What is this beep?
August 26, 2006 10:13 AM   Subscribe

What is the 1 second long, "beep" coming from my laptop?

My laptop is driving me absolutely nuts with a "beep" it makes every 20 minutes or so. It is a Dell Inspiron E1505.

I have tried muting the volume in the control panel, NOTHING. Last night, at 4AM, I was close to throwing it out the window. As soon as I would drift off to sleep, the sound would ring through my ears and bring me back to consciousness. I shut the screen and double-checked that the volume was muted. Nothing. I finally resorted to unplugging everything from the laptop and putting it in the hall outside of my bedroom.

I cannot silence this damn noise.

I've had the laptop for about 5 months. It has a TV tuner, USB optical mouse, ethernet cord, and external speakers plugged into it. Sigmatel Audio is the internal sound driver.

As mentioned, this sound is a one second "beep" - sounds a little bit like one of the keys of a touch-tone is being pressed (and no, this is not what the sound is). It was difficult to locate the source of the sound because of the tone, but through process of elimination, it is most definitely the laptop.

If the hive mind can identify the source of the sound or tell me how I can shut it off, I would be eternally grateful.
posted by ifranzen to Computers & Internet (22 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
A quick Google says:

Start > Right Click My Computer > Properties > Hardware Tab > Device Manager > View > Show Hidden Devices > Non-Plug And Play Drivers > Beep > Device Usage > Do Not Use This Device (disable)
posted by cillit bang at 10:15 AM on August 26, 2006


While cillit bang's solution may stop the beep, it won't tell you why it's happening, which may or may not be important to you.
posted by odinsdream at 10:19 AM on August 26, 2006


Was this really it? I am skeptical that it was this easy. Seems almost too good to be true. Why does this, "beep" even exist? (Not why is my comp producing it, but this function). Why would anyone want to unleash something like this on the common folk? TY cillit bang, favoriting answer you now.
posted by ifranzen at 10:23 AM on August 26, 2006


What model is your laptop?

Just a stab in the dark, but are you sure it's not overheating, or wrongly thinking it's overheating?
posted by randomination at 10:23 AM on August 26, 2006


System Properties panel says it is a Dell Inspiron I6400, T2400 @ 1.83 GHz. Front case says Inspiron E1505. Hopefully one of those numbers is the model number. Obvious noob here, lol. I did check to make sure it wasn't an "exploding" battery.

Also, I am usually downloading on Bittorent at night - could this be a reason for the beep? As long as it's off, though...
posted by ifranzen at 10:27 AM on August 26, 2006


ifranzen; most computers have a hardwired speaker on the motherboard. It's what you hear when you boot machines, sometimes what you hear when you plug in PCMCIA devices on a laptop. It's not part of your sound card, though. This basic hardware historically served a diagnostic function. When something goes wrong before your computer can load an operating system, sometimes you'll get a beep pattern played back on the speaker that can help you figure out what went wrong.

Disabling the windows driver for the speaker won't affect this bootup function. It would only affect use while Windows is loaded.
posted by odinsdream at 10:32 AM on August 26, 2006


Last time I had a laptop do that, it was trying to let me some piece of hardware was failing. Have you considered giving Dell (or a local computer store if you don't want to deal with the script reading Indians) a call?
posted by drstein at 10:39 AM on August 26, 2006


Thank you for the info, odinsdream. But this should stop the problem I am having, because XP is always running while this sound occurs - right?
posted by ifranzen at 10:40 AM on August 26, 2006


ifranzen; sure, it will stop it. Disabling the driver for a device causes that device to no longer function.

However, XP does not, of course, normally cause the speaker to beep every 20 minutes. Something on your computer, software or hardware, is asking Windows to make the speaker beep. Just disabling the speaker won't fix whatever is causing it to beep, it just means you won't hear it anymore.
posted by odinsdream at 10:49 AM on August 26, 2006


Yeah, shutting down the beeper is a fix of sorts but the beep might be an indication of a more serious problem.

Is the beep completely regular and if so, how many minutes apart are the beeps exactly?

If the beeps are not completely regular (or even if they are, I suppose), try seeing if they match any other events such as incoming mail, wifi connection fluactuating or something like that.
posted by insomnus at 11:05 AM on August 26, 2006


Any erratic hardware show up on device manager? If so, might want to fix that and see that was telling Windows to beep.

If not, you may want the PC serviced in some way. Or at least, keep backups for important documents in case things do go belly up.
posted by Muu at 11:07 AM on August 26, 2006


OK, I tried to google it, for the challenge of the thing, and all I came up with was one hint, deeply buried, that says it can beep when it makes a wifi connection. Could that be the issue? < /SWAG
posted by unrepentanthippie at 11:14 AM on August 26, 2006


Disabling the sound or beep driver is the computer equivalent of putting black tape over your 'check engine' light in your car.

You won't see (or hear) the warning anymore. Symptom solved, but the cause of the symptom isn't.
posted by MiG at 11:22 AM on August 26, 2006


Mine does this occasionally when a fan is blocked.
posted by 4ster at 11:29 AM on August 26, 2006


Note what time the beep occurs. Then look in the Event Viewer for warning events at those times.
posted by mendel at 11:36 AM on August 26, 2006


Some laptop models beep when the BIOS battery is dead or has become disconnected/damaged somehow.
posted by tumult at 12:40 PM on August 26, 2006


OK, I tried to google it, for the challenge of the thing, and all I came up with was one hint, deeply buried, that says it can beep when it makes a wifi connection. Could that be the issue?

This is probably what it is. I am just out of range of my wifi router (still use one of those "cables") - and my singal fades in and out. This is what it is. Thanks for your research, unrepentanthippie.
posted by ifranzen at 1:49 PM on August 26, 2006


I used a Dell C640 for a long time and about 2 years into its 4 year life it started beeping like that very occasionally. Like, maybe once every few weeks to once a week at most. I never figured out what it was, and haven't had any particular problems with it. Because it was so low frequency, it was really hard to figure out what caused it.
posted by heresiarch at 2:02 PM on August 26, 2006


In that case, you might want to look in the settings for your wireless card for an option to disable this beeping, rather than disabling the speaker altogether.
posted by odinsdream at 2:15 PM on August 26, 2006


If you can disable it inside of Windows, I'd say something is wrong with your Windows install or drivers.

By the way, an easier way that the disabling the device in device manager is going to a command prompt and typing

"net stop beep"
posted by mphuie at 2:43 PM on August 26, 2006


I have an Inspiron E1505 that's about, oh, four months old, and it also makes the same beep, albeit much less frequently. Maybe once or twice a week.
posted by anjamu at 11:23 PM on August 26, 2006


My Dell Latitude X200 makes a beep that sounds similar to yours, although i find that (most of the time) it is provoked, like if i put it down on a table too hard, or i get annoyed with it and bang it a little too hard... The unprovoked ones i usually put down to the fact that it's three years old and cops alot of abuse in transit between home and uni...
posted by cholly at 5:10 AM on August 27, 2006


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