Top Tip: What’s making my laptop freeze?

Tips used for Top Tips come from the ExtremeTech forum and are written by our community.

Question from rogthefrog:

“Ever since I bought this laptop, it has had the annoying habit of freezing unpredictably. The picture freezes, and the computer doesn’t respond to anything: no keyboard, no mouse, no ALT+TAB, no CTRL+ALT+DEL. All I can do is turn it off with the power switch. When I turn it back on, Windows starts up as if nothing had happened — no information in log files, no error messages, nothing. I run Windows 2000 Pro SP2 with all the right drivers, and I keep my system very clean, with only what I need running in the background. The fan sounds like it’s working, and Motherboard Monitor says the CPU never goes above 80 degrees.

I’ve tried using the computer with a desk fan blowing behind it, and that doesn’t help. The freezes can happen regardless of how long the computer has been running — sometimes a few minutes, sometimes a couple of hours. The software I’m using doesn’t seem to matter (I have tried disabling programs that run in the background, etc., and the freezes still occur).

Sony says it’s a software problem and won’t deal with it unless I pay $20 per call or $2 per minute (the 3-month software warranty is over). They suggested that I reinstall everything, which is not exactly subtle, especially considering the time I have spent installing stuff and configuring the computer.

I’ve never had anything like this happen on any computer I have used.”

Answer from mmowdy:

“Have you tried running the hardware diagnostics disk that came with the laptop?”

Answer from dimbulb:

“I think the problem is probably a hardware problem. Normally, with an intermittent hardware failure like this, you pop all the cards, reseat all the cables and hope for the best. If that doesn’t fix it you start guessing and buying parts or you take it to a person/shop that has some components that can be substituted for troubleshooting purposes. This last solution is something I personally hate to do, cause I secretly think I can fix anything.

But with a laptop, you can’t pop the cards that easily and your friends are likely to have lots of troubleshooting parts. I think you need to send this back to the manufacturer. If you start guessing at the failing part; you can waste a lot of money very quickly.”

Answer from Octalitic:

“To me the way it sounds is defenitly a hardware problem, some parts in some computers come in such of poor quallity that, it does not sounds out of this world, there are millions and am telling you millions of circuits that could go bad, for instance I have a friend that had the same problem as you, but this happend in a desktop computer, the computer would freez for no apparent reason, this while surfing the net and after exahustive scrutini, I noticed that some of the bus lines that were directly connected to te cpu in this computer were defective, after certain amount of time in use the lines would suffer a sudden change in temperature, thus causing the freeze. I did this in this computer because I like computers and like to learn but if would have taken this computer in to a shop, I am sure they would have had charge me a lot of money with out them even fixing the thing…”

Got a better answer? Post it in the discussion that generated this tip.

Copyright © 2002 Ziff Davis Media Inc. All Rights Reserved. Originally appearing in ExtremeTech.

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