Dell problems…

June 26, 2006

So I come home tonight and my trusty new Vista computer was on the fritz. I have a Dell Dimension 8400 and for some reason it was powered down with the power light flashing orange. After trying unsuccessfully to start it up, I looked online and it seems that I’m suffering from the infamous “Flashing Amber Power Button Light” syndrome (people are posting about it here, here, and a ton of other places).

Reading through a bunch of posts it looks like there’s really no solution for this problem. People have tried replacing their power supplies, motherboards, CPUs, etc. only to have the problem come back time and time again. Judging by some of the posts on the forums, it looks like they are creating some serious detractors over this issue.

Personally, I’ve highly recommended buying Dell computers in the past due to the great deals you can get. I’d never really had computer systems fail on me like this, so I figured who cares if I don’t have much of a warranty? If anything usually the hard drive goes bad and that’s not too hard to replace. Now after reading the forums, I’m wearing of buying anything from Dell in the future. A bad hard drive I can handle. A mystery power supply/motherboard/cpu/case/random problem… it’s basically cheaper for me to buy a new computer than it is to try to troubleshoot this one.

Huh… maybe that’s their plan. Make disposable computers and then sell them with 1 year warranties, knowing that they’ll mostly likely break. If anything, that’ll make sure I upgrade I suppose… to a non-Dell machine 😛

Looks like it’s time for me to join Jeff Jarvis’s club.

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87 Responses to “Dell problems…”


  1. Yes, you should boycott Dell and change all of your computer buying habits because you have had precisely one problem.

  2. markjen Says:

    Hi Aaron, I can see that you’re being sarcastic, but the fact of the matter is, I now have a $800 paperweight under my desk after only 2 years. Now, I could’ve gone to Fry’s and built myself a computer for around the same price and there’s a good chance there would be no failure – and even if there was, I’d be able to replace specific parts and get it back up and running for marginal cost (and some parts would actually be under manufacturer’s warranty).

    Dell uses completely proprietary parts and cheap ones at that. I can’t even count how many computers I’ve had and built over the years and I’ve never had a power supply break down on me. Even if one did, I would be able to replace it for $50 vs. $150 that Dell wants.

    So yes, based on this experience, and weighing the cost/benefits of buying a computer through Dell and accepting the risk of this scenario again, I am changing my computer buying habits becuase I had this one problem.

    Sad thing is, if Dell had only used industry standard hardware (which would probably be cheaper as well) they’d have kept my business. But they’ve got all this custom stuff – which of course only they have replacement parts for and which costs 3X the price!

  3. karen Says:

    a company often only gets one chance to make a good impression on a customer. Flub it up, and they can expect they might lose that customer forever. One $800 paperweight is surely adequate reason to look elsewhere in the future.

  4. vineire Says:

    I’ve grow to love HP’s professional line (nc8xxx series). I’ve bought three refurbished, with 3 year warranties, for about $1000 bucks. I too liked Dell but started to grow tired of lousy quality (workmanship, parts). All of the HP’s are still running strong. I know a guy at HP if you are ever interested…


  5. […] I got an e-mail today from John, a Dell Customer Advocate. He had read my blog entry about the flashing amber power button syndrome and wants to assist. Maybe Dell is taking cues from Lenovo and now has a group helping bloggers directly? If so that’s great news! Hopefully John can help me – maybe I’ll be back on the Dell bandwagon soon […]

  6. scottr Says:

    computers like everthing in our market have failures, there is no vendor who does not have advocates and opponents. everyone must make the decision wich suits them best. whenever i have had a problem with Dell, the problem has been resolved regardless of cost. the $150 they want for extended warrenty is well worth the peace of mind. i manage over 200 dells as part of my network and have owned 5 over the past 10 years and never once thought of any other manufacuter – let alone HP!

    good luck with your power button plaxo, i will check back to read how you made out.

  7. Ferd Says:

    We’ve had about five or six Dell’s breaking down on us with a form of “yellow flashing power button syndrome”. Despite this similarity I can’t tell though whether it’s the same problem you’ve experienced.

    Have you tried another power supply? I understand others have said that exchanging the power supply doesn’t help, but have you verified this with your machine? The quick fix for us was to exchange the power supply.

  8. brent Says:

    I have had a dell 8400 with a similar problem. More of freezing with and without the ‘jet engine’ cpu fan behavior. I have had good experiences with Dell in the past and did not buy an exteneded warranty – big mistake. I have disconnected most components, regooed the cpu, run memory test with cd booted linux and no hard drives attached, … All components ck out, except the system consistently freezed – at most I get an hour of use – other times won’t even load bios. I had tried various flavors of bios to no avail. I have a A02 version for the psu. I was looking at rebuilding with motherboard, cpu, …, but looks like buying another higher rev psu is my best first action. Believe me, if you think their support is bad when you have a warranty, you should try it without one. I’ll let everyone know what happens with new psu – last Dell I will ever buy.

    brent

  9. Joe D. Says:

    How much is it to replace the 8400 hard drive?

