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Computer Disaster! Help needed!

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Martin King 223/08/2020 11:26:35
728 forum posts
279 photos

Hi All,

Was working away yesterday quite happily when a dialog came up saying Windows detected a problem and needs to restart

Saved my document and restarted, took longer than usual to get the Dell logo with the marching ants, then the windows multicoloured screen, clicked this and got my picture with the PIN field, entered my PIN number.

Nothing happened for a while then the Windows colour screen again, then my picture but no PIN field, this happened a couple mote times then the WELCOME and marching ants. At last the background photo came up but with NO ICONS.

This stayed up for about 5-10 seconds then just a green screen with my cursor, nothing else at all.

I have repeated this many times and tried booting holding down SHIFT & F8 but to no avail.

it is only when this happens that one realises how dependent one is on the damn thing!

Any help or ideas would be so appreciated please

Cheers, Martin

Martin King 223/08/2020 11:28:00
728 forum posts
279 photos

System is Dell XPS 8700, running Windows 8.1


Frances IoM23/08/2020 11:47:26
857 forum posts
26 photos
can you enter the bios (usually by holding down delete or escape key whilst restarting machine) - if you can there is often a memory test that checks out memory, then look to see if the bios can see if a bootable disk exists as given a Win 8 this may well have died.
Pete Rimmer23/08/2020 12:16:51
809 forum posts
50 photos


Check the power light on the front.when you try to start it up. If it's orange instead of green then you have a failing power supply.


Stueeee23/08/2020 12:41:56
63 forum posts

Shift + F8 -recovery screen not appearing doesn't look good. If all else fails you should be able to see what data is readable off the disk with a USB connected SATA/IDE disk dock like this. HD Dock

Martin King 223/08/2020 13:11:55
728 forum posts
279 photos

Stueee, problem is I cannot see anything on the screen even if I get one of those. The blurb on that item says Windows 7 & earlier only?

Pete R, power light is still white, always has been, tiny little thing!

Frances IOM, will try that and get back,


Martin King 223/08/2020 13:18:46
728 forum posts
279 photos

BTW, If left on the screensaver kicks in over the green screen?


Martin King 223/08/2020 13:35:54
728 forum posts
279 photos

Delete and escape keys during restart have no effect, same problem, gets to desktop background image for few seconds then green screen.



Frances IoM23/08/2020 13:42:29
857 forum posts
26 photos
sometimes removing the battery and running on mains supply allows getting into the bios - if you can get the splash screen then you know there is hope for the computer - if you can't get into bios then last ditch attempt is to remove the harddrive (usually hidden behind a screwed down flap on side or probably in base - this will force the bios to put up an error screen - no bootable device found - if this doesn't appear then the laptop sounds pretty dead but it had enough life to report a problem before dying wrt operating system ETA just seen your last post - try removing the harddrive as if the screen does display the Dell logo etc then it sounds as though the Master boot record on the harddrive may be corrupt but I'm more used to fixing Linux than windows machines - with linux you can always swop in any harddrive from a linux machine as a check

Edited By Frances IoM on 23/08/2020 13:47:17

Ady123/08/2020 13:48:21
3947 forum posts
522 photos

Was working away yesterday quite happily when a dialog came up saying Windows detected a problem and needs to restart

Loose connection?

Sometimes something works loose on the mainboard because of movement and hot/cold/hot/cold effect

Frances IoM23/08/2020 13:58:39
857 forum posts
26 photos
Ady there is usually nothing that can come loose on a laptop (a Win8 laptop is probably post the problem with leadfree solder that allowed the processor to become unsoldered due to flexing with temperature - try removing the harddrive - sometimes these are mounted in a carrier which plugs into the main board (eg as in many Lenovo machines) other machines use a carrier bit with a flying thinn foil lead to a SATA connector that plugs onto harddrive - be very gentle here and carefully prise the connector away from the hard drive then remove the carriier/hard drive then switch on and see if you are put into the bios error screen

Edited By Frances IoM on 23/08/2020 14:00:20

Martin King 223/08/2020 14:20:54
728 forum posts
279 photos

Frances, not a laptop but a tower desktop unit?


Rik Shaw23/08/2020 14:26:22
1370 forum posts
373 photos

Before you start ripping the guts out try booting from a recovery dvd / USB stick or if you have one, a Dell get you out of the crap disk. The idea being that if you can get booted into Safe Mode you might be able to do a non destructive System Restore. If you have none of the above media I can only suggest download this:


onto the device you are typing this post on and burn it to a disk / usb stick. Then try booting from IT


Pete Rimmer23/08/2020 14:28:20
809 forum posts
50 photos
Posted by Martin King 2 on 23/08/2020 13:35:54:

Delete and escape keys during restart have no effect, same problem, gets to desktop background image for few seconds then green screen.



This smacks of an overheating issue. How long since the case was blown out? If it's full of dust - don't hoover it, use a brush or an air line.

