A Slice of Life

commentary on issues in politics, culture, environment and technology

02 Jul 11 How To Fix an Overheating Laptop that Shuts Down Randomly

dusty laptop heatsink

image courtesy of Edmund Tse

My Dell Inspiron 1525 started to overheat and shut down randomly just after the warranty expired.  The machine starts feeling very hot to touch shortly after it starts up.  Applications run slowly or display the ‘not responding’ message, then, with absolutely no warning, the computer suddenly shuts down.  Any unsaved work will of course be lost.  I put up with this for a while; pressing Ctrl + S frequently I could manage to keep working and usually get over an hour of use in before the laptop shut down, but before long, the problem had become worse and I could only get the thing to run for 10-15 minutes.

I took my laptop to the local computer repair shop.  The technician told me that the problem was most likely caused by a faulty hard drive or faulty RAM.  When I came back to collect it, he told me he had installed a new hard drive, new RAM including an extra Gb and had upgraded the OS to Windows 7 (the 1525 came with Vista Home installed).  None of these measures worked.  He said that he had tried everything he could think of and that he couldn’t fix it.  At least he didn’t charge me for the privilege.This of course left me feeling very frustrated.  Dell won’t repair machines not covered by warranty and I was feeling like I had been conned.  Judging by the number of posts around on this problem this is a very common problem.  Thread like this one are filled with various solutions to this problem, most of which don’t get you anywhere.  They are also filled with angry comments and suggestions that users with this problem should take out a class action against Dell.  This is understandable but in actual fact, the problem is quite simple to fix and not the manufacturer’s fault, although they could perhaps provide a little more information on problems like this.

How to fix this problem:


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