  10. markjen Says:

    Hi Joe,

    You can go down to your local computer store and just buy a hard drive and throw that into your 8400. It will probably be both bigger and cheaper than a replacement from Dell for your OEM hard drive. My 8400 came with a 160GB 7200rpm SATA drive, which goes for about $50 on sale nowadays 🙂

    Good luck!

  11. DCSE Says:

    (DCSE = Dell Certified System Engineer)

    No, Dell doesn’t tell us to search the net trying to help people. I just know what a pain it is waiting on hold for a phone tech which you have a 50/50 chance of getting Texas (Dell Core Support) or India (out-source script readers).

    If you’re having HD problems check if the HD is a Maxtor, if so, it’s probably bad. 90% of the replacements I’m given to install are now Western Digital or Seagate. 99% of the ones I’m replacing are Maxtor. If it’s out of waranty and you know the difference between SATA and IDE, you can change it yourself fairly inexpensively.

    For any type of Dell comp trouble you are trying to figure out, run the Diag32 util. On a stock HD it’ll be listed in the F12 menu, otherwise you can d/l it from dell.com -> support -> downloads -> (enter your service tag) -> diagnostic utils
    If you have the results of this test when you call in, they will treat you much better.

  12. Suzanne Says:

    I am also an amber light sufferer. I have been afflicted for at least nine months now and I looked into rebuilding my system about three months ago (which I hate downtime at work so I opted to take my chances). Today is the day. The computer will not reboot no matter how many times I try. Its also and 8400 I bought over two years ago. Unfortunately, I only had a one year warranty, so by the time the problem even started for me, it was too late for a warranty repair. My tech is going to try something…. *shrug* Yay, I just got it back on, but within five minutes it had crashed again…

  13. Lacey Says:

    Hi all. I am also an amber light suferer. Mine began today so I am reaching out there to try and find any solutions. I have tried replacing the power supply with no response. Does anyone have any other suggestions – buy new, but not from Dell???

  14. EO Says:

    WILL NEVER OWN ANOTHER DELL PRODUCT!!!
    AS LONG AS THE SERVICE PLAN IS ACTIVE, IT IS AMAZING HOW PROBLEMS CAN BE SOLVED OVER THE PHONE… COSTS TO MUCH TO SEND A TECH TO YOUR HOME… BUT THEN THE REALITY OF DELL’S (24-7 RELIABLE CUSTOMER SERVICE) COMES TO LIFE WHEN SERVICE PLAN HAS ENDED… THE FIRST YEAR …NO PROBLEM.. THEN NOTHING BUT PROBLEMS…
    THE LAST… AND I DO MEAN LAST ATTEMPT WITH THIS COMPANY… WAS 10 HOURS ON THE PHONE AND 4 OF THEIR PROFEFESSIONAL TECHS, 3 OF WHOM YOU COULD NOT UNDERSTAND AND 1, AT MY INSISTANCE WHO COULD SPEAK AND UNDERSTAND ENGLISH. ALL THIS PROFESSIONAL HELP CAUSED ME TO END UP WITH ONE OF THEIR $3000.00 PAPERWEGHTS THAT DID NOT WORK. I ENDED UP HAVING TO TAKE THE PIECE OF JUNK TO A TECH NOT CONNECTED TO DELL TO UNDO THE MESS THEY CREATED…THE LITTLE GUY DOES NOT MATTER TO DELL,,,,, WILL NOT RECOMMEND THIS COMPANY TO ANYONE!!!!

  15. Zeeman Says:

    my dimension e510 just got the flashing amber light, 15 months after i bought it!!! i changed the power supply and the mobo (89$) and no luck. i will never buy a Dell again and i don’t recommend it to anyone. the only Dell i would probably buy in the future are the models targetted to businesses. i am switching to Apple and tomorrow i am buying an Imac 2.16Ghz 20″…..

  16. BJ Says:

    I purchased my dell precision laptop within the past year. We are now on motherboard #3 and I can’t tell you how much lost billable time I have spent, waiting for the “repair” person, talking to support, only to have them tell me, they wont take it back. The first motherboard went bad within 30 days of purchase. $3,000 I paid for this piece of crap. I WILL NEVER BUY DELL AGAIN

  17. Jim Says:

    Dell.
    Working fine.Switched down, replaced hard drive and RAM, powered up. Flashing amber power button light. Put back the old hard drive and RAM, still flashing amber……oh crap.

  18. greg Says:

    well…
    I had the flashing amber light and I found a really easy fix. no changing of hardware required!

    under your power cord…theres a switch like a fuse…its recessed. it should say like 130 or something on it.

