Computer on the fritz- HELP!

My laptop shut down several times yesterday and today for no reason I can discern. I have it on a cooling desk, so it shouldn't be overheating. It shut down again while rebooting, so I stuck it in the freezer. Which works better than throwing it out the window. When I took it out, it booted and ran startup repair, and the results were that an unspecified change to system configuration might be the problem. Uh-huh.

I've run virus scans, spyware scans, maintenance and repair, uninstalled new programs or those that have updated recently, but when I hit restart- kerblooey. I did have a microSD card in a slot for backups, and the system suddenly wouldn't let me remove it and didn't recognize that it was there. I ejected it anyway. Firefox started crashing and then wouldn't start at all, so I uninstalled that and am running Chrome just fine.

I haven't tried to reboot again to see if I still have a problem after removing the SD card, but raise your hand if you think my hard drive is just about toasted, or speak up if you have an idea I haven't tried yet.

2836 reads
Daniel's picture

Couple comments:
1. you shouldn't be putting your computer in the freezer. Computers can run at higher temps than you think. What is bad is the rapid temperature change.
2. Most newish computers have a hard drive self test in the bios that will tell you if your hard drive/memory is bad.

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

When I first got this laptop, it shut off quite a bit because of overheating. I had to keep it propped up all the time until I got a cooling desk. But next time I'll opt for the window instead of the freezer. Bleah

I'll try your second suggestion.

Daniel's picture

If it was getting to the point of overheating (which I believe for a lot of computers is over 200deg), you should have taken it back to where you got it. If it still gets that hot, I would not use it. That is way too hot. My MAC, when doing intensive applications, gets to about 170, and that nearly burns my fingers.

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

It felt very hot to the touch, but not burning hot. It's my first laptop, and I'd heard that laptops tend to overheat, so I wasn't all that concerned. It's out of warranty now, so there's no taking it back. The cooling desk solved the problem anyway- it doesn't feel hot at all now- just toasty warm when I'm running everything at once, or using the DVD player.

It started shutting off when I was updating iTunes and Adobe-IOW the computer shut down completely and would not Restart. It also shut down when I used Defraggler. I couldn't not get either program to work properly for days. After I did all that uninstalling/reinstalling yesterday, both are working fine. But like I said, Firefox quit working, so I switched to Chrome, which is great. And it hasn't shut down again since.

But- I'm nervous now about doing any updating/maintenance that requires Restart. What is weird is that I can shut it down completely, and it starts again just fine.

Larry's picture

Moderator

You might look up and try "WhoCrashed" ... It is a program that reads your dumps and tells you what devices or drivers may have caused your crash. On Vista or Win7, you have to right click and run as an administrator to get it to work. But it can be helpful at times.

Mike Durning's picture

Susan,

Please post manufacturer and model number. It will help us narrow the range of possible problems.

Mike D

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

Toshiba Satellite L355D running Windows Vista Home Premium

Thanks ya'll for helping me out. The computer hasn't quit yet today. Got my fingers crossed that I accidentally fixed something....

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

Larry wrote:
You might look up and try "WhoCrashed" ... It is a program that reads your dumps and tells you what devices or drivers may have caused your crash. On Vista or Win7, you have to right click and run as an administrator to get it to work. But it can be helpful at times.

WhoCrashed didn't detect any crashing- I checked the settings and am trying the troubleshooting measures on that site. Thanks for the suggestion.

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

I updated Glary Utilities, and when the computer restarted, it shut off again. I had to run Startup Repair to get it going again, and WhoCrashed didn't detect anything.

But if I shut down the computer, it starts again fine. It's just Restart that messes things up right now.

Larry's picture

Moderator

Are your memory dumps enabled? Check that and see. I can't imagine it just shuts down without a dump.

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

Small memory (not kernel) dumps are enabled. I checked the virtual memory settings for the paging file size- it's 3113 MB- is that large enough?

J Johnson's picture

3gB is plenty for a page file.

The big issue with putting it in the freezer is condensation.

A faulty hard drive will not make it shut down while restarting.
An IDE hard drive may cause it not to start at all, possibly intermittently but I would say unlikely.

You said that it forgot your SD card, and you had to do startup repair recently, and that you have been over heating.

It sounds like it did over heat, and parts are now damaged irreparably - explaining why different devices are being lost.

Or you may have gotten condensation on it, and shorted it that way.

But it started up after throwing it in the freezer. Either capacitors are staying charged and time healed that wound, or it was too hot and wouldn't start, or the contraction of cooling the components made them make contact again.

The gov't changed the law on solder a few years ago, and it caused problems with a Large number of video cards. They would get hot, the solder would come loose and allow the components to lose contact, or the components would just simply over-heat and fail.
I haven't heard of this - much - with motherboards and the like, but it is possible.

My best guess, the laptop is fried. You would have to replace the motherboard and possibly the CPU, and that's not cheap nor easy in a laptop. You can try reformatting and see if the problems go away, in case it's a virus - but it would have to be a BIOS virus to make it turn off during startup, and on a timer. Again, not cheap to fix - and you may have difficulty finding someone who knows how to check for that / fix it. So, even a reformat is probably useless.

You said you had a hard time restarting, did you have a hard time "cold" booting too? (NOT the freezer trick.)

If it wouldn't cold boot either, unless your RAM is ECC, I think you can rule out that you have bad RAM. You would have to make an ISO of Memtest to find out, though - you cannot reliably check it within windows.

I don't know for sure about laptops, but I know with desktop CPUs you don't want to be at 170F.
With AMD, I believe the 'safe' limit is 62C and they start to burn at 70C. Intel is supposed to be higher, with their newer CPUs - I think around 70 / 80. Regardless, I wouldn't trust it at 170 - 200F.
Considering that you have a laptop, I seriously doubt that the heatsink came loose from the processor. So, if it was overheating, that means the fan failed or you somehow plugged up the exhaust.. Again, I vote that your machine over-heated and 'died.'

Hopefully I'm wrong, and someone else can give you the answer.

The problem is, even if you found an error log, why didn't it start up? Drivers are not enabled before it starts loading windows. Your computer turned off during reboot.

In summary:
I bet your laptop is dead.
You can try reformatting, but that will likely fail given your explanation.
You can replace the hard drive, but that is also very unlikely.
You can test the RAM, if you have the knowledge of how to make an ISO and boot from CD.

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

My laptop got glitchy long before I stuck it in the freezer. The first time it died was either during a reboot after updating iTunes or after running Defraggler. After Startup Repair and System Restore, it was fine for a few days, then Adobe wouldn't open .pdf files. Adobe needed updating, and on restart the laptop went kablooey. Hence the freezer trick- which may be an urban legend, but it was worth a shot.

It is running fine as long as I don't restart it. I can shut it down and it starts up fine. I don't think it is overheating- the fans are clean and the cooling desk is keeping the temp down. All my programs are working- iTunes, Adobe (after I uninstalled and reinstalled), and I haven't run Defrag (I removed Defraggler during my system of elimination process and I haven't reinstalled it yet).

Bottom line right now- It only dies during restart, but after the first boot screen comes up (on mine it has the Toshiba logo and the boot menu at the bottom).

J Johnson's picture

Run memtest and HDTUNE.
HDTUNE will give you HDD SMART info.