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Inspiron 5160 XP, sometimes instead of shutting down it instead restarts. Hardware? Software? What to do?

My computer has started to act strangely. When I try to shut down at night I will of course use the start menu, shut down and then click on shut down. But a lot of the time rather than shutting down it instead restarts.

As near as I can recall, this started happening after I finally upgraded XP to SP3. It now runs much better (it had been really slow and often the cpu usage would be 100% or close to that. Those problems seem to have gone away).

Another thing that I have noticed is that often when it is going to restart instead of just shutting down, after I click for it to shut down, i can hear the fan cycling up and down quiet and then reving up and cycling back and forth that way.  I had previously had heat problems with it shutting down 2 diferent times from getting too hot. i could feel the heat when I placed my hands on the keyboard toward the bck near the screen.  I finally found my compressed air duster and turned it over to look for opening to spray out. i found that the vent screen was partly blocked by dust. I sort of partly scraped it off and then I blew it out.  A lot of dust flew out. I then blew into any opening I could find.  Since then it has been running nice and cool.

I had posted this under software and gotten 1 response that suggested it might be hardware. The computer is going on 5 yrs old. The HD failed within 6 mo of purchase and was replaced.  a couple of years or more ago I had a lose ethernet connector which apparently was soldered to the motherboard as they replaced the motherboard only that was pretty lame. It was an outside contractor who just did software. He installed it and inserted a CD to update the BIOS to I think it is AO8, although it might be AO7. He didn't bother to check that they problem was fixed. He also didn't know how to set it so that the C and CD drives were set as boot drives. I guess when he upgraded the BIOS that was reset so I had to call tech support who told me what to do.

Oh, they had also sent me a new CD/DVD drive since it didn't always open or close properly and he installed that at the same time as the motherboard.

Sometimes it will shut down just fine, but other times the bottom bar on the screen goes away but my desktop wallpaper is showing then it momentarily gets a black screen and then I see the start up screen where the little bar shows the progress quickly. The first time that it happened, I thought that maybe I hand't been paying attention and had accidentally hit restart (come to think of it I think that had happend in the past quite some time ago). I think that time it restarted 2-3 times before I gave up and pushed the power button to just shut it down.

Also I just realized that I haven't been getting the normal shut down chimes. (Oh, that is triggering a memory that I can't quite bring to the surface that in the past I the start up chimes weren't coming on as normal. Turned out that was related to something else--I thougth it was the sound messed up but it was something else but I can't remember what.

Also the other day on boot up I got a black screen for awhile (not just the momentary one that I usually get) but then it finally continued on.

I've also noticed at times that the screen refresh isn't refreshing. this is particularly true when starting up and one thing is one the screen and then i open something else. the place where there was a box in one program sometimes would be a window with the desktop wall paper showing through.

I think that may have been before the upgrade to SP3--I haven't really paid attention to all those things as I'm just trying to use the computer.

I also had gotten some warnings--again I think this was prior to SP3--about a driver or something but I don't think it specified for what.

So does this sound like OS, other software, or hardware or a combination or?  And more importantly, what do I do about it?

I do back my computer up once a week to my external HD using Retrospect Express. Each time it runs there are 2 new restore points.

When I have magicJack plugged in ,the computer does not go to sleep, although the screen will go black when i am away. I run it as a desktop with it plugged in and with an external key board and mouse hooked up to usb hubs


1 GB RAM, Win XP Home, SP3, Comodo Firewall, Avast antivirus, A2 anti malware, Firefox 3.0.13, Eudora, magicJack VOIP

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