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Laptop Beeps randomly throughout the day

Posted on 2007-03-29
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Last Modified: 2013-11-17
I have a Dell M65 laptop at work.  It will (apparently randomly) make a strange beeping sound a few times during the day.  I have tried several web searches on this, and there are lots of different reasons why laptops beep, but most of them either don't apply, or I tried the solutions and they didn't work.

What the problem is:
-At various times when I'm sitting in front of my laptop (in it's Dell docking station), I will hear a short beep.  I do not have any speakers attached to the laptop.  
-The beep sounds like it's coming from the front left part of the laptop.  
-It is a funny sounding beep; it resembles some of the game music that early PC games had before they invented sound cards.  It also resembles the chirping, fluttery beep you can get if you hold down a bunch of keys for a long time.

What the problem is not:
-It's not a beep that is coming through my speakers (since I don't have any).
-It's not a beep that's directly related to my actions at the time the beep sounds (I heard it once while I had my feet up on the desk, reading a book over lunch.  I hadn't even touched the computer for long enough for the screen saver to have come on and been running).
-It's not related to my Intel wireless adapter (at least, updating to the latest driver had no effect).
-It's not related to CPU or Hard drive temperature, speedfan shows them around 23 and 40, respectively.  Although, 23 seems like a surprisingly low number for the core temperatures(?)
-It doesn't seem to interrupt my activities.  If I'm typing while I hear the beep, the letters show up on the screen as if nothing had happened, no pause or lockup or anything.

What it might be:
-It seems to only happen when I'm running my browser, IE7.  However, I'm running that browser 90% of the time, and leaving it open even when I'm not using the computer, so it's hard to be sure.
-I think I might be seeing my hard drive activity light on the docking station flickering when I hear the beep. Maybe it's coming from the hard drive?  Could it be some sort of head-movement chirping that only resembles a beep? My drive's a Samsung HM060HI.
-Could it have something to do with it's being docked?  I don't think I've ever heard it beep while I'm using it at home.  However, 95% of the time I'm using it at work with the dock, so I can't be sure if this is a useful fact or just statistics.

Note: I haven't tried any solutions that disable the speaker, because I feel that's like "solving" a burst appendix by gagging the person to keep them quiet.  I'm trying to find out what's causing the beep.  If after doing that it turns out to be benign, then maybe I'll gag my laptop.. ;)

Any suggestions what I can try to fix the problem, or to figure out what it is?

Thanks!
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Question by:AntonioP
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by:jimmyd072298
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Well whether or not you ordered the M65 does come with built-in speakers, actually all PC's come with built in speakers if nothing else but to beep at you occasionally.   I have also noticed a beep in IE7 I think it has to do with the pop-up blocker, there's a setting in IE7 to turn off sounds during "pop-up" blocking.
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by:AntonioP
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Well, I suppose I should have said that I have a set of earbuds plugged into the docking station's speaker socket.  I'll mute my system and see if that makes them go away.  

When IE blocks a pop-up it makes sort of a "bloop" sound.  But I'll shut that off as well... anything that might help!

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by:nobus
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you can check in the sound and audio applet>sounds tab what sounds are assigned to which event ; and so try to trace down the event.
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by:AntonioP
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I had my system set to use no sounds at all, for any event.

Then, one of my google searches found that someone thinks the beep may occur due to having no sounds defined, so I went in and assigned a sound for every event in the list.  After a few hours of feeling like I was in hell, I still heard the weird beep, so I returned it to the no-sounds condition.
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by:nobus
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then i would open the pc, and try to check where it comes from.
Candiddates are hard disk, power supply, cd drive
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by:jimmyd072298
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Have you also checked to see if it was a device other than the PC?  What other devices are around the docking station? UPS, cameras, scanners, fax machines? other devices beep as well, since it's on the left side maybe even a wristwatch alarm?? :-)
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by:AntonioP
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There really aren't any other devices near it, and my watch alarm is quite distinct! ;)

This morning I learned, however, that my laptop will still make a system beep even when it's all muted and plugged into the docking station, so I need to reopen that line of inquiry.  Hooray for mandatory password changes (never thought I'd say that!)


