Seeking advice about "defective" computer

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CFM300
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Seeking advice about "defective" computer

Post by CFM300 » Sun Jul 15, 2018 3:38 pm

UPDATE: This turned into a bit of saga, because Dell said that I was past the 30-day window for a new replacement based on the SHIPPING date of the computer. I countered that that was ridiculous, and that the 30-day clock should begin when it arrived, at the earliest. (I actually didn't boot the PC for two days after it arrived, because I was busy with other things.)

Ultimately, Dell conceded, but then Tech Support had to get approval from Customer Care who had to get approval from Financing before a new computer could be shipped to me. It took longer than I would have liked, but a new computer did arrive, and it has been performing flawlessly.'

It also took me a lot of time to re-install my various programs, configure the new computer, migrate data from the old computer to the new, and then fully wipe the old drive before returning the computer to Dell. Yes, I probably could have used imaging software as some recommended, but I didn't have time to research how to pull that off while keeping the data fully encrypted throughout the migration. (Something I'm required to do by law.)

UPSHOT: Dell came through, though it took a while.

***********************************************

Original post:

I recently purchased a top-of-line Dell business-level desktop computer. It operated fine for about three weeks, but then on three consecutive mornings, it would not boot when I pressed the power button. Instead, the power light flashed amber in a pattern that indicates a defective motherboard. I did not know the meaning of the flashes at the time, and just unplugged and then reconnected in the power. Each time, the computer booted up fine and ran all day under heavy use with no problems.

The third morning it didn't boot, I contacted Dell. They suggested that the motherboard issue might be caused by "flea power" and provided instructions on how to completely drain the power. I followed those instructions and the computer has since booted and run without incident many times over several days.

Dell is willing to replace the computer with a new one, or send a tech to my business and replace the motherboard. So here are my options:

1. Have Dell send me a new computer.
2. Have a tech come and swap the motherboard.
3. Do nothing since the problem seems to have been resolved.

If I select option (1), I have the hassle of configuring the new computer and wiping the confidential client data on the current computer before returning it to Dell. And of course the new computer might have an issue as well.

If I select option (2), I might get a refurbished motherboard and who knows what new issues might arise from the swap.

If I select option (3), I will lose option (1), since the computer will fall out of the 30-day replacement period. If issues reappear, my only option then will be (2).

What should I do?

[edited to add the Update on 7/26/2018]
Last edited by CFM300 on Thu Jul 26, 2018 8:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Grt2bOutdoors
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Re: Seeking advice about "defective" computer

Post by Grt2bOutdoors » Sun Jul 15, 2018 3:50 pm

Hmm....this seems to be an ongoing issue with Dell. I too, purchased a brand new Dell computer a few months ago, then about a month later, they sent me one of those "automatic updates" to Dell software, well, lo and behold the automatic update to BIOS completely fried the motherboard. Only after spending about two hours on the phone with customer support representative based in the Philippines!! :annoyed Did the representative come to the conclusion that the motherboard was fried and needed to be replaced. I had the motherboard replaced - took about a week from time of initial complaint to get it installed, but it also required someone to be home to have the technician come and replace it.

Now for the part that Dell likely did not tell you - you will have to re-install any software you have on your PC - Adobe, MS Office, any other special software - so start looking for your key codes and licenses now, because I'm telling you first hand you will be spending more than a few hours bringing your PC back up to running again. :annoyed And this will be the last time I purchase a DELL computer again ~~ they know about this motherboard issue and yet they continue to sell this stuff.
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Elbukari
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Re: Seeking advice about "defective" computer

Post by Elbukari » Sun Jul 15, 2018 3:52 pm

It's more likely that a specific component that makes up the computer is defective (i.e. CPU, motherboard, graphic card). Which one do you think is defective? You could possibly take it to Fry's and have them test it. You just need to know which part is defective and have Dell send you that part, rather than the entire computer.

Place a different graphic card and see if that fixes the problem.
Place a different CPU and see if that fixes the problem.
Reset your BIOS (perhaps you may need to update it, although unlikely but check the version)- BIOS updates are generally recommend (assuming it's not up to date) if you're having problems.