SillyOldDuffer23/08/2020 14:36:51
6447 forum posts
1421 photos

Make sure nothing is plugged into the computer like a external drive or memory stick. Watch out for non-obvious plug ins like a Camera card or DVD. Remove them and try again.

Best chance of diagnosing the fault is to get into the BIOS. This can be tricky! According to the web on that model Dell F2 should activate the BIOS menu, and F12 the boot sequence menu.

F2 has to be hit at just the right time, and there is only a short window when it will be recognised. With the machine off, start tapping F2, and then - whilst still tapping - power up. With luck the BIOS will engage and it will be possible to run diagnostics and maybe do a simple fix. Or not!

As the boot doesn't get far I like Frances' suggestion that the MBR is damaged, but it might be the whole disc.

Much depends on what's wrong. Might be:

  • Anti-virus has crashed the boot process due to believing some part of Windows is malware. (Or the machine is genuinely infected.)
  • The battery has failed. Try removing it, but don't expect miracles. Two of my old laptops saw removed batteries as failed batteries and refused to boot. Neither would work off the mains or battery alone.

Could get complicated and may be easier to take the computer to a local repair shop. They have the gear and expertise needed to get a quick answer. Otherwise, tell us what you find. Do you have another working computer? One neat trick is to boot dead Windows with a Linux Recovery USB. Last time I used one it autodetected and fixed the MBR. Provided the disc isn't too mangled may be able to copy important files off it.


Frances IoM23/08/2020 14:37:29
857 forum posts
26 photos
if a tower then actually trivial - you will have a cd/dvd reader I assume - merely take off the cover and assuming it is modern enough to have a sata drive merely unplug the cable to the harddrive probably mounted underneath the cd - if it is a pro Dell machine these are usually very well engineered and most items are latched in place - if a compact machine then you may have to remove the cd to see the harddrive - just remove the thin flat cable then switch on
Once you are into the bios look at the options to always show the splash screen, sometimes you can set how long this displays change this to 30secs so you can get to the escape/delete/F2 key as needed - change boot sequence to place cd/dvd 1st in list so you can boot preferentially from this (maybe also a usb stick as 2nd if it offers this) - if you don't get the error screen with no bootable device connected then something is badly wrong
Frances IoM23/08/2020 14:53:13
857 forum posts
26 photos
I noticed in PC World a couple of weeks ago that they were no longer accepting machines for repair (not that I would ever recommend that company) but many charge even they can't fix.
One of the current computer mags has a bootable dvd inside - for ?7 or so maybe a cheap test option - I have several repair DVDs than came off the Admin magazine which offer all possible tools for linux + windoze (Macs are a different problem but if you can afford these then you can afford the repair bill)
Mark Rand23/08/2020 15:40:57
927 forum posts
6 photos

With a Dell, you get to the bios by pressing F2 when starting. keep tapping it as soon as you've turned the power on, so it gets read as soon as the keyboard is enabled.

clogs23/08/2020 16:08:14
582 forum posts
12 photos


.Hi...please read to the end....

I'm all Apple old 27 incher would not start up.....looked at google and concensus said the fault was the wiring pick up/connector to the screen.....apparently quite a fault for that model year......

took it to bits and found nothing......put it back in the box....

fast forward a couple of years and knowing I was moving to Crete thought I'd have one last I didnt wanna move junk.....

phoning around, nobody in France (comp repair shops) would touch Apple.....

so thought why not just take it to Apple themselves.....asked for a quote...this is France.....hahaha...

1 month later get a call to say it was repaired ....

THE COST was €50 euro's...they charge that to look at anything....well pleased....

50 dabs well spent.......

I have 2x27inchers, Mac Book, iPad, 4phones 6 thru 10, mini mac, and a tiny music major failures...ever...

Why did I go Apple, most of my friends produce videos for TV, music, art etc n they are all Apple....

basically I had so much grief with Windows and there last major cxxx up prior to windows 10 was enough.....

Apple were very expensive to buy in the early days but the rest have started to catch up price wise......

I'm quite happy overall but if something/system BETTER n Cheaper comes along I'll jump ship.....

going Apple has alowed me to keep what little hair I have left....hahaha....

glad there are people out there to help.....

Frances IoM23/08/2020 16:44:14
857 forum posts
26 photos
Clogs - yes had an Apple Mac (very early one) when I worked at Univ but the University pulled away because Apple would supply no parts or repair info - that said a close friend had a desire for an iPad - he had had a stroke so I bought one for him from PC World ready for his return from Hospital after a planned stay for rehab but he suffered a stroke + died in hospital as also did the Apple before he could access it - the Apple was less than 6 weeks old so I took it back to PC-World for repair etc - they were so uncooperative + refused to touch it so I took it to the Apple shop + explained what had happened they checked it out found a serious fault and replaced the machine at no cost to me so you do get something for the money.

Edited By Frances IoM on 23/08/2020 16:45:14

Edited By Frances IoM on 23/08/2020 16:48:47

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