Laptop gonna die?


Well-Known Member
Jun 2, 2006
I've just Googled this and it seems like the answer might be overheating, but I'm not sure.

I have my laptop on pretty much all the time as soon as I get home from work. It works fine. Then today randomly, I left it for a minute to do something and when I came back to it, it had turned itself off. (Which puzzled me, cos I had no recollection of turning it off.) When I turned it on it did all the 'choose to start Windows normally' thing.

Worked fine since, until just now, when I put it down to get up to let the dog out. When I came back to it, it had turned off. Why's it only doing this when I'm not looking?!

So, any ideas? Is it gonna die? I've just saved some of my work, just in case.
In both cases, it turned itself off when you weren't looking. Have you scanned for ghosts?
Seriously though, you may be right. My previous laptop did that, and the frequency increased until it wouldn't turn on again. Have you run scans? (for viruses)
Obvious questions first

Was it on battery power?
Did you close the lid at all?

If it asked if you wanted to start windows normally then it means it didn't shut down properly, so either it closed itself due to power issues (or possibly over heating) or someone or something turned it off most probably by holding down the power button, could anything have done that? I'm imaging a small mouse crept onto your keyboard and stood on the power button for a while :)
Alc: Nope. I did have something pop up the other day that said 'attack blocked.' I'll run one now.

Moonbat: It's running off the mains, and the lid was up. Nothing could've held the power button down.
Yeah I think I will, springs!

I'm 85% through the virus scan and nothing so far.
My laptop used to do this on occasion: the clue - if one didn't hear the slight click - was that the hard disk light stopped blinking on and off. (And before I realised that I could hold the power key down for ten seconds to make sure the system was switched off - I wasn't sure, as the power light remained on - I found myself gingerly removing the battery to make sure.)

Last Thursday, this started happening again, to the extent that only on every fifth (or sixth or seventh) attempt would the machine keep working (and then only for up to ten minutes, giving me time to make sure I'd grabbed all my data files). On Saturday I bought a replacement - a desktop (to eventually replace my old desktop** when I get a new laptop***) - and only finally got it working**** yesterday.

** - This is located somewhere with no Internet access and it's probably too fragile to be moved about.

*** - I don't like to be rushed into buying what will become my main machine.

**** - I spent most Tuesday afternoon trying to find a driver for my HP printer. It seems that you have to search for ages until you find the official download - the one Windows update supplied didn't work - and then this found one doesn't work: no double sided printing. (And life being what it is, manual double sided printing on a printer that should do it automatically is nigh-on impossible.) More searching on the Internet (mostly on threads complaining about HP's lack of concern that their older printers don't work with Windows 7) led me to a solution: uninstalling all the useless drivers I'd downloaded and replacing them with a HP driver for Vista. Another half hour's getting nowhere finally reminded me that I had to configure the printer for double-sided printing before I was even offered the option when wanting to print something, and the day was gone. :(

And did I mention that for the first couple of days, I was getting a poorer-than-dial-up service from my broadband? (Luckily, the downloads from M$ and HP came at full speed and one of them seems to have solved the problem. Eventually.)

So, for the moment, everything seems to work. :)

But if you discover that this is the work of a virus, Mouse, it would be good to know: it would save me having to buy a new laptop.
Was there any particular program running on the occasions? Graphics intensive applications can make a laptop keel over.

Could also be a new windows feature.
Worked fine since, until just now, when I put it down to get up to let the dog out. When I came back to it, it had turned off. Why's it only doing this when I'm not looking?!

So, any ideas? Is it gonna die? I've just saved some of my work, just in case.

I have a laptop that displays the same characteristics. In my case it's about 4+ years old. So in human years this thing is a geriatric 80 or so.

Windows machines (although I'm sure Apple is the same) will have a power option that if the machine is left after a certain length of time and not touched will go into 'hibernate' mode - which should, goto minimal power and when you touch the keyboard will fire up again and usually ask you for a password to access the computer again.

However I think, it being an oldster (it's 4+ years old, a geriatric really), it gets completely 'confused' because of the accumulated crud of programs that it has amassed and somehow it enforces a restart instead.

