Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I have an ancient Toshiba Satellite Pro 4600 laptop with WinXP Pro and MS Office on it. It's always been reliable, although slow. I no longer connect it to the internet, although it has Avast AVG (with 1 service running). I usually just close the lid and let it hibernate, and I did that a couple of weeks ago without leaving it plugged in, and it ran out of power and shut down.

Since that time, it has been unuseable. I can do a hard shutdown, and it boots right up, allows me to log on, and then whatever app I try to run, it just hangs. I did manage to do disk cleanup on my admin account and run a defrag a couple of days ago, but mostly I can't get it to respond. I can open control panel and look at installed programs, but that hangs, and then I can't get anything to close. Pretty much everything looks like it will start, but at some point it hangs, and the only thing I can do is a hard shutdown. Ctrl-Alt-Del won't respond, shutdown hasn't responded at all.

Sometimes, on a reboot it does a disk check before starting Windows, and that seems to run through fine. I'm going to go do another hard shutdown, and try to check the volume for errors from Windows. I was told to try sfc /purgecache and sfc /cachesize=150, but the first command locked up the machine.

I know it won't be even worth the time to try Word (which is mainly what I use it for).

What might be wrong, and is there anything I can do?

Update: hard shutdown, restart, restarted fine and I logged in, ran disk check, and it is fine. Went to shutdown, and it has quit responding. The mouse moves, but I can't click on anything. I do a ctrl-alt-del and go to task manager, and now it won't close or respond.

share|improve this question
up vote 0 down vote accepted

I know this probably won't be a popular answer but if you really mostly use the laptop for running Word I would suggest that you use the Manufacturers disk to restore the machine to its original state and start fresh. If you do not have the disk, they are often available from the manufacturer for a small fee.

The time you could spend troubleshooting something like this could be never-ending. You may have a bad hard drive or controller but that is really hard to pin down until it is too late. Save yourself the grief and just start again.

Restore the machine fresh and install Word. Shouldn't take more than an hour depending on how long it takes you to back up your data. Since it's a laptop you probably haven't installed a lot of peripherals so there shouldn't be any driver hunting except possibly re-updating some of the drivers to the latest version.

share|improve this answer
I bought the laptop from work for $25, and it didn't come with any CDs. But I think you're still right. Fortunately, I don't really have anything important on it, and I can still get files off. – thursdaysgeek Nov 20 '09 at 23:37

To me it seems that it is the HDD that hangs... I had a HDD once which sometimes decided to stop responding and the OS(Ubuntu) survived that. By survived I mean that anything that didn't require IO or was already in cached in memory worked, but everything that required IO just hang. Vista just did a BSoD when the HDD did that. I dunno how xp would react.

I suggest that you try to have a look your HDD's S.M.A.R.T. info. For example Portable DiskCheckup is simple portable utility that you can use for this. Look for the word FAIL on the "Smart info" tab.

share|improve this answer

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .