View Full Version : Forum Guidelines + Posting Etiquette

2002-12-22, 04:31 PM
If you're here to request help with a technical problem (like system crashes, software incompatibility, strange error messages, stubborn hardware, etc.) this post is for you.

Help us help you. :)

1.) Be as detailed as possible. In addition to describing the problem, include what programs were running at the time (or the programs that you always run in the background) and what you were doing when it happened.

2.) A picture is worth a thousand words. If you can take a screenshot of your problem (when appropriate), and include it in your post, you would save yourself a lot of typing.

3.) If there was an error message, its important. Include any error messages verbatim (exactly as you see them) in your post.

4.) System Specs - we need them. All of them.
-Operating System version
version of the problem software (if applicable)
-CPU manufacturer, type, and speed
-Motherboard manufacturer and BIOS version
-RAM type, speed, and quantity
-Hard Drive manufacturer(s), size(s), and IDE configuration (Primary Master, Secondary Slave, etc.)
-CD-ROM/DVD/CD-RW manufacturer(s), speed(s) and IDE configuration
-Video card manufacturer, type, BIOS version, and driver version
-Sound card
-Modem (internal or external)
-Network adapters
-Input devices
-Anything else applicable to the situation

5.) #tech on irc.planetside-universe.com (irc://irc.planetside-universe.com:6667/tech) - some problems are easier to fix over IRC, and faster. Don't be afraid to come and ask questions!

And hey... If the problem gets fixed, let us know what fixed it. It helps keep us sane.

--------- Some other info ---------

Operating System version
You can find the specific version of your OS by right clicking the My Computer icon (Windows only, duh) and selecting Properties. Near the top on that first page will be your OS name and version.

Version of the problem software (if applicable)
This varies by program, but most Windows-GUI programs have a Help menu. Clicking Help, About [Program] will usually display a version number for that software. Games tend to display their version during loading, or on the first menu screen.

CPU manufacturer, type, and speed
This information isn't always easy to find, but if you own the computer you're having problems with, you probably already know what your CPU is and who made it. We're looking for Intel, AMD, Cyrix/IBM, Alpha, Apple/Motorola (ew...); Pentium, Xeon, Athlon Classic, Thunderbird, Athlon XP/MP, Palimino, G3; Socket 7, Slot 1, Slot A, Socket 370/462/A/FCPGA; and some measure of MHz, hopefully from 60MHz to 3000MHz.

Motherboard manufacturer and BIOS version
The manufacturer of your mobo can be difficult to find also. I can tell you with significant confidence that Intel makes all of the Intel-chip-based motherboards for "custom-built" systems like Dell, Micron, and Gateway. Companies like Compaq and Hewlett Packard (the cookie cutter, off-the-shelf systems) often make their own motherboards, or sub out to Intel. Truly custom computers from companies like Alienware, GamePC, and Falcon Northwest are built with third-party motherboards from companies like Asus, Abit, MSI, Tyan, Supermicro, Gigabyte, and Soyo. The only real way to tell is to look at the physical board itself and find a manufacturer name - which is often harder than it sounds. And of course, if you're running an Apple you already know who made your mobo...

As far as BIOS's go, just watch your computer boot up and you'll see everything you need. BIOS versions are often in the format of "A##"; like A01, A12, etc. FYI: BIOS stands for Basic Input/Output System.

RAM type, speed, and quantity
RAM quantity is easily found in several places. If you watch the POST process - POST means Power On System Test, that thing your PC does when you turn it on - your computer counts/verifies your RAM quantity and displays it in KB or MB. Windows will give you this information also, on the same System Properties page as your OS version, described above.

Unless you built the system yourself, or just happen to already know, finding out your RAM type and speed is a pain. The best way is to go down and look at it. :)

Your type will be:
-- SIMM (older) or DIMM/SODIMM (newer)
-- SDR, DDR, or RAMBUS (Pentium 3 and 4)

Your speed will be:
-- PC66, PC100, PC133 (SDR DIMM only) - Numbers relate to MHz in this case
-- PC1600, PC2100, PC2700, and higher (DDR DIMM only) - Numbers seemingly arbitrary here
-- PC800 (RAMBUS DIMM only) - I hate RAMBUS. DDR is win.

