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Question

Sony VAIO Laptop Won't Stop Locking Up

by X_Z / June 20, 2012 2:55 AM PDT

I'm contending with a Sony VAIO laptop. A VPCCW21FX to be specific. It's about two years old and has seen a lot of varying use - from just light word processing to moderate gaming, and everything in between.

Here's the specs:
quad-core 2.13GHz i3
8GB ram
Win7 64-bit
nvidia 310m graphics card
450 GB hard drive

Up until recently, this computer has been able to handle everything that I can throw at it. But within the last few months, it has started locking up without warning. Here's a general scenario:

I'll be doing something that shouldn't cause any problems, such as just surfing the web, when all of a sudden, I no longer have any control over the mouse or keyboard, everything just freezes. If I have anything making sound (music, video, whatever), the sound will just start repeating one note over and over and over in a strange type of stutter. It'll get stuck like this and the only thing it will respond to is holding the power button in (in roughly 0.5% of cases, it will get it's stuff back together after about 15 minutes, but most of the time the computer will just set there in an eternal state of locked up).

Sometimes this computer will go days without an episode, but the minute it has one, each subsequent one is closer and closer together (a second one almost always occurring less than 20 minutes after the first, and a third one shortly thereafter). It seems like about the only way to get it to reset is to leave it off for the night.

At first I thought this was a heat problem, so I took it apart and cleaned it out, fresh thermal paste, the whole deal. I set it back up on a nice cooling mat, but it still locked up shortly thereafter. Not to mention that I couldn't find a single part of the computer that was getting anything over a few degrees above room temperature.

Then I thought that maybe I had some sort of malicious software running around, so I ran every sort of scanner for malware, spyware, virus and anything else that I could get my hands on, and they all turned up nothing.

I've even ran this computer with absolutely everything shut off that wasn't either absolutely necessary for the computer to run or the one webpage that I was looking at, and it still had problems.

On top of all this, portions of the data on my hard drive have randomly disappeared, or certain folder names have been replaced by all boxes, that same box windows uses when it can't figure out what character belongs some where. The even stranger part is that all of the missing files are exclusively out of my music library. Roughly half of the information there is gone, and it's just random songs out of random folders.

I've scanned the hard drive itself for bad sectors and ran a few other tests on it; all of those say that the hard drive is fine.

I've completely run out of ideas on this one. If anyone's got any ideas on what's going on, I would appreciate it.

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All Answers

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Answer
After you backup.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / June 20, 2012 2:59 AM PDT

I'm a little concerned about your first sentence as it may not be your laptop. Is it?

On to the usual. Backup the files and then restore it to the factory load. Also, do the usual canned air cleaning and maintenance.

That should restore it to the factory and if it still locks up you'll want to get a price on the motherboard to see if this is worth fixing.
Bob

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Yes, The Computer Is Mine
by X_Z / June 20, 2012 4:19 AM PDT
In reply to: After you backup.

Yes, it is my computer described. My only computer to be specific. As such, I can vouch for the fact that this thing has been fairly well taken care of. It was new when I bought it and I've been rather careful with it.

The canned air cleaning and such happened when I took this thing apart, which was about three weeks ago. I'll hit it with it again though.

I'm in the midst of backing up files now, and am working on getting it all set up to go back to factory setup. As it is , what exactly goes wrong on the motherboard that can cause this sort of problem? The last laptop that I was helping a friend of mine with wound up having bad capacitors on it that prevented it from booting up. Granted that these were capacitors in a crucial location, but could this be a similar problem?

Thanks.

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About bad caps.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / June 20, 2012 4:25 AM PDT

You can find most of those with the visual inspection (google bad caps to find pictures and more.)

But given you took it apart, did you replace the heat sink compound while you were in there? I find many machines need this after a few years.
Bob

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Did That Too
by X_Z / June 20, 2012 4:36 AM PDT
In reply to: About bad caps.

I replaced the heat sink compound with the best stuff that I could get my hands on. I also had to replace the AC power plug while I was in there, which required taking EVERYTHING off of the board to get the plug fully loose (luckily it was one of the ones that just plugs into the board instead of being built into it, which made my job easier), and there was no way I was going to put it back together without fresh compound.

For the record though, the computer was acting funny before I put the new AC plug in it. The port wasn't replaced because it was short-circuiting or anything, it had just lost its capacity to firmly hang onto the power cord.

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Sounds like end of life behaviours.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / June 20, 2012 4:49 AM PDT
In reply to: Did That Too

Given the story it sounds like the laptop is approaching end of life. Is this 2 or more years old?

I know folk are only now learning how short the life spans are. This model did not come with 8GB RAM so given that and the power jack failure it sounds as this unit suffered some some abuse and is not stock.

Ask the owner if they played video games which adds to the reduction in life span (figure about 2 years for gamers.)

--> BUT PUT THE STOCK RAM BACK IN as a test.
Bob

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