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My poorly laptop - a conundrum

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My poorly laptop - a conundrum

Has anyone got the inclination to answer a conundrum? If so, please read on...
I have a Dell Vostro laptop - reformatted it with W7, no problem. Last week it wouldn't shut down (looping).
Got it shut down with the red button on the logout screen - worked fine then for a few days.
Suddenly it won't boot. Gets to Windows logo and then black screen - can see the backlight and cursor.
Tried repair/safe mode/system restore - all the usual fixes. Loads the drivers then black screen.
Still under warranty so I have a chat with Dell - try system diagnostics. Did this and it passed everything.
Chatted again and told to remove the memory modules one at a time(2x1GB) and reboot to see if it is faulty memory.
Not able to do this because the memory is in a very awkward place and I am a bit scared of prizing the back off.
Have had the hard drive tested - it is OK. Haven't got back to Dell yet and am going to take the lappy in to the repair shop as I don't
want the hassle of posting it back with all the expense and worry.
Any ideas?
17 REPLIES
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Grafter
Posts: 1,867
Registered: 23-10-2008

Re: My poorly laptop - a conundrum

You can use Memtest to check your RAM without removing it.
http://www.memtest.org/
Its pretty simple - load it onto a USB key, then use your BIOS options to make it boot from that USB - it''ll run though, and let you know if you have issues with RAM.
Saves opening the case if you are nervous about it - at least until you are certain of the issue.
HTH
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Re: My poorly laptop - a conundrum

Well that sounds like a useful piece of advice James so thank you very much. I will hastily make a note of it for future reference.
Have changed RAM modules in a laptop before and it was straightforward but in the Dell it is very much different.
I can see one but can't get it out and the Dell gentleman said that the other is underneath the keyboard.  Huh
Wish I had known about the mem test before then I could have tried it. 
It's gone to have a diagnostic run on it so will report back just in case it might be of any interest to anyone.
Sad
Community Veteran
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Re: My poorly laptop - a conundrum

BTW I wouldn't remove any ram under Dell tech's advice because as soon as you've done it your warranty will be void and Dell can (and will) then turn around and refuse to have anything to do with it.
If Dell want to try swapping memory modules they should do it themselves rather than play dirty tricks on you like that.
I need a new signature... i'm bored of the old one!
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Re: My poorly laptop - a conundrum

The diagnostic came back clear. Chap in the shop said that he had got it booted with a copy of an original disc (thought that the computer wasn't reading it the original).
He said that it wanted a fresh install and partition deleting to start again.
When I got it back it did get to install but returned an error code 0xE0000100 which was indeed something to do with partitions. I got a blue screen saying that there had been a problem with hardware or software and that Windows had shut down to protect the system. I read somewhere that it might be due to the fact that there was a Windows.old folder on the machine which I hadn't got round to deleting but not sure if this is fact.
Unfortunately I couldn't get far enough to do anything with the partition so I booted up with Ubuntu. This could 'see' all the  Windows 7 files but in GParted the entire disc was unallocated space.
I made an NTFS partition with it and next time I put the (original) W7 disc in it immediately got to work. I now have a working system so am mostly pleased BUT have ended up with only a C drive with no WinRE. It's also got rid of Dell Media Direct which is no hardship whatsoever because I never used it anyway and I do have the reinstall disc if I wanted it back.
I am somewhat concerned about the lack of WinRE.
The recovery option does appear in the menu when I boot into safe mode so does it really matter about this?
I have read up a little and it looks like it is difficult to add it now. Am reluctant to do another reinstall as I have already activated the key twice and don't want to set alarm bells ringing with Microsoft.
Could anyone please advise? 
Community Veteran
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Registered: 16-02-2009

Re: My poorly laptop - a conundrum

If you still think it is memory related when you boot from the Ubuntu disk the LAST option is memory test.
Personally I would just put Ubuntu on it and install your W7 in a VM using Virtual box.
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Re: My poorly laptop - a conundrum

The computer hardware is fine - I did the Dell diagnostic thing and it passed everything. Also, it hasa been on the fault checker in the computer shop - all OK.
I think that the source of the problem might have been that I didn't immediately delete Windows.old as I have read that this can cause instability.
Now that it is completely reformatted it is spot on.
I have read that you can install WinRE after Windows 7  but it sounds too complex so I just wondered if there were any thoughts on leaving the system without this partition.
Community Veteran
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Registered: 22-08-2007

Re: My poorly laptop - a conundrum

Quote from: okrzynska
BTW I wouldn't remove any ram under Dell tech's advice because as soon as you've done it your warranty will be void and Dell can (and will) then turn around and refuse to have anything to do with it.
If Dell want to try swapping memory modules they should do it themselves rather than play dirty tricks on you like that.

