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I have had this laptop for a long time (five years at least) and it hasn't had the best treatment over the years.

But over the last few months, it has been randomly completely shutting down, no blue screening, no steady shutdown, just black screen, then BIOS.

I think it might be happening as I do a save, but cant be sure, but recently it has been getting very annoying.

I did initially think it was an overheating issue, but the speed that it comes back online is staggeringly fast for it to have cooled down sufficiently. plus it has got incredibly hot before with no issue (since its been doing this).

Does anyone know what might be going on?

Dell Inspiron 640m, running Windows 7.

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See this question: Dell Studio 17 Heat Problems and this question: Dell Studio 17 Turning Off Suddenly. – studiohack Nov 22 '11 at 22:57
So, is it shutting down then booting back up properly? Can you clarify what happens after "then BIOS"? – iglvzx Nov 22 '11 at 23:19
@iglvzx it starts up completely normally, but does do the silly message complaining about how it wasn't shut down properly (start in safe mode or not), then it just starts like nothing ever happened. no windows warning messages, just a normal startup. thats pretty much it as far as what happens – topherg Nov 22 '11 at 23:28
anything of interest in event viewer? – Journeyman Geek Nov 22 '11 at 23:58
up vote 2 down vote accepted

In my experience, unexpected shut downs have been caused by faulty hardware, such as the RAM or hard drive. If it is a hardware issue, then it will be difficult to give you a clear-cut answer right away. My advice would be to run some diagnostics and see if you find any issues with your PC hardware.

Memtest seems to be the de facto software for diagnosing RAM. For hard drives, you can take your pick from the various S.M.A.R.T tools.

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Windows 7 has its own, accessible when you boot, or memtestx86 (the original isn't maintained iirc). For hard drives gsmartcontrol.I'd post this as a seperate answer, but its not substantively different. I'd also cast my eyes to the power supply – Journeyman Geek Nov 23 '11 at 0:00
@JourneymanGeek well, the battery has stopped charging today actually, but it has been doing this for much longer – topherg Nov 23 '11 at 0:04
hm, If the battery had been flat, and power cut out somehow... any loose connectors? – Journeyman Geek Nov 23 '11 at 0:09

Dell has excellent hardware diagnostics.

Run the Dell Hardware diagnostics from the bios

You can get the latest diagnostics available for that model here if you need to run from CD, make the bootable CD by burning the ISO to CD as an Image not data.

Or install this upgrade utility to upgrade the tools in the bios before you run it from the bios. Do this when you know the system is stable enough to complete the installation before a hard shutdown occurs. If you have doubts skip this and run from the current bios diagnostics or boot CD you make

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