Help Me Diagnose This?

Discussion in 'hardware' started by LenC, Jan 26, 2009.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. LenC

    LenC Registered Member

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2006
    Posts:
    846
    Location:
    CT, USA
    Here is sequence of events...

    1) I started hearing an occasional buzz noise from laptop (in general area of fan). It will come on for a few seconds and then stop. Seems to happen when I am on battery and not on AC power. I was also hearing it when I shut down the machine - on either battery or ac power.

    2) Suddenly, computer won't boot. I power up and wind up at the screen giving me option for safe mode, boot normally, last good config etc. No matter what I select, computer loops back to this screen again, so I have no safe mode or system restore.

    3) Using shadow protect, I restore my c partition. (I'm thinking there is some sort of corruption problem. Computer boots up normally for a few times and then goes back to doing what it was doing in #2 - showing that screen again.

    I have xp with all updates.

    Any thoughts on this? I'm thinking a defective hard drive, because it seems to work okay temporarily after the restore.

    Thanks for your help.
     
  2. ThunderZ

    ThunderZ Registered Member

    Joined:
    May 1, 2006
    Posts:
    2,459
    Location:
    North central Ohio, U.S.A.
    Really only 2 things that will make noise come from a computer. Fans or hard drives going bad.
    Could very well be a fan going bed. The PC should be able to tell and it is shutting itself down for thermal protection.
    You could try a simple Check Disk for now to maybe determine any file and or disk surface corruption.
    My bet is on a bad fan and that due to heat issues the check disk will not complete.
     
  3. LenC

    LenC Registered Member

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2006
    Posts:
    846
    Location:
    CT, USA
    When I first ran the chkdsk - before the system restore, it was running literally for upwards of 4 hours (120gig HD) and then just stalled out at 27% completion in step 4.

    After, restoring partition, chkdsk /r ran through to completion with a couple of minor fixes. As I previously mentioned, computer seemed to be working okay at this point (after restore) - I was able to reboot several times and use computer until I started getting system screen again.

    Any additional thoughts would be appreciated.


    Thanks,
    Len
     
  4. ThunderZ

    ThunderZ Registered Member

    Joined:
    May 1, 2006
    Posts:
    2,459
    Location:
    North central Ohio, U.S.A.
    Do you hear any noise just prior to failure? Check disk is not a bad indicator but not fool proof. For instance, it will only maybe tell you of a pending problem due to disk surface failure, file\folder corruption. It will not warn you of the coming of a mechanical failure. The noise you described sounds like the onset of a mechanical failure.
     
  5. LenC

    LenC Registered Member

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2006
    Posts:
    846
    Location:
    CT, USA
    Did not hear anything special just prior to failure. I would hear an occasional buzzing noise that would last for a few seconds but the machine would continue to be functional.

    And would also hear the buzzing noise when shutting down the machine. After a few cycles of shutdown/restart, it would not reboot.
     
  6. ThunderZ

    ThunderZ Registered Member

    Joined:
    May 1, 2006
    Posts:
    2,459
    Location:
    North central Ohio, U.S.A.
    Strange indeed. Is this the same laptop, hard drive mentioned in previous posts?
     
  7. LenC

    LenC Registered Member

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2006
    Posts:
    846
    Location:
    CT, USA
    Yes. I hope I'm not confusing you. I jumped to a conclusion that I had a bad hard drive - so had been asking about replacing it. It occured to me it might not be a hard drive issue, so I started this thread.
     
  8. ThunderZ

    ThunderZ Registered Member

    Joined:
    May 1, 2006
    Posts:
    2,459
    Location:
    North central Ohio, U.S.A.
    Just making sure we are speaking about the same issue. ;)

    I believe the only fan is on the processor. The part should be cheap. If you choose to have a shop do it then I have no idea what they charge for bench time.

    If you do a search for manuals for that model you may find one that will show you dis-assembly\assembly procedures. You could at least save some $$$ on labor.
     
  9. YeOldeStonecat

    YeOldeStonecat Registered Member

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2005
    Posts:
    2,345
    Location:
    Along the Shorelines somewhere in New England
    Buzzing is a sound more likely to come from a fan in the system. I'd say most laptops (esp older ones) have just a CPU heat sink fan, but some of todays newer laptops with higher end graphics will also have a GPU heat sink fan.

    In many cases you can identify if the fan is a cause, when you hear the buzzing..if the fan is visible from the side or underside of the laptop..inserting an object into the blades of the fan to stop it..and the noise stops? Or blasting it hard with a can of compressed air..enough to slow down the RPMs substantially. <insert proper "possible damage to the fan" caution here>

    However, having disk corruption issues such as chkdsk errors would point to the hard drive itself..beginning to fail.

    Side thought...if the fan was going, the laptop would not receive proper cooling..and the hard drive could be getting hotter than normal..increasing likelyhood of hard drive related issues. System could be locking up because of CPU getting too hot also.
     
  10. LenC

    LenC Registered Member

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2006
    Posts:
    846
    Location:
    CT, USA
    I have brought it into a shop - this is over my head.

    I'll report back when I have some information - probably won't be for several days.

    Thanks - I've leaarned a lot here!
     
  11. LenC

    LenC Registered Member

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2006
    Posts:
    846
    Location:
    CT, USA
    I took computer into a reputable local repair shop - they ran some diagnostics and concluded the hard drive was bad.

    Hopefully, I will be back in business after it is repaired.