Hard Drive manufacturer(s), size(s), and IDE configuration (Primary Master, Secondary Slave, etc.)
Your HDD manufacturer always puts their label on your HDD. If you can't find it by any other means (or don't already know), open your box and look at the physical drive for the name. Your HDD size is represented in several places in Windows, most often in Windows Explorer (or File Manager if you're Old School). If you right click the root of your drive (C:, for example) and select Properties, you'll get a detailed graph/readout of that drive.

The IDE configuration is simply the order your HDD(s) are plugged into the motherboard. Your mobo has 2 IDE channels (called Primary and Secondary), and room for 2 IDE devices on each channel (a Master and a Slave), for a total of 4 IDE devices (industry standard). The only way (that I know of) to garner this information is to go into your system setup, or BIOS, and browse around for your IDE configuration. You can access your BIOS by pressing Delete, F1, or F2 while your system is booting (POSTing). Just watch the screen for a prompt to enter System Setup. It's in there somewhere, trust me.

If you're running an IDE RAID configuration you already know how your RAID is setup... I hope.

CD-ROM/DVD/CD-RW manufacturer(s), speed(s) and IDE configuration
Just like Hard Drives, follow the above directions to get this information. Also, a lot of CD-ROM manufacturers like to put the speed of their drives right on the front of the drive itself. Just look for "##X", like 4X, 32X. This is an indication of the speed of your CD device. Incidentally: The NUMBER-X relates to how fast the drive is compared to a regular CD-Player, which is considered "1X". A 32X CD-ROM spins 32 times faster than a home-audio CD-Player.

Video card manufacturer, type, BIOS version, and driver version
The manufacturer of your vid card is often less than obvious. All Voodoo cards from the Voodoo 3 up were manufactured by 3Dfx. The Voodoo 1, 2, and Banshee were all put together by 3rd parties; you'd have to physically look at the card to find the manufacturer name, since all the software used for it would (should) be 3Dfx reference drivers. There's a chance though, that the default drivers will give you the manufacturer name. Likewise with ALL nVidia cards: TNT and GeForce. nVidia only makes the chipsets for those cards, they don't make the cards themselves. ATI makes all their cards in-house. If you have a brand other than those 3, I feel sorry for you -- its time for an upgrade friend. Also, Compaq and Hewlett Packard have a tendency (as do Dell and Gateway) to put the video chipsets ON the physical motherboard. In that case, the manufacturer of your video card would be the manufacturer of your motherboard. See above...

Your video card type is reflected in its name, IE: Voodoo 3, TNT 2 Ultra, GeForce 4, ATI Radeon 8500. Please also mention the VRAM type, speed, and quantity if you have that information. See the RAM section for details. I'm sure there are utilities for determining that information. I know of none personally.

Your VBIOS version is easy to find. Watch the computer boot. Most video cards throw up their BIOS information for 2 seconds (wow, 2 whole seconds...) before the system POSTs. You may have to reboot a few times to get it all. And yes, your video card does have its own BIOS.

Driver versions can be found in Device Manager, part of the System Properties window. Right click My Computer and select Properties to get this. Win 9X/ME users have a tab specifically for Device Manager. Win XP users must click the Device Manager button found on the Hardware tab. Navigate to your video card in the tree and select Properties. There is a tab for Drivers that will detail the date and version number.

Sound card
Just looking for the manufacturer name and model here. Driver version is helpful too. Follow the directions above to obtain the driver info.

Modem (internal or external)
Same as above: name, model, driver info.

Network adapters
Same as above: name, model, driver info.

Input devices
Same as above: name, model, driver info. Please list all devices including Mouse, Keyboard, Joystick, Driving Wheel, Scanner, Thumb-print Reader, Retinal Scanner, Composite DNA Probe, Voice-print Identifier, Satellite Uplink, and Subspace Communication Devices (where applicable).


I 99% copied all the above text from the TW tech forum thread because it was so nicely written and I help out there quite a bit. (:love: for Data!)

You don't have to be EXTREMELY detailed every time you need some help, but try to give as much information as you can, even if it doesn't seem necessary. Lets make this a helpful spot. Feel free to offer suggestions/fixes to people's problems!

2002-12-22, 04:51 PM

2002-12-24, 04:25 PM
wow that was long... :eek:

2003-10-31, 03:45 AM
Oh where, o where, did my file manage go :love: