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My laptop crashes randomly when working from the mains electricity supply but works fine on battery power

Laptop problem: Laptop crashes randomly due to overheating

My Samsung Q210 laptop PC came with Windows Vista Home Premium. I have just upgraded it to Windows 7 Home Premium after a relative bought the Family Pack and had a free licence, otherwise I was quite happy with Vista. It was working perfectly well until recently when it started crashing randomly, but only when connected to the mains electricity. It works as it always did using battery power, so I have ruled out the upgrade to Windows 7 as the cause. When it crashes I have to press the Power button until it switches off and then power it on again when it usually works until the next random crash.

Answer

A search of the web reveals that your crashing problem with the Samsung Q210 is not common. Indeed, it is a common laptop problem regardless of the age of the laptop or the operation system being used – Windows XP/Vista/7/8.1/10, OS X, Linux, etc.

The crashes may not be as random as you think they are. If you are using demanding software, say, to play a movie, or even just watching a video from the web, the processor can heat up considerably, going from 40 degrees Centigrade to as high as 80 degrees Centigrade even when the cooling system is working efficiently. When this happens the fan’s speed increases and it can usually be heard compared to when it is usually quite silent during routine, less demanding use. It the processor reaches a high enough temperature it will stop working to protect itself and the computer. The fact that the computer works after a reboot indicates that the processor has had time to cool down.

This kind of crash can happen even if the extractor fan or fans are working properly, but can happen if it or they have become clogged with dust. The computer dates from 2008, so, if it hasn’t been cleaned internally, quite a bit of dust could have built up in the fan(s). You should have a user manual that shows how to open the case. The fan or fans can then be cleaned with a small pain brush while holding the blade in place with a pen or by using a can of compressed air that can be purchased from retail or online computer or photographic stores. If the laptop uses more than one fan, perhaps one of them has stopped working, which has made the cooling less effective. If so, you will have to buy a replacement fan from its manufacturer. If there were no fan extraction of hot air taking place, the laptop would be crashing as soon as it became too hot.

Power Options in the Control Panel control the power settings in all versions of Windows since Windows 95, which would usually be set to provide optimal performance when running on mains power, but reduced performance when running on battery power, but you can set the laptop to work using the same reduced power options while working from the mains.

There are several other cooling solutions that can be employed, such as a laptop stand that raises the laptop from the surface of the desk and devices that you place the laptop on that cool it. A search of the web using the search query laptop cooling devices will find information and suppliers of them for you.

The processor’s temperature shouldn’t exceed 80 degrees centigrade. Fortunately, a good free utility, such as the one linked to below, can monitor a laptop’s battery usage, etc., and tell you what the current temperature of the processor (CPU) and the hard disk drive (HDD) is. When it is installed, just hold the mouse pointer over the utility’s icon in the Notification Area (bottom left corner) to be provided with the temperatures. If the temperature gets too high stop running the demanding software and you’ll see the processor’s temperature drop immediately.

BatteryCare – http://batterycare.net/en/index.html