Laptop power off problem


Universal Translator
20 Mar 2002
My gf has a Dell Inspiron 5100. The computer is ~7 months old. It runs WinXP, it's not used for much more than IM, email, and word processing. Anyway, lately it will just turn off unexpectedly. One will be typing and *BAM* power goes off. I checked the easy stuff, the battery is charged, the AC power is hooked up, I'm not hitting the power off button. I don't think it is overheating as it just sits on a desk for the majority of its use.

This happened about 5 times within a 10 minute span about two weeks ago, and it didn't do anything since. I threw on some AdAware, Spybot, ran it through a virus scan, and threw up a firewall courtesy ZA. It just happened again three times in the past five minutes. It did a disk check and said the hard disk was "dirty?" It seems to be fine now.

It is quite annoying, even though Windows recovers stuff, very stressful as she is under enough pressure with law school. Couldn't find much in the way of help on the web, and not in the mood to dial tech support. :(
Look at my sig :)
I'm almost sure it's a heat issue. There have been threads about this on the Dell Support forums. The heatsinks collect dust after a while, and you need to make sure they're clean so that the heat from the desktop CPU in there is dissipated efficiently. I highly recommend getting a can of compressed air. Use a few blasts on the vent at the back, and the right side (don't blow through the vent at the bottom of the laptop).

It will definitely solve your problem, believe me.
Design issue with Dell laptops?? I've never had this prob with my Sony laptop and I've had it for nearly two years now.
I would have suggested that maybe there's a loose connection between the battery and the slot. But I would go with NetRyder since he seems to have read about it before.
When you blow out the air vents, do it outside. The dust bunny's will be stampeding out.

Use short bursts or the "duster spray" will cause condensation which will cake the dust onto the heatsinks.
What about overheating makes it just shut off like that? The desk it's on is from an unfinished furniture store and she put a small dish towel underneath (heh) because she didn't want to scuff the unvarnished wood.

Saw your sig just after I made that thread, NetRyder. Looks like I will have to invest in some compressed air. Thanks!
the towel will also impeed the air getting in/out so you might want to get her to invest in something a little less fluffy :p
Towel bad idea. It acts as an insulating blanket. Laptops dump heat through the bottom which is why the laptop manufacturers tell you not to set it on anything valuable including your lap. Severe burns can result.

I have no idea where you are supposed to set it, maybe they expect all laptops to be used on formica or metal desks. You could buy one of the new laptop cooler pads for use at home.

The P4 chips have internal thermal shutdown circuitry so they slow down when hot and eventually shutdown. Any good laptop will also have a thermal shutdown to protect itself from overheat damage.

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Also Hi EP and people. I found this place again while looking through a oooollllllldddd backup. I have filled over 10TB and was looking at my collection of antiques. Any bids on the 500Mhz Win 95 fix?
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