We had such serious problems with a Dell XPS M1330 laptop running Vista x64 that we felt it would be a crime not to share and save others the torture! Besides the usual BSODs now and then which weren’t nearly as scarce as we’d like, we had several issues that just could NOT be solved short of a complete system reinstall, and this was after exhaustive work trying registry hacks and other system checks (bootup dell diagnostics, all the hard drive checks,chkdsk/surface scans/low-level scans, SFC scannow checks, system recovery mode/safe mode, previous registries..), also  system restore to a previous point did not solve them either.

Problems exhibited by the client’s system:

1. Integrated (Creative?) Webcam no longer working in Skype (for video you got a static kitten instead!).  External USB webcams were not recognized either (we tried Creative and Logitech also). (We tried everything conceivable here, nothing worked, completely removing, cleaning all registry keys etc…nada…)

2. Power Profiles seemed corrupted somehow. (Unable to even update BIOS because it thought it was running on batter when in fact it was AC connected and battery was indeed charging.)  Power Options showed “Your power plan information isn’t avaliable” and a Red X.  When used on battery, the laptop would no longer give low battery warning but just TURN OFF all of the sudden causing possible data loss or corruption. (restoring proper power options proved futile regardless of any microsoft certified steps that supposedly should have worked..)

3. Secure VPN connections no longer working. No particular error given, which wastes your time trying to see if the problem is wrong password or other authentication problem with the VPN server. Turns out that all the WAN PPTP miniports were hosed. (they could not be removed and re-added, though we got them to show up in hardware device manager using some methods, it didn’t solve the connection issues and they would again disappear from device manager, we believe after certain connection attempts.)

Needless to say we were able to hand back to the client a fully working system with ALL these issues RESOLVED! (We ended up having to backup/move all the client’s data and login profiles etc, and do a FRESH FACTORY REINSTALL and then restore all the client’s data and personal profiles to the system.)  Hopefully this info may save some of you countless hours of frustratingly cursing Microsoft by going with the factory reinstall option from the start.

There was one other issue the client was having which we easily fixed from BIOS settings even before having to do the factory reinstall to fix the other problems, and that is the laptop LCD screen would get very dim upon plugging in the AC adapter and using the function keys to turn up the brightness wouldn’t work. Unplugging the AC adapter would make the screen bright and very readable again, seemingly a reversal of what it should do, to be brighter plugged in and dimmer on battery to extend maximum run time.