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Newbie with a big problem
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lmf413
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April 23, 2012 - 12:03 am
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I am so looking forward to meeting and (hopefully) receiving some help from people on here that I'm sure are WAY more advanced than myself (and that's not saying much!).

I'll be looking for the right forum subject to post my problem as soon as possible. It's been since last summer that my problem raised it's ugly head.

Thanks in advance for any help I might receive that will keep me from having to buy a new laptop!

Lisa

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Jim Hillier
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April 23, 2012 - 3:26 am
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Hi Lisa, and welcome!!

Can't wait to hear about the problem which raised its ugly head... do tell. Smile

Cheers... Jim

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lmf413
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April 23, 2012 - 2:14 pm
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I've got a 5 yr. old HP dv6700 laptop. It started last summer, just an occasional total freeze up. Had to use power button to shutdown. It became more and more frequent as time went by and I tried so many programs to try and fix it, so I just put it away and got out my netbook, which is a little bit of a strain on my 61 yr. old eyes ­čÖé

Just in the past month, I decided to get it out and try again. For a week or two it was fine, then it started freezing up again (it's on a cooling fan btw). I bought and ran PC Matic. I've run in safe mode with networking as well. Worked again for at least 2 weeks before the freezing started. It's very random. I might get 2 or 3 hours or 20 minutes.

I'm on ATT dsl. My husband's laptop is an old Dell that keeps on working, no problems.

I'm sorry that I am likely not providing much info to go on. But I've tried so many things (short of taking it somewhere which makes me nervous, who do I trust?) I can't remember them all! I don't know if it's a hardware or software problem and as I'm sure you've guessed by now, I'm pretty much a novice when it comes to computers.

Thanks for any suggestions!

Lisa

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Jim Hillier
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April 23, 2012 - 5:27 pm
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Hey Lisa - Oh boy, that is a doozie. Problem is it could be just about anything.

Just had a quick look around the net and it seems your model HP (DV6) is prone to freezing up, at least there are plenty of reports of this issue. It also seems that the dedicated graphic card is more often than not the culprit. Is your laptop fitted with a graphic card - if so, is it a Radeon?

Freezing has two major causes: Hardware - overheating. Software - CPU hogging.

Unfortunately in a remote situation such as this we can only rely on guesswork - the random nature of the freezing doesn't help either. Because of the age of your laptop I am leaning toward overheating and the possibility that it might merely require a darn good clean... internally.

Sorry I can't be more help than that. I happen to know that Dave favors HP laptops, hopefully he'll be able to chime in with better advice.

Cheers... Jim

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lmf413
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April 23, 2012 - 5:46 pm
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Thanks, Jim!

Whether or not it matters, I'm running Vista on a 32 bit system. Also, it has an NVIDEA GEFORCE, 8400m GS.

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Patrick McMullen
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April 23, 2012 - 6:23 pm
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Not sure how much help this is, but it appears that your specific HP was a model that wasn't recalled for issues such as this. According to posts in the HP support forums, certain models in the 6700 and 6800 lines were recalled for various issues relating to the NVIDIA graphics. Other models weren't recalled and aren't eligible for free repair by HP. It appears to me that the dv6700 was not lucky enough to be one of the recalled models although it is plagued by many of the same overheating, freezing, and random shut-down issues as recalled models. 

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Jim Hillier
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April 23, 2012 - 7:06 pm
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Hey Lisa - No, the fact that it is running Vista 32-bit would not matter at all.

Okay, NVIDIA make very good cards.

Seems Patrick has come across many similar reports to those I have seen across forums - the last couple of lines in Patrick's reply just about says it all.

I still consider a good clean out would be your best and cheapest bet. You may have to bite the bullet and hand the machine over to a shop. Or say to yourself that 5 years for a laptop is a pretty good run and just cut your losses.

I'm very sorry I can't be of much help, it's nigh on impossible to diagnose something like this remotely, without any hands on.

Cheers... Jim

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Mindblower
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April 24, 2012 - 6:26 am
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To rule out overheating, you can d/l this nifty program which gives you 30 days to try for free.

http://www.ariolic.com/activesmart/index.html?about  , Mindblower!

"Light travels faster than sound;
That is why some people seem bright until you hear them speak"

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Jim Hillier
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April 24, 2012 - 7:55 am
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Hi MB - The software you recommended monitors hard drive temperature only - it does not monitor temps for things like GPU nor the all important CPU.

SpeedFan covers a wider range of temps and is free to boot. A word of warning though, SpeedFan is quite tricky to configure.

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Bob Jamieson
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April 28, 2012 - 2:48 am
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@ Lisa,

Coupla' things on your problem.

