My computer shut down during the night. When I tried to boot it, it keeps shutting down during the process. Each time I try the to boot, the process gets shorter and shorter. The fan is running. Is this computer done?
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Have you tried a System Restore/Recovery? Can you boot in safe Mode? Have you removed and tested the HDD? Do you have a Windows Repair Disk? How old is the Machine? May be time to replace the HDD? Has the Machine been losing time when you restart after a long shut down? Try replacing the CMOS battery. NTFS: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NTFS
Shuts down when? Right after you boot it up? Or does it run a while then shut down? If it shuts down after it has run for a while then the computer is probably running hot. Either the CPU Fan is not working or the Thermal Paste has dried up or is too thin to keep the CPU Cool. To prove it is running hot, let the computer sit for a while then boot it up. Once it boots up use it until it shuts down and immediately try to boot it up. If it does not boot up that means it's running hot. But if you let it cool off then try booting up you will be successful.
When does it shut itself off? Is this happening time you press the power button and during the boot cycle it shuts off without completing the boot to windows? If it shuts down after you've worked on it for a while it could be that it is running hot. If you let it sit a while to cool off then press the power button, if it completes the boot cycle and allows you to work it is definitely running hot. Normally when they run hot if you immediately try to reboot, it will fail. If you let it cool off it will boot successfully. Computers run hot because of a fan not working, dust clogging the fan vents or the Thermal Paste around the CPU and Heat Sink has become hard or too thin to keep the unit cool. If it's not running hot you might have a power supply or motherboard issue. Try removing the power cord and press and hold the Power Button for 30 seconds to release any Static Buildup. Then plug the power cord back in and try to reboot.
Does it just shuts down or it reboots?
If it shuts down this type of problems can be resolved by scanning the computer for a virus or using the Windows Repair Disks. During boot if you can hit F8 and use safemode with command and prompt.
1 Type CHKDSK/F then hit enter
2 Press Y then hit Enter then reboot to see if this works.
If it reboots while booting up then.
Other things that might be preventing the computer to boot up most likely is the memory.
Take out the memory put it on a different slot or try a new memory.
Also make sure that the power supply fans are not dirty this prevents the computer to bootup.
burn this disk as an .iso and boot from disk. try the recovery options on this disk first, and if nothing then you may be in need of a free OS install. you MUST keep all virus, spyware, and firewall up to date n order to keep your computer safe. free-avg.com does have a great free download.
Try booting up the computer pressing whatever key the Dell needs to boot into BIOS (F10, Delete key, F1...pay attention to the screen) and leave the computer on for about 15min. See if it cuts off then. If it does its more than likely your power supply. If it doesn't then its not hardware related.
It sounds like the heads that read your hard drive are deteriorating. If you have data that you need on the hard drive hook it up as a slave drive to another computer and save your data now. Because eventually you will no longer be able to access any data on the drive. Then you will have to send it to one of those data recovery places that use clean rooms to recover your data. That will be very expensive.
Or you might have a bad sector in bios. In that case, I am not sure what to do.
reseat ram if not i'd say to take 1 stick of ram at a time and start the computer with such might be a ram issue or run memtest 1.7 which can be downloaded here http://www.memtest86.com/ boot to cd once downloaded and burned to test ram