Skip to Content

Dell Laptop Keeps Restarting

I love using Dell laptops but I’ve had an issue with it where it will restart randomly when I’m using it. I’ve been working and tinkering on computers for a long time so today I thought I’d explain how to fix a Dell laptop that keeps restarting using my extensive research.

Overall, start by getting the event ID that is shown in the event viewer in Windows. The event viewer shows the record of events on a computer and Microsoft provides fixes for each of the events that cause it to restart. If it’s stuck booting this is a different issue, explained below.

Dell Laptop in the desk table

Unless you’ve got a tonne of experience using laptops it’s likely you don’t know how to see the event viewer and how to find the corresponding fix. So, below I’ll explain exactly how to do it in a way that even a person with very little experience using computers can follow along and complete the steps. As well as, explain how to fix a Dell laptop that is stuck restarting when you first turn it on or restart it.

Dell Laptop Keeps Restarting

There are two ways in which a Dell laptop can keep restarting. The first is that it will restart randomly while you’re using it, the other is that it will be stuck restarting when you first turn it on or restart it. Each requires a different solution, here’s what they are:

As a general rule, run diagnostics when it first turns on by tapping ‘F12’ on the keyboard repeatedly. This will enter a unique screen that has options, one of which is ‘Diagnostics’. If it restarts while it’s being used then check the event viewer for what caused the error.

Then based on what error it shows in the event viewer there will be a corresponding fix explained by Microsoft. This is a broad overview so I’ll provide full step by step instructions below for how to solve both of these issues with your Dell Laptop restarting.

The set of instructions below are for where your Dell laptop restarts randomly when you’re using it.

1. Access the event viewer in Windows to see what’s causing it

Press the ‘Windows’ key on your keyboard or click the Windows icon on the bottom left of your screen to open up the start menu. On the right of the start menu it has a bunch of options that say ‘Owner, Documents, Pictures’ and a few others. One of them says ‘This PC’. Right click the mouse or touchpad on ‘This PC’ and select ‘Manage’. I can take a bit of time to load and a new window will come up. On the left hand side it has a list of options.

One of these says ‘Event Viewer’. Double click on that and it will open up some more options below it. One that comes up is ‘Windows Logs’. Double click on that and it will open up some more options. It will show the following:

  • Application
  • Security
  • Setup
  • System
  • Forwarded Events

Click on ‘System’.

This will display a list of events that have occurred. Some will have a yellow icon on the left, whereas others will have a red exclamation point. Ones with the red exclamation point are the worst. It also records the time and date. You want to look for one that occurred at the same time that your computer restarted.

If you don’t remember when it occurred, then look for ones that have the red exclamation point as these are generally errors that will crash your computer. Otherwise, you may want to come back to this step once your laptop restarts itself again, so that you know exactly when it occurred. There can be a range of events, but what you’re looking for is one that has a red exclamation point, or one that occurred at the same time and date that your computer restarted. Each event has a corresponding event ID.

These event ID’s have descriptions and fixes that are available online from Microsoft. As well as, from other people who have websites dedicated to fixing these issues.

2. Find and apply the relevant fix based on what the error is

What you should do is make note of the Event ID, which is listed on the 4th column of the list. Also when you click on it will show the Event ID in the display box below the list of events. It will say ‘Event ID: ’ and then give a number such as ‘7’ or ‘2234’ as examples. With that number do a Google search for ‘event id the event ID you got microsoft‘.

That will bring up results. You’re ideally looking for a result from Microsoft, as these are generally the best, and answered by Microsoft employees. However, various forums and websites can also give very good answers to what the issue is. Apply the fix as described by Microsoft.

You can also contact Microsoft Support directly through their official website. In some cases this is a better option, especially if the answers that come up for the specific event ID that’s causing the issue doesn’t have a very good answer, or if you’ve tried the fix they provide and the problem persists.

The next set of steps are to solve the issue where your Dell Laptop keeps restarting when you restart it, and it doesn’t let you log in. This is known as a boot loop error.

Dell Laptop Restart Stuck/Loop

Frustrated woman looking at the laptop

The other way that a Dell laptop can restart on it’s own is it will continue to restart over and over again, rather than proceeding to the login screen. A summary of how to fix it follow by detailed step by step instructions are included below:

Run the Dell diagnostics tool to check for any errors with the internal components of your laptop. If no errors are detected, update the time and date, and boot options in the BIOS. When this hasn’t resolved the issue factory reset Windows, and where that doesn’t work uninstall and reinstall Windows.

Below, I’ll provide detailed step by step instructions for how to perform each of these steps. It’s important to do these in order as the first step most commonly is what causes the issue. And then I’ve included the subsequent steps ordered by how long they take to perform.

1. Run Diagnostics by pressing F12 repeatedly as it’s restarting

As your Dell Laptop is restarting, keep pressing the ‘F12’ key repeatedly on the keyboard of your laptop. This will cause your laptop to enter a new screen that has a list of options. One of these options which is provided by Dell is to run ‘Diagnostics’. This is one of the options that shows up when you press the F12 key repeatedly.

Using the arrow buttons on your keyboard highlight ‘Diagnostics’ and press the enter key on your keyboard. This runs a test to see if it can find anything wrong with the internal components on your computer. It will check different parts of your computer and give you prompts. For example, the first thing it will do is display colored bars across your screen, and then it will say ‘do you see colored bars on your screen’.

It will check each of the different components one by one, and then if it does encounter an error it will let you know. The most common issues that cause this problem where it keeps rebooting are that the harddrive or the ram is bad. When using your laptop you may have bumped or knocked your laptop which can make the harddrive loose. The error you will get from diagnostics is ‘harddrive not installed’.

