What to do if system hangs when building DMI pool

When a computer is powered on, it makes a quick inventory of all devices available to BIOS and creates a table called the desktop management interface (DMI) pool. The DMI table is used by the operating system to determine which devices are available, mostly so the OS doesn't have to perform this work by itself, but also so that the data reported is produced consistently.

But sometimes, when a system is fired up, it reaches this stage of the POST (it usually says "Building DMI pool" or "Verifying DMI pool data") and then hangs. It's easy to tell if it's hanging; normally the DMI building process takes only a few seconds. If this happens, here are some possible culprits:

  • There was a change in the hardware configuration to the machine, which isn't being properly assessed.
  • A hardware device in the system is no longer reporting proper DMI information (it may be damaged).
  • The existing DMI table, which is stored in CMOS, has corrupted values that aren't being cleared or re-initialized correctly.
  • The BIOS itself may be corrupt and may need to be reflashed.
There are several ways to approach the problem. They should be tried out in this order:
  1. Reset the system configuration data in BIOS. Most computers have an option somewhere in their BIOS to force the DMI pool to be erased and reassessed from scratch. The name for this option varies between manufacturers, but it often shows up as "Force Update ESCD" or "Reset Configuration Data."
  2. Undo or reseat any recent changes to the system hardware. Try this if there was a recent change to the system's hardware configuration and there is no option to reset the DMI pool manually (or if resetting the DMI pool doesn't help). If the problem turns up with the new hardware present, this may indicate that the hardware in question is either defective or simply not "playing nice" with that particular motherboard. Reseating existing hardware may help if something wasn't seated properly when it was installed.
  3. Clear CMOS entirely. This typically isn't done in the BIOS itself, but by powering down the computer and setting a jumper on the motherboard to clear the CMOS. This will cause all the BIOS settings, including the system clock, to be cleared, so be sure to reset the clock before booting back into Windows.
  4. Reflash the system BIOS. If by some stroke of bad luck the BIOS itself is corrupt, this can be one of the symptoms. Download a fresh copy of the motherboard's BIOS and reflash it according to the manufacturer's instructions. Note: Doing this also means you have to clear CMOS to prevent spurious CMOS data from lingering and creating problems.

About the author: Serdar Yegulalp is editor of the Windows Insight, (formerly the Windows Power Users Newsletter), a blog site devoted to hints, tips, tricks and news for users and administrators of Windows NT, Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Server 2003 and Vista. He has more than 12 years of Windows experience under his belt, and contributes regularly to SearchWinComputing.com and SearchSQLServer.com.

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