I bought an XPS8100 about a year ago. Installed Win7, etc. et al. Generally has worked fine. However, twice now (yesterday, and a few months ago) I've had the following weird problem occur:
Windows crashes (nothing more useful than "BSOD" BUT hardware completely restarts either way on its own), and when the hardware is restarted, Windows will not load. BIOS works, Intel RAID controller shim loads, but Windows either refuses to start (seemingly hangs with empty cursor on blank screen) or is very slow (read: 30+ minutes), eventually gets to GUI "Windows Loading" but hangs there forever. BIOS looks ok (disks there, etc.). Physical power off, reseat internals, etc., and still same symptoms.
Now the weird part. I restart, and on startup, I press F12 for boot options, and run basic diagnostics. When it asks to run extended memory diags, I say yes. Results: EVERYTHING is OK. Now, when I reboot? Windows starts up quickly and with NO problems AT ALL.
So: Why does running diagnostics (after a complete power off and unplug didn't work) somehow fix the issue. Is there any kind of nvram type thing that diagnostics might "reset?" Any other ideas as to cause (since diags turn up nothing)?
What's the blue screen error? It would be worth running the diagnostics from your Dell drivers and utilities disc rather than the F12 partition. BE SURE you have disconnected any non-essential peripherals. Only the keyboard, mouse and monitor.
Thanks Osprey. I will try the Dell Diags as suggested, although I can't do so for a few days. The BSOD error wasn't indicated clearly, and I used that term loosely. The system crashed overnight while I was asleep, and was in a recovery state (safe mode, yada yada). During that first boot process, I let it sit for a long time, and eventually got some non-standard looking message that said reason for the crash: BSOD (with nothing else useful). At that point it wanted to load drivers to see the disks, and I didn't follow that process (was a little paranoid just in case of virus, not knowing why the crash); Instead I restarted a couple times, ran diags, and was prepared to recover via dvd boot of original media. But the bios diags seemed to have fixed the issue.
I'm wondering if the dell diags will show anything now, since problem is gone, but will run anyway and try to report back!
The Dell diagnostics only check for hardware problems, so if there was a hardware problem, it should get picked up.
If no hardware problems are indicated, then it would be time to look for a software issue.
Agreed. But that's what I don't get. Why would the F12 boot options diagnostics fix anything at all. Aren't the boot option diags hardware only too? And after at least 6 cold boot attempts, why did it work right after the diags? The first time this happened, I chalked it up to a fluke. But the second time?
I was on the fence for classification of this. Sounds "windows"/software like in that that's where it slowed down/failed to me. But running hardware diags fixes it?
And what I meant by dell's diags potentially not finding an issue is that the "problem" symptoms are no longer present and I wonder if no symptoms == no found problems. but we'll see.
The Dell diagnostics do not run within Windows, so software issues don't muddle the findings.
There could also be an intermittent problem, such as a loose cable or poorly seated card or RAM module.