• Fred Langa: How do I unfreeze my laptop? I’ve pressed ctrl-shift-del but it did not work

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    You’d be surprised how few people know that they may need to take the battery out… if they can… More words of classic wisdom from Fred Langa on hi
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    • #326984

      I’ve not had any issues so severe that the hold-power-button thing hasn’t worked.  I did encounter a guy at a PC shop (that specializes in used gear) who didn’t know you could hold the power button to force-off… when the laptops they had froze up, he let the battery run down to reset.

      My Acer Swift 1 laptop, which (like nearly all modern laptops) has an internal, non-swappable battery, has a neat feature: there’s a little hole in the bottom of the unit into which a straightened paperclip or other such object can be inserted to press a button that will momentarily disconnect the battery.  I’ve never had to use it, but it’s a neat idea, and one that should be standard on all laptops whose batteries cannot easily be removed.

      Dell XPS 13/9310, i5-1135G7/16GB, KDE Neon
      XPG Xenia 15, i7-9750H/16GB & GTX1660ti, KDE Neon
      Acer Swift Go 14, i5-1335U/16GB, KDE Neon (and Win 11 for maintenance)

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      • #327035

        I’ve never heard of the paper-clip-to-disable design. Great idea!

        2 users thanked author for this post.
        • #327049

          I believe it may actually be a required feature.

          As far as I can tell, a hardware power disconnect exists in some form or another on pretty much every device that has a radio transmitter (such as wifi, Bluetooth or mobile broadband) and a non-removable battery…

          Although, *finding* it may be a problem on some devices.

          I remember specific models from HP and Lenovo both having had a “known problem” in the last few years where you might need to do the paperclip thing… both got fixed by a firmware / BIOS update I believe. Also on seen on some smartphone models.

          • #327070

            The radio card or soldered chip may have the ability for real disconnect but the manufacturer has elected to use the cheaper error prone soft off keys instead of finding the spare room for a high grade switch. (Sometimes the initialization of the soft key driver does not work with an alternative operating system.)

            • #327094

              Oh, these had nothing to do with alternate operating systems… one was a preboot freeze if connected to a specific model (yes, on the supported list, same brand name) of Thunderbolt dock with specific dock and laptop firmware versions.

              BTW, there was a PC model that required 30 seconds of standing on the power button to force poweroff. A server model though… yes, normally it is a risk to do that. In that case, well, the failed RAID HBA wasn’t hot-swappable anyway, and this was less of a risk than just yanking power feeds…

      • #327046

        @Ascaris a 1/2 straightened out paper clip has been on my keyring just for that purpose as well as opening CD/DVD Drives when a PC/laptop is off with a needed CD or DVD inside without having to power it up 😉

        No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created IT- AE
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      • #327348

        Many business/corporate class laptops do still have removeable batteries.  I would never buy a non-removable / non-user replacable battery laptop unless the replacement process was fast and free and did not involva sending the laptop away (exception for the actual battery cost). Especially after the Surface problems.

        • #327349

          The new model HP Probooks have “internal batteries”, and they are marketed as “Built for Business“.

        • #327771

          Many business/corporate class laptops do still have removeable batteries. I would never buy a non-removable / non-user replacable battery laptop unless the replacement process was fast and free and did not involva sending the laptop away (exception for the actual battery cost). Especially after the Surface problems.

          This is one instance where language seems not to have caught up with, erm, “modern” manufacturing procedures.

          It was not that long ago that most laptops had batteries that could be removed by the user, without any tools, in a matter of seconds.  Batteries are a consumable item, and most laptops of ~10 years ago (at least of the types I was interested in) didn’t have super long battery run times, necessitating battery swaps for longer times away from AC power, so it would have been nutty to consider a model where this wasn’t possible.  I’ve come to call these kinds of batteries “swappable,” but I don’t believe it’s anything like a widespread term.

          Fast forward a bunch of years to the present.  Battery run times are longer, and a lot more emphasis is placed on the thinness of the laptop than on things like swappable batteries.  Most laptops, like my  Dell G3 15-inch, have internal batteries that are not swappable, but like on many models, they can be removed relatively easily with simple hand tools.  Are these batteries removable, or is that term reserved for what I call swappable?  What exactly constitutes removable?

          It seems that we’ve gone from swappable batteries being the norm to internal, non-swappable batteries that can be replaced with basic hand tools, and from there (on some models, anyway) to internal, glued or welded in, “good luck replacing THIS, buddy” batteries, and it’s all happened before everyone settled on an accepted term for the non-swappable but not glued-in batteries to differentiate them from the glued-in ones.

