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mysterious laptop problems - machine booting slowly/ not reliably booting


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#1 ZT-repairseek

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Posted 05 December 2010 - 03:43 PM

last night, while using my mother's laptop, I stopped and was checking a manual (actual paper kind), and as the machine sat idle before me, I heard a highpitched beep-kind of sound, and I think it came from the general vicinity of the HDD and where the wifi adaptor's on/off switch is located.

now, at the time, I put it out of my mind after a moment's panic, and continued on. I installed a CD mounting tool, handled various minutia, and so forth. and then I decided to reboot.

several rounds of attempting this later, I entered a frenzied panic. I wasn't getting anywhere besides occasionally being able to open up the BIOS setup. tried adjusting the boot order (in case the system was trying, for some reason, to read the virtual optical drive, and after a failed attempt at contacting my more-knowledgable brother, and my MS-employee father, it finally booted up, though it dragged it's heels considerably.

so, obvious thought first; I removed the mounting tool, and even went as far as to system restore to prior to having installed it. this changed nothing that I can see.

machine's still being stubborn/slow booting, and I'm rather sure it's not a malware issue; I'm going to run scans, but considering it was fine prior to that sound, had not been connected to the internet for several hours, I'm temporarily assuming malware isn't the problem.

got it to boot again, though, and although it was slow, it booted for some prodding earlier in the day. and so, I decided to go to the local B&N to get online, since I don't have 'net at home right now and the local library's not open on sunday.

around four tries to get it booted. one of them, it passed the splash that HP has hiding the POST from casual observation, and then I got what resembled a DOS text cursor blinking in the corner of the screen. after a while of this I chose to try again. didn't get past the splash within a fair wait. another try, and this time I hit ESC so I could see the POST. waited a fair while, didn't get past that. try again. this time, after another long wait, it actually got to loading windows, so here I am, posting and panicking, because this is currently our primrary means of getting online and accomplishing anything, since the library's computers are horribly restricted out of being able to work reasonably, constantly failing due to abuse by careless people, and rarely being fixed, due to the library not wanting to pay for a technician to fix things. and on top of that, their use is capped ut to an hour per person per day.


time difference means I'm not able to call my father for advice untill late, my brother hardly ever answers his phone, and I'm a bit broke from bills, so I can't take this thing into the nearest computer shop. end result, I comee to bleeping computer, hoping someone can help me identify the problem, if it's imminent hardware failure, or if there's potential for fixing this without great expense.

it doesn't help that HP didn't feel this machine should come with a restore disc; if I have to replace the OS, win7 upgrade is unavoidable. (and I'm short of blank DVDs to use for trying to make such a disc, if that's what they intended with that "HP_RECOVERY" partition. X_X

some machine details:
HP Pavillion dv9700 r1(according to belarc advisor) (refurbished)
3GB of RAM (different places in the system report different amounts; HP's info tool insists there's only 1GB installed, but windows itself can tell there's 3GB)
machine is running vista(SP2) (version in MS system info 8.0 reports as 6.0.6002) (which admittedly needs some updating, and when I'm sure nothing's gonna break, I intend to upgrade it to win7ult)
CPU is an AMD Turion 64 X2 Mobile Technology TL-60, according to controlpanel/system

I'm not sure if more info is needed, I'll try my best to provide if asked for it.

I throw myself before the more knowledgable types here; I want to do whatever I can about this before world war III starts with my mother; in spite of being half computer illiterate, she's the sort to blame me for anything that goes wrong; even if this isn't something either of us can take the blame for.

Edited by ZT-repairseek, 05 December 2010 - 03:53 PM.


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#2 ZT-repairseek

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Posted 10 December 2010 - 09:20 AM

aaaand today it booted up at normal speed. somehow, though, this only fuels my paranoia further. sorry 'bout the double post, but the edit button seems to be missing. maybe I'm half blind this morning?

#3 bradumd

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Posted 13 December 2010 - 10:25 PM

It sounds to me like you may have a failing hard drive. Have you tried running chkdsk from the command prompt to check for errors?

#4 ZT-repairseek

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Posted 14 December 2010 - 09:54 AM

ugh. sort of thing I was afraid of. I hadn't done that yet, as I regularly seem to forget chkdsk exists.
doesn't help that lately, getting this thing to boot is enough of a roulette I'm hesitant to even try to figure out how to get just a command prompt out of it. >.o sometimes it snaps to it, some times it just sits at the POST/HP splash... ugh. money I don't have.... *grumble* I'll look into that, though. *sweat*

once it's up, it's up without a problem, but... if it's failing, then I'm gonna be out at least sixty bucks plus shipping, unless I find a better price on a similarly well rated drive. *looking at WD3200BEKT*
-also, hey, first time I've seen the edit button since I started this thread-

Edited by ZT-repairseek, 14 December 2010 - 09:58 AM.


