General discussion


Recently, I began having problems when I chose to go into standby. Hard drive just shut off. After several tech discussions with Dell, the computer now just shuts down on its own when I leave it unattended for any length of time. Dell asked me to uninstall/reinstall Windows XP. I am trying to avoid this because it is a lot of work to back up all of my files. Does anyone have any suggestions that I could try prior to doing uninstall/reinstall? Thanks.

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Power Options

First understand the difference between Standby Mode and Hibernate. Standby does not cause the computer to shut down but it does shut down the hard disks, the monitor, and locks the computer. Hibernate allows shutdown after saving memory contents to the hard disk. You can configure your computer to your liking by accessing the power options properties. To navigate there click start, control panel, appearance and themes, display, screensaver tab, and then the power button. You can choose hibernate or standby, define what shuts down and what doesn't, set timers, etc. It's easy, so give it a try.

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Windows XP Help

I followed your instructions. This is what I see...System Standby - 15 min.; system hibernates - Never. Also, under Turn off Hard Drive - never. When I click 'start', then 'turn off computer', I click on standby and drive powers down. I used to be able to hit the space bar when standby worked and computer came on.

Also, I am now having a problem with the hard drive powering down on its own if I leave the computer on and walk away. Sometimes it is a couple of hours; sometimes 15 definite pattern. I am not highly technical but I can follow instructions. This started happening in October. Haven't installed any new programs or changed any settings at all on my own.

Thanks for your tips; if you have any more options, I would be grateful to receive them.

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I assume

that you have an anti virus program that you run regularly. Also are you using anything to detect spyware? Computers can also behave strangely after about 4 or 5 years due to failing battery.

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I am running up-to-date Norton Antivirus. I am also using Microsoft Anti-Spywae (Beta). I run regular scans also of Housecalls (Trend-Micro) and also Panda Free Scans. I have a Dell 4600 purchased in December 2003 (new). Thanks.

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How does it behave if

you choose the never option on everything. Never turn off Monitor, Hard disks, never standby and never hybernate. Many computers function poorly with these features enabled.

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I have changed everything to "never"...will let you know what happens. But, should I still not be able to manually put it in standby without it shutting down? Do you think there is a software problem in XP somewhere on my computer? Thanks.

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I agree with

Xiang Xieu Tsieh, (sorry, I am unsure which part of the name is what I would normally call the first name).

Windows has never really managed to control Standby and Hibernate properly, and although some people seem to have no problems, many more, it seems to me, do.

May I ask why you choose standby rather than screen saver or just closing the computer down if it is going to be unused for any length of time?

It's not that the answer is crucial, but I find that when I go to bed at night, it is just as easy for me to shut the computer down completely then start it up again in the morning. And I wonder if your situation is different.

Then during the day the computer is on all the time, but when I am not using it, I just set it to Screen Saver, and I physically turn the monitor off. The screen saver options are set for Never for all options, (turn off monitor, turn off hard disks, system standby), but my Power Scheme is set to ''Always on''. Hibernate is disabled.

Of course, if your computer is a laptop, there may be different considerations, but for a desktop PC, I find this the best way.

Papa Echo and glb have also given good advice.


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I did what you suggested - checking off the 'never' boxes. The computer has been on for over 24 hours without shutting down. Thanks again for the suggestion.

To the other POSTS: Thanks for your suggestions. Quite frankly, I never thought about just shutting off the monitor and leaving the hard drive on. Maybe I was thinking I would save $$$ if I put it into standby mode. Fan cleaning suggestion - well, I sure didn't know about that. As far as backing up my files, you are absolutely right on that one. I really need to do that.

Thanks again to all for your assistance; really appreciate it.

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Recently ?

Try system restore to roll back to your sytstem state just before the problem. Have you installed any software or hardware just prior to that problem ? What are are the specifications of your computer - power supply, ram, processor... Have you scan for virues nd parasites ?

Also check for heat and power supply issues. OEM machines usually provide a just-enough power supply-maybe 350W? 400W ? You need at least 450W. And-- two years are enough for the fans to suck in enough dust....

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You wrote

''Dell asked me to uninstall/reinstall Windows XP. I am trying to avoid this because it is a lot of work to back up all of my files.''

With the problems you are having, don't you think it is wise to save your important files?

Open the case and clean out the dust. Then go to Dell's website, download the diagnostic utility for your machine and run it.

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Thanks for your reply. I am not sure what I should be downloading from Dell (diagnostic tool you mentioned).
Willing to try it though. And, I didn't know I was supposed to clean the fans from time to time. Will have to do that also.

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Go to,

service and support, enter your service tag number, go to downloads and find the diagnostic utility. There will be instructions along with the download. Once you have printed out the instructions, download then run the utility and see what it finds. There are several versions depending on if you have a floppy drive or not.

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