Question Dell T3600 Can't Load Windows?

Feb 28, 2020
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1. My college had a "clearance" sale, which essentially they were just giving away old desktop computers, Macs, and monitors (among other small things). With this, I didn't expect to get a brand new computer, so I'm in troubleshooting mode right now.

2. Essentially the computer came completely clean with a licensed version of Windows 10 Pro, and the computer was using Dell's A18 Bios. The computer is a Dell Precision T3600 with 4x 4GB RAM and a ton of other gadgets inside it (if this information is relevant, just let me know how to find that info... maybe in Bios?).

3. My initial issue was that the monitor would turn off by simply opening or closing the start menu. It would also randomly reboot itself out of no where (could this simply be a power supply issue?).

4. Moving to my current issue: I now cannot even load Windows. That is, I got this error: "PXE-E61: Media test failure, check cable". I've checked all cables inside the tower.

5. I've done full system diagnostics which gave me this message: "No problems have been found with this system." (I've ran the thorough and simple tests). The test does a diagnosis on the System, Cables, Hard Drive 0-0-0, CDROM Drive 0-0-0, Video Card, Processor Fan, Memory Fan, Memory Fan,, PCI Fan, System Management, Processor, and Memory.

6. Now though, when I reboot it simply says "No bootable devices--strike F1 to retry boot, F2 for setup utility. Press F5 to run onboard diagnostics."

7. I've reset the Bios to default, which puts the system to Legacy which prompts another error telling me to go to my BIOS and change it to UEFI Volume. I do this, but now I don't have any boot sequences listed, and the same error listed in #6 appears again.

It seems I can no longer boot Windows, which made me think it was a hardware issue, but the hardware was checked and still shows in Bios.

Anyone know any idea as to what's going on here? Let me know if there is any other info you would need (which is likely I'm assuming).
 
Feb 28, 2020
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Thanks for the tips and response!

It's weird, the cable is somewhat loose, but I'm using a second similar cable and it still reads the hard drive. That being said, I was finally able to load Linux (Ubuntu?) using Rufus, and I can see my hard drive listed. It shows the following:

Mode: ST3320513AS
Size: 320 GB
Partitioning: GUID Partition Table
Serial Number: _ (not sure if this is sensitive, so I'mm just leaving it blank. It does show something here)
Assessment: Disk is OK, 60 bad sectors (33C / 91F)

======= Volumes =======
Recovery Partition 1, 555MB NT...
\__ Partition Type: Microsoft Windows Recovery Environment (System, No ...)
\__ Contents: NTFS - Not Mounted

Filesystem Partition 2, 105MB FAT..
\__ Partition Type: EFI System (No Automount)
\__ Contents: FAT (32-bit version) - Not Mounted

Partition 3, 17MB Unk...
\__ Partition Type: Microsoft Reserved (No Automount)
\__ Contents: Unknown

Filesystem Partition 4: Basic data partition, 319GB NTFS
\__ Partition Type: Basic Data
\__ Contents: NTFS - Not Mounted

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Does this help give you any other ideas what the problem could be?
 
Feb 28, 2020
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Make sure your BIOS Boot set to CSM or UEFI. If it's set to legacy, that could be the problem.
BIOS Boot List is set to UEFI, but there is nothing listed in the Boot Sequence :/

I can add or delete boot options, but that's pretty much it.

Also, when I boot it, it comes up with "No bootable devices", but Linux can read a HDD with the partitions and everything? Any idea with this?

Thanks again for the help!
 
Linux uses a different boot protocol. To fix this you will likely need a Windows 10 install media; if you don't have one you can download it here. https://forums.tomshardware.com/faq/how-to-do-a-clean-installation-of-windows-10.3170366/ Once you boot up the install media, follow the instructions here under https://www.windowscentral.com/how-use-startup-repair-fix-boot-problems-windows-10 "Accessing Advanced startup using bootable media".
In the long run it may be easier to do a clean install.
 
Feb 28, 2020
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Linux uses a different boot protocol. To fix this you will likely need a Windows 10 install media; if you don't have one you can download it here. https://forums.tomshardware.com/faq/how-to-do-a-clean-installation-of-windows-10.3170366/ Once you boot up the install media, follow the instructions here under https://www.windowscentral.com/how-use-startup-repair-fix-boot-problems-windows-10 "Accessing Advanced startup using bootable media".
In the long run it may be easier to do a clean install.
Thanks again for the tips!

So, the old hard drive has 60 bad sectors. I was in at my local computer shop and they said that was really bad. I was kind of figuring that too because the hard drive just never loaded (however Linux said it was Okay but again also had 60 bad sectors).

So I ended up just investing in a new SSD. The only problem now is I can't find a way to use the old HDD Windows 10 product key on the new SSD. I have the Windows installation program put on a USB stick, so I can install Windows on the new SSD, but like I'm sure you're aware, it requires an official product key to work.

Do you know of a way that I can find the Windows 10 product key?

I've used Linux (this is running on the old HDD) to try to find it running the "sudo strings /sys/firmware/acpi/tables/MSDS" string, but it came back with "No such file".

Linux is fully installed on my HDD as well, but it's had a lot of issues itself (likely due to the HDD, such as it can't load Ubuntu without it being in recovery mode?).

