Notebook repeatedly restarts after a second or two.
June 10, 2006 7:18 PM   Subscribe

My notebook repeatedly restarts after a second or two. Anything I can do before next week's repair, if possible, to save some cash?

I've got a problem with my Compaq Presario 2199us notebook. My laptop has been overheating and so I decided to use an air can to get the dust out. I took out the screws and partly disassembled the laptop in order to blow out the dust. I put it back together, but now when I press the power button, the laptop powers on for a second or two and then shuts off; then it turns on again, shuts off and repeats. I pressed the reset button to stop the on/off cycle, but I'd like to know what I can do to remedy the problem before taking it in.

HP online support told me it was a virus problem, and when I said that the power didn't stay on nearly long enough to be a system problem, they told me it was the LCD monitor. I don't consider myself a computer expert, but I know it's not either. Did I knock something loose in there?

I have an appointment for an in-store repair a week from today (it's the soonest I can get in) but I want to know if there's anything I can do in the meantime.

PS: Are they going to wipe my hard drive when I take it in?
posted by anonymous to Computers & Internet (9 answers total)
Why is this question anonymous?

Given that the notebook restarts after a second or two, I doubt the problem has anything to do with the hard drive. If it was a drive problem, you would see a message saying so. So your data is probably fine. In fact, you could try removing the hard drive... if the laptop does the same thing with the drive removed, then it's almost certainly not a drive problem.

However the symptoms don't sound good. My first guess is your motherboard is damaged somehow. Second guess is that there's a problem with the memory. All you did was open it up and blow air on it? You didn't spill liquid on it, did you?

I suppose it's possible something got knocked loose. Although prudence would suggest leaving it to the repair shop, I can't see that it would hurt to open the notebook again and look for loose parts. In particular, try reseating the memory (open it up, unplug the memory, plug it back in). Be careful handling the memory and other parts, as electrostatic charges can cause damage.
posted by blue mustard at 7:50 PM on June 10, 2006

It sounds like something is making the power supply crowbar.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 8:06 PM on June 10, 2006

repeated restarts could be a bunch of things. One possibility is an overheating CPU, especially as it was overheating previously. You may have dislodged a fan lead or somthing similar. It could also be faulty memory unit (unlikely as it was working previously) or a motherboard problem (also unlikely for the same reason). It could also be a fried power supply but doesn't sound a whole lot like it.

It's not a virus, the LCD monitor or the disk drive.
posted by unSane at 8:49 PM on June 10, 2006

Taking apart a laptop is usually a bit more difficult then most computers. I messed one up because I didn't keep track of which screws went to which holes and accidentally put one of the longer screws into a hole that was meant for a short screw. It ended up screwing straight into the motherboard.

Take it apart again and take a look at everything. You're probably overlooking something small that is causing the problem.
posted by lockle at 9:55 PM on June 10, 2006

I own a computer repair center and have been a tech for 8 years.

1. How do you know it was overheating in the first place? What symptoms did you have?

2. Take your RAM out and re-seat it, one chip at a time. Try to boot after inserting each chip.

Let us know.
posted by titans13 at 10:10 PM on June 10, 2006

I've seen laptops/desktops spontaneously and repeatedly reboot with a bad Master Boot Record (MBR), bad Boot Sector, bad File Allocation Table (For FAT file systems).

However when this is the case it usually happens after BIOS Power On Self Test (POST) and during the Operating System loading process. In Windows 2000 and XP it'll usually reboot to the safemode selection screen and hold there, but any further attempts to load the OS normally or even in safe mode just result in another reboot.

It's probably not a virus, though I've seen viruses make machines behave like this in the past, just not recently.

On the hardware side - apart from the memory/hardware troubleshooting steps indicated by others above - did you lose any screws or metallic/conductive bits inside the case when you reassembled it? A short in the wrong place could do this, and could permanently damage hardware.

Static damage to the RAM, CPU or logic/mainboard systems can cause these symptoms as well, just like a loose screw making a short could, but despite all the hype and warnings static damage seems to be exceedingly rare in contemporary personal computers. I've been working on laptops and desktops off and on for nearly twenty years with little or no static safeguards, and I've yet to see any device or component outright fail from static damage.

(I will, however, instinctively practice some static safeguard procedures such as grounding myself on a power strip or the power supply case of a plugged in desktop before handling components, which might explain my zero failure rate, but casually handling parts barehanded, resting them on desktops and all that is far outside of the recommended ESD safeguarding procedures, so... *shrug* YMMV.)
posted by loquacious at 11:51 PM on June 10, 2006

If this is considered self-linking please remove!!!

I had a similar overheating problem with my significant other's HP Pavillion. I took it apart to clean out the fan and documented everything for re-assembly. Your presario is a VERY similar notebook and the procedure moves along the same lines (HP=compaq). If you decide to open it up again and look for shorts, hopefully these will help (moved to flickr to avoid self-site-promotion):

Pavillion Disassembly Procedure
posted by datacenter refugee at 12:47 PM on June 11, 2006

My first thought was that the CPU is overheating and the motherboard is shutting it down before it can turn itself into a keychain. So, what unSane said...check the fans, make sure you screwed the heat skin down tight.
posted by awesomebrad at 1:08 PM on June 11, 2006

And search here, another person had almost exactly the same problem a week or two ago.

OK, OK, I'll search for you. Here's the earlier AskMefi.

Check for RAM not seated properly.

I love that HP support said it could be a virus. Awesome. Now they've got Our Moms doing their tech support ...
posted by intermod at 10:43 PM on June 11, 2006

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