Thank you for replying WR2. It was two short beeps.
I had just upped the memory to 2gb and it was working for for a couple of hours. The new RAM seemed to be recognised and working. I did an XP restart and got a blue screen. Now each time I start up it shows the initial DELL screen for a couple of seconds then appears to try to load, beeps twice and shuts down. I have tried the old memory back, but no change. I took out the CMOS battery for 15mins to see if it wold reset - no luck. Can't even boot off a LINUX os CD now. Flumoxed really.
WR2 - Sorry I forgot to tell you. The Dell boot screen with the bar only shows for about a second. Then screen is black. I can't get any response from F2 F12 F8 F10 or Del when this happens. I.e. no way to BIOS or safe mode, etc. Strange that it seemed fine for 2 hours with the new RAM. I am wondering if it has overheated in some way. It is a good minute before the 2 beeps follow.
I don't see how extra RAM would increase the heat enough to be the cause of any problems.
You've tried all the usual tricks in troubleshooting RAM issues I know about.
If you get a chance to test those sets of RAM in another laptop and they turn out good - I'd say that's pointing at an issue with either the motherboard or the RAM slots themselves (pretty much the same thing as the motherboard).
Well Thanks for trying WR2. I am just going to try all the RAM configs in the 2 slots (8 configs). I notice that the DELL 'loading bar' seems to get further sometimes than at others. I will also have a good look at the 2 slots themselves.
You should be able to take the HDD out of the laptop and attach it to a PC as an extra HDD there to work on it. That would also give you a chance to save any personal files or data you want to back up.
It would take a latop IDE drive to desktop EIDE adapter cable though.
And you probably don't have one laying around. Laptop to IDE Hard Drive Adapter Cable IDE / EIDE adapter
You should be able to look up your HDDs make and model number to confirm its a 44pin IDE model.
A quicker solution might be to use one of the Linux rescue disks out there.
You can burn a bootable .ISO image and hopefully gain access to the HDD that way.
I believe several of the Live CD distros have tools to work on Windows HDDs.
And you'd be able to work on getting any of your personal files and data off the HDD.
I have a LINUX rescue CD but the CD drive on the laptop is not working consistently. I got into the BIOS long enough to determine that it will attempt a USB boot, so will assemble something to try that. If I can see the HDD, it may be the best way to rescue the important stuff.
As a contingency, I am borrowing a caddy for the laptop HDD and it should have the correct cable. (My son used it to rescue his laptop data recently).
More or less as you said. Thanks for the links, I will find those very useful.
I think it is worth a go as there are a few important files on the HDD and I can't hear any clicking or other strange noises coming out of the drive. I am hoping that it is just the boot screwed up. The failure occurred on auto-restart from the XPSP3 install. Had previously cleaned it of a trojan and keyloggers found by security essentials. I have had XP mess up a boot like this before, so I am hopeful.