Laptop switching off problem

I have a year old laptop that intermittently switches itself off for no apparent reason. When I restart my computer and check the ‘events’ function in my Windows Computer Management app, there is no log of it even having occurred. Is there any way I can troubleshoot what is causing this annoying problem?

Is it really turned all the way off, and not into Standby or Hibernation? Anything happen if you hit a key?

It switches off completely and I have to restart it. No ‘blue screen of death’, no ‘Windows is shutting down, etc’, nothing… just dead as a dodo til I switch it back on. :confused:

There could be many reasons. Mine does this all the time, because it overheats. No warning, no nothing, just shuts off. One thing that helps is making sure its on a smooth hard surface, and propping it up with 2 small books on either end so theres more space for the airflow to get into the fans. Also, compressed air to the fans to clean out dust often.

This is my biggest pet peeve about my computer. Why on earth wouldn’t they make it hibernate if it reaches a certain temp, or at least warn you, hey, its getting hot, better save your work??

I think that is what is happening to mine. As you said, you’d think it would at least give you time to save your work, wouldn’t you? Is there no way of manually over-riding or manipulating this overheating function?

Generally, this is related to overheating – the system is programmed to shutdown to prevent burning up the CPU. If it’s heat related, it would happen rarely when you just turn the machine on, and more frequently after the machine has been on for a while. And after it shuts off and you turn it back on again, it will shut itself down sooner afterwards. Does this sound like what’s happening?

If so, possible solutions are:

  1. Clean out the ventilation openings in the case.
  2. Open it up, and clean out any dust & dirt inside the machine.
  3. Open it, and check that the fans are working.
  4. Open it, and verify that the heat sinks are still properly adhered to the CPU & other chips.

(You may want to have some of those done by a professional, unless you are experienced at them.)

That sounds about exactly it. Is the whirring noise I hear from my laptop, my fan? If so, should this be running almost constantly, or just on occasion?

I’m not brave enough to delve in there myself. When ever I take anything apart, I’m always left with bits over! :slight_smile:

Also check for a switch on the outside that should be set to the correct voltage for where you are (IIRC 110 for U.S., 220 for Europe or something like that . . . please look it up to be sure). I once had a brand-new computer that was doing this; turned out that (though I had paid them extra for “setup” to take care of stuff like this so I wouldn’t have to) the magic switch was set to 220 instead of 110. It was Step 1 on the checklist they were supposed to have followed. :mad:

I have a Toshiba laptop with the known bug that the processor heatsink gets dusty. This causes thermal shutdown, just as described. I luckily had an extended warranty, and sent it in to be clean. This particular issue is a lot nastier than dust in the case, and if, from what I read on the web, tough to fix. Frys sent it to Toshiba.

Ways of testing for this: does it shut down faster when it is hot inside? Try running a virus scan and see if it dies from that. Put it on power saver mode and see if the problem is reduced. If these happen, you have a thermal problem.

The good news is that you have plenty of time to back things up before either bringing it in or trying to clean it yourself.

Try googling for “thermal shutdown” and your make and model. The first time it happened to me, I found a lot about the symptoms very quickly. It will help if you do take it in. The first time I did it, I had no big problem (besides them trying to sell me a backup service for $100,) but the second time they called and said that they wanted to reload Windows and charge me some absurd amount of money for it. Having some background on the problem helps you to tell them to just fix the problem.

Do you know what models were afflicted by this? My last toshiba (a satellite p105-6xxx) had this problem and I went through a lot of trouble to open it up, only to find that the fans etc were perfectly free of dust. It drove me insane for as long as I had the thing.

Is this a known Toshiba issue? My laptop doesn’t exhibit this behavior (yet), but it does kick out quite a bit of heat when it’s running…

I have a Toshiba laptop, and I have a similar problem that I wonder if it could have the same underlying cause. Every once in a while, usually after I’ve been using the computer for an hour or longer, the system seems to hang. That is, the cursor freezes on the screen, and neither mouse inputs nor keyboard inputs have any affect. Not even CTRL-ALT-DELETE does anything. At that point the only thing I can do is manually turn off the computer.

Could this also be caused by thermal issues?


Probably the best way to approach this is to download a program that can monitor CPU temperatures on notebooks, such as Notebook Hardware Control. In addition to CPU temperature, this tool also reports CPU speed, various voltages, battery statistics and perhaps most importantly, allows you to log any and all of these items to a file. You can run this in the background and just wait until the next time this issue occurs. Open the file and you have access to the state of the computer right before it crashed.

In the case of your notebook being incompatible, other pieces of software can be found by something like “notebook cpu monitor.” I’ve tested this software on my own laptop and it works quite well, though YMMV.

Whilst browsing for solutions, I did come across
this handy gizmo for cleaning the inside of your monitor.

It sounds like a thermal issue - I had the same problem with my Acer laptop a couple of summers ago, when it was really hot here. In that case the fan sucked air through a heatsink, and the vanes in the channel were clogged up with dust. I was running linux and so got thermal notifications before shutdown.

One point to note - if you use a can of compressed air to clean the fan/slots, make sure you immobilise the fan first (I think I used a pen barrel). Two reasons - one, you can spin the fan with the canned air so fast you damage the bearings, and two, you turn the fan motor into a generator and pump current into the fan control circuits on the motherboard, potentially damaging it.


Mine’s an Acer too, an Aspire 5610. Is this a fairly common problem then? Are those cooling boards you can place your laptop on, effective value for money, do you know?

Well, I did get one, but once I got the dust out of the cooling system, the problem went away.


I hope this isn’t classed as reviving a zombie thread?

My laptop is still switching itself off despite me having bought a laptop cooler, and this is really bugging me. When I restart my laptop after one of these shutdowns, I get an XP message saying the disk needs to be checked for consistency. Then, scanning around the 30+ % mark, I get a message saying "Program Files\ Norton\ Savr waffle waffle\ NAV~.TMP file size is invalid ", or some such message. What the hell is going on? Please, help me, before I resort to my grandad’s method of dealing with electrical equipment, and give it a bloody good whack!

It sounds like one of your anti virus files got corrupted. Try deleting this - or you might have to reinstall NAV.

Thanks for reviving the thread, since I never responded to those who responded to me. To find the versions with the problem, google “Toshiba satellite laptop heatsink” which takes you to a good forum. But I solved my problem easily.

I found complete instructions on how to take apart my laptop to clean my heatsink, but there were about 30 steps. The forum said that some people were able to fix the problem just by blowing out the fans with compressed air. I got a can at Fry’s, and blew into the fan with it. Gobs of dirt appeared at the grille where the hot air goes. I was able to get it out with tweezers, and haven’t had a problem since. You don’t even need to take anything apart to do this. Give it a try.

Me, I’m happy - saved from Vista for another year at least.

I have had that problem repeatedly. The first time, it was under warranty and they replaced the motherboard. Same thing the second time. This time they warned me that a “laptop” is not meant to be used on my lap. My bad. So I stopped using it on my lap and now my La-Z-Boy has a swivel tray. It went two years before it started happening again. I did two things. I now use it on the tray, but I use one of those old-fashioned rubber erasers placed under the middle rear to raise it a half inch or so off the tray. Problem stopped. Then I read about heat sinks and paid my vendor to clean the inside. He said the heat sink was totally matted with hair. My beard.

Indeed why couldn’t they hibernate it or at least give a 2 minute warning. No, it just shuts down with no warning, so blue screen, no event logged.