Laptop freezes or reboots. Can't start Win XP again immed., but okay after awhile

This is what happens.. I'll be using my computer when suddenly it freezes. Nothing can be done except to hit the power switch. Then, when I switch it back on, it skips the "Windows did not end normally (whatever).. do you want safe mode" screen and will get to the Windows logo screen, but the meter bar remains empty and the screen is dim, maybe about 1/4 the normal brightness. (see the attached picture, but much dimmer and without any bars in the meter bar)  I've waited several minutes at this screen, but nothing further happens. Subsequent power off/ons will give me that "Windows did not end normally" screen (normal brightness!), but followed again by the dimly-lit, non-moving Windows logo screen that goes nowhere. No matter what my choice, safe mode, last known good config., start normally, same thing.. dim Windows logo screen and nothing more.

However, each time this has happened, if I just leave it off and just wait for 10-30 minutes and then come back, it starts normally again!

So, could this be a hardware issue, something overheating perhaps? Maybe caused by dust? If so, I could start by having it opened up and cleaned out well. Is it possibly the hard disk? Any chance it's a software issue?

Techs are cheap here in Peru, so if it might be a dust issue I'll start by having it cleaned out good.

It's an older Thiinkpad.

This first happened a few months ago while living in a humid, moldy apartment. At the time, I was afraid that mold was starting to affect the hard disk or other parts of my laptop. It happened around 3 or 4 times within a 2 week period then.. I took it to a sunny cafe a few times a week for the next couple of weeks until we found a new place and moved. (and I kept it sealed in a water-proof bag when off)  Now I'm using it in a room that stays pretty dry, although I do occasionally use it in bed and keep it (closed) in the bedroom overnight here, which we have just noticed has a mold problem as well! We've been in the new place for a couple of months, and I hadn't seen this problem since the move until yesterday when it froze. Then it happened again today, only difference being, instead of freezing, it spontaneously rebooted (and gave the same dim Windows screen).


 dim, stuck windows logo
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Missus Miss_SellaneusAsked:
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It sounds like you video card/motherboard is failing.

I would guess your hard drive is fine.

Is it any different with and without the power plugged in?
dbruntonQuid, Me Anxius Sum?  Illegitimi non carborundum.Commented:
Battery condition?
Missus Miss_SellaneusAuthor Commented:
I almost always use it plugged in, and it's never happened when running on battery, but I've always tried disconnecting the power cord when this happened, and it makes no difference when trying to restart it whether it's plugged in or not.
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Missus Miss_SellaneusAuthor Commented:
The battery is great, I bought it new a year and a half ago.
I would remove one ram chip then try booting it
Furthermore to that mark one chip with a pen to verify its OK
Then try a different hard drive

Seems more like a Ram / Hard Drive related issue by the sounds of it
Its your graphics chip overheating...happens to my gals PC netbook all the time (when its hot & humid here in Japan)
Clean out the dust & also consider using a USB fan to cool the laptop.
theres no artifcating, telling me its definately not graphics card related, bad ram causes these freezes 99% of the time

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dbruntonQuid, Me Anxius Sum?  Illegitimi non carborundum.Commented:
Do the dust issue anyway.  Won't hurt.

Test the RAM with the UBCD  Download the ISO, burn to CD, boot from it and run memtest.  Let memtest do two or three passes and see what it returns.  Guides to using memtest are on Youtube.

And what brand and model of laptop is this?
Missus Miss_SellaneusAuthor Commented:
It came with a 2G chip and I added a new 1G chip about 9 months ago (the max I can use).   This happens so infrequently (except for twice in 2 days now).  In the time it would take me to open it up, remove the chip, and close it, that's equal to the time I'd wait anyway before restarting it (when it finally starts normally!). I wouldn't even try to run Windows without the 2G chip, and it would really slow me down running with just 2G just to see if it happens again.

I am in the process of ordering items in the states to have a family member ship to me, and it would be rather cheap to just go ahead and buy a new 1 gig chip to include in my shipment, which I expect to be getting in about 4-6 weeks.

Installing everything on a replacement drive would be a real hassle for me, not to mention the cost, unless I knew for certain that the drive is the cause. My drive is new as well, I bought it after a crash about 1.5 years ago.
it would support 4gb but 3.25gb according to memory addressing on a 32bit host operating system it runs windows XP so 512-1gb is MORE than enough lol for windows

hard drives in laptops are more prone to issues due to bumps and knocks

I would try the ram for sure...its what the integrated card uses and it more than likely craps itself due to the ram address being bad

Ram > all other solutions with these kind of random issues as a first test

Yeah the video card could be dead but i doubt it, it runs fine for 30 minutes, enough time for the ram to end up with dirty segments and causing meltdown
Missus Miss_SellaneusAuthor Commented:
Lenovo Thinkpad R61.

I'll run the memory test at from Windows, if it can be used from Windows.