The sound is definitely coming from the same quadrant as my hard drive.  Today, however, I heard a second sound concurrently with the beep.  I swear it sounded exactly like the "ker-SNICK" sound that you would hear when a 3 1/2" floppy drive was sliding open the cover of the disk.  I don't have such a drive, and I'm not sure why I would hear such a sound from the direction of my hard drive, but when I heard it I seem to recall that I have heard that happening with the beep before.  Not every time, maybe once every 20 or 30 times.
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jimmyd072298 earned 350 total points
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uh-oh, I had a drive make that same sound  so I called the vendor and they told me to backup my data and they would send me a new drive i could swap it out and send back the old drive (of course this happened during the warranty period).  If the system is still under warranty call Dell they are real good about helping you out but if it's out of warranty they won't even give you the time of day.  But backup everything.
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by:AntonioP
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Oh-oh.  this is exactly the reason why I didn't want to just shut off the system speaker in the registry...  I'll do the backup immediately and then call. Fortunately I think it is still under warranty.

I'll leave this question open 'till I get back the new drive.

Thanks!
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by:AntonioP
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The new hard drive is being installed this evening. It's a different make and model.  In a few days I'll know if the beeping is gone.
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by:jimmyd072298
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good luck,  the only problem I had after replacing the drive was that I wanted more space so I just replaced teh drive a few weeks ago with a new 200G drive.  but none of those ker-snick sounds since then.
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by:rindi
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AntonioP,

any news?
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by:AntonioP
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So, here's the strange situation.  Before handing my laptop to the IT guy, I removed the 17 Gb of music that I had on it so that he wouldn't have to transfer it back and forth.  I got my laptop back , and haven't heard a beep since.  However, he never changed the drive.  It's still the original drive.  I have since defragged (first removing the swap file then restoring it), and put the music back on, and still haven't heard anything.  I'm expecting to start hearing the noise again now that the disk is 40% full again, but as yet I have not.

The theory was that the "schnick" sound was actually the sound of the head as it went across a weird spot on the disk and was sent flying back to home position to start over.  No idea about the beep; possibly the drive motor humming at a high pitch during the aforementioned movement.  Neither has been heard in the past three days.
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by:jimmyd072298
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The problem is Murphy's Law. Now that you know the drive is questionable it will fail on you at the most inopportune moment.  Generally I want to replace the drive to insure against future failure.  It's no guarantee because even new drives fail but an new drive from reliable vendors is better than a known bad drive from any vendor.
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by:nobus
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you can always run some disk tests :
http://www.hitachigst.com/hdd/support/download.htm                  Drive Fitness Test
http://www.maxtor.com/en/support/products/index.htm                  Maxtor & Quantum
http://www.fcpa.fujitsu.com/support/hard-drives/software_utilities.html#diagnostic Fujitsu
http://www.samsung.com/Products/HardDiskDrive/utilities/shdiag.htm      Samsung
http://www.seagate.com/support/seatools/index.html                  Seagate
http://support.wdc.com/download/#diagutils                        Western Digital
http://www.hgst.com/hdd/support/download.htm#DFT                  IBM & Hitachi       
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by:AntonioP
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Well, it's been over 2 weeks, and at least one since I got all 18 Gb of music back on the laptop, and the sounds have not returned.  I think I'll close this question, and if anything happens later I can try a new one.  But I will still be backing up my data frequently.

In summary, I had a 60 Gb hard drive that had 35Gb of data, and removed 18Gb of data that was probably all in a single chunk, as it had been placed on the drive across the network from my desktop at home. While I was waiting, I did a scandisk, set my page file to 0, defragged, restored page file to a fixed (min=max) value, did another scandisk, and then restored the data.  No beeps or schicks have been heard since the 18Gb were removed.
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by:nobus
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maybe the disk liked the music so much it played it on it's own      :-))
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