9liner
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Re: Seeking advice about "defective" computer

Post by 9liner » Sun Jul 15, 2018 3:53 pm

CFM300 wrote:
Sun Jul 15, 2018 3:38 pm
If I select option (1), I have the hassle of configuring the new computer and wiping the confidential client data on the current computer before returning it to Dell. And of course the new computer might have an issue as well.
Another option would be a simple hard drive swap from the old to the new computer. I've done this numerous times. If that doesn't suffice, most native software makes it easy to clone an old hard drive.
CFM300 wrote:
Sun Jul 15, 2018 3:38 pm
If I select option (2), I might get a refurbished motherboard and who knows what new issues might arise from the swap.
Why can't you just get Dell to guarantee a "new" motherboard?
CFM300 wrote:
Sun Jul 15, 2018 3:38 pm
If I select option (3), I will lose option (1), since the computer will fall out of the 30-day replacement period. If issues reappear, my only option then will be (2).
Wouldn't be an option for me.

02nz
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Re: Seeking advice about "defective" computer

Post by 02nz » Sun Jul 15, 2018 3:55 pm

From your description it sounds like an OptiPlex and has a three-year warranty. If that's the case I wouldn't worry too much about it. Dell does a much better job standing behind the OptiPlex and Latitude lines than their consumer laptops, so if the problem pops up again you should be ok.

drk
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Re: Seeking advice about "defective" computer

Post by drk » Sun Jul 15, 2018 3:57 pm

I would have Dell replace the machine. As for your concern about a second defective computer, did you make the purchase with a credit card? If so, what kind of purchase protection are you entitled to?

CFM300
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Re: Seeking advice about "defective" computer

Post by CFM300 » Sun Jul 15, 2018 4:28 pm

Thanks for all of the replies so far. Additional information that some posters requested:

It's an Optiplex with a three-year warranty with on-site service, purchased with AMEX. Not sure of the specifics of purchase protection with the credit card, but I'm sure there are some.

adamthesmythe
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Re: Seeking advice about "defective" computer

Post by adamthesmythe » Sun Jul 15, 2018 5:02 pm

In my experience Dell has been very good about replacing defective parts and computers.

Yes, it's an inconvenience to reinstall. If things have been consistently OK now, I would consider keeping the existing machine.

I'm mystified by "flea power", does this refer to the button cell??

CFM300
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Re: Seeking advice about "defective" computer

Post by CFM300 » Sun Jul 15, 2018 6:11 pm

adamthesmythe wrote:
Sun Jul 15, 2018 5:02 pm
I'm mystified by "flea power", does this refer to the button cell??
From the Dell website:

"Flea power is the residual static electricity that remains on the computer even after it has been powered off and the battery has been removed."

I was told to unplug the power and then press and hold down the power button for 20 seconds. I did it for about a minute. Haven't had any issues since, so I guess that really might have been the problem and the simple fix.

Still wondering if I should have them swap the motherboard or accept a new replacement PC.

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jabberwockOG
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Re: Seeking advice about "defective" computer

Post by jabberwockOG » Sun Jul 15, 2018 6:34 pm

If the system is running normally now I would not replace it or attempt to repair it.

I would test the system for the next week to verify it is working perfectly. Suggest you power off and reboot it 3 times per day for 5 days. If it starts up and runs fine 15 times in a row over a week long period, it will almost certainly continue to do so into the future. If it fails even once in that test period, I'd request a brand new replacement system and start over.

VaR
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Re: Seeking advice about "defective" computer

Post by VaR » Sun Jul 15, 2018 6:49 pm

What's the reason everyone seems to be shy about having a tech come out and replace the motherboard? It failed once but was "flea rebooted" back into working. This seems to me to tilt the scales slightly towards a new motherboard being better than the old motherboard, since the old one got into a failing state once already.

glock19
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Re: Seeking advice about "defective" computer

Post by glock19 » Sun Jul 15, 2018 6:57 pm

Load an image backup program such as Macrium Reflect (free version) on your computer. Make an image of your drive(s) to an external hardrive. Have Dell give you a new computer, and then reinstall the image to your new computer. You are then back where you are now with minimal time/effort involved.