    Many thanks to everyone who commented and helped - lot of smart people on these message boards:cool:

    Len
     
  12. LenC

    LenC Registered Member

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2006
    Posts:
    846
    Location:
    CT, USA
    Computer seems to working fine with new drive installed - no buzzing noises, no problems:thumb:

    Thanks all!
     
  13. LenC

    LenC Registered Member

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2006
    Posts:
    846
    Location:
    CT, USA
    Sadly, I am back. My problem with this computer is not totally resolved. If you are all sick of hearing from me, I understand:argh:

    To review:

    My laptop computer was unbootable and I was getting a clicking noise from the fan area. The noise was sporadic - would last a couple of seconds and then stop - and I would then hear it again.

    I have replaced the harddrive - there is no doubt it was defective. And the computer now boots and runs normally EXCEPT, I still hear this occasional noise. It is clearly coming from the fan and I hear it only when the fan is shutting down - it is an irritaing clicking noise and I can actaully tell the fan is clicking to a halt. If I am running the machine actively and the fan is on, it runs quietly and correctly.

    So what would trigger the noise that kicks in exactly when the fan is shutting down? I'd like to avoid relacing fan unit - it is quite expensive.

    Thanks again,
    Len
     
  14. ThunderZ

    ThunderZ Registered Member

    Joined:
    May 1, 2006
    Posts:
    2,459
    Location:
    North central Ohio, U.S.A.
    Are`t you just having some kind of fun with that laptop. :D Two things I can think of that would cause the fan to make that noise.

    1) A bearing in it going bad. Fans have 2 different kinds of bearings. Ball and sleeve. What makes the noise? Possibly that when the fan is spinning at operating RPM it is balanced so the bad(?) bearing(s) is not really a factor.

    2) A fan blade may be bent, chipped or cracked. Again, when the fan is operating at high\full RPM it balances itself. Only as it slows to a stop does it start to wobble.

    Check eBay. Have bought many a PC part from there with pretty good luck.
     
  15. crofttk

    crofttk Registered Member

    Joined:
    May 15, 2004
    Posts:
    1,976
    Location:
    Eastern PA, USA
    Just to supplement what ThunderZ said, the extra noise upon shutdown makes sense to me IF you imagine that some small piece of debris is lodged or wrapped around your fan in the right way - it may simply be that you hear the noise on shutdown because as the fan slows down the frequency of the noise being made goes down (or interference contact becomes deeper) and becomes audible, perhaps the reverse applies when you turn the laptop on and the fan spins up to speed.

    Didn't you have the shop open the laptop up and at least visually inspect that the fan looked right and maybe clean out the lint and dust bunnies you may have hanging around in there?

    A replacement fan ought to be fairly cheap, and you may not have to get a new heat sink assembly to go with it. My wife's laptop's fan is making an awful squealing and clicking racket and so I found, yes, the best price for a replacement would be on ebay. However, this laptop still has a few months of its three year hardware warrantly in place, so I twisted Dell's arm until they agreed to dispatch a tech to the house and replace the fan. Fingers crossed on that....

    A fan is nothing to treat to lightly as it's not doing it's job can lead to other components failing, making things more expensive.
     
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2009
  16. ThunderZ

    ThunderZ Registered Member

    Joined:
    May 1, 2006
    Posts:
    2,459
    Location:
    North central Ohio, U.S.A.
    PDF dis-assembly manual. May give you a little better idea of what you are dealing with.

    I looked it over quickly. I have seen better documentation. With having the laptop right there you may find the job a rather simple do it yourselfer. :D
    Avatar
    By removing the "heat sink" cover you should be able to determine if it is the fan. Whether it is going bad or the noise is being made by dust bunnies as Crofttk suggested.


    Good call Crofttk.
     
  17. LenC

    LenC Registered Member

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2006
    Posts:
    846
    Location:
    CT, USA
    I blew it out and inspected it as best I could - so did the shop - so it is not a dust bunny issue (wish it were).

    I'm not sure what I'll do from here - don't trust myself to do hardware work. On the other hand, I recognize I could totally fry things if the fan fails and heats everything up.

    Thanks ThunderZ and crofttk - your advice was very helpful.
     
  18. ThunderZ

    ThunderZ Registered Member

    Joined:
    May 1, 2006
    Posts:
    2,459
    Location:
    North central Ohio, U.S.A.
    Did you start-up the laptop with the heat sink cover off? Should be able to tell for sure if it is the fan.

    There is probably a model number on the fan\heat sink enclosure somewhere. If not we can give you a hand finding it via Google. Check eBay for the part. Then all you need is some thermal paste. Your local Tech shop should have it for around $5.00. Just pull the old heat sink. Clean the top of the processor with some isopropyl alcohol. Make sure it drys completely. Place a small dot of thermal compound on the center of the processor. Reverse the procedure to put the new\used heat sink assembly back together.

    Really, it is that simple.
     
  19. LenC

    LenC Registered Member

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2006
    Posts:
    846
    Location:
    CT, USA
    Thanks ThunderZ - I truly appreciate your help. But I'm going back to shop - knowing I will pay for that. Me and tools - deadly combination:oops: I'll screw something up - no pun intended.
     
  20. ThunderZ

    ThunderZ Registered Member

    Joined:
    May 1, 2006
    Posts:
    2,459
    Location:
    North central Ohio, U.S.A.
    Let us know how it works out.
     
Loading...
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.