laptop hangs and freezes

I have an HP Probook 6550b, i5 M450, 2.4 Ghz, Win 7, 4GB RAM, with a 16GB readyboost drive.

For quite some time, it has suffered from periodic hanging and freezing.  There is no pattern to what software I am running at the time or what I am doing.  Sometimes it hangs, and I can regain control; sometimes it just freezes and I have to turn it off with the switch.  I have run System Mechanic, Advanced System Care Pro, Reimage, driver checker and update utilities, and other cleaner / repair utilities.  Nothing seems to make any difference.

I have "Who Crashed" running, and there's never any crash dump info.

Sometimes I suspect the graphics driver or chip.  I don't know much about it, but it seems that the computer has trouble redrawing the screen fairly often.

I am at the point of a new computer, but believe this must be solvable.  What should I be looking at?

Thank you.
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nobusConnect With a Mentor Commented:
a factory restore restores the pc to the state you got it from themanufacturer; it is like a fresh install + all applications from the supplier
helpfinderIT ConsultantCommented:
first at all run serious antivurus software (Kaspersky, Symantec, etc.) for some viruses.
run superantispyware (yeah that´s product name :)) or spybot search and destroy for malware.
you can also make botable CD or USB with Kaspersky Rescue Disk 10 - it´s free and you will scan your computer when not running windows.

also run windows update and check for optional updates if there are some of them for your hardware. You can manually install chipset or graphic driver from HP support website.
run sfc /scannow from command prompt (elevated - as Administrator) to check drivers consistency.
also you can  clean your machine from dust (in case overheating is an issue) - you can use air in the can (spray) or if the machine is not under warranty you can disassembly it and clean more precisely.
Dan CraciunIT ConsultantCommented:
2 possible causes I would investigate:
1. the hdd:
I use CrystalDiskInfo to check for SMART parameters.
If it's green, run chkdsk c: \R and restart, letting Windows check the system partition for problems.
If it's yellow, run the manufacturer's utility and use the long test. If it's ok, run chkdsk also.
If it's red or if the manufacturer's utility says it can't repair it, backup and replace the hdd.

2. temperatures:
I use Speedfan to monitor the temperatures. Leave it running and see if you can correlate the freezes with high temperatures.
If the temps are problematic, take it to the nearest repair shop and have it cleaned.
You can do it yourself, but if you do not have experience with it I don't recommend it.

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David Johnson, CD, MVPOwnerCommented:
disable readyboost since you have lots of ram unless you REALLY need it. As noted above Laptops have heat problems, check that the fan is working and not ubstructed with lint or other debris (a can of compressed air and blow it out could help).  A failing hard drive will also cause these symptoms (as noted above) as the disk keeps retrying the sector.
The graphics chip is probably overheating.
Disassemble the case and clean all air cooled components from dust and debris.
If you cannot disassemble then with the power off use a vacuum cleaner on all the vents to suck out as much dust and debris as possible.
Air jet spay cans may also be used to assist the removal of dust and debris, and laptop cooling pads can help.
Disassembly and clean all air cooled components from dust and debris is usually the better solution.

Chech hardware with diagnostics on UBCD:
nobusConnect With a Mentor Commented:
i would uninstall all toolsq you used to start with.
then i would run diagnostics on Ram and disk, to be sure about the basics, i use the UBCD for this :
Hardware diagnostic CD    UBCD

go to the download page, scroll down to the mirror section, and  click on a mirror to start the download
Download the UBCD and make the cd   <<==on a WORKING PC, and boot the problem PC 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, eg ubcd527.iso - so 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 or advanced diag !  (runs at least for30 minutes)                        ultimate boot cd             download page

 in your case, since it happens infrequently, i would run the diags for a long time, if the suggestions above did not help

and if the problem is the motherboard -  then there's only 1 solution : a new one, or turn this one in for repair
Danny ChildConnect With a Mentor IT ManagerCommented:
Personally, I think Spybot Search&Destroy is a bit off the pace these days, and would make malwarebytes my very first port of call.

Take care with any of these downloads that you get them from the original websites, not some clone site that's repackaged the software with a bunch of crud around it.

I would also try removing the battery and just running it on the mains alone - take care NOT to disturb the power cord while this is happening, as if it's disconnected, the lappy will turn off, of course.  The reason for this is that failing batteries can sometimes cause power fluctuations that can cause instability, even if charging at the time.  See if it's more stable like this, and if so, you may want to consider a replacement battery.  

However, the temperature issues mentioned above are pretty likely, as well.
pjfromnyAuthor Commented:
It has Trend Micro antivirus, as well as the malware checks in Advanced System Care and System Mechanic.

Windows Update runs regularly.  There are two updates that Reimage fouled up and now won't install, but the issues precede that. The updates are reported to be minor and the Reimage folks gave up on trying to fix it.

I've updated drivers using HP utilities and have Iobit's Driver Booster running.

I've run Superantispyware and Spybot.  Just some tracking cookies.  I will run Malwarebytes.

Just so I'm clear - a power fluctuation would cause it to hand and/or freeze?  

It overheats occasionally, but that seems to be unrelated to the hanging/freezing issue.  I keep RealTemp running most of the time, and when it gets hot, I increase the air space underneath or use an external fan.  If it gets really hot, it just turns off.

I will try without the battery.
I've requested that this question be deleted for the following reason:

Not enough information to confirm an answer.
by: pjfromnyPosted on 2014-03-18 at 10:00:58ID: 39935806
"It overheats occasionally, but that seems to be unrelated to the hanging/freezing issue."

Overheating is the cause of the freeze, as I commented.

by: Michael-BestPosted on 2014-03-16 at 05:47:47ID: 39931840
"The graphics chip is probably overheating."
pjfromnyAuthor Commented:
Okay, I just want to be sure I understand.  I know that it occasionally overheats and shuts down, and I have installed "RealTemp" which warns me that its overheating.  But the hanging and freezing can also be overheating?

I have tried all of the malware removal that was suggested.

I have not been able to physically vacuum the system.
Overheating of the video chip is likely the cause of the freeze.
Disassemble the case and clean all air cooled components from dust and debris.
pjfromnyAuthor Commented:
I've taken it all apart, cleaned all dust out.  It was not that dirty.  I replaced the keyboard not so long ago, and cleaned it then.  It does not seem to have helped.
>>  there's never any crash dump info  << i just noticed this "there's never any crash dump info"  is the system set to make minidumps?  if not, set it , and when you get a dmp - post the dmp file here
pjfromnyAuthor Commented:
I'm not getting BSOD.  I'm just getting non-responsive, either for a few minutes or permanently.  I completely uninstalled System Mechanic, and it seems to be better.  It has frozen on me about once a day since that uninstall.

Its been set for a kernal memory dump, so I changed it to small memory dump.
nobusConnect With a Mentor Commented:
i suppose the best solution is to backup, and do a factory restore
pjfromnyAuthor Commented:
I'm not sure I know what you mean by a "factory restore," reinstall windows?
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