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8 Posts

10-23-2008

USA

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  • Registered: ‎10-23-2008
  • Location: USA
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Lenovo 3000 n100 Restarts Randomly, Caused Hard Drive Corruption

2008-10-23, 20:09 PM

Hello. In my spare time I fix electronics and desktop computers. A few days ago, my boss asked me to look at his laptop because for the previous couple of days, it wouldn't start up. He turned it on in front of me & I saw that it was getting a BSOD and trying to restart. 

 

I took it home and tried to turn off the automatic restart & get into Safe Mode, but it crashed before getting to that stage. I looked the model up online & read about the battery recall. My boss didn't know about it, but had purchased a new battery on his own not long after buying the computer because the original battery wouldn't hold a charge. So, I looked up the serial number of the replacement battery & it is not affected by the recall, but wondering if it was contributing to the restarts, I've been running the laptop on AC with the battery removed.

 

I started up the Recovery Partition, but the laptop shut itself off after the initial loading screen. I ran the Recovery tools from the disks & was able to use the diagnostic tools to determine that the Windows partition on the hard drive was corrupted. So, I purchased and installed a new drive (I also used Windows chkdsk /f and the freeware Testdisk to recover the information from the old HD, but didn't want to re-use it in his computer), and installed Windows using the Recovery disks. 

 

Windows installed without problems and I was able to fully update through Windows Update before the laptop shut itself off. I restarted and checked the power settings to make sure that it wasn't set to turn itself off and that Hibernation was off. I also double-checked to make sure that the screen saver was off. Still, after a few minutes, the laptop switches itself off. I've been able to run Memtest86 as well as the Recovery tools from CD, for several hours without it switching off, but anything else - Normal startup, Safe Mode, Recovery Partition, it shuts itself off, often long before it could have had time to overheat. I've even tried running it with a fan blowing on the bottom, but it still shuts off. I also tried re-inserting the battery, but that didn't stop the machine from shutting off.  At this point, I've stopped running any diagnostics for fear of the random crashes causing corruption on the new hard drive. I haven't been able to write down any STOP error #s because I haven't seen one since the brief glimpse I had when my boss turned on the laptop - since I've had it, the laptop just turns itself off.

 

If anyone has any suggestions, it would be greatly appreciated, as it seems that the only answer from Lenovo is that it's out of warranty and can be diagnosed and repaired for the price of a new computer. 

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128 Posts

10-22-2008

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

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  • Registered: ‎10-22-2008
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  • Message 2 of 4

Re: Lenovo 3000 n100 Restarts Randomly, Caused Hard Drive Corruption

2008-10-25, 12:25 PM

Hi there,

 

Since you already have taken some steps to solve the problem, I would go further with a few more tests also if I were you. As you can understand, the nature of the problem must be isolated to either software or hardware related.

 

Let the default choices selected on this page and download the Live CD to run the laptop on Ubuntu. A full installation to your hard disk is unnecessary, just select "Try Ubuntu" from the first menu you get after booting the CD and there will be no changes to your hard drive contents.
The purpose here is to see whether or not the laptop will be triggered to restart while running an OS other than Windows XP.

 

If that fails, and the laptop keeps experiencing the problem. You will practically be left with very few options, since the cause is hardware related. From what I understand swapping the power supply, the hard disk, reverting the bios to older versions, and even a whole mainboard replacement has not solved the problem. So there's no need to try that, although I encourage you to try the option of reverting to various earlier bios versions yourself. Also however the chances are very slim, if it is possible for you, try swapping the memory banks with a different brand to see if perhaps that could be the cause. As a last test, you could also easily open the case and disconnect the cables to the WiFi radio and Bluetooth radio to see if still then the problem persists.

 

In the event that none of the above resolved the problem, then it is clear that a poor choice of manufacturing materials or processes has resulted in damage to a certain component over time, and has left you with no other option since it is no longer under warranty.

 

Who to blame then? Well, definitely not the Chinese, but the wrong policies of Pres. Bush that put so many US firms under stress, to the point that they were forced to sell out major divisions just in order to survive.

 

Cheers,

Mario

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8 Posts

10-23-2008

USA

142 Signins

388 Page Views

  • Posts: 8
  • Registered: ‎10-23-2008
  • Location: USA
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  • Message 3 of 4

Re: Lenovo 3000 n100 Restarts Randomly, Caused Hard Drive Corruption

2008-11-03, 0:36 AM

Hello.  Sorry it took me so long to reply, but I've been working on multiple computers - October seems to be Hard Drive Failure Month.