#5 bradumd

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Posted 14 December 2010 - 03:00 PM

Don't go and buy a new hard drive yet because the issue may be fixable. I'm not extremely knowledgeable in going about fixing hard drives, so I'm going to try to get someone else to help you.

It may not even be a real hard drive issue, that was just my first intuition.

Edited by bradumd, 14 December 2010 - 03:23 PM.


#6 hamluis

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Posted 14 December 2010 - 05:57 PM

Among other items...overheating can cause a system to slow down.

A failing/overtaxed PSU could cause it to have trouble booting, along with any number of unexpected symptoms.

I don't know much about laptops but overheating would always be my obvious first item to check if problems surface...then the hard drive (you can run the appropriate diagnostic on the drive to get a health assessment, available via download from the hard drive manufacturer's website.)

Louis

#7 ZT-repairseek

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Posted 15 December 2010 - 09:20 AM

...*shudder* and just now, either I hallucinated something or there was some kind of quiet "dt-ddddt" sound from the machine, though nothing in particular was being done. paranoia factor is rising. >.<

this drive is a samsung, and I shudder to see that samsung's diagnostic tool page essentially says I need to be able to back everything up because the tool can eat one's data. <sarcasm>wonderful.</sarcasm> ah, the holiday season, when we get stressed no matter how much it's time to chill.

#8 ZT-repairseek

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Posted 16 December 2010 - 09:43 AM

ugh, I hate to keep doubleposting but the edit button keeps going away.

incidentally, this thing has always been inconsistent about reports of free space... but today takes the cake. it's claiming there's like.... 12~13GB free that weren't before. *gulp*
it's also had a history of semi-randomly making a "thkkt" sound near the HDD. /swt why do I get the feeling we got a lemon... and worse, why do I get the feeling that the guys handling the replacement plan that's almost up will tell us it's fine if we go to invoke it. X_X and last night I had to remind it twice that it does in fact have an optical drive. *panic panic*

aand it just lost it(the optical drive) again. *sigh* starting to think this machine is failing outright.

Edited by ZT-repairseek, 16 December 2010 - 02:53 PM.


#9 hamluis

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Posted 16 December 2010 - 03:07 PM

Reading through...IMO, the finger points at hard drive problems.

When items disappear, that's a key indicator, IMO, assuming that it's not a connection problem.

OTOH...PSU problems can also result in seeming hardware problems.

But I've not known PSU problems to be associated with noise other than possible fan bearing problems.

Louis

#10 MrBruce1959

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Posted 16 December 2010 - 03:40 PM

Hello I am going to jump in here with hopes of providing some useful suggestions that may help you get up and running again.

Please follow the instructions on this page.

http://h10025.www1.hp.com/ewfrf/wc/document?docname=c01443371&cc=us&lc=en&dlc=en&product=3636841&tmp_track_link=ot_search#N652

Also you may want to check if your CMOS battery is still good or not.

I would suggest replacing it.

Bruce.
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#11 ZT-repairseek

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Posted 16 December 2010 - 05:56 PM

well, I tried the basic idea of that but maybe didn't hold things enough (someone else suggested it). on the other hand, none of the boot issues quite match up to the things listed there.
not sure where a connection problem could form for the optical drive; it's not like this machine takes abuse beyond paint wear where one's hand sets while typing.

would a CMOS battery die within three years of obtaining a machine? I know it's a refurb, but.... heck, the CMOS in my older desktop, which is like, eleven years old, is still fine. I get more shuddering over that thing being noisy in it's old age than anything, but that's not the relevant machine here.

I'd also like to note that while the free space amount has fluxuated, as far as I can tell no files themselves have vanished.

#12 ZT-repairseek

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Posted 17 December 2010 - 09:15 AM

much as I'd rather edit than keep doubleposting, somehow I get the feeling edit mode would just leave the potential for the thread to fall into obscurity. *paranoid*

so, tried the hold the button thing. it helped on the first boot after it, but about an hour and a half later the optical drive (which was vanished when the machine was turned off last, and reappeared thanks to that button thing) poofed again, and subsequently I ended up having to try twice to get it booted. this morning, although slow, it again booted in one try. >.<

this is... getting to the point I'm starting to think it probably is new HDD time, but the matter of the optical drive continues to be a point of concerns beyond the HDD, if in part because I'm paranoid. X_x

#13 Eyesee

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Posted 17 December 2010 - 06:57 PM

I think you may have a failing hard drive as well
Back up your data as soon as you can, while you still have the chance!
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#14 ZT-repairseek

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Posted 18 December 2010 - 02:59 PM

I'll back up the data as soon as I can afford means to do so; kinda short of writable media and space on my external. worse, I think the DVDRW on this is itself spazzing out too; after several rounds of convincing the machine that yes, it does exist, and vista claiming it's working fine in between losing it, I disabled it in device manager, and it seems like the system is choking on it's tongue a bit less. I could be imaginging it, though. >.>




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