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Inspiron 531 Boot Issue

I have recently been having problems booting my Inspiron 531. When I go to boot the screen reaches the BIOS but then goes to a black screen with a flashing cursor. This does not happen 100% of the time. Sometimes when the OS does boot (Vista 32bit SP1) the screen will go from bios to just a blank black flashing screen and then load vista. I have suspected drivers as the culprit but I seem to have everything updated as much as vista allows (I do use drivers from manufacturer websites when at all possible). I have my HD set as the primary and secondary boot device. I have made a few modifications to the system but didn't think these would make a difference. Of course my system is past the support date and I was not able to get online support from Dell. This machine was bought as a refurb.

Right now I'm suspecting a motherboard issue or a hard drive issue, but I'm really not sure...I plan on installing a new hard drive and installing XP SP3 to see if vista was the issue.


AMD Athlon 64 X2 6000 3.0 Ghz (and upgrade from stock 4400)

4 GB 667 DDR2 RAM

Vista 32 Bit SP1

Seagate Barracuda 250 GB drive

EVGA 8800 GT Overclocked Edition

500 Watt Power Supply (Upgrade over stock 400 watt?)

Sound Blaster Audigy 4 Card




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Re: Inspiron 531 Boot Issue

Hello bengrote, When the curser in the upper left corner of the screen is flashing, the BIOS is attempting to pass control of the system to the OS.

If for some reason, the OS is searching for a device driver or something else that it cannot find, the curser flashing will continue until the OS gives up and trys to boot. This does suggest there is a driver or OS issue.

You might check the Control Panel for any errors with any devices.

You might try to do a System Restore Point back to a time before this error occured.

If this fails, you could try to re-install the hardware drivers, just to insure none have become faulty.

Another option would be to do a re-install of the OS.

And the last option would be to do a Dell Recovery Restore. You would need to backup any data before performing this option.

Since this appears ocassionally, it may be difficult to identify and resolve.

I would set my CD\DVD drive as the first boot device and the onboard hard drive as the second boot device.

This may not have anything to do with the issue, but this is the preferred boot sequence.

Hope this helps.

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Re: Inspiron 531 Boot Issue


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Re: Inspiron 531 Boot Issue

Thanks for the input. I did update a Realteck HD audio driver and a driver for my D-Link 2320 wireless adapter (both considered optional by vista) and that seemed to take care of the flashing screen issue for now. I'm still having a cursor up in the corner of the screen but windows is loading faster than before. The vista loading failure has been sporatic but I'm hoping those updates fixed it, so I'd like to consider this issue only "possibly resolved" until I have a good number of sucessful boots. Smiley Happy   

1 Copper

Re: Inspiron 531 Boot Issue

I am still having the same boot issue. Now I am pretty sure it is a hardware failure. I cleared my hard drive and installed XP SP3 on it and I'm getting the same boot issue. I get to the bios screen which is staying up for a long time, then I get the flashing cursor, then the flashing screen then XP loads with no problem. I'm not sure what my problem is specifically at this point.

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1 Copper

Re: Inspiron 531 Boot Issue

Bengrote -- I've had the same problem on an Inspiron 530s since purchase in July 08. What's strange is that my hardware is all different - Pentium Dual-core 2.4GHz, 3GB 800MHz DDR2 RAM, 500GB Samsung HD501LJ HDD, running Vista Home Premium 32bit. Boot issues only happen about 1/3 or 1/4 startups, and never on restart. Whatever the problem is, it has manifested in various ways, have you seen any of these other msgs?

1) On pass from BIOS to OS, black screen with blinking cursor in upper-right-hand corner (like you described)

2) On pass from BIOS to OS, black screen with message "A disk read error occurred, press Ctrl + Alt + Del to restart"

3) On pass from BIOS to OS, black screen with message "Boot from CD: No boot device available, press ENTER key to retry" followed by a listing of SATA-0, -1 marked as "Found," and SATA-4, -5 marked as "Not found." Note that SATA-0 and -1 are my HDD and DVD+/-RW, respectively; SATA-4 and -5 are disconnected.

4) On pass from BIOS to OS, black screen with message "Notice - Hard Drive SELF MONITORING SYSTEM has reported that a parameter has exceeded its normal operating range. Dell recommends that you back up your data regularly. A parameter out of range may or may not indicate a potential hard. || Press F1 to continue, F2 to enter SETUP." The |'s represent line breaks.

5) Complete freeze at BIOS

I'm at a total loss, have spent around 12-15 hours on the phone with Dell trying to get this figured out, they've made me run through all kinds of exercises which expectedly and inevitably didn't fix a thing. They had me disconnect/reconnect power; disconnect/reconnect drives; disconnect all USB devices and boot up; run full diagnostics on HDD, which turned up negative; reinstall OS; install HDD patch. All WITHOUT ANY IMPROVEMENT. If they try to run you through the same steps, don't let them waste your time. I used to think the problem was internal to the HDD, but if you're experiencing with a Seagate 300GB, maybe that's not it. NOBODY there has been able to help me fix it. I gave up 2 months ago trying, and have just been living with it, doing a hard power off and power back on any time the boot freezes.

Has anybody else had this problem with Inspiron 530s or 531 running Vista??

It's ridiculous, my 1-year warranty will probably expire before this gets resolved.

1 Copper

Re: Inspiron 531 Boot Issue

I am having a similar problem with our Inspiron 531 running Vista.  Recently is it has been hanging up after the BIOS screen with a cursor in the upper left hand corner (especially common on "restarts").  Cutting power and trying again does not seem to help, but strangely, cutting power, waiting for 10 minutes and trying again usually succeeds????  I have no clue, but will be checking back to see if any more ideas come up.