Revive A Crashed Notebook

12/6/2012 9:18:22 AM

It’s almost inevitable: Someday you will face a notebook failure. But take heart. Although it can be difficult to pinpoint the cause of a failure, there are many common solutions that often yield positive results. So the next time your notebook experiences a serious error, remember these tips.

Blue Screen

The oftentimes cryptic message on a Windows stop error, aka BSOD (blue screen of death), can make it difficult to determine the origin of the problem. But the BSOD is actually the result of a Windows safeguard, so you can consider it better news than when your computer suddenly shuts down completely for no obvious reason.

When Windows detects a serious problem, it will stop whatever it is doing (including whatever programs are running) to protect itself and your computer from further damage. The visible result is the blue screen. Windows typically displays a stop error when there is a hardware issue or conflict with device drivers.

Description: The visible result is the blue screen.

The visible result is the blue screen.

Restart the notebook: Restarting your notebook will often solve the issue. However, if a BSOD appears repeatedly, write down the entire error message. Note as much information as possible, particularly the stop error number itself (for example, “STOP: 0x0000007E”). You can pass this information along to IT when you return to the office, or you can use it yourself to identify the problem using Microsoft’s Help And Support website (support.microsoft.com).

Spontaneous Reboot Or Shutdown

Your notebook may, without warning, spontaneously reboot or shut down completely. Although there could be numerous issues causing this, there are three common possibilities. Check for hardware incompatibility. If you or your IT staff recently up graded the notebook’s hardware, one or more components may be incompatible, causing the system to shut down to avoid damage. To solve this, you can try removing or replacing a newly in-stalled component to find out whether the shutdown still occurs.

Description: Spontaneous Reboot Or Shutdown

Spontaneous Reboot Or Shutdown

Remove airflow restrictions. If you do this and find a component isn’t the cause, or if you are fairly certain the failure is not hardware-related, check that the air intake fans are not impeded. Blocked fans decrease the amount of cool airflow into your notebook. If the computer gets too hot, it will shut down as a precautionary measure.

Scan for malware. Automatic reboots or shutdowns can also be the result of a virus. If you have antivirus software installed on your notebook, make sure it is up to date and then run a full scan of the hard drive. If you don’t have an antivirus program installed, you can search the Web for a highly rated free one.

Frozen Notebook

You’re undoubtedly familiar with this scenario: Things are going fine with your notebook when suddenly you can’t switch between multiple applications, a program hangs when you try to open it and the mouse and keyboard may not respond. Freezes such as this are often the result of memory overload. The memory in your computer has a certain capacity, and if there are too many processes running simultaneously, your notebook may freeze because it can’t keep up.

Freezes can also occur when a graphics processor can’t keep up with intensive tasks. Even video streaming and online games have been known to overwhelm a notebook’s graphics processing capabilities, especially if the computer isn’t designed for intensive graphics processing with a separate processor dedicated to that purpose. Malware can also cause freezes.

Shut down a problematic program. If the keyboard or mouse is responsive, start troubleshooting by pressing Ctrl-Alt-Delete. Enter the Task Manager and end the program you believe may have caused the freeze. Look for a program labeled “Not Responding” as a possible culprit. In many cases the last program you attempted to open will have caused the problem. In any event, only stop programs (not individual processes) unless you understand the con-sequences. Stopping the problematic application will often solve the problem.

Perform a cold shutdown. If the key-board or mouse is not responsive, or if it is not possible to stop a problematic program from running, perform a hard (aka cold) shutdown. Hold down the power button for a few seconds until your notebook turns off. When you start up the notebook again, chances are that everything will run smoothly.

Make sure software is up to date. If your notebook freezes every time you open a specific program, then check that you have installed all updates or patches that the program might need. Also, opening an older version of a pro-gram can cause your notebook to freeze because it may be incompatible with other programs or your OS.

Inability To Shut Down

The inability to turn off your note-book is often caused by a software error rather than a hardware issue. A program may be unable to close, and because it continues to run, Windows can’t close down properly. Software (including OS) updates have been known to cause shutdown problems, as well.

Update or repair the software. Open the Task Manager and shut down un-responsive programs or any programs that are running in the background. Then, one at a time, open whatever programs you shut down and make sure there are no updates available. Also make sure that there are no updates available for your Windows OS by vis-itingwindowsupdate.microsoft.com.

Use the System Restore feature. To restore your computer’s software to a previous state in which every-thing was working, use the System Restore features. In Windows 7, click Start (the Windows button in the bottom left of the screen), type system restore, and follow the on-screen prompts to select a restore point from an earlier date.

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