It will only void the warranty if you break the sockets for the ram or the ram itself.  I have been asked to remove the ram on dell systems before and when it was proven it wasnt the ram dell arranged for a call out under the onsite waranty.
I have also had dell send out replacement parts for the user to self install under warranty, and they were still happy to do a warranty call when it didnt solve the problem
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Re: My poorly laptop - a conundrum

Thanks for opinions. The Dell agent telephoned the other day to follow up the chat session. Unfortunately I wasn't at home so only took the answerphone message.
I need to get back to them but haven't done yet. As it has turned out to be a software fault possibly that is the end of it.
The computer showed an error message on booting up tonight - I selected normal start and it was OK.
However, in event viewer there are error messages so although it is working OK I am not convinced that all is well.
There are two critical incidents relating to booting up when the system wasn't shut down cleanly.
Also a few other things - one of them being 'The driver detected a controller error on \Device\Harddisk1\DR1'.
There is also something about some setting in Avast not being  right but aside from it not giving me an auditory update sound, it is updating and seems OK.
The computer was as sound as a pound on Vista Business and I wish that I could go back to it but not sure as I only have a reinstall disk.
Sad
Community Veteran
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Registered: 22-08-2007

Re: My poorly laptop - a conundrum

Is it a dell restore disc?  If its a dell disc with operating system on the top of the disc and is a dark blue colour with white text then its actually just a windows install cd.  If it is, you can do a fresh install from that disc, you might need the appropriate drivers but it should be possible to install vista again.
As for the other issue, I do wonder if your hard drive is playing up.  It might be an idea to try a check disk on the drive (which will get scheduled to happen at the next reboot).
By the way if your vostro doesn't have onsite warranty, dell ship a box to you that you put your machine in and the courier takes it away to be fixed.  Certainly thats what happened the last time I knew someone who required the dell onsite warranty.
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Re: My poorly laptop - a conundrum

Thanks for your comments and help Bud. I did a disk check and all is well. Also it has been on the diagnostic machine - happily, this is not a hardware problem.
Dell telephoned this morning and asked me to return to Dell Chat to discuss. This I did and they have advised me how to return to Vista as the warranty only covers that operating system.
The disk that I have is brown and says reinstall on it. The lady reassured me that I would be able to set things back to normal, including how to reinstall Media Direct. She is going to send me full instructions by email.  I might go ahead as I do like Vista best.
Community Veteran
Posts: 374
Registered: 22-08-2007

Re: My poorly laptop - a conundrum

IIRC the brown disc is Vista Business without SP1, the later version with SP1 integrated is the dark blue colour.
I don't rely on the diagnostics for hard drive problems, seen many pass for them only to fail a few days later.
Community Veteran
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Re: My poorly laptop - a conundrum

Might be worth runng an Ubuntu 9.10 live cd on it. The drive check built in seems to work well. It diagnosed my 250Gb drive as imminent fail and after about a week it did  Lips are sealed
Nothing to run (if it is installed anyway) it appears on the task panel notification area.
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Re: My poorly laptop - a conundrum

Finally got round to doing the job this afternoon. Followed the instructions regarding reinstalling Media Direct and Vista Business but had a glitch - wouldn't install so had to again use Ubuntu to reformat the C partition to NTFS (after the Media Direct disc had set up the partitions).
Got it going then it stalled on Completing setup. Tried 3 times - no joy. Finally took disk out before installing and had it scan the driver disk - once installed the SATA driver, put the OS disc back and away it went.Now all updated and sorted and running OK.
Dell have been quite good really  -  have been put under the 'ownership' of someone called Maria and have been telephoned twice today to see if I have managed alright. When I said that I hadn't had chance to do the reformat they made an appointment to ring me back next week! Can't fault the service and it pushed me to get it done.
Will have to do the Chat session again on Monday to explain about the SATA thingy 'cos it wasted a lot of time and it wasn't in the instructions - don't know why I tried so many times it was a bit daft really.
Also, there was nothing in the instructions about what to do if the the disc  does not going through to install screen. I wouldn't have managed without the Ubuntu disc.
I can't think of anything that I have done wrong but you never know!
Anyway, can recommend Dell for their efficiency but not sure that some of the stuff that they expect you to do is within the capabilities of some folk.
When I have had a sabbatical from computer problems I will partition the C drive 'cos it's all nice and empty now bar the OS/Media Direct and will be able to get back to Ubuntu dual-boot (definitely Jaunty though).
Community Veteran
Posts: 374
Registered: 22-08-2007

Re: My poorly laptop - a conundrum

I do think something is very wrong somewhere, as you dont need a sata driver to install vista on the vostro's from what I have found as the dell discs have the drivers built into them normally.