    I unplugged the power cord…and slid it over and it moved to like 250…plugged it back in and tried to power up and I got nothing. not even a flashing light.
    I unplugged again and switched it BACK to 130 and made sure it went alllll the way over. plugged it back in.
    BAM
    computer booted with no problem.
    Maybe the switch was loose? I don’t know! Try it and let me know.
    Greg
    gregfenning@sbcglobal.net

  19. Neal Says:

    ….
    A ‘Me Too’ post
    18 month old Dell 9150

    I have the blinking amber light
    I have narrowed it down to this:
    With the 24 pin ‘main’ connector connected, and nothing else, the machine partially powers up (case fan, cpu fan and psu fan start), and the front light is solid amber.

    If I then powere down (hold start button) and plug in the 4 pin “processor power connector”, then re-try, I get no fans and the front light blinking amber.
    The green MB led is lit solid in both cases

    I have tried an alternative PSU and the same symptoms apply (so it is not the PSU?)

    anyone got any bright ideas

    I am very fond of Dells, and purchase many for work, but if this is going to cost me a new computer at home, I think I must go elsewhere.

    Neal

  20. John Says:

    I woke up this morning to the dreaded blinking amber light on my Dimension 8200. After reading the threads on several websites and getting depressed, I went to work. I first tried Greg’s solution (thread 18 above) because it didn’t require taking the CPU apart.

    I couldn’t believe it. The orange switch (just below the power outlet) was not fully to the right (130V). So I pulled the plug out, slid the switch all the way to the left (250v) and back all the way to the right, pluged it back in, turned it on and IT’S WORKING FINE!!!

    THANKS GREG!!!

    If you read the threads it starts to make sense. Think about it. If you replace the power supply, the mother board and the hard drive, what’s left??

  21. nick Says:

    Does anyone else have confirmation of the above?

  22. vince Says:

    hi all,

    i’m glad i found this post…my e510 suffered from the blinking amber problem so i tried greg’s solution with flipping the orange switch on the back of the power supply and that worked.

    it’s been a couple of weeks now, and though the system is now running, every so often it would shut off automatically and reveal the blinking amber problem, so i would apply the flipping of the power-selector switch to get it going again.

    the system is about 17 months old…with an expired warranty… before seeing this post i had tried 2 different power supplies (from dell, special parts ordering) which didn’t fix the blinking amber problem. fortunately i was able to return both.

    seeing that there’s a thread dedicated to this issue it seems this is a far-too-common defect that occurs after the general 1-yr warranty. i’ve had other dells that have been running for five years or so.

  23. robert Says:

    Yes, another Dell 8200 here with amber flashing light. Can someone tell me how to get to the magical 130-250V switch?

  24. Brian Says:

    Good ideas on the blinking bezel light, will try seeing if the power selector is loose. Warning! Be careful on the 115/225v switch. If you power on the PS with Euro voltage selected, there’s a high chance of blowing the MB.
    Thanks!

  25. Tim Joiner Says:

    Had a customer that had the same problem. Also tried a new PS without resolution. Pull out all the HW and RAM without resolution. Found the USB ports on the front of his E510 were damaged and the fingers were shorting to each other. Worked fine once I straightened them out.

  26. Rod S Says:

    Can anyone PLEASE tell me where and how to find this magic “orange” switch to swap the voltage, and then swap it back. I have look everywhere and still do not see this thing??? I also have an 8200 with the flashinf light syndrom. SOS anyone? Thanks

  27. nick Says:

    Well Greg on post 18,I just left it in the 230 postion lol…..Over powered FTW!!!

  28. Jong Rho Says:

    I have an E510 – almost 2 years old and this just happened to me. Tried greg (poster #18 above) method and no luck. Since the flashing yellow light would still flash for another minute after removing the cord, I decided to try again after waiting. This time the machine turned on, but then failed again while I was in the middle of booting. What I don’t understand is that since the orange voltage switch is integral to the PS itself, why would there still be a problem once the PS is replaced? Unless you are replacing with exact same model which looks to be faulty?

    This is my 4th Dell and the first I have had hardware problems with. Normally this would not make me decide to switch since there is always a chance of failure but after finding this blog I now have serious doubts about Dell Home given how many people have the same problems I do.

    If Dell wants to retain customers they should do what Microsoft did for Xbox360 customers and extend the warranty automatically to 3 years.

    However I am relieved that it looks like my HD should be ok so I can transfer my data to my new computer when I get it, and it is rapidly beginning to look like an HP.

  29. Jong Rho Says:

    Update on my problem. Looking through various other sites I came to conclusion that problem was probably with my Power Supply. After opening up the case, I discovered the PSU was only 300 watts, way too low for what I have on my computer. I bought a 430 watt PSU (NOT from Dell) and replaced it and it works fine now.

