Laptop very reluctant to boot, then runs fine. What’s up?

I have an HP Probook 4525s Laptop running Windows 7 (64 bit). The last three times I turned it on, after it having been turned off a while, it refused to boot at first. Some lights came on, but not the one that indicates that the hard drive is spinning, and the screen remained blank. The first time this happened, I held down the On switch until the lights went off again, and then tried turning on again, and after a couple of tries it started, and ran as normal. I thought things were OK and this was just one of those weird glitches.

However, the next time it happened I had to go through many more cycles of turning off with the On switch and then on again before it finally booted. Again, after boot, all seemed well. I did some hasty backing up of my more essential files, and turned off again. This time it seemed to take me still more tries before I finally got it going again. I tried booting off a rescue CD, but that did not seem to work quite right either, although eventually I was able to get to the setup (?) screen this way, from where I chose “Boot from hard drive as normal”, and lo-and-behold it did! Once again, after booting everything seemed to be fine - I am using it now to post this - but now I am scared to turn it off again. I guess I can leave it on, plugged in for now, and keep my fingers crossed, but it is not a very satisfactory situation.

So, how screwed am I? Apparently the hard drive is not dead, since, once booted, everything seems to be fine. Does anyone have any idea what might be wrong, or whether it is possible or worthwhile to have it repaired?

(My own WAG is that the cause is either an intermittently broken connection or a bad capacitor in the circuit that starts up the hard drive, but I could be wildly wrong, and even if I am right I have no idea how fixable that might be in a laptop.)

Also, do you think it would be safe to put it into “sleep” mode, or is it likely to have the same problem with waking up that it does with booting.

Every time this has happened to me, the HDD eventually died. It seems to work once it starts up, but always fails in the long run. However, in my case each time (it happened with two drives) it was because of a physical jolt to the HDD that started the problem.

Hard drives are cheap, and even if it is just a broken connector it may just be better to replace the drive (easy even in most laptops).

The most common reason for a hard drive to be flaky on starting up is bad bearings, which will worsen until it can no longer spin the platters, so it is a good thing you backed it up when you did (worse case is that the drive never starts up again after the first time it occurs and you power it down for any reason; many laptops also power the drive down while on but inactive).

I think I’ve read that a failing battery can cause those symptoms. The adapter is trying to charge the battery and boot at the same time, and can’t quite deliver enough power to do both. Do you know whether the battery still works? If you remove the battery and try to boot, does it still have difficulty?

At my first non-minimum wage job in high school, I had a computer that didn’t like to boot. I could hear the hard drive trying to spin up… I found that if I slapped the computer while it was going, it booted just fine. I’ve always assumed that slapping it gave it enough momentum to start spinning properly, and motor was able to take over from there. Possibly an issue with startup current versus run current…or something else completely unrelated.

I’m sure I’ve been no help here. :slight_smile:


Yeah, I don’t get the impression that the drive is trying and failing to spin up in this case. It may be that it is just to quiet to hear, but my impression that either the drive is not responding at all at startup, or, when it does respond, it spins up just as quickly and smoothly as it ever did.

So far, with the computer now left on for several hours since my OP, it is still running well. My current plan is to leave it on overnight, and tomorrow, if it is still running, I will try to figure out how to clone the disc, and then call the laptop repair guy.