Personally, I wouldn't spend my time trying to diagnose a problem on a new computer. It's Dell's problem.

2comma
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Re: Seeking advice about "defective" computer

Post by 2comma » Sun Jul 15, 2018 10:30 pm

glock19 wrote:
Sun Jul 15, 2018 6:57 pm
Load an image backup program such as Macrium Reflect (free version) on your computer. Make an image of your drive(s) to an external hardrive. Have Dell give you a new computer, and then reinstall the image to your new computer. You are then back where you are now with minimal time/effort involved.

Personally, I wouldn't spend my time trying to diagnose a problem on a new computer. It's Dell's problem.
That's what I did when I had a virus problem I couldn't fix or a hardware problem. I like that I can get it back to a known state in a few hours no matter what happened. Messing around and trying to diagnose problems takes a lot more time.
If I am stupid I will pay.

gostars
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Re: Seeking advice about "defective" computer

Post by gostars » Sun Jul 15, 2018 11:26 pm

I would get the motherboard replaced. Dell's replacement parts tend to be high-quality because they're not interested in eating the cost of shipping a new board and having their repair contractor go back a second time to replace the board again.

Biggest caveat I ran into at my old job (where we had several hundred Optiplex desktops in use) when having motherboards replaced was if the drive was Bitlocker encrypted, protection had to be turned off (if the system would boot at all) or the recovery key was needed, since the replacement board won't be able to unlock the drive.

CFM300
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Re: Seeking advice about "defective" computer

Post by CFM300 » Sun Jul 15, 2018 11:36 pm

gostars wrote:
Sun Jul 15, 2018 11:26 pm
I would get the motherboard replaced. Dell's replacement parts tend to be high-quality because they're not interested in eating the cost of shipping a new board and having their repair contractor go back a second time to replace the board again.

Biggest caveat I ran into at my old job (where we had several hundred Optiplex desktops in use) when having motherboards replaced was if the drive was Bitlocker encrypted, protection had to be turned off (if the system would boot at all) or the recovery key was needed, since the replacement board won't be able to unlock the drive.
The drive is indeed encrypted with Bitlocker, so I will have to investigate this. Ugh.

Thanks for the heads up.

gostars
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Re: Seeking advice about "defective" computer

Post by gostars » Mon Jul 16, 2018 12:21 am

CFM300 wrote:
Sun Jul 15, 2018 11:36 pm
The drive is indeed encrypted with Bitlocker, so I will have to investigate this. Ugh.

Thanks for the heads up.
Before replacing the motherboard, I would go into the BIOS and make a note of each of these settings, as the OS may not boot if they don't match.
General > Advanced Boot Options > Enable Legacy Option ROMs (probably unchecked and grayed out)
General > Boot Sequence > UEFI vs. Legacy (probably UEFI)
System Configuration > SATA Operation (probably either AHCI or RAID On depending on the system)
Secure Boot > Secure Boot Enable (probably Enabled)

Before you shut it down for the replacement, go into Settings and search for Bitlocker and click Manage Bitlocker. You'll have an option to turn off protection, and also one to make a copy of the recovery key. If you don't know where your recovery key is currently, you should make a copy now, just in case, then use the option to turn off protection. Shut down the PC and have the motherboard replaced. Once replaced, before allowing it to boot into Windows, go into the BIOS and set the above settings to match what the old one used. Then, go into Security > TPM Security and make sure it is enabled. Boot into Windows, then go back into Manage Bitlocker. In the bottom-left corner, click on TPM Administration. If the Status does not show "The TPM is ready for use.", click on Prepare the TPM on the right side. It should reboot, and may prompt you to press a specific key to confirm you want to enable it. Press whatever key it wants. It should then boot back into Windows, and Bitlocker should then be active going forward.

Hope this helps. Took us several replacements before we go the process down to complete it with the minimum of problems.