  30. Baiju Kurian Says:

    I have an Dell E510. At the time of running, it will becone shut dawn and start up again.some times its works good I did #18 but still the problem ,and i change the power supply unit from other computer (350 Watt) but after few hours the problem comes back.
    enyone nows the problem plese tell me.my Mail is
    poomon1@yahoo.com

  31. Jobu Manheim Says:

    The USB short was indeed my issue as well terrible that I watched $90 on a power supply I can’t return now.

  32. Michael Holt Says:

    Check out this DELL blackmail.
    Customer has a 1.5 year old Dell, the Maxtor 80GB hard drive (Manufacturer 24 Apr 2006) shows as bad.
    In the past, you would call Maxtor, and they would send you a replacement, since it would be under the 3 year warranty from the manufacturer, BUT Maxtor (seagate) says they SOLD THE WARRANTY to Dell, and the customer has to get the replacement from Dell.
    Dell says, sorry out of warranty. Now, if I had bought the SAME MODEL drive from any ohter place, the warranty would be through Seagate, and they would replace the drive. DELL apparently is buying the ‘sub standard’ Maxtor and Seagate Drives, and placing them in the one year warranty machines, making both DELL and Seagate money, while hosing the users. At this time I am still trying to convince DELL customer support that they should replace the drive. I don’t hold out much hope.
    I think I’ll be buying Lenovo, or HP in the future.

  33. Tim Bowlign Says:

    I have a dell E510 that I purchased about a year ago. After tunring the computer off to clean around the desk I went to start the PC and flashing amber light. After reading many posts I went straight to Dell and ordered a new motherboard. I just finished installing the mobo, and now I don’t have any sign of life in the pc whatsoever. Any suggestions?

  34. steve Says:

    I am having the same type of problem. If power is removed long enough for the led on the mother board to go out the computer will not boot. Power light flashes. If I unplug and wait for led to go out and move the BIOS jumper to clean the BIOS then the switch light flashes but the computer will start up. I then must enter BIOS and tell it there is no floppy and all is fine until power is lost and I must re do the BIOS

  35. james Says:

    The orange power supply switch is accessible from outside the case (you don’t need to open anything). Check the back of the case near power supply fan. You should see an orange colored slider switch (its recessed to you from accidently flipping it). Hope that helps.

  36. steve Says:

    The orange power supply switch has no effect on my system. Now no matter what I do all I get is rapid amber flash of power switch. The Dell from ….

  37. Charles Says:

    Just started with the same problem of a blinking amber light about a week ago. I have tried the orange switch trick, but the problem still happens on a regular basis. When the blinking amber light occurs I have to hold down the power button until the power turns off. I then have to wait a while and see if it will boot up again. The weird part of the problem is that once I power up the system it is really a crapshoot as to how long the computer will stay on. Yesterday I had the computer running all day (12+ hours) without a shutdown. I boot the system today and I get the blinking amber light at the splash screen. I have purchased a new after-market psu (more power) and will install this to see if it fixes the problem.

  38. Geno Says:

    All,

    Thanks for the great posts on hear. I too just ran across this flashing amber light on a Dell E510. Turns out the usb on the front panel had a pin that had been pushed down and I assume was shorting the system out. Fixed the pin, fixed the problem. Boots like a champ.

  39. Leon Says:

    Thanks alot poster #38. I am a computer tech, and did almost all the basic troubleshooting, including resetting the bios on the MB and nothing, until I found your post, looked on the front, and the idiot customer had forced the USB Port pins in that were touching the usb inside and caused a boot detection error, used a small pliers to pull the pins straight and voila!, it works.

    Thanks again
    Leon

  40. Slbowman Says:

    I build PCs. I inherited a Dell. I have no clue how to fix this ridiculous flashing yellow issue. I am no PC genius, but I know what I am doing and why I am doing it.
    Since none of the ABCD lights come on, I have three choices to fix…. PSU, MB, Proc….

    The PSU I ordered was DOA which only confused me further. Now I can buy a new MB/Proc but why would I stick with a 775 when AM2 rocks? Basically, I have a stupid case that opens in a weird way. That’s it.

    I’ve read about this issue for hours, I need a PC to run my work programs. My laptop (a dell I purchased) won’t run ’em.

    Laptops are different that PCs. Dell has competitive laptops. I knew what I was getting, but it was only 500$ in 2006. The PCs are garbage IMO.

    In short, I never had a problem I couldn’t diagnose on one I built.. only on this Dell. This leads me to believe that this is on purpose… annoying… and crap…
    -s

  41. Dogboy73 Says:

    This is a hugely interesting thread. Just spent all night trying to fix my sister/brother-in-law’s Dell Dimension 5100 that has also developed the flashing amber light problem.

