Windows 8 shut down while defragging and won't boot properly

I'm kind of freaking out. I was in the middle of defragging Dell inspiron 15 laptop running windows 8.1 64-bit and I had to leave and I accidently closed the lid, which shuts down my laptop. Upon returning to my laptop, I realized my mistake when I tried booting the laptop up, it turns on, but all I see is a blank screen with the cursor and the occasional flicker of the wifi symbol you see in the lock screen. I have no idea what to do, does anyone have any ideas?

I have a recovery USB stick, as the laptop doesn't have a CD drive.


Fantastic Member
Premium Supporter
Hi Daniel,
Rather odd no one answered this one for you here, as it's very commonplace problem indeed. I have multiple Customers who have the same model laptop as you with both Win8 & Win8.1 pre-installed on it.

May I ask what program were you using to defrag your hard drive? This can make a difference if you don't use a good one. Also, if you didn't run the laptop in SAFE MODE, defrag normally won't complete on modern laptops due to all the varioud device drivers and other junk the laptop manufacturer loads when Windows is loaded and the laptop is first turned on.

Also, I don't recommend setting your laptop to POWER OFF when you close the laptop lid for this very reason. When the defrag program is running (the built-in Windows program, or other similar) your hard drive is doing reads and writes to the drive usually at the same time. Powering off the laptop during a drive read is BAD, but powering off the laptop during a drive write can often be CATASTROPHIC!!! Once you get your problem fixed and the laptop running again, I urge you to change the behavior of your laptop to put it into sleep mode or hibernate mode when the laptop lid is closed to prevent this problem from occurring again.

Next, you have a couple of challenges in trying to repair this type of problem. The first is you have no CD drive with which to run advanced drive diagnostics, and the 2nd is you don't have a method of backing up all of your personal data mentioned.

Let's take the 2nd problem first; before trying to correct this type of problem, it is CRITICAL THAT YOU BACK UP ANY AND ALL PERSONAL DATA TO EXTERNAL MEDIA PRIOR TO TRYING TO TROUBLESHOOTING THIS DRIVE PROBLEM!!! External media can be a usb flash drive, external cd/dvd burner drive, external hard drive, online cloud storage account such as Google Drive or Microsoft One-Drive. And, even if you just replace the existing drive with a brand new one, you should have this done, as you will have to move all of your old information on the original drive over to the new drive, once you get Win8.1 booting again on the laptop.

On the first problem, you can substitute using a CD/DVD disc for the drive diagnostic by purchasing a 8GB or better usb flash drive *which is just like your Recovery Drive, but blank*. These can be had for $5-$15 at Radio Shack, Staples, most computer stores such as Best Buy. You'll need to use this new flash drive to install SEATOOLS drive diagnostic on to test your existing hard drive.

Ok, you now have the basic parameters in place to start your troubleshooting process. You'll have to go to SEAGATE.COM and download the free SEATOOLS drive diagnostic, and download it onto another working computer you have access to. Since you're laptop is not booting Windows you'll have to do this. There will be instructions on how to get the SEATOOLS diagnostic onto a usb flash drive on the download page. This takes a little more skill than just creating a CD disc with the diagnostic on it, so you may need to get some help. I recommend using the WiNToBootIC free tool to create the usb bootable setup with the SEATOOLS diagnostic on it. If this is beyond your skill level to create, you may be able to borrow one of these from your local computer repair shop.

Next, here is what you have to do to test your hard drive:
Download the free SEATOOLS program from and run BOTH short and long tests. If SEATOOLS returns any errors, your hard drive has failed and must be replaced.

If your hard drive passes SEATOOLS, then a Windows reinstall should fix this problem. I suggest you use your Factory Recovery USB stick or built-in Recovery Partition to do so, otherwise you have to go with a lengthy driver download and installation process which can take 1-3 days to do and is only for experts. All Dell Inspirons *3000, 5000, & 7000 series have built-in Recovery Partitions for the OS.

If SEATOOLS finds a failure on your drive, then you have killed it and it must be replaced.:( This is a User replaceable part, which requires you to remove a small panel on the bottom of your laptop. You'll need some jeweler's screwdrivers which can be had at your local Radio Shack or Hardware store for under $10. There are usually 1-4 screws for the plastic panel that must be removed and 1-8 additional screws that alsom must be removed from your existing hard drive to swap it out with the new one. If you've never done this before, I suggest that you do not and take it to your local Computer Pro and have him do it for you instead.

Once you replace the hard drive, set the old one aside for future data recovery, unless you were foresightful enough to have all your stuff on that laptop backed up to external media as I mention in the beginning of this post.

After replacing the drive, use your Recovery usb flash drive and reinstall Win8.1. If this is a Dell factory made Recovery usb, it will reload Win8.1 and drivers and all other programs that originally came on the laptop when you first opened it's box.

At this point, Win8.1 should boot and make sure you can get the Internet. From here, you simply have to reinstall all the programs you've installed since you purchased the laptop new. After that, you'll need to restore all the personal data I mentioned that you should have backed up to external media over to the newly installed drive. This process for most folks can take from 3 days to 3 weeks; as some people have several hundred programs installed. If you have your Library folder backed up, all your downloaded programs from the Internet will be in a folder called DOWNLOAD or MY DOWNLOADS, and reinstalled onto the new drive at this point.

Unfortunately, if you did not take the time to backup all your personal data your will have to perform data recovery on that old broken drive. Post back for instructions on how to do this. If you've never done this before, it takes expert level skills to perform, and you'd be best served to pay your local Computer Pro to do this. Data Recovery runs $35-$100 or more if the drive is still spinning; $250 and up if is not spinning or making horrible grinding noises.

Post back and let us know how it goes or if you have any questions along the way.

Best of luck,

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Essential Member
Microsoft Community Contributor
One option if you are going to restore your drive and want to save your data is a Hard Drive to USB converter.

I see the one that I was going to suggest isn't available anymore.

But something like....

This depends on your hard drive being readable, but not on Windows or the boot sector being intact.


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