Testing for Hardware Problems Using PC-Doctor
This document applies to HP and Compaq desktop PCs with Windows XP and PC-Doctor diagnostic software.
NOTE:Your PC may have a version of PC-Doctor that appears different than the images in this document. Many HP computers built prior to 2004 do not come with PC-Doctor.
PC-Doctor is a software tool to assist in diagnosing possible computer problems. This tool does not resolve hardware problems directly, but it does help you discover what is wrong with the computer by troubleshooting and isolating hardware issues. In addition to information on using PC-Doctor, this document provides tips for resolving hardware issues.
When your PC cannot open Windows, download PC-Doctor Offline DOS Diagnostics utility and install it to onto a bootable floppy diskette or a bootable optical disc (CD) to verify hardware problems without Windows. Some computers come with the utility software on the hard drive. If so, you can make the bootable diskette or optical disc (CD) at your computer. If your computer not have the utility or does not work sufficiently to make the bootable diskette or CD, you can find and download the current version of the PC-Doctor Offline DOS Diagnostics software from the HP Web site. See (HP WWSG) Using PC-Doctor Offline DOS Diagnostics to Verify Hardware Problems .
PC-Doctor tests are divided into categories, such as Audio, Communications, System Test, etc... This document is formatted to match the same categories that PC-Doctor uses. Select a section that matches best. If you are not sure or you are curious about the health of the computer system, start at the "System " section. For your reference, this document also includes sections on starting PC-Doctor, system reports, and failure codes, and on making a diskette or optical disc to use PC-Doctor offline (that is, without starting Windows).
If the computer displays an error code after running any of the tests, you can contact HP support for further assistance. Write the error code number down so that you can provide it to a support agent.
NOTE:PC-Doctor is intended for use with the computer's original hardware configuration. Although it might work with hardware that was installed after purchase, PC-Doctor was designed to work specifically with the hardware HP originally installed in the computer.
Before you begin
Before performing any of the tests in this document make sure you do the following:
- Restart the computer and log on with administrative privileges (most home computers are already set with administrative privileges).
- Close all programs, especially virus scanners.
- Print this document so that you can refer to it after the computer has been restarted.
- Use one of the following methods to open PC-Doctor:
PC-Doctor opens to the main screen (see Figure below). The main screen contains a list of categories, such as Audio, Communications, System Test, System Information, Results, etc... These categories contain tests and tools for diagnosing your computer. Other versions of PC-Doctor are different but use similar categories and features.
- For most PCs: Click Start, All Programs, PC Help & Tools, and then click PC-Doctor.
- For some HP Pavilion PCs: Click Start, All Programs, Hewlett-Packard, HP Pavilion PC Tools, and then click PC-Doctor.
- For some Compaq Presario PCs:
- Click Start, Run, and in the Open field type: pcdrw32
- Click OK.
- To begin testing, click a device category or click an item in the menu list on the left in the main screen. A window opens.
- Restart the computer when you are finished using PC-Doctor.
Use the audio and microphone tests to help determine if a sound component is having problems. Because sound problems can be difficult to diagnose, the results from these tests help point to where the problem is occurring but might not tell you exactly what is wrong. Always double-check your connections and check speakers and microphones in other audio devices before assuming that a sound card has failed. The Volume Control is conveniently located in the Tools section so that you can easily check to see if sound has been turned down or muted.
The following two sections explain the Audio device tests and link to additional information for each possible error code.
Audio device - Speakers, headphones, and sound card
Test your speakers (and sound card) from the PC-Doctor Audio window. To run the audio device test, click Run Test. A window appears with several buttons on it. The buttons in the WAV section test the systems capability to play WAV files and they can be used to determine if sound can be heard through the sound channels. Use the various buttons listed below to test sound:
NOTE:Sound channels other than left and right are not supported by PC-Doctor. Systems connected to more than two speakers (and subwoofer) must use the speaker setting software that came with the computer or sound card.
- WAV Left Channel and Right Channel buttons - Use these buttons to determine if sound can be heard through the left and right speaker. You can also use these buttons to make sure that you have the left and right speakers placed accordingly. If one channel or both cannot be heard, make sure you check the volume settings, sound cable connections, proper driver installation, that sound is enabled in the BIOS (for on-board audio), and verify the speakers and speaker wires are good by connecting them into another sound device.
- WAV Both Channels - Click this button to test the left and right channel at the same time. This is helpful to determine if you have true stereo separation. If the left channel and the right channel button work individually, but both channels fail or produce static or popping noises, there might be a problem with the sound driver or sound card.
- MIDI Both Channels - This button is helpful to determine if MIDI music can play in stereo or even at all. If MIDI cannot play, check that the wavetables are loaded from the MIDI tab of the sound card properties.
- Internal speaker Beep - Use this test to make sure that you can hear sound from the computer's internal speaker. There is a small speaker inside the computer case used to produce sound when the system encounters an error. If you cannot hear sound from this speaker, make sure that the speaker is connected to the motherboard and enabled in the BIOS.
Audio device - Microphone
Test the microphone inputs from the PC-Doctor Audio window. To run the microphone device test, complete the following steps:
- Click Run Test.NOTE:You must have a microphone plugged into the microphone connector on the sound card and you have to know that the speakers can play sounds from the computer.
- Click Record and speak loudly and clearly into the microphone to record three seconds of sound.
- Click Play to hear the sound that you recorded. If you do not hear any sounds, make sure that the microphone works in other sound devices, like a tape recorder. You should also check the connectors to make sure that they are plugged in fully. A PC-Doctor failure code of SC###-12 occurs when the microphone is not plugged in.
Storage (hard drives, CD, DVD, floppy drives, and memory card readers)
Use the storage device tests in this section to test for a storage device's ability to write and retain data. Storage devices include memory card readers, CD and DVD drives, floppy drives and hard drives. The Disk Cleanup and Disk Defragmenter software tools are also conveniently located on the Storage screen.
- Use Disk Cleanup on hard drives that are experiencing out of disk space errors
- Use Disk Defragmenter on hard drives that take longer than usual to open programs
The following four sections explain the Storage device tests and link to additional information for each possible error code.
NOTE:Storage items that are having problems may not appear in the list of items or in Windows. Optical drives (CD-ROM and DVD drives) and hard drives that are not connected or jumpered properly do not show up in Windows, PC-Doctor, or in the BIOS. On most modern CD and DVD drives, the jumper should be set to ‘CS’ (cable select).
Test the hard drive(s) on your computer from the PC-Doctor Storage window. To test a hard drive, double-click the icon for the hard drive that you want to test. The name of each hard drive or non-hidden hard drive partition is listed under the Hard Drive icon.
You will have the option of performing a short or long test.
- The short test checks the Smart status and performs a linear seek test.
- The long test performs the same tests as the short but adds more seek tests, a write test, and a surface scan. The long test also takes a considerable amount of time to complete.
NOTE:If PC Doctor reports a hard drive failure, see if a hard drive firmware update or an update for PC Doctor is available from the Software and Download page for your computer. If an update is available for PC Doctor or the hard drive, install it according to the instructions on the download page and test the hard drive again.
If any of the tests fail, it is a good idea to back up important data as soon as possible. A Smart failure is a good indication that the hard drive is wearing out and should be replaced as soon as possible. Seek, write, and surface failures may be the cause of "bad areas" on the hard drive. You can isolate these bad areas and extend the life of the drive by running ScanDisk with the fix and repair option followed by Disk Defragmenter. To run the ScanDisk utility with the fix and repair option, do the following:
- Click Start, click All Programs, click Accessories, and then click Command Prompt.
- Type chkdsk /r and then press Enter.Since you cannot run this command in the current Windows session, you will be prompted to run it the next time the computer restarts.
- Type Y and press Enter.The next time you restart your computer the ScanDisk utility will run. Do not interrupt this procedure.
CD and DVD drives
Test optical drives (CD, DVD, and rewritable drives) from the PC-Doctor Storage window. To start the test, click the icon above the name of the optical drive you want to test. These tests require the use of CDs or DVDs. Make sure that the CD or DVD that you use is in good working condition. If a test fails, test with more than one disc. Check the discs used in a failed test in other drives before assuming that a drive is bad. Bad CDs and DVDs are usually the source of most CD and DVD problems, not the actual drives.
The following tests are available, but appear only if the optical drive is capable of performing the function associated with the test:
- Music CD Test: Tests the playback of a music CD. This test is available to all optical drives and requires an original music CD (do not use a copy of a commercial music CD) and a working sound system with the volume for the CD Player turned up. Failure of this test only, not the data test, may indicate a sound hardware problem or a missing or incorrectly connected jumper cable that goes from the drive to the soundcard inside the computer.
- DVD Movie Test: Tests the playback of a DVD movie. This test is available to DVD drives and requires a DVD movie (use an original DVD movie that has the correct Region Code for your country). Failure of this test only, not the data test, may indicate that the DVD video codec (required for DVD playing software) is missing, or you may not be using the correct Region Code.
- Data CD Test: This test is available to all optical drives and requires a data CD. It is recommended to test with an original data CD, such as a software installation or game CD. This test actually performs two types of tests for reading data: seek and surface.
- Seek: There are three seek tests: linear, random, and funnel. These tests are designed to test drive hardware under intense reading conditions. Failure of any one of the seek tests should still be verified by testing again using a different data CD. If the second test fails with a data CD that can be read in another drive, the drive hardware might be failing and may need to be replaced.
- Surface: This test scans the surface of a data CD for defects. If this test fails, the data CD's surface is probably damaged or degrading.
- Rewritable CD and DVD tests: Tests the reading and writing functionality of the drive. This test is only available for drives capable of writing to rewritable (RW) discs. To perform the read/write tests you need to have a CD-RW or DVD+RW disc. The disc does not necessarily have to be blank, but you should not use a disc that contains information you want to keep.The test checks to see if the correct type of recordable CD is in the drive and then repeatedly writes and reads data on the disc. If the data read does not match the data that was written, the test fails. If a failure occurs, repeat the test with a different brand of rewritable disc before assuming that the drive is bad. If the CD-RW test passes, the drive can also read/write to CD-R discs.
Test floppy drives from the PC-Doctor Storage window. Insert a non-write protected 3.5 inch disk into the floppy drive and then click the Floppy Drive icon to start the test.
The floppy drive test performs four types of tests about reading data: seek, write, read, and surface scanning. If any of these tests fail, especially surface scanning, the most likely problem is the disk. Test a different 3.5 inch disk, and then try the disks in a different floppy drive before replacing the drive. Floppy disks are easily corrupted and are usually the source of the problem.
Memory card readers
Test memory cards from the PC-Doctor Storage window. Several memory card drives are shown when a multiple card reader is installed. To start the testing, place your memory card in its respective slot in the card reader and double-click a memory card icon from the storage screen. If a window appears asking you to insert a card, cancel and try opening the next Memory Card Reader icon from the Storage screen. Continue doing this until you find the correct Memory Card Reader icon for the slot that the memory card is in.
NOTE:Make sure that the in-use light on the memory card reader is off before removing your memory card. If the in-use light stays on after performing the test, open My Computer, right-click the drive name containing the memory card, and select Eject to turn off the in-use light. Removing a memory card while the in-use light is on may damage the memory card, the card reader, or both.
The memory card reader tests include a memory address scanner test and a read/write pattern test. These tests can be performed even if data is already stored on the memory card. Test failures should be verified by using a different memory card or by testing the same memory card in a different card reader on another computer (or camera).
From the Video Devices screen, you can test the video card, the monitor, and your computer's ability to play the AVI video file format. You can also access Desktop settings (also called Display Properties) and the DirectX diagnostic utility. Use the Settings tab from Desktop settings to quickly change display resolutions, color depth, and enter into the advanced properties of the video card. Use the DirectX diagnostic utility if video games that use DirectX do not work or have graphics problems. The following diagnostic tests are available:
Video device - Video card
Test a video card or the video chip on the motherboard, depending on your hardware, from the PC-Doctor Video Devices window. To start the test, click the icon above the name of the video device that you want to test. Keep in mind, the video test can take several minutes to perform. The video test does not use one test but uses several graphical element tests and a memory test.
