What’s Up With Stef’s Laptop And Can You Help?

Is is from the infection? Can bad files cause a computer to just shut itself off? Maybe it’s a hardware problem? I’m not sure and that’s why I’m posting it here.

About a week ago Stef’s laptop got infected. I wrote about it and how I fixed it. Unfortunately it wasn’t that easy.

Is anything ever?

Almost immediately after the repair her computer began spontaneously shutting down. It’s boom–lights out for no reason! This happens in safe and normal modes. It just shuts do
and goes silent. Both the battery and AC adapter seem fine.

Is is from the infection? Can bad files cause a computer to just shut itself off?

Maybe it’s a hardware problem?

I’m not sure and that’s why I’m posting it here. Maybe you know?

Here’s my plan to troubleshoot. I’ll download a Linux distribution which can be run directly of a CD. None of what’s on her hard drive will be used. Then I can just let the computer sit and see what happens. If it continues to turn itself off the problem is hardware and on an out-of-warranty laptop that means death!

I’m looking for suggestions, if you have any.

14 thoughts on “What’s Up With Stef’s Laptop And Can You Help?”

  1. I don’t think its a software problem. If Windows was screwed up due to the previous infection it would just blue screen or reboot or freeze. I don’t think it would shut the computer down. More than likely its the motherboard.

  2. Sorry to say, I have to agree with Jim on this. Had a similar situation with my company laptop and it ended up needing a new motherboard. Good Luck!

  3. I also agree it’s the motherboard. Sounds like the same problem I had a few years back. It needs to be replaced. Luckily I was still under warranty and Dell replaced it for free.

  4. I was helping a friend with a similar problem, but no virii were involved – they had just gotten the laptop back from being overcharged by the maker to fix something, and this started happening. I was hoping that it was just a thermal issue – maybe the maker hadn’t paid attention when putting it back together or something – but couldn’t find anything to explain it.

    It is possible that there is some kind of practical joke type virus on the machine, but in the case of my friend, I did the same thing as you – booted from an installation CD to see what would happen. I hope you fare better than I did – we wrote the machine off.

  5. Your computer’s processor might be overheating and causing the computer to shut down. Bad fan(s) or dust clogged fans, bad or loose heat sink(s) on the processor(s) have caused similar problems on computers that I have worked on. If the processor over heats then it can cause such problems. Some laptops are known to run too hot which can effect the motherboard. They make cooling accessories for the laptops that normally run hot. If you don’t want to take the laptop apart….try using your vacuum cleaner in all the openings (including the keys) and if your vacuum cleaner has an exhaust port..try blowing out all the openings. Do you feel any air being exhausted by the computer’s fan(s)?? IF you decide to throw it out…..let me know and I will forward you the email address of a woman in Durham, CT who rebuilds computers and gives them to disadvantaged children for free OR she might be able to help you with YOUR problem on the lap top.

  6. I don’t know much about laptops but agree with Dan. I repair computers and give them to kids in need and have come across quite a few that had just shut off and the person had bought a new one. When I open those type up it is usually over heating because there is a mountain of dust inside and once I have cleaned that out most will reboot right away and not give any further problems. If the vacuum doesn’t have an exhaust, try a can of compressed gas for computers. Good luck with it and I hope you can save it.

  7. You can’t completely rule out a virus. I have seen viruses that shut down the computers. I could run the drive externally on a second computer and check the systems files for viruses. Keep in mind that if the system files are infected you will have to reinstall Windows.

    Is this a Dell computer. I had a Dell laptop which was repaired by Dell several times for overheating (recall) and ultimately I started putting it on a fan pad (cool pad) and the overheating problem was resolved.

  8. Go to the Start menu=> Control Panel=> Add/Remove (or Programs and Features)=>… go to the date that it started.. All the programs will have a date they were downloaded.. See if there are any close to last week’s date when this started to happen. Somehow I got a “PAGE RAGE TOOLBAR” virus & I was able to check & remove it that way!

