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August 2009
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Home computer acting strangely; what next?

12:27 PM Wed, Aug 05, 2009 |
Posted by: Walt Zwirko
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When you work with computers for a living, it’s — well, it’s embarrassing when something goes wrong that you just can’t seem to right.

Here’s my story.

I had grown quite fond of my Acer Aspire L100 mini computer. It packed a reasonable amount of power into the space of a desktop dictionary.

The L100 was (and still is) hooked up to my LCD TV set in the living room. With a wireless keyboard and mouse, I could sit on the sofa and surf the Web, watch Internet TV, even update the content on WFAA.com.

A couple of weeks ago, however, the L100 started acting strangely. It would spontaneously reboot itself without warning.

My initial diagnosis was that the mysterious shutdowns may be heat-related. After all, the L100 has a dual-core AMD processor tucked inside a tiny, crowded chassis. The computer has adequate ventilation, but it sits behind my TV set and is often in direct sunlight from a nearby window.

Letting the computer cool didn’t seem to resolve the issue; nor did rolling back to earlier updates of the Windows Vista operating system that it came with.

The L100 kept shutting itself down.

Groan.

Then I had an idea. What if this problem was somehow associated with Windows?

Linux is an alternative operating system that is freely available. I had squirreled away several discs (bonuses from British computer magazines) that let you boot up to Linux from a CD without the need to actually install it.

Guess what?

My computer ran with Linux and didn’t shut down.

That would seem to indicate that the computer hardware is just fine, right?

I had a copy of the new Windows 7 operating system ready to go; perhaps whatever incompatibilities my L100 had with Vista would be rectified with Windows 7!

So, I started installing Windows 7, and things seemed to go pretty smoothly… at the start.

But after 51 minutes, guess what? The installation shut down!

When I pressed the power button, the “Windows Error Recovery” screen popped up.

After following all the directions (and attempting to load Windows 7 several more times), I finally stopped trying.

So now, I have a nice computer that’s pretty much a doorstop unless I install Linux on it. Unfortunately, not all the applications I need to do my WFAA job will work with Linux, so I’m still searching for an answer.

Now I have a fairly strong background in computer problem-solving dating back to the days of DOS, so when I run into a problem like this, it’s very frustrating.

I can only imagine that most people faced with a challenge like this just throw up their hands and get a new computer, figuring (probably correctly) that the cost of any necessary repairs to an out-of-warranty, two-year-old box would better be invested in a faster PC with more memory, better graphics and a bigger hard drive.

To me, though, this is like a Rubik’s Cube puzzle; I know if I spin it around enough times, all the colors will match on all six sides. Patience, Walt; patience.

So I haven’t given up on my Acer Aspire L100 just yet. I’ll keep you posted.

E-mail askwalt@wfaa.com



4 Comments

Check the RAM. Ram that is defective can cause this issue in windows. MS have a diagnostic program at the URL below.

http://oca.microsoft.com/en/windiag.asp

Thanks for the suggestion. I didn’t mention it in the story, but I did check out the RAM; it tested OK.

it could still be a heat issue. this model is notorious for overheating and mobo failures. it’s possible that Linux is less taxing on the cpu and therefore runs cooler.

I would replace ram and see if the problem continues. I had the same issue and the ram checked out ok, but when I replaced it the problem went away.


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