My name is Mike, Iím a Technical Analyst located at Dell corporate headquarters in Round Rock, TX. Iím part of an internet outreach team developed to interact with the online community regarding technical questions and issues that customers face with Dell products. I read about your problem and wanted to offer some suggestions.
Before we get started looking into options I am going to suggest that you take the time to back up the information on your hard drive as this may be a sign that the OS is starting to crash completely, and data retrieval will be much more involved and difficult at that point.
It most certainly does sound like this is a software issue. Specifically, it seems like a corrupt user profile or Internet Explorer. A quick and easy way to check and see if itís a profile issue is to go into the Control Panel as an admin and create another user account, then logoff and go back in under the newly created one. Open IE and attempt to access the Internet Options. If they pull up then the problem is the user profile in which you can just copy your information over to the new profile and simply delete the old one. Now, if you get the same problem under a new profile then itís more then likely a corrupt IE file. You can try reinstalling IE with the Microsoft instructions here
. This calls for registry editing which can get fairly complicated for even experienced users, so if it looks like something you donít want to attempt, donít, especially if your system restore options are not working.
If the instructions for reinstalling IE donít work, or you just donít feel comfortable playing with the registry, then you may want to attempt a repair install of Windows. This is not a clean install; it will only repair altered or corrupt Windows files which include IE. For instructions on performing the repair install check Microsoftís KB article here
If all else fails then a back up and clean install would probably be best. I know this is the most time consuming of all, but in circumstances where OS files are becoming corrupt it may be the best solution. Since weíre still unsure of what caused the corruption there is a chance that it may still be somewhere in the OS and running the fixes may only be a temporary solution. If the fixes work, great! And you always have this information to come back to if the corruption repeats and you want to do a clean install. Also, depending on the model of your system, you may have a hidden partition on the hard drive that carries a complete image with drivers and preinstalled programs (just like when you took it out of the box) that makes the reinstall process MUCH easier. If a complete reinstall is the way you want to go try booting up the system and when you see the DELL screen push and hold the <Ctrl> key and then tap on the <F11> key. If the image is on the drive this will access it and begin the process. It will erase your hard drive and everything on it so make sure you have everything backed up! If you use the key command and nothing happens, try it again as you may have just missed the time allotted to activate the partition. If it continues to just boot to Windows then you probably donít have the feature and would need to reinstall via the OS CD. I hope this information is helpful.
Dell customer advocate