  9. Geoff,

    You might check the power on / off switch. Sounds like what happens when you push and hold the switch. I had a desk top machine (HP) that did something like that. Tech support had no clue and I found it by disconnecting the switch and used a jumper for the +5 volt start signal. Not so easy on a laptop if the switch is soldered to the board. Let us know if you figure it out please.


  10. Is Stef using it as a “Truly Laptop” – by that I mean that she is resting the unit directly on her laptop? If the exhaust fan ports are located on the bottom of the unit, and she is sitting the laptop “on her lap” she could (OR accumulated dust, as already noted) be blocking those fan exhaust port(s). After a period of time the CPU could overheat and a forced shutdown will occur (to preclude catastrophic damage). It might be worth operating the unit on a flat table top (no obstructions) and see if the problem recurs?

    Has she repeatedly booted up the PC in Safe Mode, and not opened any programs. If the shutdown has ever decreasing shutdown times, to this non tech guy it would lessen the likelyhood of any s/w or malware issue. (I expect that the Safe mode would preclude mal-ware from ever loading??). If the shutdown event tends to shorten in time (as it is still warm from the prior bootup) I would assume the root cause is a thermal driven shutdown, probably the M/B.

    I assume that you have already done a Google search; searching for the unit’s model number (or model series, ala for example Inspiron) unexpected shutdown. Others may have posted/solved a similar problem? Some manufacturers will provide free, out of warranty on line chat support. They may offer free advice (obviously no free hardware replacement). If the shutdown problem is a known system issue, they may provide guidance? (BTW I expect your 30 day forecast, for 3 PM in the afternoon, has a higher likelyhood of being useful).

    Has she implimented any recent driver updates – one that could have introduced the problem?

    Good luck, as noted “we” would be interested in your problem resolution ….


    PS If the conclusion is to replace the unit, I would recommend you also check http://dealnews.com/ as a consolated source for “good” deals?.

  11. Geoff-

    If you conclude that Stef’s laptop is kaput, I have another suggestion.

    Many people do not regularly backup those “non-replacable” pics, docs et al. If Stef buys a new PC, I might suggest an inexpensive option, to recover files from the original laptop hard drive. I have successfully recovered many files, for friends, using a simple external drive enclosure (or an even simplier USB H/D interface). Even if her original laptop drive will not successfully Boot Up (ala corrupt MFT), that does not mean that her extant data files cannot be recovered. Meritline http://www.meritline.com/newsearch.aspx?SearchTerm=usb+hard+drive+adapter and many other Internet sites sell cheap interface devices, that allow for EASY data recovery.

    dave (again)

  12. Hey Geoff, I’m surprised none of the WXC crowd has chimed in on this yet lol 😉

    If it’s a Dell, the HDD might have a separate partition that you can boot into and run various hardware diagnostics. It might be worthwile running the extended tests from that utility partition to see if it finds anything. If it’s an HP, it might not have a utility partition, but instead might have come with a diag CD/DVD instead.

    I like the idea above about checking Add/Remove Programs for recent installations. If getting rid of the original infection simply involved using AV to remove the virus(es), I wouldn’t be surprised if there were some lingering effects. If you can get the thing running long enough to back up all of Stef’s files, you might be better off formatting the HDD and starting over.

    I also like your moxie with the Linux idea… the curious side of me hopes it works. it would certainly give cred to the Windows-is-jacked theory. Just don’t try that on any of the WX computers lol.

  13. I would also check the event logs (start -> run -> eventvwr )for any bugchecks that would point to an issue, some computers are set to reboot or shutdown on a BSOD so you may not see them. if there isn’t anything in the event logs, another place to check is C:\minidump\

    If there is nothing in these places, I would start thinking it is a hardware issue ( most likely overheating) but as Billy says a diagnostic run wouldn’t hurt to see if it can pin it down.

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