 

Anyway, in response to the various suggestions about possible causes:

 

I don't want to repeat everything that I've already written, other than to say that dust and/or overheating are definitely NOT the issue with this particular machine.  The vents were blown out with compressed air before I began working on it and, in general, it's a well-maintained machine. I've already tried the built-in Lenovo diagnostics (also Windows Scandisk & CHKDSK as well as FixBoot & Fix MBR to recover the hard drive), MemTest & TestDisk.  I didn't get to do an Ubuntu install because it became clear to me that the power-offs are having an adverse effect on the machine (they corrupted the original hard drive, at a minimum). At any rate, the machine shuts itself off while running the BIOS, so it's a sure bet that it's hardware, not OS-related.

 

After I replaced the hard drive, re-installed and updated Windows, I left the machine switched off & plugged in to an outlet overnight (with the non-recalled battery inserted). The next day I switched the laptop on and watched it switch itself off almost immediately after the Windows loading screen appeared. I had already turned off the automatic-restart-after-failure, but there was no BSOD, just an instant-off.

 

It made a faint but audible click, much like the noise you'd hear if there were a power blackout. It sounded very much like the power had been cut suddenly, and I actually found myself looking around my apartment to make sure that we hadn't had a blackout.

 

After reading a few more posts in this forum, I re-checked the battery lights and realized that they are turning off a few moments after plugging the machine in.  I was plugging it in & looking to see if they lit, then not paying attention to whether they stayed lit.Again, this is a non-recalled replacement battery that the laptop's owner bought about a year ago. It doesn't show any outward signs of damage & none of the contacts on it or the laptop appear to be broken or corroded.

 

I decided to begin disassembling the machine to see if there were any obvious signs of battery leakage, capacitor discharge, etc. When I got to the compartment containing the small fan & copper heat sink I noticed first that the metal shielding on the plastic compartment cover was rusty. Then, I realized that the copper rod itself was heavily corroded along the outer edge - right below the vent. I don't want to risk further damage by switching the laptop on again, but I'm assuming that the vent has been drawing moist air across the heat sink, causing the corrosion. However, I don't want to make any assumptions about the extent of the damage caused by rust and/or corrosion.

 

So, my questions are:

 

1. Could corrosion on the copper rod cause power failures on its own?

2. If the answer to #1 is, "yes," is it possible to get a replacement copper heat sink to test this possibility?

3. If the answer to #1 is, "no," then does anyone have any further suggestions as to what I should be looking for? For instance, it crossed my mind that perhaps there's corrosion on the CPU pins or in the socket. I have some time on my hands at this time of year, so I'm willing to go ahead and finish taking it apart if folks think that would be useful.

 

My boss has already indicated that he's going to get a new laptop rather than spend any more money fixing this one, so I have permission to systematically take it apart.

 

By the way, this machine is a Lenovo 3000-n100-0768-6FU

- 1.6 GHz Intel 950 Centrino Duo

- 512 MB DDR2 RAM

- 80 GB 5400 RPM Hitachi SATA HD (that I replaced with a 120 GB drive) 

- Wireless, Bluetooth, DVD/CD burner, etc.

- Windows XP Service Pack 3 (Although I also tried rolling back to SP2, which didn't work)

- It had the factory-shipped BIOS, so I updated it but that didn't solve the problem

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4 Posts

11-07-2008

New Delhi, India

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  • Posts: 4
  • Registered: ‎11-07-2008
  • Location: New Delhi, India
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  • Message 4 of 4

Re: Lenovo 3000 n100 Restarts Randomly, Caused Hard Drive Corruption

2008-11-07, 18:20 PM

The most common reason for this is over heating caused by excessive hard disk or processor activity which makes the intel processor to shut itself as a precaution against overheated environment. This can happen in any model of laptop. The overheating is caused actually by software programmes like windows search or other indexing programmes. Excessive indexing activities gets the hard disk and processor in to hyperactivity and you can feel considerable amount of heat emitted at exhaust points. The only way to rectify this problem is to uninstall programmes like Windows Search, or other hard disk indexing applications that come with some CD  writer software.

 

Sometimes, this overheating could lead to blue screen error if the OS is able to recover in time just before the processor shut down. Microsoft might even send you a message in response to your error report asking you to reduce graphic accelleration rate. This is really not the source of the blue screen problem. It is simply overheating. Laptops do not have adequate heat sink or exhaust fan facility to cope with such hyperactive processors or disks. Just unistall windows search and similar indexing applications. I wish Microsoft analysed the error report in the context and gave proper response than giving misleading suggestions

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