    This isn’t the first time this has happened & on a previous occassion the PSU was replaced by a Dell technician. So off we went to PC World to buy a new 500W supply. I installed it ….. same problem!!

    i tried removing everything from the mobo bar the PSU. I even took out the battery for a few seconds. I was messing about with all kinds of things when suddenly ( I’ve no idea what I did) it booted! I got an error & went into the BIOS (Dell have their own weird BIOS. Freaky!!) but then it continued to boot into XP.

    We shutdown & then tried to start-up …… guess what?! flashing bastad amber light again! ARGGHHH! I’m amazed, but somewhat relived, to find so many people are experiencing this. It’ worrying though – Is this some sort of ploy by Dell?!

  42. Christopher B Says:

    thank you # 25 Tim Joiner. Front USB port on my E510 had bent pins shorting out. Straightened pins out to cure the “flashing amber power button syndrome”. Thanks!

  43. squash2793 Says:

    I have suffered with the amber flashing light problem on a Dell dimension 9150 but have cured the problem by replacing a USB hub connected to the mains and tower. I discovered the problem when I disconnected some of the USB devices attached to the tower out of desperation. I am also going to replace the power supply from 350w to 450w as I have discovered the the original power supply that was installed with the machine is underpowered for the amount of devices, hard drives and DVD burners I have installed in the machine I also hazard a guess that Dell have installed a cheap power supply. anyway no problems with the flashing amber light since I changed the USB hub.

  44. Daddy G Says:

    Well, I guess I join the club. My E510 just encountered the yellow blinking light of death. I have seen some good ideas in this thread, but I’ve already tried most of them. I had a killer 3.2 dual core with 4 gigs ram that has turned into a very expensive paper-weight. I’ve had to revive an old 1.8ghz custom box that has been sitting around in my basement for about 9 months just to get onto the internet to research the dell problem. I’ve bought probably 35 or 40 dells in the last 4 years (most for my place of employment). I have always recommended Dell to anyone who has ask me for advice on a new computer. But, seeing all of you people having the same problem will cause me to think harder before I buy or make recommendations to others. Shame on you Dell, you know this problem could have been prevented.

  45. Leonard Says:

    Great blog!

    I was repairing a co-worker’s home PC – a Dell E510 with the flashing light issue. Once I straightened out the bent up USB pins in the front of the PC everything works fine. I will block these off so they will not be used in the future.

    As for Dell, I also have purchsased several hundred Dell’s over the years for clients I have worked with and have never had an incident that Dell Support did not resolve. I always recomend the 3 year warranty option for just this type of issue. It is well worth the extra hundred for piece of mind. After 3 years the PC is obsolite anyway.

    In the future add the extra warranty to your home PC’s as well – whatever brand you purchase. That is what we in the buisness world do with our home PC’s.

    Great blog – glad I found it.

  46. Sean Says:

    Well here is my problem. My E510 is working fine with the stock 305 Watt PSU. I ordered a dell proprietary PSU with 550 watts and now I get a flashing amber light. If i switch the old 305 watt back in it works just fine.

  47. usb shortage confirmed Says:

    I tried all the other solutions…then i simply pulled the pata connector to the front usb connectors and power button and the power cable for it and reconnected and it booted up fine.

    I’m sure there is some sort of short in there but I will figure it out later.

    I have the Optiplex 280 btw.

  48. Mudvayne Says:

    I am having the same problem with my E510 I am going to check the front USB ports and then get back on here and let you all know my out come.

  49. Mudvayne Says:

    I will repost after I buy new MOBO battery

  50. Mudvayne Says:

    Bought new MOBO battery and everything works great so far but I plan on buying new PSU anyway

  51. Eddie Says:

    thanks Tim #25 – that worked for me. E510 back online.

  52. Eddie Says:

    ps goes back tomorrow.

  53. Roger Says:

    okay so i also have the e510 with the blinking amber light and i started by trying the 130 250 flip switch trick. no success. I hear a lot of positive feedback from this usb pin trick but as i look into the usb ports on my computer they all seem to be perfectly fine. How can i distinguish the damaged pins.

  54. Mudvayne Says:

    New PSU and new front USB assembly and everything seems good but now my 2 and 4 lights are lit up so I am buying a new GPU

  55. Roger Says:

    were did you purchase a new front usb thing?

  56. Mudvayne Says:

    Front I/O panel USB Assembly take out the spaces

    http://accessories.us.dell.
    com/sna/products/System_Cases
    /productdetail.aspx?c=us&l=
    en&s=dhs&cs=19&sku=X8543&mfgpid
    =167491&chassisid=8238

  57. dta Says:

    as a dell tech, i have seen the flashing amber light plenty of times, and yes it’s usually the power supply or the front i/o panel. post #47 is a good place to start, though on some machines you can’t power up if the i/o panel is disconnected.

    the i/o panel is connected with a flat ribbon cable that looks like a pata (or more closely a floppy disk) data cable. it’s often found directly under the power supply of more recent desktops.

