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Why is it that my PC keeps shutting off unexpectedly?

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Why is it that my PC keeps shutting off unexpectedly?

You say you don’t believe there’s anything wrong with the fan, but you don’t sound convinced.

Here’s a couple of possibilities…

  • When a computer overheats, it will either freeze, or it could simply shut off. Considering this is a laptop, it’s possible that either the air port is clogged (most likely), or the fan is broken, and you don’t hear anything wrong simply because it’s not running (least likely). When the computer shuts down next time, feel the bottom. If it’s hot, then one of these two issues may be your problem. You’ll need to get a tech to open up your computer to clean the cooling fins and check the fan.
  • There may also be something more serious, such as a blown capacitor, or a burned component. Little things may give up the ghost, and the computer will still operate to a degree. These components are nearly microscopic, and only a skilled technician would be able to find a problem child. It might even be your RAM, as that can cause errors that would cause a shutdown.
  • Software issues don’t always mean malware or viruses. Files can become corrupted if the computer is shutdown while the computer is accessing the hard drive or SSD. A hard drive could be damaged from a physical shock, such as being dropped or knocked too hard. A program goes to access a bad file, then shuts down because of it.

So, here’s what to do.

  • Get a Linux live DVD. You can download Ubuntu, Mint, or Fedora for free and burn it to a DVD, or even onto a jumpdrive. Insert the live disk into your computer an boot (you’ll need to make sure it’s set a the primary drive). A live disk means that Linux can be used to operate the computer without loading the OS or changing your main drive. Play with this for a few hours at least. If the computer shuts down, it’s a hardware issue. If it doesn’t, then it’s probably a software issue, or one involving your hard drive/SSD. Try this a few times to be sure.
  • If it is a hardware issue, you’ll probably need to have a tech look at it. There are Youtube videos which can show you how to access your particular model’s cooling system, but some of those items are delicate, and even an experienced hand could damage something. And, if not the cooling system, you’d have almost no luck finding a component problem. Sometimes, though, techs can be quite pricey, so you may just want to get confirmation, then buy a new computer.
  • If it is a software or storage disk issue, then you’ve got two choices. One is to reload the computer. Most of the pre Windows 10 systems had a utility for making factory install disks, and Microsoft has an online install utility (which can be made bootable on a jumpdrive) for loading Windows 10. If you have a legal copy of 10 on the system, all you need to do is load and activate. The other choice is to try and identify when the computer is actually shutting down. If it’s in a game or program, then reload that software. Sometimes, though, those shutdowns can happen randomly, which means it’s probably when it accesses a particular operating file. This is harder to diagnose, and would probably need a tech to look at. Either way, the first option is usually your best bet. Just make sure you backup all your important stuff first.

Shutdowns and freezes aren’t always that difficult to make a general diagnoses. It’s when you need a more detailed one that it becomes dicier. For that reason, I can’t really go into more details, and neither can anyone else, without actually looking at your computer. Logs don’t generally help in this case, since the computer is going down before a log entry can be made.

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