Laptop freezes after a short period of time

By Esper
Oct 5, 2009
  1. Hello, recently my laptop (Dell Inspiron 6400, running WinXP Media Edition)'s been failing; it freezes anywhere from ten seconds to five minutes after I log in. I'm unable to install an antivirus because the laptop freezes during installation. Safe Mode seems to be, well, safer, although even so it has frozen.

    I'm unable to install the antivirus (Kaspersky) in Safe Mode because Windows Installer is disabled, and none of the solutions I've found online seem to do the trick. And I suspect that even if i could get the installer to work, it'd freeze halfway through anyway.

    I have no idea what's causing the freezing; it might not even be a virus at all. I've noticed that the laptop always freezes at the "Copying new files" stage of the Kaspersky installation, although whether that has something to do with my own timing or that procedure I can't guess. Also, the time that the computer did freeze in Safe Mode, I was attempting to rename a file.

    The computer is completely frozen; Num Lock / Scroll Lock can't be activated/deactivated, the mouse doesn't move, etc. I can't even shut down without either pulling the plug out or holding onto the power button.
  2. Kcircyrd

    Kcircyrd TS Rookie Posts: 216

    That model has been out for about three years? How long have you had your Inspiron 6400?

    We need to know the configuration, including hard drive size, brand, free space, as well as memory installed.

    It could be that the CPU cooling is too full of dust, hair, fiber, etc. to cool adequately... or that the hard drive is failing, or that you have inadequate memory. But it could simply be an infestation that needs to be cleaned out.

    Have you tried re-enabling Windows Installer? Have you attempted to use MalwareBytes, SuperAntispyware, ComboFix, Windows Defender, Spy Sweeper, Spyware Doctor, or other top-flite spyware detectors and removers?
  3. Esper

    Esper TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Thanks for the response!

    Yes, I've had this laptop for at least two years. Also, I believe this model's noted for how quickly it heats up, which leads me to suspect that the hardware is causing a problem.

    I have tried reenabling Windows Installer, but to no avail. I just get the same message about installation being restricted.

    My HD is 91GB (Fujitsu MHV2100BH). There is 14.5GB free, although my F: partition has only 7% (or 4.5GB) free. I have 1GB of RAM installed.

    I have tried scanning with MalewareBytes (9/21/09), and my ComboFix is out of date, so all I have is restricted mode. I'll download ComboFix on this laptop and transfer it over via a thumbdrive and see what I get.

    Ohhhhhhhkay. Combofix just found a massive infestation in pchealth and system32 and restored all those files, so this could possibly be the end of my worries for now. Silly me.
  4. Esper

    Esper TS Rookie Topic Starter

    I guess the infestation was irrelevant to the freezing; about four minutes in and I'm freezing again. Boo.
  5. Kcircyrd

    Kcircyrd TS Rookie Posts: 216

    Check those partitions. What is the free space in percent?
    When each partition is at 17% it is full. After that, you do not have enough space for all the processing that goes on. You have a little leeway on the F partition, but none on the C:
    Run defragment tools, then tell us what those percentages are.
    The computer has a good reputation for reliability. But I wonder how many of your files are images... Big image files or folders are likely to slow down everything, even when not accessed.
    We are cynics about the value of Media Center Edition. We have more performance issues with that operation system than one would expect. So be sure all files and drivers are up-to-date at the Dell site...
    And when was the last time you updated the BIOS?
    You might also want to run a hard drive fitness test. I think Fujitsu still has one.
  6. Esper

    Esper TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Thanks for the response,

    C (Backup): 46%
    F: (Main HD) 6%

    I have about 600MB of images, and as far as I know, have never updated the BIOS..

    The Fujitsu diagnostic test located here tells me that no hard drive can be found, apparently because of an improperly attached HDD power cable, HDD interface cable, or incorrect master-slave settings. I have no idea what any of those mean.
  7. Kcircyrd

    Kcircyrd TS Rookie Posts: 216

    Is this a SATA or EIDE drive?
    A key part of your problem is that your main hard drive does not have enough space to run properly. Windows requires 17% MINIMUM free space to run well. Six percent is so low that you will actually have difficulting moving some of the files elsewhere.
    Were it mine, I would buy a new and much larger drive, and put that full drive in an external enclosure from which you can copy the files you need.
    Of course you will have difficulty with installing your software if you are missing any install disks.

    And it is important to download an save all your key drivers to a CD or flash drive to make the transistion easier.
  8. Esper

    Esper TS Rookie Topic Starter

    I am.. not sure. I think it's SATA, mainly because I have a feeling I've seen those letters before, whereas EIDE is completely unfamiliar to me.

    I'd rather not get a new hard drive, as resources are a bit tight right now.. I'll run my first ever Disk Cleanup, transfer some old files to my desktop, and go from there. I'll reply again once I've finished (though I'm not quite sure on the policy on doubleposting in this forum).
  9. Kcircyrd

    Kcircyrd TS Rookie Posts: 216

    Do you have your Windows Disk or recovery and install disks available to you?
  10. Esper

    Esper TS Rookie Topic Starter

    My CD drive is not functioning, so I don't know if that's an option for me right now..

    And to answer the question, no, although I could procure them.

    Also, I ran Disk Cleanup for a while (the screen eventually goes black and I can't tell what's going on after about an hour, though, and it never seems to get past 2 bars) and moved some video files to the C: drive, putting me at around 10GB of free space. I still freeze up, although on another account (which for some reason is unable to connect to the router) I seem not to. Haven't left it on long enough on that account to know for sure, though.
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