My laptop has gone crazy! Can you help?
October 21, 2017 2:01 AM   Subscribe

My laptop (2014 Lenovo Ideapad) has started acting crazy, and Googling isn't getting me any solutions. What could be happening, and what can I do to fix it?!

First the password field on the login screen started automatically filling in with dozens of asterisks. (No keys were stuck on the keyboard and I could type fine otherwise.) I can easily delete them and type in my real password, but it keeps happening. Then I started randomly losing the ability to click on things. I'll still be able to move the cursor fine using the touchpad, but the buttons and the tap function of the touchpad won't work. It gets better as soon as I call up the task manager, but then later it goes wrong again. Now I've suddenly lost the use of the letter q on my keyboard. Nothing happens when I press it, although I can still use the letter with the "onscreen keyboard." When I reboot my computer it will hang forever on the start screen with the logo on black, not doing anything. I have to click "control" and then it finishes booting up. All these sudden, weird little problems can't be unrelated! I've tried a system restore, virus scans, all kinds of other scans suggested online, and nothing helps. I just tried updating Windows 10 and now that seems to have deleted all of my damn restore points, so that sucks. This computer is well out of warranty and I've spent a long, miserable 24 hours trying to fix it. Can some kind soul please help?
posted by Ursula Hitler to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Try removing your CTL keys and checking for debris. It's annoying and you'll put the keys back incorrectly about 22 times, but you will eventually get it. Also try disabling Filter Keys.

(I had some similar weird behaviors on my desktop computer and it turned out that my computer was sure that my CTL key was being pressed all the time.)
posted by xyzzy at 2:51 AM on October 21, 2017 [1 favorite]

I disabled the trackpad on an older thinkpad and just use the red button and am much happier.
posted by sammyo at 3:18 AM on October 21, 2017

Response by poster: xyzzy, I've learned the hard way that when I remove keys they never, ever go back on right. But your remark about the CTL key inspired me to download Keytweak, disable the Q key and remap the Q to the right-side ALT key. As of now that seems to have fixed the login issue. Too soon to say if it's affected the problem with the touchpad buttons. It would be weird if they were connected, but it'd be just as weird if they're NOT connected and these two random problems started at the same time. This Lenovo has been nothing but trouble since the day I got it. I sure don't recommend this brand!
posted by Ursula Hitler at 4:53 AM on October 21, 2017

In my experience, weird keyboard and touch pad button problems on laptops are almost always caused by food and/or drinks and/or pet hair finding their way into places they shouldn't and mechanically or electrically jamming switches on or off. Seconding the recommendation to pop some keytops off and clean out underneath them.

I've learned the hard way that when I remove keys they never, ever go back on right.

They will if you avoid breaking the tiny plastic clips that hold them together. Check out some YouTube key removal/replacement vids to find out exactly what to do.

If you do break them, replacements are cheap and readily available.
posted by flabdablet at 6:20 AM on October 21, 2017

I wonder if you could disable the built-in keyboard and pointing devices completely and use USB mouse and keyboard?

I'm not suggesting that as a long-term solution, just as a way to test where the problem is.

If it turns out it's the hardware, it's probably fixable if the parts aren't too expensive. From my experience Lenovo has pretty good service manuals online with illustrated step-by-step instructions for replacing any given part.
posted by floppyroofing at 7:09 AM on October 21, 2017 [1 favorite]

Keyboards are surprisingly easy to replace.
posted by Too-Ticky at 7:32 AM on October 21, 2017 [1 favorite]

Do try an external keyboard. You can clean your keyboard with toothpicks and the sticky side of Post-it notes. I've also used the creased end of a plastic coffee stirrer-straw. A drop of sugared liquid can cause quite a few problems, and an external keyboard will quickly tell you if it's the keyboard.
posted by theora55 at 8:33 AM on October 21, 2017

Response by poster: I've been down this road with trying to replace keys and open up the keyboard, and even though I carefully followed the online tutorials it was still a fiasco. I'll never do it again if I can help it. I now specifically use a keyboard cover to try and avoid any keyboard messes, but somehow my keyboard went wonky again. I am really, really not a Lenovo fan.

Since I remapped the Q key the computer seems to be mostly working OK. (Here's hoping other keys don't die now, but again; Lenovo.) The login issue hasn't happened again and the touchpad buttons haven't frozen up on me. I still have to hit the CTRL key to get the computer to finish booting, and if I let it idle now it goes through the screensaver but then goes to the login screen and will sit like that (with a blank password field) for hours until I sign in. So, it's still not normal, but at least it's functioning. I sure wish the system restore points were still there, and I REALLY think there should be more warnings that doing a routine Windows update will destroy all of your system restore points forever.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 8:53 PM on October 21, 2017

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