installed.” Since the drives obviously booted from the Ultra66, you probably don’t need to access the new controller card’s setup. If this delay problem persists, try using the motherboard’s CMOS Setup to disable the motherboard’s hard-drive controller ports (making the Ultra66 the only hard-drive controller in the system). If you’re only using the Ultra66 as the primary controller, disable the motherboard’s primary controller. If you’re using both the primary and secondary controller ports of the Ultra66, disable both of the motherboard’s controller ports. This should eliminate any potential hardware conflicts, and will probably correct the trouble. Of course, you should always review the Ultra66 manual and double-check your installation steps, and refer to Promise technical support for more detailed information and BIOS updates.

Q: I’m using Ricoh’s MP7120A CD-R/RW 12X/10X/32X drive, and I frequently get “buffer underrun” and “disc write” error messages. Is the drive or media to blame? And what can I do to resolve the trouble?

A: Buffer underrun errors occur when the drive’s internal buffer empties before the system can send more data to be written. There are some proven tips that can help overcome these types of problems. First, consider your media. The Ricoh you’re using is a fairly fast drive when it’s writing CD-R or CD-RW discs, so you should be sure to use good-quality media intended for high-speed writing. The user manual that accompanied the drive should list several recommendations. If you cannot locate the recommended media for your drive, try slowing down the write speed in your writing utility (such as Adaptec Easy CD Creator Pro). Rather than using the 12X (CD-R) or 10X (CD-RW) write speeds, try setting the speed to 8X, 6X, or even 4X. This will take more time to write the disc, but a slower speed may be more forgiving to the media.

If the problem occurs with recommended media and at slower writing speeds, the drive itself may be questionable (or installed improperly). Recheck your installation steps for the Ricoh drive and see that the drive is cabled exactly according to the installation instructions. Buggy or outdated firmware or drivers may be another issue, so check the Ricoh Web site and see if new drivers or drive firmware is available for download. Otherwise, you may need to replace that drive and see if another drive will correct the problem.

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