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Alexander: To utilize new parts, refurbished computers might require a BIOS update

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    Q: I bought a refurbished Dell laptop last June and have had problems with it ever since. The PC will get a blue screen and the error message includes the words "stop code" and "memory management." Then the PC will reboot. I've also had problems getting the PC to wake up from "hibernate mode." I worked with the PC seller for several months without solving the problem and now he no longer returns my calls and e-mails. What can I do?

    LYN CROSBY, West St. Paul

    A: One of the issues with refurbished computers is whether all the new replacement parts work with an older PC. In your case, it sounds as if the PC's RAM (computer chip) memory was upgraded, but the new RAM conflicts with something already on the PC.

    Where's the problem? Most likely, the PC's new RAM conflicts with the PC's outdated BIOS (basic input/output system) software that helps load the Windows operating system when the PC is turned on. The conflict can cause your PC to display a blue screen and the message "Stop Code: Memory Management," then automatically reboot. An outdated BIOS can also interfere with the PC awakening from hibernate mode, an energy-saving setting used when the PC is idle. (Hibernate problems can also be caused by other PC issues – see tinyurl.com/pdc3s7rx).

    If I'm correct, the solution is to update your PC's BIOS with a new copy that won't conflict with the RAM memory. You can do that for free through a Dell website.

    However, before you go to the trouble of replacing the BIOS, check to see if that update will solve your problem. Go to tinyurl.com/2p824mvb and in the search box type in the name of your Dell computer model. If you're not sure what model you have, download the Dell "SupportAssist" software from the same website and it will identify your PC model.

    Once you enter the PC model name on the website, you'll see a list of updates available for your computer. Click on the BIOS update, then click "view full driver details," then look under "enhancements" for the phrase "Improved memory compatibility for DDR4 2666Mhz memory DIMMS." If you find that phrase, downloading the updated BIOS should solve your problem.

    But before downloading the BIOS, do these things first:

    • Back up your PC's data to an external storage device, then disconnect all external devices such as disk drives, flash drives or printers.
    • If you run your laptop on its battery, make sure you have at least 10% power remaining.
    • If you use Windows BitLocker encryption software, turn it off. If you don't, you may not be able to access the PC's data after the new BIOS is installed.

    To turn off BitLocker, follow the directions for enabling the software (see tinyurl.com/2vcf6ytf) but turn it off instead. Allow 20 minutes to a couple of hours for the PC data to be decrypted.

    Then follow the directions under "How to update the BIOS on a Dell computer" (see tinyurl.com/2rv493jk).

    If installing a new BIOS doesn't solve your PC problem, use the diagnostic capabilities of SupportAssist to identify other computer problems or take the PC to a different repair shop.

    If that doesn't help, check to see if you have any warranty coverage. Unlike new PCs, refurbished ones don't necessarily come with a warranty. But for those that do, the warranty length may vary from 90 days (usually free) or longer (at additional cost.) If you still have warranty coverage, contact your original PC dealer or Dell.

    E-mail tech questions to [email protected] or write to Tech Q&A, 650 3rd Av. S., Minneapolis, MN 55488. Include name, city and telephone number.


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