Friday, March 12, 2010

Intermittent, Mysterious Laptop Problems Due to Overheating

Our Acer laptop, an Extensa 4420, was exhibiting strange behavior. It would spontaneously shut off, almost as if it was out of power (but it wasn't). Then when I would try to re-start it, it would begin boot sequence, but then shut off. I could repeat this a dozen times, and finally, it would boot, and after that it would be fine.

It took quite a while, but I finally diagnosed the problem--overheating. The unit runs pretty darn hot, and the cooling vents are on the bottom. That works okay if it is on a table, but my family members tend to use it on their laps, and worse, to lay it on the soft couch.

Quite coincidentally, a co-worker was mentioning similar laptop problems. She thought her machine might have a virus, because it shut off in the middle of running her virus scan program. I mentioned our over-heating experience, and sure enough, when she tried making sure it had enough ventiliation, the problem disappeared.

What I wonder is--what are the chances tech support or the Geek Squad would troubleshoot that problem successfully? I have a feeling Geek Squad would happily default to the "Occam's Razor" solution of replacing the cooling fan.

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