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I was happily watching a TV show episode and 5 minutes later I am with a fried computer. I was using elementaryOS. I am going step by step with what just happened:

I was using VLC when suddently the video stopped working and after 10-20 seconds a warning message from VLC popped up, said something like it couldn't reproduce the file.

Then everything started freezing really fast, I could barely do one task, minimize and maximize some windows and 10 seconds later the system completely froze.

I forced shutdown the computer holding the button and started it again. It starts, shows the Acer logo, then the Windows startup menu, I press Escape so Grub can show up, here's where I have elementary OS as well as Ubuntu. Surprise. Frozen black screen and Grub does not show up. After a few seconds I get a screen saying error: unknown filesystem. Entering rescue mode... and a grub rescue> prompt.

I shut down and restart again 3-4 more times and the same thing keeps happening. Then the 4th or 5th time I restart the computer not even the Windows startup menu is showing up, it just froze at the Acer logo. Shutdown again and now the Windows menu is up, press Escape, and same story with Grub. It's gone. Again that error.

I shutdown again and it stalls for a while in the Acer screen but finally the Windows menu shows up. And I'm like well "would even Windows work?". Nope, it doesn't. Trying to start Windows just brings back the Acer screen and it's locked there as I am typing this.

Latest update: when I start up the computer there's a weird cracking repeating sound. Fried hard drive?

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I'd try to get into the BIOS menu, then try to get a boot CD (or boot USB drive) to start the system, so we can discard the other elements being "fried" but the HDD.

Finally, using that OS I just booted from the CD/USB drive, I'd try to run an HDD diagnostic program.

PS: I'm pretty sure this question is more like to be a Superuser one instead of Unix / Linux. But I'll let the moderators to judge that.

  • I was trying to get into the laptop with a bootable USB with Ubuntu on it, so at least I could rescue some data into an external HD, but I can't even get to the BIOS. When I am in the Acer screen I press "F2" and the BIOS doesn't pop up. The only thing that does something is pressing escape, then a black screen with white texts appears but it fades into a plain black screen so fast I can't read what's in it. – dabadaba Oct 19 '15 at 9:48
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Hard drives don't normally make a sound that I would describe as cracking, but you never know.

Try these things:

  1. Identify the source of the sound and fix it

  2. Go into your bios. Check the power monitor if you have one to see if the voltages from the PSU are OK.

  3. Boot from a CD or USB drive and if it works, mount your hard drive and see if it's working. If it works, the drive, controller, motherboard and ram are all probably ok.

  4. Remove the drive, and backup the data with another computer.

  5. Boot a memtest86 CD and let a full test run

  6. Inspect and pull hardware, one piece at a time until you are down to the CPU + RAM.

  7. See if the computer works better when it's cooled down. A fan or heatsink, etc... could be malfunctioning.

  8. There are more steps...

  • I can't even get to the BIOS. When I am in the Acer screen I press "F2" and the BIOS doesn't pop up. The only thing that does something is pressing escape, then a black screen with white texts appears but it fades into a plain black screen so fast I can't read what's in it. – dabadaba Oct 19 '15 at 9:47

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