          I see this as an especially cynical move, since the average consumer is not likely to grasp the difference between a device with a battery that can be removed in 10-15 minutes with a phillips screwdriver (or maybe a torx screwdriver) and one that is glued in and where removing it by itself is meant to be difficult or impossible.

          In the case of my Dell, removing the battery is easily done with a small phillips screwdriver, and Dell even tells you how to do it.  You can bet I made sure this was possible before I ordered it!

          Dell, Acer, Lenovo, Asus, HP, and most other makers of laptops have parts departments that will sell parts to a third-party repair shop or to the end user, and they will often publish online service manuals (like the one for my G3 that I referenced above, which is available in HTML or PDF form) that are available to end users, though some will do so even as they tell you not to actually use it, as with the HP model I considered before buying the Dell.

          This, IMO, is the only acceptable way to run a laptop business.  (Not the bit about telling people not to perform any repairs or upgrades themselves– I mean the bit about making parts available and providing info on how to service the unit freely).

          Other manufacturers go out of their way to make servicing their products difficult.  While Apple is a standout (not only in terms of their manufacturing methods and their rather extreme attempts to keep information about repair procedures out of public hands, but also because they refuse to make parts available), nothing tops Microsoft’s Surface laptop that features a welded case that can’t be opened without destroying it, making it the first truly unrepairable device that iFixit.com has seen.

          I don’t think we, as consumers, should let any of the manufacturers get away with such shenanigans.  If I can’t open my laptop up with simple tools and work on it myself, I’m not interested.

          I’ve got six laptops by now, ranging from “so obsolete that I haven’t used it in a lot of years” right up to my daily-used G3 and Swift, and I’ve opened each of them up and performed various upgrades, not to mention the occasional repair.

          I swapped the wifi card, swapped the internal M.2 SATA SSD and HDD for a NVMe SSD and 2.5″ SSD, and added 8GB of RAM to the Dell.  I’ve added a M.2 SATA SSD to the Swift, which originally came only with the eMMC internal drive.  It has a removeable wifi card too, but there was no need, as it was already the same model (Intel 7265 AC with bluetooth) that I would have swapped it to.  I’ve swapped the wifi card again on my Dell Inspiron 11 (why does Dell have such an obsession with poky 1×1 versions of Intel wifi cards?).  I’ve swapped the CPU, GPU, wifi, HDD, and added RAM to my Asus F8Sn (Core 2 Duo).  I’ve swapped the CPU and HDD on my HP/Compaq M2000z.  I’ve swapped the hard drive and added RAM to my Compaq (pre-HP) Presario 1216us laptop.

          The oldest three laptops also all have swappable batteries.  The original Asus battery for my F8Sn was replaced a few years ago, as the original had all but died.  The other two laptops became obsolete before their batteries had a chance to need replacement.  That F8, though… that was a juggernaut, faithfully serving and not becoming too slow to be of any use right through.  I used it as my main laptop until 2018, and it’s still decent– I just don’t have any specific need for it with my Swift taking over the portable role and my G3 for everything else in between that and my desktop.

          TL; DR would be “Me either.”


          Dell XPS 13/9310, i5-1135G7/16GB, KDE Neon
          XPG Xenia 15, i7-9750H/16GB & GTX1660ti, KDE Neon
          Acer Swift Go 14, i5-1335U/16GB, KDE Neon (and Win 11 for maintenance)

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          • #327775

            I believe we are on the same page. My issue is can I replace the battery. Internal with a hatch and a few screws is still user servicable. It is the hard wired, soldered or non-removable ones that I do not want. I have to admit we have only had one laptop battery die on us, and it was a laptop that could be used without a battery, so when it died, it was just a small foldable desktop. 🙂

            I tend to keep equipment a long time and after it is relegated to secondary use it is repurposed. I am not a fan of planned obsolescence.

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    • #327026

      Fred failed to tell a very important part of this story. When Windows is shut down using the ON button, it is not able to complete its normal shutdown. IF, by chance it is in the middle of an update to a program or some critical file, it will leave the system corrupted. In most cases, Windows will repair itself, but not always.

      Bottom line, he should have said that using the ON button for a shutdown is a bit like Russian Roulette. You need to get to the bottom of the real problem and fix it soon or inevitably, if you do this enough times, you are facing a complete re-install.


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    • #327050

      a 1/2 straightened out paper clip has been on my keyring just for that purpose

      You’ll get holes in your pockets!

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      • #327521

        That keyring holds USB flash drives only 😉

        No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created IT- AE
    • #327055

      Just mentioning, I usually use the Firefox web browser, now up to version 65.0.1 on the stable release channel, and when I press ‘ctrl-shift-del’ I get the Firefox “Clear Recent History” window. A quick way to get to the Task Manager is press ‘ctrl-shift-escape’ and the old standby Ctrl-Alt-Del still brings up useful window.

