I have this 'new' Dell work laptop for less than a month now. Something happened today that happened once on this laptop just recently before and also rarely on other computers that I've used.

I was working when I noticed that applications couldn't start and when I looked at my hard drive indicator light on the laptop didn't blink at all: it seems that my hard drive wasn't responding. A forced reboot was required and afterwards the Windows Event Viewer has nothing more to say than: 'The system has rebooted without cleanly shutting down first. ...'.

What causes this shutting down of my hard drive? I was doing low performance tasks and I wasn't moving it around. This laptop uses an SSD but I had this happen on computers with traditional hard drives as well, although not at this frequency.

  • The HDD isn't actually shutting down because if it did then Windows would have crashed. A HDD would only shutdown if there was no disk activity at all for a long period of time. If this happens across multiple storage devices there might be something else going on with the laptop itself ( i.e. design flaw ) that allows this to error to surface. – Ramhound Feb 26 '14 at 14:41
  • I don't know how else to describe it other that it shut down / became unresponsive (no blinking indicator light, can use apps for limited time until I open stuff the freezes in about a minute). Also I was using the drive before this happened. – Johan B Feb 26 '14 at 15:28
  • If you use the words "shut off" that indicates a powered down state or the disk was unmounted which would make Windows BSOD. Does the SSD have the current firmware installed? I am just telling you whats not happening. – Ramhound Feb 26 '14 at 16:21

There are a couple different issues you might be having. We'll assume your indicator light is working correctly.

Your hard drive could indeed be suffering technical difficulty, which might need a S.M.A.R.T (Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology) check just to make sure. On the flip side of that you could have a piece of software doing damage. Trying booting into safe mode and see if you get the same problem.

The power supply could be failing, meaning your HDD isn't getting enough power to function correctly or your motherboard could be having issues.

Check the safe mode solution. If not try a S.M.A.R.T program such as PassMark. I haven't used this specific application and can't find the one I usually use, but any problem a Google search will provide you other options.

One other easy to check issue might be your hard drive cables (IDE or SATA), which you can replace without an issues.

Should these not be your issue you might want to get your power supply and motherboard checked by an engineer.

As a precaution you might want to backup your stuff. Don't want to be cursing yourself later if your drive is slowly deteriorating.

Techlogon - Some further reading if you wish.

  • The problem with the safe mode solution is that it happens a bit too rarely for it. It was a week and half since the last occurrence. I will try the SMART test. – Johan B Feb 26 '14 at 14:36
  • If it's that infrequent you are probably facing some form of software issue or possibly a faulty hard drive cable. As a precaution you might want to backup your stuff, just in case. – Matthew Williams Feb 26 '14 at 14:39
  • SMART came back clear and looking at tear-down pictures it doesn't seem to have any cabling for the hard drive, just the regular slot system. – Johan B Feb 26 '14 at 15:10
  • Since nothing happened in event viewer go into Control Panel > All Control Panel Items > Action Center (Maintenance dropdown) > Reliability Monitor. See if anything is listed in there. – Matthew Williams Feb 26 '14 at 15:14
  • Nothing relevant is listed there, just a bunch of crashes of Office due to an update from earlier and a reboot was done afterwards. Also nothing from the previous occurrence. ... After looking a bit closer at the information events there have a few updates of Modern Apps just before the event, but I didn't note the time so I don't know had far off these are. I doubt updates of Modern Apps would cause this. – Johan B Feb 26 '14 at 15:26

The same thing happened to me once. My SSD (a Crucial M4) would suddenly become read-only, preventing new applications from starting. A reboot would temporarily fix it.

As it turned out, the SSD's firmware had a bug that triggered this odd behavior after 5,000 hours of use. A firmware update fixed the problem.

Search for a new firmware version for your SSD on its manufacturer's website. If there is one, update the drive's firmware.

  • Good point. Worth checking. Although his laptop is apparently 'new', so would be nice to think this isn't the issue. – Matthew Williams Feb 26 '14 at 14:56
  • Is this after 5,000 hours of non-continues running time I suppose? Unfortunately it's a Lite On SSD (I've never heard of them before now), and they seems to have an firmware file available for download but I don't know whether it's an update or not. How safe is updating the firmware on an SSD anyway? – Johan B Feb 26 '14 at 15:09
  • Should be pretty safe but always back up first just in case. I had similar issues with an SSD on a Win7 system, firmware update fixed everything. – dr.nixon Feb 26 '14 at 16:08
  • @JohanB: It's 5,000 hours while powered on, but that's just for Crucial M4's. Other drives may have other issues. Regarding safety, if, e.g., the computer shuts down during the firmware update, the drive may become unusable. That shouldn't happen with a laptop, but making a backup is never a bad idea. – Dennis Feb 26 '14 at 18:28

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