  58. PJ Says:

    My girlfriend’s Dimension 8400/8500 (can’t remember which it is and I’m at work now) suffers from the flashing amber LED. I tried a new 305w PSU from Dell, and it worked fine for about a week before starting its little trick again. I checked on here and unplugged the pata cable from the front USB’s to the motherboard and it powered right up! I changed the power settings in Windows to never shut off. It ran continuously for about 3-4 days before shutting itself off and doing the flashing amber thing again.

    Funny thing is that this computer ran fine with NO problems for 4 years in her apartment, then the first time she tried to turn it on after we moved into our house it started doing this nonsense! Could it be something with the power in the house or is this just a coincidence?

  59. Fred Says:

    I have an Inspiron 8100 that has been going for years. I have recommended Dell to many customers. I put the 8100 aside for 4 months and now it has the flashing YYYYG disease. I have above average experience with computers and have tried everything I can think of. No go! After scouring the web, it looks like it is definitely a problem (of some sort – no-one seems to have an answer). What I find really frustrating is that there are so many listings of this problem but Dell has no comment on it. Dell tech support just kept reading the the standard answers in the order they are on the paper. Frustrating.

    Fred

  60. rgw Says:

    I have a dell e510 (dimension 5150), and I just had this problem for the 4th time. Previously I’ve managed to get it working by trying simmilar things to what are listed here in the comments, but this time, I just pulled out the cord attaching the power button, front usb ports, etc to the motherboard, and plugged it back in, and it worked!

  61. Greg Says:

    I’ve run into the same thing with a friend’s E510. I replaced the CMOS (BIOS) battery and it booted up fine. A month later, he came to me with the same problem. I inserted a jumper wire into the back side of the ATX connector from the power supply, between the green wire and one of the black (ground) wires. This turns the power supply on. I was then able to boot using the power button, and the BIOS didplayed a message that the system battery was low. System booted up just fine…I can just leave the jumper in there (downside is that the PS, CPU fan, and certian other components stay on all the time), but I suspect that something is going wrong with the mobo that drains the battery.
    For those of you unfamiliar with it, look for a round shiny thing about the size of a nickel on the motherboard…it’ll pop out with a small screwdriver. It’s a CR2032 battery, and you can get one at Radio Shack, WalMart and most drugstores (CVS/Walgreens/Rite Aid, etc).
    I’m afraid that this is going to be a temporary fix; I advised him not to buy another Dell until they improve/lengthen their warranty. He experienced the problem about a month after the standard warranty expired… I understand that sometimes an ‘extended warranty’ is worth it, but if a company is not willing to stand behind their product then I’m inclined to buy instead from someone who will. Personally, I build my own.

  62. Greg Says:

    Agh…Regarding post #61, that wasn’t a long-lasting fix. He didn’t have the money for a new mobo, so with his permission I installed (onto the plastic knockout cover for a floppy drive) a small push-on/push/off switch, then ran wires from the new switch to the green and black wires on the 24-pin ATX connector. Turning the switch ‘on’ shorts the green wire to ground which turns on the power supply, then the factory on/off switch powers on the rest of the mobo and the system boots as normal. Once the system is booting the newly-installed switch can be turned ‘off’. Kind of a redneck repair, but it’ll work just fine until a permanent fix can be done. And, dude, he’s NOT getting another Dell.

  63. Myles White Says:

    Cheers Tim Joiner number 25!Same problem with the amber flashing light and it was the fingers on the front usb port they had been crushed against the sides so earthed out!
    This blog has saved my working day so thanks for all the advise here!

  64. david asbery Says:

    I have a Dimension 5100. I get the flashing amber light so often that once I manage to get past this problem I NEVER shut down the computer just log off, Occasionally I stop and restart (holding my breath). This has worked for me (most of the time) for about 9 months. However recently there was power cut and I was really stumped buy the flashing orange light. I tried all the usual stuff including some of the above, but it didn’t work. Finally I managed to get the computer started by removing the small power supply socket to the motherboard (the one at the back). The computer then started up with a solid amber light. I then put the power plug back in to the motherboard and hey presto my 5100 stared up fine! Once again I am not powering off my 5100 if I can help it. Don’t know whether this will help anyone but it worked for me. But I am going to check all my USB sockets for bent pins.

  65. MIke Says:

    I am the IT admin for the company I work for. I have an optiplex SX280 form factor with the dreaded flashing amber light. The form factor models are very small. They have external power supplies and no room for any add-ons. All of the USB ports are directly on the motherboard (back as well as front). I have removed every piece of hardware from the unit, tried a different psu, checked the USB pins and I still have the flashing amber light. I guess I’ll call Dell and hopefully they will replace it. We’ll see…

  66. reed Says:

    flashing amber power buttons are either a bad power supply or motherboard or both on dell computers. it could be also ram but rarely have i seen it. i’ve been working on dell inspiron, latitude, optiplex system since the late 90’s. use a power supply tester to isolate the power supply: you should have +5 & +/-12 volts. make sure the p/s fan is running. remove all devices except the p/s & mobo to see if you still have flashing amber led. i truly believe in dell computers only as long as you have a valid warranty. optiplex & latitude system come with lifetime tech support; inspiron & xps do not. it’s rough if you have an inspiron & the mobo is bad + your warranty is expired.