First, since your HP laptop is 5 years old, I agree with Jim, you might consider 5 years "is a pretty good run and just cut your losses." I'm not saying that you should necessarily make a boat anchor or a door stop out of the thing, but at this stage you have to consider the cost analysis of paying to get it repaired (that may not even be possible, and you'll be throwing good money after bad anyway), and you may be feeding oats to a dead horse. At 5 years old (which is an eternity in the computer world), I definitely wouldn't spend a lot of money on trying to get the thing operating properly.

The average "TTF" ("Time to Failure") of most laptops, especially if there is not some mechanism used to extend that life (more on that in a bit) is about . . . drum roll . . . 5 years. Some live a lot less, some live a lot more, but that is the average.

The money you would spend on this thing would be better spent on a totally new machine. For what you spent on this thing 5 years ago, you can now (for the same price or even less) get a machine with a much more powerful CPU, probably 4GB of RAM, and at least a 500GB HDD, probably bigger.

OK, that's one thing: DO NOT spend a lot of money, if any, on this dinosaur, and consider getting a new machine.

Now let's deal with the possibility of a low cost or FREE remedy.

As Jim said, the problem may have either a hardware or software solution. I'd try both together.

Computers hate three things: Heat, Dust, and Vibration. (It's always amazed me that cars nowadays use computer chips ["EPROMs", " . . . Programmable Read Only memory", I forget what the "E" stands for]. What the heck do you have under the hood of a car? Yes, Heat, Dust and Vibration!)

Let's take Heat and Hardware first. In a laptop, you have a reduced volume of circulating air because of the small case. Consequently, laptops are more prone than desktops (which have a larger volume of circulating air) to heat problems. That's one of the main reasons that the average TTF of laptops is much shorter than the average TTF of desktops,

Heat can be enhanced by dust, as Jim said. I'll deal with cleaning in a second.

But the first thing you may want to try is a chill mat. Chill Mats are specifically designed to provide additional cooling for a laptop . . . typically with a fan circulating air UNDER the laptop. A good Chill Mat will reduce the operating temperature by maybe ten degrees, and hence if one is used from day one, may extend the TTF of a laptop well beyond 5 years.

I had an HP laptop, ZE4700, (still use it now and then, even though it's a huge dinosaur) and used a Thermaltake Chill Mat and it's still going strong. My main machine now is a Dell Laptop, and I also use a Thermaltake Chill Mat with that.

There are a gazillion Chill Mat brands out there. Google "Chill Mat" or go to a vendor like Tiger Direct. I have had success with Thermaltake, but there are plenty of good brands out there. For example, I used a Targus Chill Mat for a while, and that was a good one too.

My recommendation: Not any particular brand, but rather specs. Preferably, you want to get one that's either aluminum or some type of light weight metal. A lot are made out of plastic . . . plastic will crack eventually under the weight of the laptop.

Get one with either one big fan (Thermaltake), or two fans (Targus). Some advertise three fans . . . I've not had success with those . . . they have been noisy, and the three fans, to fit in the footprint, are wayyyyy too small.

You can get some for $10 bucks or less. I tried a few cheapos, and proved "you get what you pay for". The things failed quickly. About $30 or $40 bucks seems to be the right price range (I think my Thermaltake was about $40 bucks.)

Now on cleaning. Compressed air does wonders. BUT, be careful. Most laptops have some kind of vent in the side or back, sometimes two vents (intake and outflow), and the vent is where you want to put the burst of air. However, usually directly behind the vent is the fan. If you squirt the compressed air in the vent, you take the risk of spinning the fan so much that you'll ruin the bearings on the fan. To avoid that risk, simply place something like a Bic pen plastic ink rod in the fan blades (through the vent) so that they are immobilized while you're giving the space a burst of compressed air.

Of course, you can always crack the case and clean that way, but I'm sensing maybe you don't want to go that far. Cracking the case on a laptop can be a pretty daunting task.

Now on software, I see that some of the posters in this thread have already given you some ideas. Jim's caution on SpeedFan is good advice. There are others out there that, while not quite as comprehensive as SpeedFan, are good too. Just Google the things ("cooling software" maybe) and ask here if you have any questions on cooling software.

So, the summary:

1. Consider purchasing a new machine.
2. DO NOT spend a lot, if any, money on getting the old machine operating normally. If a Chill Mat doesn't solve your problem . . . STOP, that's enough money.
3. Whether you try to save the old one or get a new one, USE a Chill Mat no matter what.
4. Try FREE cooling software.
5. Keep the machine as free of dust as possible.

EDIT 4/28/2012: All this assumes heat IS indeed the problem, which as Jim said, is a BIG assumption and mere speculation. All bets are off if heat IS NOT the problem . . . a real possibility. Who knows?

BJ

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