CFM300
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Re: Seeking advice about "defective" computer

Post by CFM300 » Mon Jul 16, 2018 12:25 am

gostars wrote:
Mon Jul 16, 2018 12:21 am
Before replacing the motherboard...
Thanks for taking the time to document all of that for me. If I have to replace the motherboard, I'll follow your advice carefully.

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OAG
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Re: Seeking advice about "defective" computer

Post by OAG » Mon Jul 16, 2018 12:52 pm

Grt2bOutdoors wrote:
Sun Jul 15, 2018 3:50 pm
Hmm....this seems to be an ongoing issue with Dell. I too, purchased a brand new Dell computer a few months ago, then about a month later, they sent me one of those "automatic updates" to Dell software, well, lo and behold the automatic update to BIOS completely fried the motherboard. Only after spending about two hours on the phone with customer support representative based in the Philippines!! :annoyed Did the representative come to the conclusion that the motherboard was fried and needed to be replaced. I had the motherboard replaced - took about a week from time of initial complaint to get it installed, but it also required someone to be home to have the technician come and replace it.

Now for the part that Dell likely did not tell you - you will have to re-install any software you have on your PC - Adobe, MS Office, any other special software - so start looking for your key codes and licenses now, because I'm telling you first hand you will be spending more than a few hours bringing your PC back up to running again. :annoyed And this will be the last time I purchase a DELL computer again ~~ they know about this motherboard issue and yet they continue to sell this stuff.
Seems strange you would have to reinstall SW for a MB replacement. I have had MB replaced on Laptops and Desktops and never had to do that. As long as the HD/SSD was not involved it should not be a problem. Of course yes if he selects option 1.
OAG=Old Army Guy. Retired CW4 USA (US Army) in 1979.

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OAG
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Re: Seeking advice about "defective" computer

Post by OAG » Mon Jul 16, 2018 12:57 pm

adamthesmythe wrote:
Sun Jul 15, 2018 5:02 pm
In my experience Dell has been very good about replacing defective parts and computers.

Yes, it's an inconvenience to reinstall. If things have been consistently OK now, I would consider keeping the existing machine.

I'm mystified by "flea power", does this refer to the button cell??
FWIW https://accatech.com/flea-power-drain/
OAG=Old Army Guy. Retired CW4 USA (US Army) in 1979.

PFInterest
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Re: Seeking advice about "defective" computer

Post by PFInterest » Mon Jul 16, 2018 12:59 pm

get a new one.

LMBFlorida
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Re: Seeking advice about "defective" computer

Post by LMBFlorida » Mon Jul 16, 2018 4:35 pm

Before drinking the kool aid and going all apple we owned numerous dell computers. I had one new desktop that had an issue. They sent a tech out and replaced the hard drive controller and no further issues. I wouldn't hesitate about having them come out to replace parts. As mentioned previously Dell customer service is reliable.

CFM300
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Re: Seeking advice about "defective" computer

Post by CFM300 » Thu Jul 26, 2018 8:01 pm

Thanks for all of the helpful advice. I've added an update to the original post.

Morgan Dollar 1921
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Re: Seeking advice about "defective" computer

Post by Morgan Dollar 1921 » Thu Jul 26, 2018 8:55 pm

Sorry to hear of your issues, My Dell laptop arrived late as I re-scheduled the delivery for additional cost with UPS, they got it to me in the window I paid for which was late in the day. It failed immediately on boot up, called Dell, they did not yet have the Service Tag ID on file yet, understandable, so I called Amazon, they promptly sent me another Laptop, got it USPS OVN on Sunday. Second one worked for five months, failed packed and sent to Houston, over 20 days to get it back. It failed again in Feb, turn around was quick, and it was delivered the day after we got five inches of snow, I met the Fedex guy halfway down the driveway. Third failure was in early March, sent it in, went to box store and bought a Lenovo Yoga, typing this response on it now love the SSD drive, the dell is on the bottom shelf in my office. It did work after the third failure, (4th issue with same dell purchase). I worked in auto repair for 40 years, I understand electronic failures, but two hard drive blow-ups and charge cord connection repair, then a battery failure in 10 months has chased me away. I asked for a refund or new PC due to my perceived lemon status, and was told no twice. Sharing to help other customers.

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