jbclem
2 Iron

960, front diagnostic lights flashing briefly

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I don't normally see the front diagnostic lights on my Optiplex 960.  But I've been having some problems possibly caused by a hard drive going bad, and during startup I've noticed various light combinations that flash on briefly.  I'm seeing 1 and 4, 2 and 3, and I think 1 and 2 and 3 .  These come on just for a second and then another combination comes on, then another. 

I'd like to know if this normal during startup, or indicative of some kind of problem(s). 

 

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RoHe
6 Thallium

Re: Front diagnostic lights flashing briefly

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The only time a fixed combination of blinking diagnostic LEDs means anything is when the power is amber. When the power button is blue, those LEDs won't blink.  Changing combinations of LEDs during POST (power on, self-test) don't mean anything other than that the PC is doing the POST. Only when the combination of LEDs doesn't change, does that mean anything.

You never mentioned what version of Windows this is, but it sounds like you may need to adjust the power settings. Disable Hibernation, Hybrid Sleep, PCI Express Link State Management, and USB Selective Suspend in Additional Options (Win 10) or Advanced Options (Win 7) on the active Windows Power plan screen.

Ron

   Forum Member since 2004
   I am not a Dell employee

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Re: Front diagnostic lights flashing briefly

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My diagnostic lights flash briefly upon startup.  If your PC is otherwise working normally, it's nothing to worry about.  Certain lights would stay on if your PC was having a malfunction.

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I'm a big fan of Dell, a Dell user, and not an employee. This forum is mainly user to user with occasional moderation or additional knowledge by a Rockstar or Dell employee.
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jbclem
2 Iron

Re: Front diagnostic lights flashing briefly

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My Optiplex 960 is not acting normally.  It's slower than normal, the first hard drive is showing problems on tests, and the computer occasionally just shuts off in the middle of a session.

Every time I start it up the front diagnostic lights , for about 5 seconds, flash a bunch of different patterns (1 2 , 1 3 4, 1 2 3, 2 3, 3 4).  I have another Optiplex, 9010, and I don't see any front diagnostic lights at all when it starts up.

When your front lights flash on startup, are you seeing all these different light combinations?

 

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Re: Front diagnostic lights flashing briefly

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Dell Diagnostic Lights

The closest match I could find is pasted below.  (Can't type below a table.)  Note Suggested Resolution. and not just "off" mode. - Hopefully that makes sense when you see it.

My Dell 755 has the same diagnostic light system.  You mentioned the lights flash, and then I take it they go off?

I think it's not so much the lights as the other problems you're having.  It sounds like a bad or worn HDD, or possibly corrupted HDD or OS (virus or other).  You mentioned the 1st HDD - You have a 2nd HDD that runs better in the 960?

It sounds like that HDD needs replacing.  If it's showing problems on tests, a reload on the same HDD might not be worth it, especially if it's showing hardware issues.

A virus or a bad PSU can make a PC quit in the middle of a session.  But you're not getting an orange power light which would indicate PSU problem.  You've already done some troubleshooting with the HDD and it didn't pass some tests.  Yet you're able to use the 960 some, though it's slow.  Good news is that has me leaning away from a virus possibility.

LED Pattern(1 2 3 4) LEDPattern StateName StateDescription Suggested Resolution

OffOffSystem POST complete — LED time-out has occurred
  • If the LEDs came on and then went off, look at troubleshooting the display and the operating system.
  • If the LEDs never came on at any point then look into a power issue.
- Please consider giving posts you like a thumbs up.
- Please "Accept as Solution" posts that are a solution.

I'm a big fan of Dell, a Dell user, and not an employee. This forum is mainly user to user with occasional moderation or additional knowledge by a Rockstar or Dell employee.
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RoHe
6 Thallium

Re: Front diagnostic lights flashing briefly

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Back up personal files or image the entire HDD ASAP!

Reboot and immediately press F12. Look for the option to run the diagnostics, including RAM and extended hard drive tests. Be patient this can take a long time. Copy/paste error message(s), if any, here.

Ron

   Forum Member since 2004
   I am not a Dell employee

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jbclem
2 Iron

Re: Front diagnostic lights flashing briefly

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I ran the Dell diagnostics.  Real quickly it produced this hard drive error code: 2000-0146, for Hard Drive 1.  The rest of the testing went by without any problems.  The end message was: Preboot Assessment Complete, No Diagnostic Utility Partition Identified.

After this I ran Speed Fan again, and the online SMART result by HDDStatus.  Here's the report:


BLOCKING ISSUE : your hard disk has 1 pending sectors. Those are sectors that couldn't be properly read and that the hard disk logic is waiting for a write operation to try to remap to a spare sector (if available). According to the Reallocated Sector Count attribute, your hard disk seems to have available spare sectors. A simple disk surface scan won't be enough to force the remap operation. You need a read/write surface scan to remap the sector. The best option should be a tool that knows about what should be read from that sector so that it has some option to apply the best fix to the missing data.

BLOCKING ISSUE : your hard disk has 1 offline uncorrectable sectors. Those are sectors that an offline scanning found as unreadable. Offline scanning is a process that can be automatically started by the hard disk logic when a long enough idle period is detected or that can be forced by some tool. Those unreadable sectors are identified and the hard disk logic is waiting for a write command that will overwrite them to try to remap them to spare sectors (if available). According to the Reallocated Sector Count attribute, your hard disk seems to have available spare sectors. A simple disk surface scan won't be enough to force the remap operation. You need a read/write surface scan to remap the sector. The best option should be a tool that knows about what should be read from that sector so that it has some option to apply the best fix to the missing data.

The overall fitness for this drive is 0%.
The overall performance for this drive is 98%.
======================================================================
 
I already knew that the hard drive was developing problems, but this report indicates that a remap operation might solve the problem.  I've run Chkdsk many times, but don't know what other software could do the remap.  Any suggestions about this?
 
I  still would like to know what it means to have the many diagnostic light sequences flashing at the beginning of the boot.
 
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RoHe
6 Thallium

Re: Front diagnostic lights flashing briefly

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The flashing diagnostic LEDs during the POST don't mean a thing. It's only the final pattern of those LEDs that means something...

"The overall fitness for this drive is 0%."

It can't get worse than zero.  Back up or image the HDD ASAP and replace it before it's too late. Even if you can remap the drive, how long before more sectors fail and it becomes totally unreadable? Better to do it now when you can plan for it than later, when it's an emergency.

Ron

   Forum Member since 2004
   I am not a Dell employee

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jbclem
2 Iron

Re: Front diagnostic lights flashing briefly

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I have a replacement drive, and I have imaged the drive using Macrium.  But I am still going to try to remap the problem drive and I still want to know if it is normal or common for all the front diagnostic lights to be flashing as I described.  I suspect it's very unusual, but I'd like to know for sure. 

The other problem where I said the computer shuts off occasionally when it's been left alone for an hour or so...it doesn't shut off completely, the hard drive light is still flashing occasionally.  But the computer becomes unresponsive and the screen is black with a text box moving diagonally across the screen.  The text says something about the screen resolution not being optimal and lists a preferred resolution.  Perhaps this is caused by the problem hard drive, perhaps not.  The lights may hold a clue.

 

 

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RoHe
6 Thallium

Re: Front diagnostic lights flashing briefly

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The only time a fixed combination of blinking diagnostic LEDs means anything is when the power is amber. When the power button is blue, those LEDs won't blink.  Changing combinations of LEDs during POST (power on, self-test) don't mean anything other than that the PC is doing the POST. Only when the combination of LEDs doesn't change, does that mean anything.

You never mentioned what version of Windows this is, but it sounds like you may need to adjust the power settings. Disable Hibernation, Hybrid Sleep, PCI Express Link State Management, and USB Selective Suspend in Additional Options (Win 10) or Advanced Options (Win 7) on the active Windows Power plan screen.

Ron

   Forum Member since 2004
   I am not a Dell employee

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jbclem
2 Iron

Re: Front diagnostic lights flashing briefly

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Thanks everyone for the help with this flashing lights problem.  Here's the final resolution, I hope. 

New hard drive in place(WD Black 500gb), bad hard drive currently as second drive. 

Installed a graphics card,AMD Radeon HD 6570. That seems to have fixed the shut-off problem I mentioned above where I got a black screen, no cursor, unresponsive keyboard, but hard drive light flashing occasionally.  The internal graphics chip must have developed some kind of problem to cause this. 

Diagnostic lights still doing their dance, as I mentioned above.  Perhaps this is peculiar to the Optiplex 960 since it doesn't occur on my Optiplex 9010.  It could be reflecting the POST checking as the computer boots up.

 

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