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Solutions: Glitchy Dell could be the result of a bad motherboard

I have a problem with a Dell xps8300 Windows 7 64 bit that neither the Dell nor Microsoft answer desks can solve. When I first start the computer, the first task freezes, and I have to start Task Manager to end the process. The computer then displays the desktop icons normally and highlights the Start button, which was previously inactive. After that, browser, email, pdf reader all act glitchy. All other programs act normally. Dell has had me reload the operating system and even sent me a new hard drive, but no change. I did discover with answer desk that if you create a new user account the system will not even boot; it freezes at screen to select user.

If a Windows reload and a disk replacement did not solve the issue, my guess would be another hardware component is at fault. It could be memory or main board (motherboard) related. But first I would recommended checking the Windows System Event log. Click the Windows Start button and type Event, then click the Event Viewer link. Under Windows Logs, double-click System and then check the red error events for anything that may give a clue as to what is happening, something related to a memory or hardware failure.

There is also a diagnostic tool that can be accessed through the Dell Utility partition. As the system boots, press during POST and then from the utility partition's main menu under Run System Utilities, select Run System Diagnostics. You may need to check with your Dell documentation to see if this is the same for your particular system.

A failed memory test can be solved with replacement RAM from Dell. Any other failures related to the main board itself usually means the entire system needs to be replaced. If your system is still under warranty, continue to work with Dell support. If they can't solve it, ask for a replacement.

I have an HP notebook with Windows 7. There was no separate CD with Windows 7 when I purchased the notebook. I know I should back up my files in the event of a crash, but how do I backup my operating system and other installed software and install them if I needed to replace the hard drive?

Few systems today come with the OEM Windows DVD. HP includes a Recovery Manager program that will create the full operating system, device driver and initial factory image of the PC as it was when shipped. This usually takes at least two DVDs and will take some time, but it is important to do. You can also have HP send the disks particular to your system for a fee. As for any software you've installed after receiving the PC, make sure you retain the DVD and/or install image saved to backup disk or DVD as they need to be installed again when initializing a new system.

Another option is the Windows 7 backup. It allows an exact image copy to be made of your system as it is at that point in time. This includes the creation of a bootable DVD and an image store of your PC, preferably to an external USB hard drive. A typical backup scheme would be to create a new system image every few months with a Windows 7 incremental backup of data in between. I recommend all of the above.

Send questions to personaltech@tampabay.com or Personal Tech, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731. Questions are answered only in this column.

Solutions: Glitchy Dell could be the result of a bad motherboard 01/04/13 [Last modified: Friday, January 4, 2013 6:29pm]
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