Unfortunately, my DVD/CD drive doesn't burn (I think the drive is bad, an EE question for another day), but when I have a tech clean out the inside of the machine, I can have the tech burn the Ultimate Boot CD for me.
dbruntonQuid, Me Anxius Sum?  Illegitimi non carborundum.Commented:
You can use memtest as suggested to test the RAM.  No need to open the machine up.  That is pretty much an overnight test so you'd know the results in 12 hours.

Note that memtest may return errors.  2 or 3 errors is OK.  10 or more indicates RAM problems.
Missus Miss_SellaneusAuthor Commented:
This model will take 4G, but it will only use 3G (I think I was told that's specific to XP).  I could go ahead and order new 1G and 2G cards from the states just to be sure.
thats a recommend method

it will then prove if ram is good or bad, testing is always the best method though
Missus Miss_SellaneusAuthor Commented:
"512-1gb is MORE than enough lol for windows"..

For who? I keep so many tabs open in Firefox usually, Firefox sometimes uses as much as 1.2 G all by itself! (until I notice and restart FF), then it normally uses 400-600 meg. And that's not all I use.
dbruntonQuid, Me Anxius Sum?  Illegitimi non carborundum.Commented:
This laptop has a Nvidia graphics chipset.

Possible this is the graphics chipset failing or an inverter problem or backlight problem.

If you have a spare monitor handy and the problem occurs try plugging the spare monitor and switching the laptop to it.  If the screen dimness goes away you know you have a backlight or inverter problem.

But speak to your tech person about it.
512mb is the minimum required for xp

I ran 1gb for numerous years no issue on xp on a dell laptop with a 1.7ghz processor

It doesnt need any more than 1gb in all essence to run fine

I did it for years, yes more memory is good but 3gb is OVERKILL for a 32bit OS

If it was windows 7 i would say 4gb as a minimum lol
Missus Miss_SellaneusAuthor Commented:
It looks like memtest needs to be run from a bootable drive. Can someone tell me how to make this memtest bootable on my USB stick so I can get this test going tonight?
Missus Miss_SellaneusAuthor Commented:
I'm planning to find a used monitor as soon as I have a new desk, in a couple of weeks.. there's no room for a monitor on this little table. (ya, and I'll be looking for a used tower as well.. not feeling so good about relying on only this laptop!)  But the display doesn't seem to be the problem, because it is dim and stuck at the same time, and only after the freeze or reboot.

It's so tough talking to techs in Peru with such limited Spanish!  But I have a flyer from a "home visit" tech who I will be calling for the clean out.
Missus Miss_SellaneusAuthor Commented:
Forget what I asked about making a bootable USB stick. I'm going for my Spanish tutoring tomorrow. I'll just take ISO burner software and a CD with me and ask my tutor to burn the memtest CD for me.
dbruntonQuid, Me Anxius Sum?  Illegitimi non carborundum.Commented:
The dimness could be caused by failing inverter and backlight.
Missus Miss_SellaneusAuthor Commented:

Not so hot here in Cusco, but if the sun shines for hours it does get hot in my office (and I like it that way!) But it's only humid in this room overnight I think...  the inside of the window is covered in water in the morning because of the inside/outside temp difference. But where does the water go? It may be a humid during the day as well.

I'll go back to putting the laptop into a plastic bag when I'm not using it and try to get a tech here within a week or so to clean it out.

USB fan? External?  Where would I aim it, at the keyboard? My fingers would freeze. After I get that new desk and I'm using an external keyboard and monitor I'll find a way to elevate the closed laptop to let some air circulate underneath.
i would start by cleaning out the laptop- since it's rather old anyway - that will take care of many overheating problems (including moist problems)
you can monitor the temperatures to be sure :

but it can also be your disk is dying, so running some diags won't hurt either :

 i suggest to run some diags first - to be sure about the basics
Download the UBCD, make the cd, and boot from it
Here 2 links, one to the general site, and a direct link to the download
since the downloaded file is an ISO file, you need to use an ISO burning tool
if you don't have that software, install cdburnerXP :

If you want also the Ram tested - run memtest86+ at least 1 full pass,  - you should have NO errors!
For disk Diagnostics run the disk diag for your disk brand (eg seagate diag for seagate drive)  from the HDD section - long diag !                              ultimate boot cd                        direct link UBCD
in my experience most of the time when laptop Freez up it's usually a dust issue I would have it serviced and cleaned
Missus Miss_SellaneusAuthor Commented:
nobus:  Link not found for 

Lots of good suggestions here, will read more later and figure out my plan of action.  I've run out of time today, I was too busy working and now I've gotta leave in a few minutes for tutoring, and I don't have any files ready to take with.  I'll try to get the those CDs burned when I go for tutoring next time, probably on Sunday.

Will find someone to clean out the dust next week.

ok try this

it is because the iso is often changing
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Missus Miss_SellaneusAuthor Commented:
It hasn't happened again since my original post. In the meantime, I've added long-overdue Windows updates, gotten rid of a nasty trojan which could cause lock-ups and a couple of more viruses, one of which infected AVG! I still haven't had the dust cleaned out. But I think it most likely was due to some component overheating due to the problems with immediate restart, but no problem when waiting (cooling down). I plan to tackle the dust issue soon, and will look into buying a fan.
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