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Random Laptop Shutdowns

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by mtlca20891, Aug 1, 2011.

  1. mtlca20891

    mtlca20891 Private E-2

    Sorry for the long post...

    I'm not sure if anyone will be able to help me with this issue as it could probably be the result of a number of problems but I figured I should try to get some help before disassembling the computer and possibly messing it up even worse.

    So I have a Dell Latitude D620. I've had it for probably over 5 years or so, I can't remember. For the past several months I've been having a problem where the laptop will randomly shut off. But it won't completely shut off. The screen will go black, the operating system will stop, the WiFi will shut off (bluetooth stays on), the fan still spins and the power light stays on. I'm not sure if the hard drive stops spinning but I'm assuming it does since the operating system is no longer running. The problem started when I brought the computer home from a class, I must have banged it during the commute and damaged something.

    I own a docking station. I can attempt to turn the computer on while it is not docked and sometimes it will boot completely and sometimes it won't even pass loading the BIOS before shutting off. If it does boot and I even so much as move the computer it will shut off immediately. Now when docked I usually have just as hard a time getting it to boot completely but if I move the computer around and press it firmly into the dock I can get it to boot and stay on. If I remove the computer from the dock it will stay on until I attempt to move it around. I had it on for over two months straight recently until I put it on standby today and started experiencing the problem again after waking it up.

    I'm running XP SP3 but I don't think any specific info about the computer will really help since it doesn't matter what I'm doing when it shuts off. I am almost positive it is not a memory issue or a hard drive fault so I'm thinking that there is a connection issue somewhere (possibly to the harddrive). Also, the laptop has always run very hot. I know that's an issue itself but I don't think overheating is really the cause of the problem. If anyone could point me in the right direction it would be great. Thanks
  2. Tueur

    Tueur Sergeant Major

    My first thought is over heating. What sort of temps are we talking about? In a laptop of that age it is entirely possible that the innards are gummed up with dust and dirt. I would suggest a strip down and clean to start off with.

    I dont know if you have found it yet but Dell publish there service guides on the net (link below). Just pick the component you want to remove and click on the link. (system board is probably the best one as it will get you right down to the guts)


    If this doesnt help my next bet would be hard disk. It would be helpful to know the make and model HD so we can point you to the right diagnostic tool.
  3. mtlca20891

    mtlca20891 Private E-2

    Thanks for the link, should come in handy. The reason overheating seems unlikely to me is because I can let the laptop sit for any amount of time to cool down but if I even get windows to start, any movement of the computer will cause it to shut off. Although overheating may sometimes be the cause of a shutdown I don't think it's the root problem.

    The harddrive is a 160GB Seagate Momentus SATA drive but I've run disk checks and the harddrive doesn't seem to have any faults.

    As for the temperature I saw it goes as high as 79C according to RealTemp (thermal status was listed as OK). I realize this is probably too hot but I just let the computer cool down and was running in the 67-72 range. I undocked the computer and it immediately shut off. I'm thinking there's a connection issue somewhere, possibly to the harddrive. I just don't know how to tell exactly where it is.

    Also, I've experienced shutdowns due to overheating before. The next boot will give me a message telling me that's what happened. I don't get anything like that anymore
  4. mtlca20891

    mtlca20891 Private E-2

    Now that I think about it, 67C is still extremely hot... Could this be right?
  5. Dougster

    Dougster Private E-2

    I have an ADVENT 5611 running a Mobile Intel Pentium Dual-Core T3-200.

    It boots at about 70C (monitoring with Core Temp) and shuts down at 100C.

    Not had a chance to open it for a clean yet. I think it may be the GPU that's getting hot. :(

    Good luck.
  6. jools1976

    jools1976 Specialist

    If you wanted to isolate the HDD as the issue, you could boot to a LINUX based OS using something like Parted Magic or Ubuntu. They run off of RAM, so if that resolved the issue it would be fair to assume its the HDD connection. That being said, personally, I would tend to agree with the others in saying it's an overheating issue.
  7. plodr

    plodr Major Geek Extraordinaire

    It sounds like something is getting an intermittent connection. From banging it around, you might have loosened something.

    If you are brave enough, open up the laptop and check all the connectors and wires to be sure they are securely seated.
  8. mtlca20891

    mtlca20891 Private E-2

    Thanks for the replies. Looks like I'm going to have to open it up. It's pretty much unusable in this state. I'll check the connections and give the inside a much needed cleaning. If none of that works it's probably time for a new PC anyway
  9. jools1976

    jools1976 Specialist

    If you go the Linux route first, you could at least eliminate the HDD as the issue. Just a thought.
  10. mtlca20891

    mtlca20891 Private E-2

    Well I managed to fix it. I took the laptop apart completely, removed the large clump of dust clogging the fan and applied new thermal paste. Temperature's down 20-30 degrees in the 40-50 range now and the laptop doesn't shut off when moved anymore. I'm still not 100% on the overheating vs loose connection issue but I didn't spot any loose connections when doing this. It is odd how it just decided to stop working all of a sudden after 5 years of running as hot as it did though. Anyway, thanks for the help
  11. jools1976

    jools1976 Specialist

    Glad to hear you got it fixed up dude.

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