  67. kathy Says:

    what about if it’s not flashing? but i have the jet engine problem as well as an amber light. D: I have no idea what to do.

  68. Tom B Says:

    Dell E-510. If you have a flashing amber/ yellow /orange led on front panel and it won’t start. Check if LAN led is also blinking. I fixed this one by installing a LAN card in pci slot. Start pc by disconnecting front panel, remove battery. Plug ac cord into power supply, machine will start in about 20 seconds. Use F2 and reset BIOS, disable on-board NIC, set date, time, boot sequence, and power options. Machine will now work fine. There is a problem on these motherboards. Turn all standby options off in Windows and BIOS. It really worked. There is some conflict on this board and DELL apparently could care less. I hope this helps. It took about 20 hours of bench time to figure this one out.

  69. zack Says:

    dude its the motherbord


  70. Dimension amber flashing light. Forget changing power unit or motherboard. I changed both but still had flashing amber light. Then looked at the the two usb ports on the front of the PC. One was broken and the four connectors were mangled.
    After straightening them out and then blanking off with a piece of plastic to stop someone damaging it again I turn on the PC. No amber lights – just a fully working PC. Thanks to tim joiner – the post suggesting this.

  71. PAUL Says:

    THANKS GREG EVERBODY TRY THE ORANGE POWER SWITCH UNDER POWER LEAD ,I HAD THE ORANGE BLINKING LIGHT SWITCHED IT ACROSS THEN BACK AND HEY WORKS GREAT THANKS AGAIN

  72. sandra Says:

    Flashing amber light problem on an E510. Out of warranty. Called Dell anyway and immediately let the guy have it about this being a problem that is all over the net. End result was I was told to buy a new MB. However, the support tech first had me remove all cables, including the monitor, from the back of the CPU to see if it would start clean. It did. Then we plugged in the monitor. It started. Then we plugged in the mouse and keyboard. It would not start. We are now going to live with a temporary solution of starting up without the mouse and keyboard plugged in, and then plugging them in after it boots to the log in screen. This seems to work.
    When I have time, I will try the voltage switch thing, inspect the USB ports for bent pins, etc., but I am not going to change PS or MB!

  73. JV Says:

    Blinking yellow light of death:
    1. Flipped the orange switch a few times to no avail.
    2. Removed the CMOS battery, removed power cable…replaced once all lights were out.
    3. Computer booted up with no problems.
    (hit F2 to enter BIOS screen and set floppy to ‘off’ as it is defaulted to ‘internal’)
    4. Turned it back off (yeah..dumb) and it wouldn’t come back on.
    5. Put battery (same one I pulled out) back in. Pulled power cable again until all lights were out. Booted right back up.
    6. Not turning the computer off again.

    My two cents: Sounds like a couple of issues cause the same symptoms…the orange switch in the wrong position or bent usb pins show the same as the drained battery. I think the MOBOs are of poor quality and begin to fail (mine is 2 years old). I think Dell knows this which is why they have their technicians replace the front panel (that would fix the bent usb pin problem, right?), then the PS (if the orange switch was jacked, that would fix it or at least ensure it is in the correct position I would think), then…once they get it on, they send you a new mobo because they know that either it is 1)causing the problem or 2) WILL.

  74. RJ Says:

    I just had the same problem with my wife’s Dell Dimension 8400… she went to turn it on yesterday morning and got the dreaded “flashing amber light” (looks orange to me) Bought in Sept04 and it doesnt get much use, but it has a 3g Intel Pentium4 w/HT so I didn’t want to trash it.

    After reading several boards and opening up case to check for mobo damage or loose wires/bent pins I decided to try the cheapest route and replace the Power Source. Inside mine was a Dell 350W Model No L350N-00. I bought an Antec Basiq 350W power source for $39.99 at Frys. I just finished putting it in and the computer is working fine.

    Let me say that other than adding a firewire port I have no experience with computer hardware. If I can do it, anyone with a screwdriver can. Will keep you posted if problems resurface.

  75. RJ Says:

    One more note: The Antec Basiq has an ON/OFF switch and the panel on the back of my Dell Dimension 8400 did not have a hole for that so I took some wire cutters and “modified” it. Not pretty looking but effective and easy to do.