If the test still fails, make sure that the video card is fully seated into its socket and that all of the video card settings are set to the card's default settings, especially voltage settings for both the video memory and the processor(s).
If 3D or texture mapping tests fail, the issue is probably software related. Double-check these failures by opening the DirectX diagnostic tool to get a more specific error. If the error is DirectX related, download and reinstall the latest version of DirectX from Microsoft. Otherwise, uninstall and reinstall the video drivers. You can also check HP or the video card manufacturer support Web site for an updated video driver.
The video test also includes a memory test that writes and reads the memory on the video card. If the memory test consistently fails more than three times in a row, replace the video card (or the memory on the motherboard for on-the-motherboard video).
Video device - Multimedia
Test your computer's ability to play a multimedia file from the PC-Doctor Video Devices window. Start this test by clicking the Multimedia icon. If the AVI does not play and the other video tests pass, the problem is in the software codecs. Try installing the latest version of Windows Media Player from Microsoft's Web site to correct the problem.
Video device - Monitor
Test and adjust your monitor from the PC-Doctor Video Devices window. Start this test by clicking the Monitor icon.
Red, Green, or Blue tests: Use the three color tests to help determine if a red, green, or blue color is missing. Click the Red, Green, or Blue button to display an entire screen of that color. If you have a conventional tube monitor, the entire screen or large section of the screen is black if red, blue, or green fails. If you have a flat panel LCD display or a projection device, look for small dots showing up as differently colored dots on the field of red, green, or blue. If the monitor is still in warranty, the manufacturer of the monitor may replace the flat-panel display or projector if enough colored dots are missing.
VESA tests: Use the VESA tests to help determine the following:
- if one area of the monitor is out of focus
- that the colors are not separating
- that one area of the screen is not as bright as the rest
Press the button of the test pattern that you would like to use and visually inspect for problems. These tests make it easier to detect problems, but determining the issue may still be subjective. If you think there might be a problem with the monitor brightness, focus, or geometry, try using these same test patterns (or the combination test) to adjust the monitor. Lastly, be aware that the display image is affected by the type of light and its angle reflecting on your monitor screen. Try to adjust the monitor or the light if needed.
Communications (modems and NICs)
Test network interface cards (NICs) and modems from the Communications window. When testing these devices make sure that the hardware is connected to a network using the proper cable.
Test the modem from the PC-Doctor Communications window. Start this test by clicking the Modem icon. The test consists of various internal hardware features and a line or dial tone test.
If only the dial tone portion of the test fails, make sure that a telephone cord is plugged into the modem and that the phone cord is carrying a dial tone. You can check dial tone by connecting the cord to a phone and listening for the dial tone.
If the hardware portion of the modem tests fail, the modem hardware is likely to be bad. Make sure that the modem is seated fully into its PCI socket inside the computer and test again to make sure. One of the leading causes of modem failure is power spikes through the phone line, usually during inclement weather. Purchase and use a surge suppressor that supports a phone connector (RJ-11) to avoid future modem damage through the phone line.
Test the networking hardware from the PC-Doctor Communications window. Start this test by clicking the Network Device icon. Before testing, you have to be connected to a network and you have to have a valid gateway address in your network settings or the test will fail. Make sure that you are using the proper network cable (that is, do not use a cross-over cable with a hub or a standard RJ-45 between two network cards). The test communicates with other devices on the network and verifies that the data sent and received is not corrupted or missing. When a failure occurs, make sure that other computers on the network are not experiencing similar issues and that you are using the correct settings for your network.
NOTE:The most common networking problems are caused by incorrect network settings for the network protocol used.