Sorry if that was all over the place. If you can help me out that would be amazing!

Thanks again!
 

USAFRet

Titan
Moderator
Mar 16, 2013
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Thanks again for the tips!

So, the old hard drive has 60 bad sectors. I was in at my local computer shop and they said that was really bad. I was kind of figuring that too because the hard drive just never loaded (however Linux said it was Okay but again also had 60 bad sectors).

So I ended up just investing in a new SSD. The only problem now is I can't find a way to use the old HDD Windows 10 product key on the new SSD. I have the Windows installation program put on a USB stick, so I can install Windows on the new SSD, but like I'm sure you're aware, it requires an official product key to work.

Do you know of a way that I can find the Windows 10 product key?

I've used Linux (this is running on the old HDD) to try to find it running the "sudo strings /sys/firmware/acpi/tables/MSDS" string, but it came back with "No such file".

Linux is fully installed on my HDD as well, but it's had a lot of issues itself (likely due to the HDD, such as it can't load Ubuntu without it being in recovery mode?).

Sorry if that was all over the place. If you can help me out that would be amazing!

Thanks again!
Did this system have an activated Win 10 previously?
What specific version and license?
 
Feb 28, 2020
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Did this system have an activated Win 10 previously?
What specific version and license?
Yeah it did. So I'm unsure if any colleges/universities near you/that you attended do this, but my college had a "clearance sale" where they got rid of old computers (there were some Mac's for $300, monitors for $5, and desktops for $15-20). This was done inside the college near the security office, and was advertised throughout the college (in case you were wondering if these were legit).

Either way, when I got home, I was able to open Windows, but it was suuuupppper glitchy. I tried doing a Restore but that's when all this chaos started (I can no longer open Windows).

SIDE TOPIC: In Linux, it says my Windows recovery partition and storage are "Unmounted". Do I simply need to remount these?
 

USAFRet

Titan
Moderator
Mar 16, 2013
141,109
7,868
174,040
21,825
Yeah it did. So I'm unsure if any colleges/universities near you/that you attended do this, but my college had a "clearance sale" where they got rid of old computers (there were some Mac's for $300, monitors for $5, and desktops for $15-20). This was done inside the college near the security office, and was advertised throughout the college (in case you were wondering if these were legit).

Either way, when I got home, I was able to open Windows, but it was suuuupppper glitchy. I tried doing a Restore but that's when all this chaos started (I can no longer open Windows).

SIDE TOPIC: In Linux, it says my Windows recovery partition and storage are "Unmounted". Do I simply need to remount these?
I have no doubt that it was legit hardware.
But, you need to determine what specific Windows version and license was on there before, if you wish to use that specific license.

For instance, if it was Win 10 Pro on there, a Win 10 Home install will not activate.
Or if it was some Enterprise license, again, a typical Home or Pro install will not activate automatically.

If the original was a retail Win 10 Home license (unlikely), then you doing a Win 10 Home install will probably activate.
But, you need to determine what was there before if you wish to utilize the original licensing.

Whatever OS was on there before, you personally need to do a full wipe and reinstall.
You've gotten almost free hardware. You may or may not be able to use the original license.

Being a student, do you have access to getting your own EDU license. Investigate this.
 
Feb 28, 2020
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I have no doubt that it was legit hardware.
But, you need to determine what specific Windows version and license was on there before, if you wish to use that specific license.

For instance, if it was Win 10 Pro on there, a Win 10 Home install will not activate.
Or if it was some Enterprise license, again, a typical Home or Pro install will not activate automatically.

If the original was a retail Win 10 Home license (unlikely), then you doing a Win 10 Home install will probably activate.
But, you need to determine what was there before if you wish to utilize the original licensing.

Whatever OS was on there before, you personally need to do a full wipe and reinstall.
You've gotten almost free hardware. You may or may not be able to use the original license.

Being a student, do you have access to getting your own EDU license. Investigate this.
Thanks again for the reply! Turns out they had the Windows 10 Product key on the inside panel soooooo I got Windows 10 Pro working again :p

As for the EDU license, my college no longer offers this unfortunately. I've tried the three places I got it before and always get "Windows 10 is no longer supported by OnTheHub" :/

Either way, I did get Windows 10 working again, so thank you for all your help! Now I'm just working away on trying to diagnose why mdsched.exe fails to run, but that's on another thread, so I won't bother you with that (unless you have some tips :$).

Thanks again!
 
Feb 28, 2020
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Did you happen to do a fresh install of the Win 10 Pro?
Yup! It's right off their website (I believe I followed your link). Made the Windows Install USB, got it easily installed on the new Kingston SDD, and Windows runs smoothly for the most part. The reboots are maybe every other day or so instead of every 2 minutes.

As well, there were two unknown drivers right after the install. The first one I installed (I forget which driver it said it was), but the second says its a SAS Controller, but I can't update or install the driver ("Windows could not find drivers for your device.). No sure if that has anything to do with things still acting up, but I'm sure there's another hardware component ready to go.

For the record (if this helps any), I'm using:
Windows 10 Pro
Version 1909
OS build 18363.720
 

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