Dell Inspiron 546 Inconsistent crash

December 5, 2012 at 00:51:17
Specs: Windows Vista, 4GB
I've got a Dell Inspiron 546 that I am dealing with that is having a problem with I guess it would be called a crash. Always gets past POST, sometimes it boots into Vista and works for days. Other times it just crashes at various points. It even crashes when at the screen where you get ask if you want to start windows normally or with various safe modes. Not sure what this screen is called. At the point that this is being asked(before any key press is made), is the computer actually operating via windows or not? Basically wondering if this is something within windows, or a h/w problem. There is not even a momentary BSOD when it crashes. The screen just goes blank, and needs to be reset or turned off via the case switches.

I need ideas on what I should look for as this computer is my Mom's, and is across town, and I need help at this point. The last time I looked at it, it was acting fine. I went in and ran virus and malware scans, and found a few minor things but that was it. The computer worked the whole time I was using it. I stupidly didn't check the logs for any problems, but everything seemed well, so I left. It worked for a few days, and the problem is back.

So, seeing as I may not be able to boot up at all, what should be my steps to diagnose the problem?

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December 5, 2012 at 03:57:22
First thing to do is to change the setting in Vista to automatically restart. See the link below to learn how.

Then you can post the error code/s here for help with them.

In the meantime you can do several things.

Open the case and see if there is lots of built up dirt/dust. If so, get a can of compressed air or use a compressor to blow out everything. Blow out the power supply from both ends.

You may want to move the tower to a better location. This will be messy. Be sure the computer is unplugged. DO NOT use a vacuum cleaner. Static discharge can kill the computer.

Once inside, examine the motherboard for bad capacitors. :You are looking for bulging tops or leaking capacitors. See the link below for photos.

Next, you can run a memory test on the RAM. Download memtest86+ from the link below. Use the file for installation on a USB flash drive if the computer can boot from a USB device. You will need to reset the boot order to boot to it.

You can also run a hard drive fitness test.

Run scannow SFC. See the link below to learn how. OR

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December 5, 2012 at 11:51:20
In some cases just cleaning the RAM edge connectors with a pencil eraser can help.

Always pop back and let us know the outcome - thanks

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December 19, 2012 at 15:18:13
Checked the logs and tested HDD and ram. Everything passed. Seems it's not crashing per say, but the monitor goes into power save mode like its not getting a picture, but the PC is still actually running. Ideas?

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Related Solutions

December 19, 2012 at 15:23:00
Turn all power saving off just to make sure it is not anything to do with that.

I have a monitor that sometimes does that (every few weeks). I just unplug the monitor from the mains then plug it in again, hit the button on the front and it works again. So, it is possibly a monitor fault - try another if you have one.

Always pop back and let us know the outcome - thanks

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