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Computer randomly suspends

By EStreetJerseyGirl ·
I'm working on someone's computer for the past 2 days, and I can't figure out how to fix this problem. It's a Sony Vaio Notebook, model # PCG-F180 with a P2, 333MHz processor and 64MB of RAM, and running Windows ME. When I first got it, it would shut down within 20 seconds of startup. Actually, shutdown isn't the proper word; I'm not quite sure what it's doing. The monitor turns off, and it sounds like the computer powers down, but the fan is still running and the power light is still on, even if I unplug it from the AC adapter. I have all the BIOS and power management settings set to never hibernate, suspend, sleep, or turn off the hard drives, monitor, or anything else unless I shut the computer down. I thought this might have been the solution I was looking for ( but after trying all of those steps short of putzing with the motherboard itself, I'm still not able to keep the laptop running. I tried swapping in a new hard drive, and now the computer will run normally for about 10 minutes, but then it does the same thing of sounding like it's shutting down, but still being on, and no display appears (from here on out when I say "shut down," this is what I'm referring to, since it's easier than saying all this every time). I've run virus scans, spyware scans, tried running in safe mode, nothing works. The other strange thing is that, when I'm in BIOS setup or installing the O/S, it doesn't shut down, it runs perfectly normally. I don't get any errors or warnings before it shuts down.

Can ANYONE at all help me? I'll be eternally grateful, plus give you a Gold Star and a Scooby Snack! :-)


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by rtetzlaff In reply to Computer randomly suspend ...

Sounds to me like a problem with your power supply, or excessive heat. I see that you've already explored that option so the next step would be installing the latest version of the BIOS, sometimes older versions wreak havoc on the system.

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by EStreetJerseyGirl In reply to

I searched for a BIOS update, but was unable to find one. I contacted Sony about it and they said that an update hasn't been released yet. Thanx for the suggestion, though!

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by HAL 9000 Moderator In reply to Computer randomly suspend ...

Well perhaps I can shed some light on what is happening here although I don't think that you're going to like the reply.

There are numerous Electrolytic Capacitors around the CPU which are going faulty so with an unstable power supply to the CPU it is shutting down but leaving the rest of the system running so while you loose everything that looks like a computer or in this case NB the items powered are still running but not the CPU any longer. So things like Fans Lights will stay on but to all intents and purposes the computer is stooped.

There is really only one cure for this and that is to replace all the Electrolytic Captors that smooth out the power to the CPU. These are polarized parts and need to be replaced the same way that they came off so that the positive side goes to the positive side and the negative goes to the negative.

First strip the NB down to the M'Board and inspect these capacitors and look for any leakage or bulging around the top of them. If they have leaked them most likely the M'Board will have been damaged so it time for a new NB but if they haven't as yet leaked you can get by with replacing them if you have the right soldering equipment or have access to a tech who has the right equipment. This is not everyones Cup of Tea and should be treated only as a last resort.

You can try swapping out the CPU if you have a spare one available just to make sure that it isn't something that has happened to the CPU over the years as a P2 333 is not that new by todays standards so it is conceivable that sometime during its life it has been cooked by having the cooling vents blocked and if that works you have the culprit but this is a long shot and really I think you'll find that it's time for a new NB which I think you'll find that the owner is accepting of as this problem has not happened over night and has been slowly building up to the stage where they could no longer use the item so they have brought it to you for repair.

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by HAL 9000 Moderator In reply to

Even doing this work Dirt Cheap the results will at best be marginal as you are very likely to do as much damage to the M'Board as has been done and at the very least you'll need a small Temp Controlled Soldering Iron that only heats up to 315 C which is 5 C above the melting point of Solder. Then you'll need a supply of similar Electrolytic Capacitors while they do not need to be the same brand they do need to have the same electrical ratings although they can be rated to a higher Temp. Being Electrolytics there is very little else that you can do as they can also be affected by the heat pumped out by the CPU.


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by EStreetJerseyGirl In reply to

I had thought about the capacitors being faulty, also, though it seemed like a long shot since the computer isn't shutting down consistently. If it was the capacitors, I'd expect the notebook to shut down regardless of whether scandisk or defrag was running or not. I figured it couldn't hurt to check, though, so last night I took the notebook apart and took a look at the motherboard. All the capacitors look perfectly normal - no leaking, bulging, or anything else out of the ordinary.

Thank you for your very thorough response, though!! :-)

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by willcomp In reply to Computer randomly suspend ...


Let's see if we can isolate problem a bit. Boot from a bootable CD and run system tests. I recommend the Ultimate Boot CD (Google it) which has a lot of useful freeware/shareware utility and test software. A very handy tool.

If notebook runs without shutting down while running tests, problem likely lies within Windows itself. If it shuts down while running tests, most likely a hardware or BIOS problem.


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by willcomp In reply to

Colin (Hal9000) may be correct, but behavior is somewhat different from what I've seen when caps were failing.

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by willcomp In reply to

Although there isn't a newer BIOS available, you can still reload the current version or even a prior version if BIOS appears to be the culprit.

One is not limited to updates only.

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by EStreetJerseyGirl In reply to

Tried the Ultimate Boot CD, but it didn't really help me. The computer doesn't shut down while running tests such as ScanDisk and Defrag; I tried reinstalling Windows ME, and tried installing Win98, but the problem still persists.

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by sgt_shultz In reply to Computer randomly suspend ...

wonder if this thing would run without the battery installed. is good voltage coming out of the power cord?
a new laptop battery would be about $80 for a refurb. how old is the present battery? maybe if you took it to a pc shop they might have a battery to let you try...

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