Bricked my computer?
July 21, 2019 11:05 AM   Subscribe

Yesterday my 2017 Windows 10 HP laptop computer was working fine. Now it won't turn on at all. Please hope.

Yesterday I got a pretty diffident-seeming notification that Windows 10 wanted to run an update, but that there was not 10 GB free on the drive to do so, and that I should plug in an external drive with that much space. Obviously Windows 10 is not the boss of me, so I just Xed out of the popup and kept doing my thing. After a couple hours I shut down the computer from the start button. There was no Update and Shut Down option, just the normal Sleep, Shut Down, Restart options.

The computer (this computer) was and still is connected to AC power, but now the on button does nothing. No lights, no beeps, just nothing to say to me at all.

I would rather have the glory of summoning the fucker back from the dead myself with your help than take it to a computer store, but of course I will if you tell me that's how it has to be.

Possibly useful things I have: A Win 10 desktop computer, another Win 10 Dell laptop, several sets of computer tools including a logic tester, a multimeter, and other fancy stuff, a professional electronics test engineer on standby (my son), money for a new Windows license or whatever, big brass balls.

Thanks for any help you can give me!
posted by pH Indicating Socks to Computers & Internet (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
The update problem is likely unrelated. Windows updates at least once a week, typically, which means that 1-2 out of 7 computer issues will happen so close to an update that it will seem connected. When a laptop computer fails to respond at all to the power button, it's usually a hardware issue, almost always a machine that discharged its battery and can't charge. (In my experience.) If possible, check the battery for puffiness. It's also possible, but generally unlikely, that something broke the power button itself, too.

Check both ends of your power cable -- or all cable 4 ends, if your adapter breaks down into 2 cables -- make sure connections are seated, and check for any burns. Give the adapter a sniff (dust it first?). If your Dell laptop power adapter will match this one (I know that's so hilariously unlikely I hesitate to ask), try swapping both ways, to see if the problem follows the adapter or stays with the HP. Likewise if you have a backup power cable, try using that. If you have a multimeter or voltmeter, try reading the DC voltage coming out of the power adapter. Also, make sure the AC outlet it's plugged into is working, just to check all the boxes.
posted by Sunburnt at 11:53 AM on July 21, 2019


Some basic stuff:

- unplug laptop charger from the wall and laptop. disconnected the battery, if you can. reconnect all these things, possibly using a different power outlet and/or charger if you can.

- if it has any kind of charging indicator light that comes on at this point, leave it for ten-ish minutes to let it recharge.

- if pressing power normally still does nothing, hold down power for like 30 seconds to see if you get any sounds, lights, or beeps.

more advanced:
- use compressed air and/or a toothbrush to get hair/dust/dirt off the outside of the laptop, in case something is under the power button

- open the case, clean out hair/etc, reattach any visibly loose cables or connectors
posted by bagel at 11:53 AM on July 21, 2019


Dumb Thing That I Have Done, which may help you:

Is the power cord plugged into a power strip that has an on/off switch? And is it possible you (accidentally) or your cat (probably on purpose) turned the power strip off?

Related Dumb Thing I Have Also Done:

Are all the pieces of the power cord still firmly attached to each other?
posted by SuperSquirrel at 12:04 PM on July 21, 2019


If you can get your hands on another adapter, see if using it makes a difference (even if your original adapter looks fine on a visual inspection). Or use your tools/progeny to inspect it.
posted by trig at 12:19 PM on July 21, 2019


Thanks everyone!

I tried plugging in the adapter to another power outlet, etc. and no joy. My son left the multimeter at work so I can't test the adapter. I have ordered another adapter, and in the meantime will open and clean out the computer, just for adventure.
posted by pH Indicating Socks at 1:22 PM on July 21, 2019


If your Dell laptop power adapter will match this one (I know that's so hilariously unlikely I hesitate to ask)

My work laptop is a 3 year old HP, and its adapter as well as the one from its now 7 year old predecessor can be swapped with Dell ones from the same period. The laptops all get powered although the batteries won't charge with the 'other' charger. The newer version of the work HP has a smaller connector.
posted by Stoneshop at 1:30 PM on July 21, 2019


Some basic stuff:

- unplug laptop charger from the wall and laptop. disconnected the battery,


... and leave them disconnected for at least a couple of minutes. Some adapters, as well as desktop computer power supplies, can get into a weird kind of lockup mode, and the only way to clear that is by unplugging and letting it sit that way until all the capacitors inside have fully drained.
posted by Stoneshop at 1:38 PM on July 21, 2019 [3 favorites]


- unplug laptop charger from the wall and laptop. disconnected the battery,
.... and press the power button
posted by nostrada at 1:47 PM on July 21, 2019


In computer guts now, but will try your suggestions in a bit!
posted by pH Indicating Socks at 1:51 PM on July 21, 2019


Win10 updates have bricked computers.. First place I'd look for a solution is the forum at askwoody.com I'd also plug in an external drive in the very unlikely chance windows is waiting for one.
posted by Homer42 at 2:01 PM on July 21, 2019


...aaand we're back! Thanks all!
posted by pH Indicating Socks at 2:07 PM on July 21, 2019 [3 favorites]


You know, I think Stoneshop has it. It wasn't particularly dusty inside the computer.
posted by pH Indicating Socks at 2:28 PM on July 21, 2019


It's fixed, but here's a particular bit of Voodoo that shouldn't work but has for me often in the past.

Disconnect the AC adapter. Disconnect the battery. Press the power button and count to 10. Let go of the power button. Connect the AC adapter, but not the battery. Press the power button.

Every now and then this will cause a system to come to life. For some reason putting the battery in and then the AC adapter jinxes it. My IT career is old enough to vote, and I have no good explanation for why this would work with the AC adapter, but not the battery. In all other ways, it's just a simple power drain. But it does work. Not every time, but often enough that I keep doing it. Maybe my song and dance routine can save you a headache in the future.

(You can put the battery back in once you turn it on. It just has to get started without it.)
posted by Zudz at 10:46 AM on July 22, 2019


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