If the user profile fails to load, the SAM won't load the password. When this happens, there's a very good chance a failing hard drive is at fault.
Power the system up, press F12 a couple of times and boot to the Dell diagnostics. Run the tests, and then boot to the full 32-bit diagnostics and run an extended hard drive test - you will likely find the drive has developed bad sectors where the user profile is stored, in which case you'll need a new, 2.5" 7 or 9.5 mm SATA notebook hard drive.
Thank you - tried that twice (once with FN F12 and once just F12) immediately after powering on and it doesn't seem to recognize it before getting to the login/password page. Anything else I can try? Thank you!
Just to clarify, I turn on my computer and then immediately hold down the D key until it reacts and not do anything now with the F12 or FN keys? I'm not too computer/tech savvy so just want to make sure i am understanding. Thanks!