I have an old but highly functional Dell Inspiron 1720 that I continue to use. The laptop is ~4 years old, but the battery is an aftermarket replacement about 18 months old. Two nights ago the battery suffered a catastrophic meltdown (popping noises, loads of smoke, etc.) while I was using it for simple web surfing. Here's a shot of the results:
I have always used it with a cooler pad, so there was no external damage (to me, for example) and fortunately I was awake and reacted quickly so I was able to get it unplugged and the battery off in a matter of seconds.
Immediately after taking the battery outside to finish dying, I removed the hard drives, hooked them to my desktop with a USB adapter, and found all my data still intact. Without replacing the drives, I also tried booting it from a Linux USB and it all appears to be working. Based on this full functionality, I would say the problem appears to have been isolated to the battery. My question now is: Can I feel safe using another battery with this machine?
The area around the battery terminals was coated in smoke residue after the event and, while it blew off easily with compressed air, it meant I couldn't really distinguish if there was any physical damage to the charging connectors. Anyone have experience with situations like this that can offer advice on testing the battery connection area or charging circuits? I would really like to continue using this as a real laptop, not just an easy-to-move "desktop" computer, tethered to the power outlet.