I came in to work today and went to my primary test machine. I have a switch box to share the mouse, keyboard and monitors with a few other machines I have and I switched over to the test machine. After a second or two, the monitor gave me an "Entering sleep mode" message and went black. The "sleep mode" message usually means there is no video signal and that usually happens when the machine powers down or hibernates. I hit a few keys to resume the machine, but that did no good. I did not expect much here since I typically disable hibernation so the machine won't sleep overnight when it should be running automation tests.

I restarted the machine and while it was showing the BIOS screen, I switched to a different machine to multi task for a bit. When I switched back after about a minute, it was back in sleep mode. Again, restart and this time watch the screen. The BIOS showed then went away. After a few seconds, nothing. At this point I knew the monitors were working and the junction box was all right, but not much else. Again, a restart and go into the BIOS. I saw nothing odd there and came out of it, and this time got a list of boot devices. 4 hard drives and the NIC controller were listed. This looked normal as well, so I stopped to think about this.

The machine is only about 2 weeks old. It came with 2 hard drives and I use it mostly to run virtual machines. Since I am typically hard drive constrained I added a couple of new drives to it. These are all SATA drives and then I remembered what I had done. There was only one open SATA port free, so I used it to connect the third drive. So to connect the fourth drive I had disconnected the DVD player and used it as the cable for the drive connection. Now the CD player was not listed on that odd boot order screen, but a quick inspection of the BIOS showed that the CD/DVD drive was still listed as the first location to boot. That means the fourth drive was being used as the first device to boot. Since it was not a boot drive, the machine simply would hang with no operating system loaded, and eventually would go to sleep.

Unchecking the CD/DVD player from the BOOT order in the BIOS fixed the problem. The next reboot the default drive was used, Windows loaded and I was back in business.

The most frustrating part of all this was the reboots needed to get to the root of the problem. All in all, this took about 30 minutes total. Time like that always seems much longer than it actually takes since it always seems frustrating when you just sit there waiting for the computer to respond.

Now, back to testing!

Questions, comments, concerns and criticisms always welcome,

John