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Desktop suddenly shuts down without warning

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Last night I was working on uploading my new web page and all of a sudden my computer shut down without any warning, at the same time, the fan in the back started spinning faster and was really loud. I had to pull the power cord off to get it to stop. I tried to turn the computer on and all it would do was just start the fan faster than normal. I ended up opening the case and wiggled the fan cables a bit and then it turned on fine. I started working with it again and it shut down again after about 30 minutes. This time around I was able to turn it back on and left it doing a test render all night to see if it was overheating, and this morning it was still on and the render was complete.


I have no idea what is wrong, I suspect there might me something wrong with the fan? or the processor might be overheating? Virus? I have no clue, I just know I can't rely on the machine anymore since I don't know when it'll just shut down in the middle of something. I'll try to mess around with it more when I'm home.


It is a Sony VAIO Desktop RS-420

Processor is P4 2.8GHz HT

I have 1 gig of RAM (4x256MB)

Using Windows XP Home


I have no idea what the fans are or the mother board, etc....it was all just stock that came with the computer. The machine is about 4 months old.


Sorry for the long post, but just thought I'd ask in case anyone has any ideas or suggestions.


Thanks for your help,


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call ur resller


use sony guarantee...

should have sumetin like repair on site 1 or 4 days no?

cause if u touch anything u might loose that guarantee...

anyway i have no idea

an intel p4 overheating without overclocking & in a sony config should not overheat....


anyway u could try locating problem using a software like sandra (gives u specs & temperatures)


or motherboard monitor


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It sounds like the computer is overheating! Is there alot of dust in the case? Is the cpu heatsink clogged up? Hows the fan speed on the cpu? Can you get into the SONY bios? Does it have a pc health or area which reports the cpu temp?


Usually sudden shutoffs or turn off's are either overheating cpu's, or power supply issues.


Sounds like the cpu since the system actually initates a shutdown...probably just needs the dust fired out of it.


Where is the computer located?

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Thanks for your the links kingeldar. I'll check those out tonight.


Greg, I've attached a photo where I drew where the box sits right now. I suppose it doesn't get enought airflow being against the wall and underneath the desk. It is in my livingroom and we keep the ambient temp at around 72 and it does feel pretty hot in there sometimes. (we have a newborn and my wife insists on keeping it 'warm' for him)


When I looked at the case last night it didn't seem too dusty or clogged up, but I'll check again. We have construction going on in front of out house and it gets really dusty everywhere.


I'm not sure how to check the fan speed of how to get into the BIOS but I'll see if there is a 'pc healt' application and start from there.


Thanks for all your help.


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I checked the computer for dust and it's actually pretty clean, but I did try and clean it even more.


I figured out how to access the BIOS at startup and looked at the temperatures and fan speeds. I took a picture of the screen which shows what they were. Those temps are taken after the computer sat idle all evening (it did suddenly shut off once this evening). Are they high?


The second picture shows the screen option where if there is an AC power failure, the computer will shut off. Is this perhaps what happened? I'm not sure why there is even an option to disable this. I would assume that if there is an AC power failure the computer will shut off no matter what. Right?


Anyway, I still don't know what is causing my computer to suddenly shut down.


Greg, you mentioned that sudden shut off's are often caused by overheating cpu's or power supply issues....if there is a problem with my power supply, how do I go about finding out more about it and fixing it?


Thanks for all your help, I really appreciate everyone taking the time to help each other.



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I had a similar problem a couple of weeks ago.


My machine would restart radomly... sometimes while it was rebooting or after working for a couple of hours.


It turned out one of the ram slots on my motherboard was faulty.

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Those temp's are fine...the system shouldn't be shutting off due to heating problems. Its a bit higher then I'd personally like for idle temps, but still should be under 60C under load.


The best way to know if you've got a psu problem...is when the machine shuts off, you smell electronics burning from the rear of it. Smells like ozone (O³).


Other then that, you'd have to do alot of finky computer admin troubleshooting to narrow it down to that.


Since rusty mentioned ram, you might want to give your memory a check.




Run 2-3 passes (it will run forever, so you'll have to stop it after 3 passes) and see if you get any errors. There are both iso and floppy images available from the website (in case you don't have a floppy disk).

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Just a quick update....I called Sony this morning and after explaining my problem to the tech, he asked if the computer was plugged into the wall or a power strip. I told him it is plugged into a power strip and he suggested I tried the wall outlet and see if that fixes the problem. If it doesn't, then I have to call back and have to send the computer in. What a pain!

His thinking was that the power strip might not be providing continuous current....I have to admit...it is a very old power strip.


Greg, I did notice an funny/different (ozone?) smell behind the computer when it suddenly shut off, but not on normal shut down.


I'll run a memory ckeck tonight just in case.




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Ozone smell indicates the psu is going, will go, or somethings wrong with it.


Sony will have to replace it since its under warranty. Run the memtest to make sure!


I understand your reluctance to go through the companies tech support...most vendor support is pretty poor of late.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I just wanted to post a quick update, I'll keep it short.

I decided to call Sony and go through the steps to send my PC in for repair, to my surprise they said that this type of repair qualified for on-site service. I did have to spend about 45 min. on the phone explaining to the guy the problem only to be transfered to another guy that didn't say much except that someone would call me to schedule an appointment.


So today, someone came to my house at the scheduled time with a brand new power supply and replaced the old one (no charge). The tech seemed to agree that I had a faulty power supply. Now we'll see if this was indeed the cause of my PC's sudden loss of power.


Thanks to everyone for all your help in narrowing down the problem.


P.S. I have to say I that 'm actually pleasantly surprised at how everything went in dealing with Sony tech support.

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