Test various components that relate to the motherboard from the System Device window. The components you can test are as follows:
- real-time clock
- ports (serial, parallel, USB, and 1394)
- Disconnect all cables connected to the ports. However, loopback tests require a loopback cable connected to the port for testing.
- Inspect for and straighten bent pins.
- Run the test again without the cables attached.
Other devices (keyboard and mouse)
Test the mouse, keyboard and other peripherals, like printers, from the Other Devices window. Printers and other peripheral tests vary depending on the type of device that is connected to the computer. These tests are not covered in this document. Tools that are easily accessible from the Other Devices window are Printers and Faxes and the Mouse and Keyboard properties windows.
Input device - Keyboard
Test the keyboard from the PC-Doctor Other Devices window. Start this test by clicking the Keyboard icon. A window opens showing an image of a keyboard. Press a key to remove the key from the image. Continue to press keys until all of the keys are removed. If a particular key does not go away, the key is not registering. If several keys are bad, check for a bent pin on the PS/2 port and cable. In some cases, keys can be removed and cleaned. In other cases, the keyboard will have to be replaced. Test the keyboard on another computer to determine if the keyboard is actually failing.
Input device - Mouse
Test the mouse from the PC-Doctor Other Devices window.
Start this test by clicking the Mouse icon. If your mouse does not appear to be working, you can start PC Doctor and the mouse test with the following steps:
- Press the Windows + R Key.A Run window opens.
- In the run line type “pcdrw32” (without quotes) and press Enter.A PC-Doctor for Windows window appears.
- Press Enter and use the Tab key until Other Devices is selected under Device Categories.
- Press the Space bar and then use the Tab key until either the Mouse Icon or the Run Test under the mouse icon is selected.
- Press the Space Bar to select Yes.
Most mouse problems can be resolved by cleaning the mouse hardware (the ball and rollers or LED window) and making adjustment to the mouse settings. For total mouse failure, check the PS/2 port for bent pins (for a PS/2 mouse), test the USB port (for a USB mouse), or replace the mouse. Test the mouse on another computer to determine if the mouse is actually failing.
System reports provide a list of what software and/or hardware is installed on the computer. The reports also list what state the computer is in and the status of the system. At the time of this writing, there is only one system report available in PC-Doctor: System Information. System Information displays the following information:
NOTE:For more system information that is not included in this report use Microsoft's System Information tool by clicking Start, (All) Programs, Accessories, System Tools, and then System Information.
|Component||What is shown|
|Windows version||Name of Windows version including service pack information.|
|BIOS version||Manufacturer and revision number.|
|Video controller||Name of the video card and video card information.|
|Video memory||Amount of video memory available to the video device.|
|Thermal state|| A number representing the heat state of the processor at boot as follows:|
|System status||Current status of computer as follows: |
|Power state|| Current power state as follows:|
|Bootup state||State the computer started up too.|
PC-Doctor Offline DOS Diagnostics
The PC-Doctor Offline DOS Diagnostics is a utility for use with your HP or Compaq desktop PC to verify hardware problems without starting Windows.
Before using PC-Doctor Offline DOS Diagnostics, make a bootable floppy diskette or optical disc (CD) that has PC-Doctor Offline DOS diagnostics. Some PCs have the utility available, if so, you can make the bootable diskette or optical disc (CD) at your PC. If your PC does not have the utility, you can find and download the current version of the PC-Doctor Offline DOS Diagnostics software from the HP Web site; refer to Using PC-Doctor Offline DOS Diagnostics to Verify Hardware Problems . This document provides information on how to download and create the floppy diskette or optical disc (CD), along with how to use the offline diagnostics diskette or disc, and a list of the failure codes.
Before you can use PC-Doctor Offline DOS Diagnostics to test your PC, you need to insert the bootable diskette or disc into your PC and restart the PC.
PC-Doctor Offline DOS Diagnostics: making the bootable diskette or optical disc (CD) at your PC
NOTE:You need a blank floppy diskette or a blank CD-R disc.If your PC has PC-Doctor Offline DOS Diagnostics, you can make the bootable diskette or optical disc (CD) from your PC. Do the following:
- Close all applications and remove any discs from the PC optical drives (CD or DVD) or from the floppy drive.
