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Dead computer? Check the CPU fan.

My wife came upstairs last night. “The mouse froze,” she said. I walked downstairs to the computer. Sure enough: Frozen mouse, no caps lock light, no vital signs to speak of. Ctrl-Alt-Del didn’t do anything either. I shut down, powered back up, and got the black screen of death.I pulled the power plug and waited a minute, then plugged back in. It powered on, but crashed while Windows tried to boot. So I repeated the sequence and went into the BIOS hoping to find some health status in there.

My crippled Asus-for-Compaq BIOS didn’t have anything. (This system was built with a surplus Asus-made Compaq board, in a turn-of-the-century InWin case, with an Antec power supply–a classic Farquharstein job. I topped it off with a Dell LCD monitor and a legendary IBM Model M keyboard.) Newer boards frequently do have some health status.

I suspected the CPU fan but didn’t have time to investigate, although I did keep an eye out for parts when I hit the garage sale circuit.

Finally this evening, I opened it up. The CPU fan was seized. It wouldn’t turn by hand, let alone under power. Well, it would try, but when it did manage to spin, it was wimpy.

It was a $5 CPU fan I bought sometime in 2002, so I guess I can’t complain too much. I found a better ball-bearing fan in a junk system. I swapped it, and brought my trusty Farquharstein PC back to life.

I guess I could have used the excuse to replace it, but I can think of other things I’d rather do than build a PC right now. I may start, but at least swapping the fan bought me some time.

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