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Laptop keeps freezing at random

Last response: in Systems
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February 2, 2012 11:26:20 AM

HP 520
Intel dual core 2.2ghz
2gb ram
Vista SP2

Hi, my HP 520 notebook recently began to freeze up arbitrarily. everything stops suddenly with no warning. mousepad, keyboard, screen, harddrive etc. my laptop is set to shut down with a push of the power button- this does nothing. it's set up to just switch off the screen when the lid is closed but touching the lid-closed sensor button does nothing. it's completely unresponsive and the only thing left to do is to remove the power or push and hold the power button to force the power off.
this can happen at any time including before/during the HP splash screen, in the bios screen, while windows is loading ... any time. it seems to not be related to any stress or load on the computer, or any particular activity.

things to know:

i recently cloned and replaced the hdd. i don't envisage this being the problem. i've done it before with no probs and the machine was running for about a month with the new drive before this problem started.

i recently replaced the fan following these instructions: http://tim.id.au/laptops/hp/hp%20520.pdf

this was a two stage process- the first time i only got as far as the keyboard before deciding i would leave it for another day....... two days after this the freezing started. research suggested the freezing may be caused by overheating so i completed the job, ensuring the build up of filth (there was a lot) was gone. also replacing the thermal material under the heatsink. the problem continued.

observations:
# the blue, wireless indicator light always goes out at the same time as the computer freezes (it can't be turned back on- the entire machine is frozen). i don't see how this could be related but am willing to consider it. manually turning it off when the machine is running has no effect on the freezing.
# lifting/moving the computer seemed at first to provoke the machine to freeze but it's certainly not a prerequisite.


things i've tried:

# swapping out/reseating the memory sticks. booting with just one, then the other one.
# memtest86 (no errors found).
# cpu temp testing- it rarely rises above 50 degrees. the computer has frozen with the display on the screen.
# opening up the case and checking everything was put together correctly.
# updated the bios.
# updated windows. (prior to this i was running vista with no service packs. i didn't expect the upgrades to help but tried just in case)
# disabling/re-enabling the wireless in the bios.
# chkdsk
# disabling/re-enabling dual core processor in bios.
# limiting to boot with one core in msconfig.
# Malware bytes anti virus. ran twice in safe mode.
# running machine in safe mode (has no effect- will still freeze at random).
# running machine with all combinations of power cord and battery.

i would love it if someone could provide a solution to this which doesn't involve buying a new machine! thanks for reading, i hope i've provided enough information.

More about : laptop freezing random

February 4, 2012 5:37:53 AM

What brand of HDD did you buy? I would look for any software that manufacturer supports/has made available on their support page of their website that can scan the drive.

I could be wrong, so feel free to correct me, but I believe chkdsk only checks the file integrity on the hard-drive, not the actual physical drive itself.

Even if I am wrong, I'd still run a second party scan of the HDD for a second 'opinion'.

Edit: I just checked, I suppose all modern window's OS's chkdsk does check the physical drive too. Eh, well, I'd still get a second opinion.
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February 4, 2012 6:54:21 AM

hi, thanks for reply

it's a hitachi travelstar, 7200rpm 500gb. it replaces a western digital 7200rpm drive.

i did a full surface scan of the drive before i put any data on it. no errors were reported. i don't really think it's the drive ... apparently i might need the motherboard 'reflowed'
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February 5, 2012 9:33:56 AM

phyco126 said:
What brand of HDD did you buy? I would look for any software that manufacturer supports/has made available on their support page of their website that can scan the drive.

I could be wrong, so feel free to correct me, but I believe chkdsk only checks the file integrity on the hard-drive, not the actual physical drive itself.

Even if I am wrong, I'd still run a second party scan of the HDD for a second 'opinion'.

Edit: I just checked, I suppose all modern window's OS's chkdsk does check the physical drive too. Eh, well, I'd still get a second opinion.




I think you might be on to something here, buddy! here's what happened ......

i very recently (2/3 days ago) installed ubuntu wubi onto this same computer (i've continued using the machine on and off. i found that it was running for quite awhile without freezing so i just left it on) ... so i'm playing around in ubuntu and i see a 'disk utility' application which i run. the disk app shows an error message, something like this:

'the selected partition is misaligned by 512kb. this could cause serious performance errors.'

on every one of the four partitions!

i forget the exact wording but never mind ... unsure as to whether this is a glitch with ubuntu having a different file system i followed your advice and visited the hitachi hard drives website and there in the downloads section they have a 'disk alignment tool' which i immediately downloaded and ran. the tool showed that indeed every partition was misaligned. i shut down the machine to let the tool perform repairs, which it did, and since then there have been no freezes!! it's early days yet ~ around a day on and off, and the repair was not without casualties, the ubuntu install no longer worked and msn messenger was corrupted and had to be re-installed. but that's it as far as i can see.

i'm hesitant to pick up the machine as i don't want to provoke it but i've used it quite hard since the disk repair and, as i said, no more freezes have happened so far.

thanks man, i don't think i'd have ever thought of that myself.
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February 5, 2012 11:28:49 PM

Fantastic, glad it worked out!
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February 6, 2012 5:17:49 AM

ok so this gets curiouser and curiouser!

machine ran fine for a day or two, then started to freeze again. hmmm ... maybe it wasn't the disk drive after all .... how can i check if it's the drive making it freeze?

so i took out the drive and put an old drive (also hitachi, smart failure so can't boot) into the machine and booted into BIOS. from there i agitated my computer (lifted it, tapped it) to provoke it into freezing. it froze up after a few seconds.
next i removed that drive, booted up into BIOS with no drive present and again agitated the machine to try and provoke it into freezing. i banged it and tilted it and turned it upside down. I shook the *** out of it: it would not freeze.
now i replaced the old, damaged drive and again booted into BIOS. this time i was unable to make the machine freeze with the drive present. i didn't quite go as far as i had with no drive inside the machine but i tapped it pretty hard and tilted it and moved it around quite vigourously.

ok, so i don't know what that proves, exactly. i replaced the system drive and it's now running fine. i've picked up and put down the computer and moved it around several times ... weird but it seems to have worked.

i must stress that before now i had removed and re-seated the drive several times with it having no effect.

anyway, i may be back in a day or two to say that it's started to freeze again! but at the moment it seems ok.

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February 6, 2012 6:14:45 PM

If it does start up again, report back here. Is your laptop still under warranty?
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February 7, 2012 12:32:27 AM

it's no longer under warranty. if it was i don't think i would have made much more than a cursory effort to fix it before shipping it off.

it really seems to be ok now! i could be counting chickens that haven't hatched yet but ... two days ago i wouldn't have dared move the computer while it was running! now i can quite freely pick it up and move around with it. i've restarted several times, into windows and ubuntu, put it in and out of sleep mode, installed/uninstalled software etc.

i'll uupdate the thread every day or so for a few days just to let anybody know who's interested. it's a very common problem so maybe it could help somebody.
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