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I own a Dell E6420 laptop, that runs Windows 10 Pro.

My laptop has this one issue. Randomly, out of the blue, it just freezes up. My touchpad becomes unresponsive. The DVD Drive switch would not respond. The fan would suddenly run at it's maximum RPM.

Removing the power cord would reflect in a small change in system brightness, in accordance with my power settings.

My laptop has a hardware switch to turn on/off the WiFi Radio, which is reflected my a small Wi-Fi light near my power switch. When the freeze occurs, toggling the switch doesn't turn off the light.

The system would not unfreeze at any point. The only measure would be to force power down by holding down the power button.

I've tried to keep track of the kind of circumstances under which this occurs. Some of the variables I considered were temperature, CPU Load, ambient humidity, presence of AC power (I usually run my laptop with the power cord attached), total running time. There was nothing common that I could find. It was all random. I always noted down the programs that were running whenever my laptop would freeze. Again, completely random. The frequency of these freezes are random too. Sometimes, my laptop would go an entire month without freezing once. Sometimes, it would freeze twice in a day.

The issue has been persisting even before I upgraded to Windows 10 from Windows 7.

The older Windows 7 was installed on a brand new 500 GB, 7200 RPM SATA Hard disk.

What can I do to overcome this?

Edit 1 : I use Avast Antivirus that always runs on the background and I perform weekly full system scans using Avast Antivirus and Norton Power Eraser. I've never encountered malware problems so far, so I think we can rule that out.

  • It can be an electrical short from the power supply, little enough to not let start the circuit breaker of the house or the insert fuse of the power supply(if it has one). Or perhaps also something on the motherboard or graphic card. Did you try to use another power supply ? – Tech-IO Jan 21 '17 at 17:56
  • Does the Windows Error Log show anything? Also, check in Task Manager what processes are running now, and look for anything suspicious. – DrMoishe Pippik Jan 22 '17 at 3:48
  • @GiaRui I have tried using a power adapter meant for Dell E6520. Dell Laptops usually have universal power adapters but I did look out for any discrepancies in voltage ratings. The power supply at my place is pretty steady, but I'm still looking out for it since you mention it might be a problem. However, I should mention that no other user in my home has had this issue with their laptops. How would you suggest I test the motherboard or the built in graphics adapter for electrical shorts? – Jay Jan 22 '17 at 6:13
  • @DrMoishePippik I checked the Windows Error Log. At the time of the freeze it has logged a Critical level system error with the following description - "The system has rebooted without cleanly shutting down first. This error could be caused if the system stopped responding, crashed, or lost power unexpectedly.". I did a history of such errors and all of their sources was "Kernel-Power". It's basically describing my problem. There aren't any suspicious processes running according to Task Manager either. – Jay Jan 22 '17 at 6:13
  • The OS is a complex machine, it could be some softwareside problem. You could try to use "Windbg.exe" using certain commands. Booting in safe mode and looking if it works, maybe you could compare it to the normal boot scene.Or trying to configure something with the devicedriver of the graphiccard. It could be also something with the hardware. – Tech-IO Feb 5 '17 at 12:00
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  1. If you have a charged battery, it's not an adapter issue: even unplugged, the battery acts as a UPS.

  2. It could be a loose connector. The Dell e6420 service manual shows how to open the case. Reseat all connectors and socketed components. There are a number of causes for intermittent connections, but sometimes wiggling a part can, at least temporarily, fix it. [That explains why "percussive maintenance", giving a knock to a device, sometimes works... or at least relieves frustration.]

  3. You might check video drivers for updates.

  4. Use Windows Deployment Image Servicing and Management (DISM) and System File Checker (SFC) to ensure all OS files are valid.

  5. Check any peripherals, e.g. USB devices, for bad cords. A temporary short could cause the issue.

  6. Checking for malware was a good idea, but weekly use of Norton Power Eraser might be associated with the issue, because it "may mark a legitimate program for removal." SFC should fix any OS files accidentally removed by Power Eraser.

  • In reference to (2), I have taken apart the case just to peer around. I have disconnected and reconnected the hard drive, RAM, WiFi card and heat-sink. And each time I have ensured that all connections were properly made. In reference to (3), I used Device Manager to check for updates and it returns that my current driver is up to date. In reference to (6), NPE has marked legit programs for removal, but I'd always check it's list and uncheck the programs I intend to keep. I'll get back soon on (4) and (5). – Jay Jan 26 '17 at 7:13

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