- Click Start, choose All Programs, choose PC Help & Tools, and then click PC-Doctor Offline DOS Diagnostics.NOTE:If you do not see PC-Doctor Offline DOS Diagnostics in the PC Help & Tools folder, your PC does not have this utility. Refer to Using PC-Doctor Offline DOS Diagnostics to Verify Hardware Problems to locate and download the software from the HP Web site and make the bootable diskette or disc.
- In the "PC-Doctor Offline DOS Diagnostics" window that opens, select Floppy Diskette or CD Disc, and then click OK.
- Insert a blank floppy diskette into the PC drive and then click Yes in the "PC-Doctor Offline DOS Diagnostics" window.
- Wait a few minutes for the program to create the diskette.
- When the program finishes, do one of the following:
- If you want to run the diagnostics on the PC you are using, leave the floppy in the drive and click OK at the prompt to restart the PC.
- If you want to run the diagnostics on a different PC, click Cancel at the prompt to restart the PC, wait for the window to close, and then eject the floppy diskette. At the PC you want to use, close all applications and remove any discs from the PC optical drives (CD or DVD), then insert the floppy diskette into the PC drive. Restart the PC, or press Ctrl-Alt-Delete and choose Shutdown, and then click Restart.NOTE:If your PC does not respond (restart or turn off), press and hold the On button until the PC turns off, wait a few seconds, and then press the On button again to turn on the PC.
- Follow the onscreen instructions to run PC-Doctor offline. This completes making the bootable floppy diskette.
- When you selected CD Disc, the "PC-Doctor Offline DOS Diagnostics" window displays a message: The file to create the boot CD disc is located in C:\Softpaq\SP26380 directory. Use RecordNow, or similar, to make the CD disc. Write down the location of the directory, and then click OK. The window closes.
- To continue, you must create the bootable CD by using RecordNow or similar program to write the CD. Refer to one of the descriptions listed below for your type recording program:
- Veritas RecordNow version 5.0 or earlier: Open RecordNow and click Make a Data Disc. Insert the blank CD-R disc into the drive, and then click Next. Click Add Files and Folders and navigate to the utility.
- Sonic RecordNow! version 6.0: RecordNow! 6.0 does not support the ISO image burning feature required for this disc. Update RecordNow! 6.0 to RecordNow! 6.7.
- Sonic RecordNow! version 6.5 or greater: Open RecordNow! and click the tab to view Backup Projects. Click Burn Image and navigate to the utility.
- Roxio Easy CD and DVD Creator 6: Open the program and click Creator Classic. In the File Menu, click Record Disc from Image and then navigate to the utility.
- Follow the onscreen instructions to make the CD. When the program finishes, close it, and then do one of the following:
- If you want to run the diagnostics on the computer you are using, leave the CD in the drive and restart the computer.
- If you want to run the diagnostics on a different computer, eject the CD disc and remove it. At the PC you want to use, close all applications and remove any discs from the PC optical drives (CD or DVD), then insert the CD disc into the PC drive. Restart the PC, or press Ctrl-Alt-Delete and choose Shutdown, and then Restart.NOTE:If your PC does not respond (restart or turn off), press and hold the On button until the PC turns off, wait a few seconds, and then press the On button again to turn on the PC.
- Follow the onscreen instructions to run PC-Doctor offline. This completes making the bootable CD.
PC-Doctor failure codes
PC-Doctor displays an error code, problem description, and helpful tips at the completion of the test. For example:
Error code: MC921-W No Dialtone. Make sure you have a working phone line.
Use the problem description and suggested fixes to help in resolving the problem.
NOTE:In the event of a support call, it is important to provide the error code and problem description to the HP online support agent. This will greatly assist the agent to resolve the problem.
More Troubleshooting Information
The HP Customer Care Web site provides additional troubleshooting information. Search for support information by entering the symptom of your problem, the device you want to troubleshoot, or the computer model. For example, search on "sound problems" or "modem troubleshooting".