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When the system is going back into sleep mode what color is the power button flashing. It should like the system my not be going into sleep mode but have a more serious problem.
Also let me know what you see on the screen as you turn on the system.
Another thing to try is after you unplug the system hold down the power button for 30 to 45 seconds. This will reset the power state of the system. Note if you have the system plugged into a power strip you will want to reset the power strip too.
This is a problem with the BIOS of your laptop. You can do a BIOS upgrade by downloading the updated BIOS from the laptop manufacturer's website. If you close the lid and your laptop goes to sleep mode, your downloads will be halted since you system will go on to power savings-mode (most nics are disabled during this mode). What you can do is let your laptop sit during downloads but change the power savings mode to always on (RC on desktop>properties>screensaver>power>power scheme is always on).
Is there a reason why you cant turn off sleep mode and just let the screen saver kick in? You can do this by right clicking on your desktop and goto properties. Then ScreenSaver, then click on power.
Change these values to never and then go back and set your screen saver...
I've seen this on many Dell machines, and I've found no real fix for this. It seems that this function either works or it doesn't. You can do a restore back to a point that you remember it working properly, but eventually it will start doing it again. I've decided that this is a glitch with Dell's systems. You can also do a bios update from Dell's support site, sometimes this helps with the little glitch they pick up.