Acer Travelmate 8104 shuts down when no one is signed in

My Travelmate has been shutting itself off nearly every time no one is signed in.  There is nothing apparent in the Event Viewer.  There are no Windows error messages when I turn the machine back on.  It does not do this when someone is signed in.  (Users may be logged in, but if the machine is left at the "To begin, click user name" window, the machine will shut off nearly every time after a few minutes or hours.)  I experimented with being in and out of a login over several days, and it's very consistent.

The machine can be used all day long, with heavy disk usage or heavy CPU usage and it works fine, but leave it alone at the login window, and it justs turns off.  I tried killing Acer's epm-dm.exe power management process, and this didn't make any difference.  Acer hasn't been much help with this problem.  They suggested going back to a System Restore point when the problem wasn't occurring, but I need every application I have installed and it started doing this recently.  I haven't installed anything recently, anyway.
elupinAsked:
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PCBONEZCommented:
Just a thought....
If no one is logged in anyway then why waste the electricity?

Go into the BIOS and turn off power management there.
If the BIOS was reset to defaults it may be 'on' now when it was 'off' before.
It's also remotely possible Acer's power management program reset the BIOS power management.
I'm not familiar with the program so... ??




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nobusCommented:
>>    it started doing this recently.  I haven't installed anything recently, anyway.   <<< then why not use a recent restore point?
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PCBONEZCommented:
Did perhaps someone else install or change settings recently?
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elupinAuthor Commented:
No one else has changed any settings.  I plan to try a system restore from a month ago, and we'll see what happens.

Also, while it still appears to be a problem only when the machine is idle, last night it shut down when a user was signed in, so the theory about sitting at the login window may not always be true.  However, the computer gets constant use during the day and evening, and has yet to shut down when anyone was actively using it, so the requirement to be idle still seems to apply.
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PCBONEZCommented:
Check your CPU fan settings in the BIOS if you have them and set it to max cooling.
You may be having overheat problems and it's time to clean it out inside.

I'm thinking that possibly the fan is controlled by system activity vs temerature and during low CPU use (idle system) the fan is shutting off causing it to overheat because the ventilation paths are partially clogged.
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elupinAuthor Commented:
An interesting theory, but the computer is only about six months old.  Also, wouldn't the fan come back on full blast before it decided it was still too hot and shut off?
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PCBONEZCommented:
I answered that "possibly -the fan- is controlled by -system activity- vs -temerature-"
I wouldn't set it up that way but Acer may have.

- Heavy use all day long and shuts down when it's idle.
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elupinAuthor Commented:
I am now nearly certain the machine is overheating.  I downloaded a SMART monitor program and the hard disk gets into the 50s Celcius.  The requirement for the machine to be idle, as I stated above, actually seems to depend on the lid being closed, which, of course, makes it get hotter.

I took all the obvious screws out of the bottom in an attempt to open it to vacuum inside, but it still wouldn't come apart.  The panel with the keyboard, i.e., the surface you see when you open the lid that includes the touchpad, keyboard and shortcut buttons, became loose around the edges, but was still held firmly under the keyboard.

Either there are screws under the keys, and I couldn't see any peeking under the keys, or there is some kind of pressure snap, which I wasn't going to force without being sure.

Does anybody know how to open up one of these 8104's?
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PCBONEZCommented:
Acer isn't so good about documentation.
I did find this though. .. Not much help but some...

http://www.notebookforums.com/showthread.php?p=706009
http://www.smugmug.com/gallery/716040/1/31318568

Look at this pic. See the copper heat sink near the fan with the "M" stamped on it.
http://www.smugmug.com/photos/31318617-M.jpg
See those copper fins?
That's where "stuff" is going to build up.
If you can clean that well enough without disassembly then you should be good to go.
Do not blow into it. Use a vacum and maybe a paperclip in the fins to loosen things up.

Often the bezel between the keyboard and screen comes off exposing screws to the keyboard.

Sometimes keyboard screws come in through the bottom and many be hidden by installed drives, battery, memory, covers, stickers...

Some have these slide-tabs that work like a slide bolt.
The tabs are barely visible between and under the keys.
You push them with a small screw driver (or ?, I use a knife tip) and the 'bolt' disengages.




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nobusCommented:
if it overheats, i would turn it in for a warranty repair.
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elupinAuthor Commented:
I put my Shop Vac to use and vacuumed every orifice.  The temperature is down 10-12 degrees C and all seems well for now, but if anybody knows for sure how to get it open, or at least get the keyboard loose as in the photo here: http://www.notebookforums.com/showthread.php?p=706009 that would be vey helpful.
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PCBONEZCommented:
Considering the lack of on-line support for this model you might consider joining that forum and asking the guy that posted all that..
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nobusCommented:
are ther screws marked "k" on the bottom? For many laptops, you need to unscrew those; for others, there are little latches on the keyboard to be moved outwards.
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elupinAuthor Commented:
With help from the picture and the advice I found the keyboard tabs near the 'Esc' and 'Del' keys and a screw in a deep hole on the bottom near the battery and got the keyboard off.  I was able to vacuum dust right off the fan blades and the computer is running even a little cooler since I used the Shop Vac on the openings, as described above.

Thanks, guys.
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