If you encounter that issue I found this excellent video that describes how to clean, check the connections, and inspect your harddrive. You can watch it here. Each Dell laptop is a little bit different. If yours is significantly different to the Dell laptop in the video, then search Youtube.com for how to replace the harddrive and ram on for your specific Dell laptop.

If you perform all of the checks in that video and you still get the same error, then it means that your harddrive is faulty and you need to install a new one. The instructions for how to do that are also explained in that video. The same is true if you get an error that says something is wrong with the ram. The video for the harddrive also explains how to check and replace the ram.

However, it’s important to get the right ram for your Dell laptop. An excellent video that explains how to get the correct ram can be found here. According to laptop repair experts these are the most common causes of the boot loop error. However, if the Diagnostics tool does not reveal any issues then the next step is to check the following settings in the BIOS.

2. Check the time and date settings in the BIOS

Now, you’ll want to restart your laptop, and instead pressing ‘F12’, repeatedly press the ‘F2’ key as it’s restarting. This will cause your laptop to enter the BIOS. This is the software that is one step removed from your operating system. For example, from the BIOS you can install Windows, and other operating systems.

But, for now we want to check that the date and time is set correctly. If this is not set correctly it can cause many different issues with your computer. To do that there will be an option that says ‘Data & Time’. Each BIOS is a little bit different, so you may need to look around a bit to find it.

You may also have use of your mouse in the BIOS, however, some computers don’t. Therefore, you need to use the arrow keys on your keyboard, and the ‘Tab’ key on your keyboard. There will be on screen instructions for what keys to use to navigate around the BIOS. In the data and time make sure that the correct date and time is set.

If you updated it, try restarting your computer and see if that has resolved the issue. When the problem persists then enter the BIOS again by pressing the ‘F2’ key repeatedly. And follow the instructions in the next step.

3. Check it’s booting from your primary harddrive

Once you’ve re-entered the BIOS, one of the options is ‘Boot Sequence’. This tells the computer where to boot from as the first priority. Depending on how it was installed it might be set to boot off of the CD-ROM/DVD drive first rather than the internal harddrive which can be causing the issue. See what the boot priority is.

If the first priority that it’s set to is not the internal harddrive and is set to something else, change it so that the first priority is the internal harddrive. Then exit the BIOS, and restart your computer to see if that’s solved the issue.

4. Change the it from ‘Legacy’ boot to ‘UEFI’ boot in the BIOS

If it hasn’t then re-enter the BIOS by pressing the ‘F2’ key over and over again in quick succession as it’s restarting. Then go back to ‘Boot Sequence’. One of the other options is ‘Boot List Options’. It can either be set to ‘Legacy’ which can also be called ‘CSM’.

Or, it will be set to ‘UEFI’. Whatever it’s set to change it to the other. Then exit the BIOS and restart your computer. It’s common that switching between these two options will fix the issue.

It’s possible that the option to switch between these two ‘Boot List Options’ is disabled, and you need to enable it first. Instead of being able to select them it will be greyed out or won’t let you change it. To change this so it lets you change it first go to ‘Secure Boot’, which is the same list of items that ‘Boot Sequence is on’. It’s one level back from the screen you’re currently on.

Under ‘Secure Boot’ is an option which is ‘Secure Boot Enable’. Enter that screen, by clicking it or using the keyboard. And then enable it. Also, there is one more setting you need to enable, under the ‘Advanced Boot Options’ menu.

Which is one level back from where you just selected ‘Secure Boot Enable’. Then you can go back to the ‘Boot List Options’ and switch between ‘Legacy’ and ‘UEFI’. So, you can change it from whatever it was on, to the other option. Then exit the BIOS, and restart your laptop to see if this has fixed it.

5. Factory reset Windows

If you’ve run the diagnostics and there isn’t any error, and you’ve updated all the settings in the BIOS and you’re still having the issue where it will continuously restart then it’s definitely an issue with the Windows operating system. In this case you should first try to factory reset Windows, and if that still hasn’t fixed it, then you need to do a fresh install of Windows.

6. Reinstall Windows

After factory resetting Windows, if the problem still persists then you should reinstall Windows. It’s fairly easy to do, but does take a bit of time. 

However, the methods they suggest rely on you being able to already have access to Windows. However, with this issue where it continues to restart before you can enter Windows you can’t do it the way they suggest. Therefore, you need to do it from the BIOS, which is described in very good detail in easy to understand instructions. Bear in mind that you will need an external flash drive or a DVD to do this process.

However, if you’ve made it all the way to this step, then this is the only other reason why you can be having this error.

Dell Laptop Keeps Restarting When I Close the Lid

Frustrated woman looking at the laptop

Closing the lid on a Dell laptop will put it to sleep. When you open it again it should wake up on it’s own, when you press the enter key, or click the mouse. However, if it restarts as you close it, or when you open it again here’s what to do.

Go to the ‘Event viewer’ in Windows to check the event log. This will display the error that caused it. Once you know what the error is, you can apply the fix based on what the error is. The event viewer is accessed by right clicking ‘This PC’ from the Windows start menu, and selecting ‘manage’.

Exactly how to do it involves a few different steps. I’ve provided full step by step instructions at the top of this article. Scroll to just below the top of this article where it has the heading ‘1. Access the event viewer in Windows to see what’s causing it’. Follow that step and the step afterwards to see what’s causing the error and apply the fix to stop it from occurring.

There are two distinct ways that a Dell Laptop can restart itself and each requires different steps to fix it. The first is called a ‘boot loop’ error, where it will continue to restart before it gets to the login screen. The other is where it occurs mostly once you’re already logged into Windows.

Related Articles

Dell Laptop Keeps Freezing

Dell Laptop Sound/Audio Not Working

Dell Laptop Bluetooth not Working

Dell Laptop HDMI not Working

Dell Laptop Not Turning On