Vivek Agarwal’s Portal/Java Blog

An IBM Gold Consultant’s weblog about IBM, Lotus, WebSphere, J2EE, IT Processes, and other IT technologies

Finally seem to have resolved my Dell Latitude D830 freeze issue!

Posted by Vivek Agarwal on October 5, 2008


Those of you who have been following my Dell Latitude D830 laptop freeze saga, know that I have been struggling for 3+ months with my laptop simply stopping to respond to mouse clicks/keys.  The only way out used to be a hard reset using the power button. In the comments section of my previous post, I had documented all the tweaks that I had tried in hope of resolving the issue, and many people pitched in with their ideas and experience as this is a fairly widespread issue. Well, since my latest changes, I have been freeze free for the last 3+ weeks, and I think I am finally ready to declare victory.

So what might have resolved my freeze issue? I think the key issue is nView – Nvidia’s multi-display software that runs by default on a Dell laptop with a Nvidia video card.  While, I do use dual displays at work and love them, you can manage dual displays just fine using built-in Windows capabilities. So, if you are experiencing freeze issues, consider performing the following steps –

  1. Disable nView COMPLETELY – all the startup programs related to nView (NvCpl, NvMcTray, nwiz) and the NVIDIA Display Driver Service (NVSvc). This is a necessary step to resolving the freeze issue but may not be the only step.
  2. Update the nVidia driver – I know that I had tried disabling nView but that did not resolve my freeze issue. I then performed several steps and one of them was to update the nVidia Quadro NVS 140M driver to 174.31 XP WHQL, A05, and I suspect that might have been a critical step.
  3. Apply Windows XP SP3 – again, I am not sure if this is needed to resolve the freezes, but I know I did this and it is probably not a bad thing to do if you are running XP.
  4. Change power options – again, may not be necessary, but I tend to do this anyways – turn off hard disk sleep in power options.
  5. Apply BIOS update – patched my BIOS to A13 – this one I really doubt had anything to do with fixing my issue but I did do this before my issue was finally resolved.

I just hope that I don’t have to eat my words that my freeze issue has been resolved – I don’t really have the time to deal with this anymore!

In case, this post helps you get past your freeze issue,  do post a quick comment as that might help others who are experiencing the same issue. All the best!

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24 Responses to “Finally seem to have resolved my Dell Latitude D830 freeze issue!”

  1. […] over? Need to decode WebSphere/Domino LTPA token for SSO?Does Windows XP hibernate take too long?Finally seem to have resolved my Dell Latitude D830 freeze issue!How do you change the LDAP server name for a WebSphere Portal v6 server?HP OpenView Operations Basic […]

  2. techqc said

    Same issue under RHEL4 Linux, so it is not a windows problem.
    Judging by the information out on the net it sounds like an nVidia issue.

  3. Nina said

    Thank you very much for letting us take part in solving the freeze issue!

    I have a Zepto 6625WD and it had been freeze-free for the first few Months. Then, there were in total 3 unexpected shutdowns (which I blamed on the RMClock utility back than) and after that: freezes. For some periods, almost once a day, for some other periods once a week maybe.
    Not a clue in the system logs, nothing special I did when the freezes occured: Watching a video, using Photoshop, Programming (jedit) or just browsing the web (BUT: most of the time watching video was involved! be it youtube or VLC… maybe there’s the link to the nVidia stuff?)
    This laptop never froze during boots, hibernations, standby, wakeup, hardware going to sleep or whatever.
    And it were total lockups (I found many articles where the system just freezed about 30 seconds and came back).

    I think this all is a problem connected to some hardware which is common to all our machines. Maybe it’s the nVidia graphic card or something else in combination with other common used hardware. (Like the broadcom wifi + nVidia)
    And it’s so hard to test all solutions, because freezes occur in VERY rare occasions and absolutely unexpected.

    I will cerainly use your nVidia-solution, because I also have nVidia drivers and all that suff that comes with it. I hope, everything still works fine without that stuff (as I use Blender3D a lot and like gaming inbetween).

