Computer Randomly Turns Off – Troubleshooting Steps

Another problem in information technology in the world order. This time a client had a randomly shutting down laptop. Here is their original request:

“It shut down unexpectedly. When I turn it on the white power light blinks 5 times. I recently put a new 1 terabyte hard drive in with Windows 7 professional.”

Here is my response to this computer predicament. Disconnect the power cord from the laptop and the wall outlet. Take out the laptop battery.

Press and hold the power button for 30 seconds to a minute. Only plug the power cord to the laptop and wall outlet. Leave the battery out of the laptop.

Disconnect any external devices. For example USB flash drive, external hard drive, printer, etc. Now power on the laptop and see if it works correctly.

This laptop received a message that the battery reached a critical level and restored the session. They were able to get this laptop to power on, without trying to diffuse any electric static discharge. You could try using that laptop without the battery for awhile to try to narrow down what is causing it to shutdown.

Also, you could test the memory. If the computer no longer shuts off unexpectedly after a few days or a week, the issue is most likely fixed. You don’t need to follow my instructions now that the computer boots into windows.

You can start a memory test from within Windows 7. Click the Windows 7 start button. Type “memory” into a search box.

Click on “Windows Memory Diagnostic”. You will have two choices to pick from. “Restart now and check for problems” or “Check for problems next time I restart my computer”.

Diagnosing and troubleshooting a computer randomly turns off can be a pain in the ass. There are many variables that can cause this type of problem. A failing memory module, failing memory slot, faulty power cord, faulty motherboard, operating system problem, failing hard drive, etc.

The list goes on and on and on. One technique is to strip down a computer with the least amount of peripherals. Disconnect all external devices.

Remove the battery. Remove the memory. Remove the optical drive for example digital video disc.

Remove the hard drive from your computer. Basically, you want a stripped down computer with just the motherboard, power supply, etc. This was a laptop, but if you had a desktop computer you could even take out all the add in cards.

For example video card, sound card, network card, etc. Anyone of these components can trigger some kind of fault that could cause this computer randomly turns off problem. My experiences over the years is often times hardware.

A failing memory module and or slot. Also, a failing power supply or active current adapter with laptops. You do NOT want to overlook an overheating computer.

Believe it or not too much dust built up in the fans or too much dust built up in the heat sink in a desktop computer can cause this type of problem. This is where years of experience helps and also the process of elimination. Finally, do not overlook issues like a faulty operating system.

You can read over the event logs with event viewer on a Microsoft windows operating system based computer. There might be some clues as to what speak piece of hardware is failing or faulty.