      Computers become slow when they sense that their servants are in a hurry.
      • #327184

        Another way to get to the TM (at least with Windows 7): Right click on the task bar, and select to open the Task Manager among the entries in the dialog box that this opens.

        Ex-Windows user (Win. 98, XP, 7); since mid-2017 using also macOS. Presently on Monterey 12.15 & sometimes running also Linux (Mint).

        MacBook Pro circa mid-2015, 15" display, with 16GB 1600 GHz DDR3 RAM, 1 TB SSD, a Haswell architecture Intel CPU with 4 Cores and 8 Threads model i7-4870HQ @ 2.50GHz.
        Intel Iris Pro GPU with Built-in Bus, VRAM 1.5 GB, Display 2880 x 1800 Retina, 24-Bit color.
        macOS Monterey; browsers: Waterfox "Current", Vivaldi and (now and then) Chrome; security apps. Intego AV

        1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #327120

      As @lars220 suggests, the three-finger Ctrl+Alt+Del may be more effective for a frozen process. This might be a headline error, I did not read Fred’s article on battery removal.

    • #327376

      PC repair guy told me to disable Fast Boot in Windows 10. Takes slightly more time to boot up my PC but not much and it does seem to work better with updates. Giving that many notebooks don’t have easy access to the battery anymore, it does create a problem when you want to really clear out things.

      • #327397

        Yes, I’d prefer to disable fast boot and at least on laptops enable explicit hibernate, too.

        Hibernate needs to be tested before leaving it enabled – there’s still some hardware (drivers) around that can’t cope with it – wireless networking and Bluetooth and such, also in some cases graphics.

      • #327477

        Fast Startup being enabled by default in Windows 10 was a gawd awful bad idea. It has caused me more problems than it had solved. Startup times were barely any different when I disabled it, and I’m already used to waiting for my PC to load stuff after starting up. If I want the computer to hibernate, I’ll click the hibernate button myself. I don’t need Microsoft to do it for me every time and aggravate me when updates are not installed because I wanted to go to bed rather than restart and leave the computer running all night.

        • #327527

          In hybrid hibernate the Hiberfile.sys takes up a lot less storage space than the Hiberfile.sys file used with full Hibernate previously. On phones and some tablets with limited eMMC storage this is an important difference. For everything else, it’s an unnecessary complication which can cause a host of issues.

          Unlike traditional Hibernate, Fast Startup does not prevent Windows Updates from installing and restarting the device.

          -- rc primak

      • #327524

        For most folks, Fast Startup (hybrid hibernate) does no harm, causes no issues and makes the device boot up very, very fast. Nearly every time Windows Updates powers down, Fast Startup will be sufficient to allow system files to be updated, which is the reason WU does the shutdown in the first place.

        But if a driver gets hung or if the processor has a microcode flaw (like my Skylake 6th Gen Intel core-i5) Fast Startup won’t allow full Windows shutdown or a full restart. Hitting the Shift Key when clicking on Shut Down or Restart will bypass Fast Startup and give a clean, full Windows shutdown — unless there’s a driver or processor issue like I have.

        I dual-boot with Linux, so Fast Startup is not an option  for me — I have to disable it if I want Linux to be able to share data with Windows using NTFS formatted data partitions. Data partitions formatted with NTFS get locked during a Fast Startup “shutdown” and Linux can’t write to them.

        The same issue would come up in a Windows-Windows dual-boot.

        -- rc primak

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        • #327773

          Thanks for that info about the locking of the NTFS files. I disabled Fast boot because the W10 organizational laptop is not used on a daily basis and I grew tires of starting it up and it was 95% discharged. It was irritating as you then had to be very conscious of having plug-in power until it was charged. I now actually remove the battery of my laptops when I store them. I just put the battery in an no-static bag from a video card and even if unused for a month it is at least 90% charged.

          You hear about fully draining a lithium battery killing its life, so I think knowing your use cycles and power needs is essential. When I turn a machine off is want it OFF, not draining to empty.

          • #328650

            There’s also a funny thing about lithium batteries and fully draining…

            Some laptop batteries have a built-in fixed number of cycles they’ll take. This is enforced by a counter… that’ll clear by itself if it’s REALLY fully drained. So, a battery that stops charging because of cycles being maxed… may start working again if you “forget” it on a storage shelf for one or two years.

            Might not be quite as safe any more though, and lithium batteries have potentially nasty failure modes.

            Old 2-digit Thinkpads used to have batteries like that, at least. (T30, T43, X61 that I remember.)

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