Possibly you could look at your power options and force it to not hibernate (at least try it and see if that's the issue)

...on the other hand, 9 out of 10 problems I've ever had with computers is to do with overheating - especially with graphics cards. Having the computer near a window so that the sun can heat it up and in a room with a high ambient temperature is usually enough to crash it and generate the dreaded BSoD on my desktop, if I am not careful.
This happened to me, Mouse, twice. So I bought a little stand for mine, now it sits nine inches above the desk, with plently of airflow around it - oaky you need a separate keyboard, which is fine by me, as I hate the laptop one. No problems in the last 18 months and laptop is about 4 years old...
Ursa, no virus, all clear.

Gully, the only thing running was Firefox.

VB, it's not hibernating. The first time it did it, that's what I thought it had done, but it wouldn't come back on until I turned it on with the power button. When it hibernates, it doesn't do this.

Boneman, trouble is, I use my laptop on my lap. I sit on the sofa with it so can't have a stand or anything. I was looking at external cooling fan thingies, but then don't think I'd be able to use it on my lap.


Thanks all.
Take a vacuum cleaner to the fan inlet and outlets. Mine did just what yours was doing and the inlet / outlets were clogged with dust.

Always try and ensure that you use the thing on a hard / smooth surface to ensure good airflow around the vents. If you have to use it on your lap be aware of were the vents are.

When you put it down, did you put it on a soft surface, like a sofa or armchair? These tend to reduce airflow.
Ursa, no virus, all clear.

VB, it's not hibernating. The first time it did it, that's what I thought it had done, but it wouldn't come back on until I turned it on with the power button. When it hibernates, it doesn't do this.

So it definitely hibernates properly as well? (unfortunately that doesn't mean that that might not be the problem - because it could be caused by a software glitch that only happens periodically/randomly as I've found with mine... :()

Does it crash and switch off at any point when you're using it, or only when you've left it alone?

Another possiblity is that you have a damaged piece of hardware - (if you are lucky something easy to replace, like RAM) - but to be honest it doesn't sound like it.

I still go for overheating, has to be.

Just remember to back up all your data off the laptop, regularly, in case it's worse, and if it's making a lot of noise via the fan and it's getting burning hot, think about switching it off and cooling it down.

I've melted RAM and graphics chips pushing my PC through stages where it sounds like the refrigerator heat exchangers at the back of a Tesco supermarket. :D
Mouse, I sit on the sofa with my laptop, too, but with a couple of cushions between it and my lap/knees to bring it to a convenient height and stop me getting burned. But this regularly causes it to get too hot and the whirry fan thing makes a lot of noise -- so when that happens I move it around a bit so the vents aren't covered, and every so often when I'm thinking rather than typing I shut the lid and turn it upside down, which helps it cool off.
You guys need to invest in a laptop cooling pad, because on the long run, it will save you probably ten times as much money on a new laptop. It's comfortable on the lap, and the cooling-pad regulates the heat.


Also, just as a precaution, I would clean my documents from any sensitive info and personal pictures, because you don't want your repair-guy snooping through your stuff when your laptop does decide to perish.
Mosaix, yeah I put it down on the sofa normally. I didn't really think about blocked vents and whatnot. I'll try that.

VB, it hasn't done it today, but I've not left it alone yet. So it doesn't seem to happen when I'm using it. The fan does seem particularly loud. (As for heat, I can't really tell. I'm a bit impervious to heat).

TJ, I'll try that when I put it down!

Yog, I looked at those, but wasn't really sure what I was looking at.

Don't know what kind of laptop you have, but I have an HP for which I just got the longer lasting battery. A plus of that (my old battery decided to die) was that it now sits about an inch off my lap or desk, making it much cooler. (heat wise, looks wise its a bit dorky.)

But I would agree that setting it on the couch is likely the culprit. Computers are much better with heat than they were 20 years ago, but it's still always a concern.
It's an Acer Aspire and it's a massive 17.3" so not sure those cooling thingies are big enough. I keep lifting it off my lap every now and then now, and don't put it straight down on the sofa so it doesn't overheat.

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