View Full Version : Is my computer really locking up in the morning just because it's cold?

Duck Duck Goose
06-05-2001, 08:09 AM
We bought an E-machines E-tower in April, and nearly every morning after you come downstairs to the dining room and turn it on, after a few minutes it has to go through this little ritual where it locks up totally and has to be turned off at the power strip. Then we have to go through ScanDisk to deal with the illegal shutdown... :rolleyes:

Some mornings it does this four or five times. However, it doesn't do it if you're turning it on later in the day.

So the Better Half asserts confidently that this is because there's a chip loose in there somewhere, and it shrinks when it's cold and doesn't connect properly, and after it warms up, it runs fine. I said, "Well, can we fix it?" and he didn't know.

1. Is this a real thing that happens, or is he just blowin' smoke?

2. Can we fix it?

3. How?

(We have WinME and IE, and yes, we've heard the explanation about messy .dll files that clog things up and how you have to go back to the GoBack... But the chilly chip thing sounds more logical, because it really is only first thing in the morning.)

06-05-2001, 08:49 AM
Yep it's possible, odd but possible. The first thing I'd do is boot the machine to a floppy in the morning and see if it still locks up.

If so then the search is on. There would be a cold solder joint somewhere in there, that's not a simple thing to find. Many electronic technicians will look for a few moments to find one, then just quit. Cold solder joints are some of the most elusive buggers, I've spent many hours seeking and destroying them.

If it doesn't lock up under DOS, start checking software issues.

(Short version of answer)
1 - yep
2 - unlikely
3 - lots of patience


06-05-2001, 08:59 AM
If you just bought it you should contact them about it & ask what to do or return it if you have a 90 day return policy.

MAke sure that it has finished booting, how long do you wait?

Duck Duck Goose
06-05-2001, 09:08 AM
I love the casual way these people fling technical terms around. "Boot the machine to a floppy"! Yes! I will do that! As soon as someone tells me what that means!

I know what "floppies" are--they used to be the big flat floppy plastic thingies, but now they're the little flat floppy plastic thingies inside those little hard plastic thingies that come in different colors, with the round shiny metal thingie on one side that you're not supposed to touch...

"Is this the level we're dealing with?"

"'Fraid so."


Hi, Handy. The Better Half bought it at Best Buy on April 13 and they had a 2-week "if it don't work when you get it home, bring it back and we'll give you another one" policy, and Himself did not choose to opt for the "Best Buy Service Warranty". And of course it didn't start doing this so we noticed until Day 15. So we are S.O.L. on that front.

Dunno what you mean, "How long do you wait?" We turn it on in the morning, everything's fine, we do Internet for about 5 minutes, then the monitor goes dark, although the cursor remains on screen, the "OFF" button won't turn the computer off, so we turn it off at the power strip, and it automatically goes through its "Illegal shutdown detected--must do ScanDisk" ritual, while we sit there and stare at the bar graph.

The Better Half comes downstairs at 6 a.m. and goes through this sometimes four or five times. On the days when he doesn't turn it on before work, I turn it on later in the morning and it sometimes does it once, sometimes it doesn't do it at all. If it was a software problem, wouldn't it do it every time? "Loose solder joint" sounds good. Is it fixable by a mom with a bobby pin?

06-05-2001, 01:14 PM
I don't know if this is related to your problem but I'll tell you a story.

I used to work for Caterpillar Tractor Company in their Research Controls Division. One group of guys I worked with had built an engine throttle control. They would go out in the morning and, as you did, fire up the engine and it's computer control. The controller wouldn't work worth a darn until the engine warmed up. They scratched their collective heads a long time but finally figured it out -- the power supply for the control put out 5 amps. The computer drew 5 amps. But when it was cold the computer needed a little more power and the power supply didn't put out quite enough. The result was that the supply voltage dropped and the computer chips behaved erratically, until everything warmed up and then it worked fine.

So -- I doubt your system power supply is too small, but at least you're not imagining things.

06-05-2001, 01:23 PM
Originally posted by Duck Duck Goose
Is it fixable by a mom with a bobby pin?

I probably know less about computers than you do, DDG, and also would like to know how you book it to a floppy, but I don't think a bobby pin will fix it. :D

06-05-2001, 01:48 PM
Some easy tests: If the computer is off during the day for an hour or two, does it do it when you start it again?

If you leave the computer on all night, then restart it in the morning, does it still do it?

That's an easy way to determine if it is the computer being off (temperature?) or the time of day.

what if you offset the computer clock by 12 hrs? Does it now do it in the evening? ;)

Also, I would try to reseat al chips, connectors, cables, etc

Dr. Lao
06-05-2001, 01:53 PM
Check the box o' disks your computer came with. Look for a disk labeled "Windows ME System Disk" or some such. It should say system disk on it, but I'm not sure about the Windows ME. Slide that bad boy into the floppy drive and reboot your machine.

Ta da! You have now booted to a floppy.

06-05-2001, 03:30 PM
One other thing to think about is how many programs are running at startup. I have an older Win95 machine at work, so YMMV. If I have a number of extra applications set to run automatically at startup, the system is much more unstable than if I let the startup run by itself, and start my applications afterwords. Even little programs like Messengers caused problems.

06-06-2001, 03:04 AM
That may be true but not a factor in this case as the computer acts up only in the morning.

But, just in general terms, I will say I also find that to be true. I have *nothing* start automatically. I boot and then manually and succesively start email, ICQ, IE, DUN etc. If I start them all simultaneously I have also experienced problems ocasionally. I like to control things manually anyway.

06-06-2001, 04:57 AM
Origionally posted by DDG
the "OFF" button won't turn the computer off

Try pressing and holding the button down for a few seconds or longer, some are set to send a reset signal to the computer if only pressed quickly and only power down if you hold the button for a while.

Interesting Problem you get there btw, good luck with fixing it.

06-06-2001, 06:47 AM
Originally posted by Duck Duck Goose
I love the casual way these people fling technical terms around. "Boot the machine to a floppy"! Yes! I will do that! As soon as someone tells me what that means!

Do Start-Help-Search then enter "emergency boot disk". This should give you a page explaining what to do and a link that when pressed opens the application to create the boot floppy. Follow the instuctions.

Alternatively try start-settings-control panel-system-boot. I forget the name of the last tab item on this window, press the last tab on the right anyway. There is a button labelled 'create emergency boot disk' or some such, press it. Then Insert a floppy (one of those little flat things 3.5" in width) in the correct drive and follow instructions, to the letter. When finished, insert the first floppy you created in the drive. Restart the puter.

This should allow the machine to boot to DOS from the Floppy. NB: But not if your BIOS is configured to boot from hdd only. Without knowing your BIOS I can't tell you for sure how to change it.

Next up, a standalone backup/restore of VMS using a TK tape.

06-06-2001, 02:31 PM
Silly question: Is Scheduler (or anything else) scheduled to run any silly tasks at that particular time of the day?

Less silly experiment: You can get "cold spray" at most hobby electronics stores. You open up the computer while it's in a state where it usually runs forever, then you spray individual components to make them cold, and if you have a thermal short that should make it show up. Which doesn't bring up the question of what you do with it once you've discovered a thermal short. Somebody may be able to get in with a sodering iron if it's an external pin, but if it's a BGA (pins on the bottom), you're pretty much SOL.

Which is your punishment for buying an eMachines. You're almost better off picking components at random off of the shelves and putting them together.