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  Sony VAIO PCG-FXA53 often refused to boot up, or locked up 
 
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Wirawan Purwanto Sep 13, 2012, 11:54pm EDT Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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I have a Sony VAIO PCG-FXA53 laptop which now often acts up by not booting up properly. When I press a power button, then the hard drive starts up, but that's it. I have to force shut down, repeat this several times, and by luck it then would boot up.

Also when the computer is operating, there is random chance of this computer locks up by itself. I now changed the OS from windows XP to Linux Crunchbang ("Statler").

A number of years ago (maybe around 2004) I had Joe Kabalan (who is also in this forum) replace the CPU because the CPU died. It was AMD Athlon XP 1500+, now it is powered by AMD Athlon XP 1400+. For a long time after then, it worked fine.

Question: what is the possible cause? How can I diagnose the problem? Maybe a loose connection somewhere or a part beginning to fail? I have opened up the laptop many times, but no luck in spotting any suspect of the cause. Will appreciate your help since this freeze/nonbooting problem is so random and unpredictable.

Wirawan


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Laptop Willie Sep 14, 2012, 08:01am EDT Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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>> Re: Sony VAIO PCG-FXA53 often refused to boot up, or locked up
Wirawan Purwanto said:
I have a Sony VAIO PCG-FXA53 laptop which now often acts up by not booting up properly. When I press a power button, then the hard drive starts up, but that's it. I have to force shut down, repeat this several times, and by luck it then would boot up.

Also when the computer is operating, there is random chance of this computer locks up by itself. I now changed the OS from windows XP to Linux Crunchbang ("Statler").

A number of years ago (maybe around 2004) I had Joe Kabalan (who is also in this forum) replace the CPU because the CPU died. It was AMD Athlon XP 1500+, now it is powered by AMD Athlon XP 1400+. For a long time after then, it worked fine.

Question: what is the possible cause? How can I diagnose the problem? Maybe a loose connection somewhere or a part beginning to fail? I have opened up the laptop many times, but no luck in spotting any suspect of the cause. Will appreciate your help since this freeze/nonbooting problem is so random and unpredictable.

Wirawan

I can only assume that you cleaned the CPU heat exchanger when you had the unit open. This would reduce the chance of it being a heat related problem. So, Basic troubleshooting would have you remove the hard drive and power on the unit to test for failure, but it is intermittent. I would wager a guess as the hard drive going bad. This can happen even with out the blue screen. I would suggest that it is a good time to backup everything you wish to save and try a different hard drive. You might also want to check for intermittent problems with the memory slots. Best of luck.


Laptop Willie
check out laptopwillie.com
Wirawan Purwanto Sep 14, 2012, 10:24am EDT Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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>> Re: Sony VAIO PCG-FXA53 often refused to boot up, or locked up
I don't think heat exchanger or hard drive is an issue. The fan and heatsink are all clean. :) As far as HDD, it is still functioning properly. No clicking or sound of "retrying" at all. Mind you the laptop would not boot from cold (i.e. after being turned off for a while).

A few investigative questions:

1) could this be caused by a weak or dead CMOS battery?

2) any diagnostic tool to check if certain hardware begins to fail (e.g. motherboard, graphics card, whatever)? What I mean is a comprehensive tool to check each part, e.g. memory (like memtest86), then CPU, then this and that peripheral, ... I know I may be asking too much here.

3) the other thing I remember is this: when I was still actively using this laptop, once in a while I will hear a very high pitch "beeeeeep" followed by hard drive access like park-unpark or load-unload kind of action. Then everything went normal again. It's hard to pinpoint when this happened. It happened under Linux (various flavors). Recently I haven't encountered this, but again, I have not been using this laptop for a long time.

4) I heard of some mechanical problem with one of the memory (DIMM) slot in this or related Sony model. Could this be a problem too?

Wirawan

Laptop Willie Sep 14, 2012, 05:23pm EDT Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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>> Re: Sony VAIO PCG-FXA53 often refused to boot up, or locked up
Wirawan Purwanto said:
I don't think heat exchanger or hard drive is an issue. The fan and heatsink are all clean. :) As far as HDD, it is still functioning properly. No clicking or sound of "retrying" at all. Mind you the laptop would not boot from cold (i.e. after being turned off for a while).

A few investigative questions:

1) could this be caused by a weak or dead CMOS battery?

2) any diagnostic tool to check if certain hardware begins to fail (e.g. motherboard, graphics card, whatever)? What I mean is a comprehensive tool to check each part, e.g. memory (like memtest86), then CPU, then this and that peripheral, ... I know I may be asking too much here.

3) the other thing I remember is this: when I was still actively using this laptop, once in a while I will hear a very high pitch "beeeeeep" followed by hard drive access like park-unpark or load-unload kind of action. Then everything went normal again. It's hard to pinpoint when this happened. It happened under Linux (various flavors). Recently I haven't encountered this, but again, I have not been using this laptop for a long time.

4) I heard of some mechanical problem with one of the memory (DIMM) slot in this or related Sony model. Could this be a problem too?

Wirawan

1) Normally a weak cmos battery will show up as a time and date error on boot. I wouldn't think of this as the problem.
2) I have used "Burnin Test" for a long time. It has work well for me
.
http://www.passmark.com/products/bit.htm

This software can be down loaded and placed on CD. They do charge for it, but for me, it has been worth the price as I work on laptops and computers.

3)One of the reasons I hit upon the hard drive is the disk drive motors' lubricant will dry out and with time slow and seize up. They can hang momentarily. This may be the high pitch "beep" you've heard.
4) Yes there has been problems with the memory slots on several of Sony's units. What many folks have done is install a small bit of paper, folded to put pressure on the slots so that the slots will make better contact the the memory card and the motherboard. This a temporary fix for the problem. Mother board replacement or refurbishment is permanent fix.
Good luck,

Laptop Willie
check out laptopwillie.com
john albrich Sep 14, 2012, 10:43pm EDT Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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>> Re: Sony VAIO PCG-FXA53 often refused to boot up, or locked up
.
I'd consider the memory sub-system a prime suspect in such situations.

"Subsystem" means it could be the memory module(s) itself or components associated with handling memory transactions and voltage regulation.

If you've not already done these, and while not comprehensive, I would examine in this order:

Verify that your CMOS Setup settings are set to provide proper voltages and timings to the system busses, the CPU, and the RAM modules.

If multiple memory sticks installed, test them (or use the system) with one stick at a time in the appropriate slot (see your system user manual). You may find one or the other stick is ok, or you may find both sticks work separately but failures occur only when more than 1 stick is installed (which could for examplep point to a RAM voltage regulation issue, a bad socket, etc). If you get errors with any memory stick separately, then try to obtain and test using a known good memory stick, and if possible test your memory stick(s) in another system.

Re the HDD, use a diagnostic tool (HDtune, HDDscan, DiskCheckup, etc) to examine the HDD SMART values. Just because you haven't heard any "obvious" sounds associated with HDD failures doesn't mean there isn't a major HDD problem. Use a self-booting HDD diagnostic tool if necessary. Be aware that some HDD WRITE tests can corrupt an installed filesystem or files so be careful if/when running any WRITE tests. A given tool should tell you if its WRITE test does that.

Use a self-booting diagnostic tool like UBCD to examine various elements of the system (memory, CPU, mobo, etc).


General Notes:
If needed, backup the HDD before performing any diagnostics.

Be sure to follow all ESD and power removal protocols when handling ANY internal components.


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