So I inherited a Sony VGN-S170 (PCG-6C2L) laptop.

It randomly shuts-down, regardless of the activity.

First, I thought it was the damaged DC power jack - replaced it, but still shuts down.

The battery is completely dead - won't do anything on just battery power, so I've ordered a new battery. But, the shut-down occurs whether the battery is in the bay or not, so I don't believe its a battery issue. I'm using a new adapter, so don't believe that to be an issue either.

I've opened the machine, and completely cleaned it out - this brought the temperature down about 15.C, but still hits peaks of 75.C sometimes, but usually hovers around 40-45.C on the CPU, and 30-34.C on the HD. I've read that heat can be a reason for the shut down, but the laptop has shut down on me even when its cold. Sometimes, it even shuts-down within seconds of pressing the "on" button in the morning, after hours of no activity. So I'm not convinced its a heat issue here, but who knows.

I've notices that if I press F2 at start up, it goes into BIOS with no problem, and stays there until I exit BIOS (which again leads me to believe its not a heat issue...otherwise, why won't the heat shut it down at this stage?)
When I exit BIOS, it will either shut-down immediately, or work either for a few seconds or for several hours until I shut it down myself. RANDOM!!
I've swapped the HD and reloaded everything on the machine (updated the BIOS, XP Pro, and all service packs/updates).
Should I revert to the original BIOS? Could this be an issue with Windows?

As you can tell, I'm not very knowledgeable about computers...hoping someone can shed some light.


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Try removing and refitting the ram. If you can get hold of some, try some different ram sticks.

Hmmmm. Excellent suggestion.

I know that a second 512 memory has been added to the laptop, so I will remove/swap/move them around to see if that helps.

By the way, would it help if I open a bunch of applications to overwhelm the RAM to see if that triggers it, or do you think it is not the extra load on the RAM, but rather a short somewhere that is triggered regardless of how much the RAM is working.

I'll be back - with hopefully some good news.

Have a look to see if the 2 sticks are the same speed. If they aren't then that could possibly be the cause of your problems.

I checked-out the RAM issue. There are 2 matching 512MB 333Mhz Micro-Dimm RAMS in there.

First, I tried to start the machine with both RAM sticks. The laptop was cold, so no heat issue. Every time I pressed the ON button, the machine would come on as if to boot-up, but then would shut-down after a second or two. This happened several times.
I pressed F2 on my last try, and it entered BIOS with no problems - and stayed on until I exited BIOS, which made it shut-down immediately.

Then I tried the RAM idea. Took out one, then the other - same problem.
Swapped the locations - same problem.

Then, I accidentally moved the power cord - and viola: the laptop turned on this time, and stayed until I shut it off 24 hours later.
So - could this be an adapter issue? Can the adapter be supplying just enough juice to get the laptop started, but not supplying enough juice to keep it on?
I've ordered a new adapter - and will test this theory.
Unfortunately, the battery is completely dead, and I haven't received the new batter I I can't tell if this issue will occur on battery alone.

On a related note, the machine, when it is working, will turn on with or without the battery installed - so I don't believe the dead battery is causing anything.

Any insight will be greatly appreciated.


It could well be the socket. Sony power sockets are not the most reliable!

OK. Please Define "Shut Down".
Does it:
a) switch off with no warning?
b) attempt to switch off properly whenever it feels like it (but never completes)
c) shut down whenever it feels like it (and takes ages to finish shutting down)
d) instantly reboot at random (ie shutdown instantly, then start up again)

Some Possible Causes (and how to test them:)

If it is trying to do a proper shut down, then it is not a heat or a RAM issue. In this case it will be Either Windows Update set to "completely automatic" where it will instal and shutdown the system quietly and "without permission", or some other software trying to do the same thing. I know that ESET Smart Security Can be set to do this behaviour, For Example.

If it is getting part way through a shutdown and not copleting it, then it is a power (Battery) Issue. Your battery is not an issue, you have already said so.

If you think that it is overheating (And my gut feeling is that you are correct) then the best way to moitor those temps is with an awesome app called SpeedFan.
If your CPU temp goes over about 60deg, then bad. If it goes over 80, expect it to shut down.

If it Reboots without warning, then it is most likely corrupt RAM. You can use this to test it

It is a file that you burn to a CD and run it so that your Computer Is Offline. It can be burned to a CD using A .iso burning program such as Nero, Or the Free (and very excellent) InfraRecorder

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