  76. Wayne Says:

    I have a dimension 8400. I had a 4 year warranty. I had the dvd-rom and the monitor replaced under the warranty. Now at the end of the warranty, the flashing amber light syndrome! It somehow worked a couple of times for about half the day. Usually, it just powers up, stays on for a minute or two, then shuts down, and then the power button flashes amber. I’ve tried everything people have suggested on here, except for buying a new motherboard or power supply. Nothing worked! Guess i’ll have to try one of the other two solutions and cross my fingers that i don’t waste my money on them. A friend of mine bought the same computer and never had to replace anything….lucky him!

  77. Howard Says:

    same o same o here. I find it hard to believe Dell has not addressed this issue after all these years of it showing up. Of course it’s time to get a new computer, but due to Dell’s refusal to figure out the cause of this, my new one will NOT be one of theirs.

  78. Howard Says:

    I hesitate to try a power supply since it seems to have fixed the problem in only a few isolated cases.

  79. Howard Says:

    well, I DID buy a new powersupply (450w) and lo and behold I can turn this thing on and off at will after a week, I have had no probs whatsoever , no yellow light! It seems to have worked for me, so I popped back to let others know there is hope that it can work. Best of luck to you.

    ps. I also had to cut a hole for the on/off switch, no big deal, hopefully I don’t need to look back there more than just enough to clean the hard to open case.

  80. biguglyman Says:

    Have an e510 with the same problem. I’ve tried all the above solutions with no luck. At this point I’m assuming the MB is bad as there isn’t much else it could be.

  81. wvkevn Says:

    What none of these blogs refers to is using Dells Support site. The flashing amber light means that you had bad power going to the cpu. Although it can be a bad power supply, Dell support gives you a checklist of things to do before you replace the power supply. I fixed the blinking amber light by removing everything connected through the USB connections. After getting the machine rebooted I found out that the problem was a bad External Western Digital hard drive, which was caused by a power brownout. Before you turn your dell into a paperweight, go to the dell support site and tell them the model and service numbers and they will talk you through what a qualified repairman would do to your machine. The best advice I can give to anyone owning any computer system, laptop or desktop, is to purchase an unigoodnterruptable power supply (UPS) device with surge protection along with the software provided to shut down your system during a power outage. It will save you a lot of money and distress in the long run. And it will protect your system from needing power supplies and other parts ordered and replaced! A good UPS machine will filter your power needs and allow you to shut down properly for about $200 per 10 minutes of shutdown time. They are very cheap in the long run. APC sells the best ones that I have and do use. You can find a refurbished UPS for around $25. Even though you get what you pay for, I’d rather have a cheap UPS than none at all.
    wvkevn

  82. Moogi Says:

    JV makes the most sense. After reading 3/4 of the way thru 2 years worth of problems it sounded to me like mutiple issues. Yeah, Dell has the info on their website now, after all these good people shared their experiances. I got much more out of these postings than the Dell site. The usbs are fine, tried the switch, last removed the ‘nickle’ size battery. Unplugging the power, removing the battery, replacing the battery, plugging the E510 back in and it booted up, whew. Now to back it all up and buy something else.

  83. clarke Says:

    Dell Dimension Desktop.
    Flashing amber power light caused by damaged USB port. Spacer broke off and pins shorted to housing.

  84. sallycat10 Says:

    I’ve had the dreaded blinking amber light occasionally for the better part of a year. Most of the time, simply unplugging all my USB devices enabled it to restart. Because of that, I’ve suspected some sort of USB issue. I even bought a new USB hub. but this time when the amber started, NOTHING worked.

    Thanks to all of you, I discovered the pins on the front USB port were bent. I straightened then out and voila! Perfect. I have never heard of this happening on any other computer. On mine, even the plastic bar surrounding the pins came out. Are these cheap parts? What the f? Anyway, I’m glad I finally have it figured out after almost a year. Thanks!

  85. Amber Nowak Says:

    I Think it is time to have a class action Law suit.
    I got a brand new Dell Lap TOp and it has been a literal nitghtmare. I have spent over 18 hours literally talking to tech support one problem after another. They even sent a new hard drive which I had to replace myself and spent another 7 hours to get it working with them in my computer online fixing it. They will not replace the lemon they sent me and they transfer me to one person after another saying I can help you, give me your information and the problem and I went through the whole thing with seven different people only to be dissconnected. It Is how they train these people to keep passing you on to antoher and they know that we as individuals do not have the money to hire an Attorney individually. The climate is rip , big business is getting bigger they do not care about fxing thier problems and move on to the next victum. I think a class action suit is the way to go. I plan on researching this more and contacting Networks big and small. Anyone else interested?

  86. david Says:

    Easy as ‘dell’? NOOO!!

  87. Wu Says:

    As for my Dell Dimension 5100, the front panel USB ports were badly shorted. After cutting off the two
    USB ports from the front panel circuit board, the computer is working again.
    PS, I think someone or mostly a child, forced inserting a device into the USB port and shorted the wiring inside.


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