    I also turned off all hardware I never use in the hardware manager (like firewire, PCMCIA, modem, com1, lpt1…) I hope that also clears up the jungle of hardware resources a bit. But maybe I’m just naive there 😉

    Also I can recommend to turn off tools like RMClock which directly interact with the CPU, at least if you have stability issues and need a rock solid stable system. It may help you save energy, but it may make your system more instable.

    After all thank you again 🙂 …and hope you have been freeze-free ever since.

  4. Joe said

    I’ve got a Dell Latitude D830 that was freezing up until I found this posting. All I had to do to fix it was:
    1. Disable nView COMPLETELY – all the startup programs related to nView (NvCpl, NvMcTray, nwiz) and the NVIDIA Display Driver Service (NVSvc). This is a necessary step to resolving the freeze issue but may not be the only step.
    2. Go to Windows services (Under Administrative Tools) and stop and disable NVIDIA Display Driver Service (NVSvc).
    3. Update the nVidia driver – Reboot, life is good!

  5. Hi all – – Thanks for the info posted here. Dell 830, bogus CPU usage readouts, extremely slow processing, frequent frustrating freezes (three f’s) and multiple daily manual power-downs and reboots. Ready for the funny farm. While these issues have been mounting over the past four months, the frequent freezes and the constant shutdowns hit me hard on April 16 and became an unacceptable part of my workday for about a week.

    Did this – – disabled all programs related to nView and the NVIDIA Display Driver Service [under Windows services (Administrative Tools)]. Updated the nVidia driver.

    I did all of the above the morning after the Dell technician came out on-site and replaced the motherboard and the CPUs. These replacements did absolutely nothing to address my previous
    problems and frustrations.

    Thanks to the postings here, I have only had one freeze in the past three days. Don’t know what that one was about. That one freeze took place when I was away from my machine for about 20 minutes, and came back to a frozen screen. I do know that with the nVidia fix, I now get more normal, truthful CPU usuage readouts. CPU usage appears to have returned back to what I have been accustomed to. The freezes and madatory power-downs have virtually been eliminated. My Mozy Pro on-line back-ups now take the normal 5-10 minutes, instead of the “two weeks and 3 days” that I was being told they would take and the 6-8 hours that they did actually take before the nVidia fix.

    Today I had a previously scheduled visit from the “Geeks -A’ Knocking” technical support pro I engagaged to supplement my regular outside tech advisor and my internal tech support team to address these problems. He read through my trouble shooting log, did a complete diagnostic check, did a couple of fine-tuning tweaks, including virus and malware checks. Everything checks out according to the book. He was intrigued by the nVidia fix and doesn’t doubt that it helped to cure the CPU and freeze problems.

    So far, so good. I’ll double back later to report successes or problems.

    Appreciate the knowledge shared here. We’ll see how it goes.

    Sincerely

    John Chambers

  6. Sorry to report negative results, with the above adjustments – – had a series of three freezes yesterday. Had very positive results when I added to this adjustment the following (from within Windows Services:

    Symantec Antivirus (big difference) – turned off (stopped)
    WIndows Image Acquisition – stopped
    Computer Browser – stopped
    Windows Firewall – stopped

    No freezes for the rest of the day. Took a 5 hour 20 minute back-up down to a 1 hour 30 minute backup. Still not perfect, and I feel a little exposed without the Virus protection in full operation, but CPU usage is normal and no freezes with multiple applications open.

    I am connected to a server that has its own virus management software working, so it is more of a concern when I’m out of the office connected to the WORLD without a buffer. I think I will eventually get a new computer (this one’s only 5 months old)and see what happens.

    More later,

    John

  7. No freeze today, good news to report.

    John

    • Vivek Agarwal said

      John,

      Thanks for your updates here! I must admit that turning off Symantec and the firewall are rather drastic steps – I know that recently I have replaced Symantec with AVG given that I have not exactly been pleased with the robustness of SAV in terms of protecting against all viruses. Recently we had seen issues with SAV detecting some of the trojans whereas AVG seems to do better.

      I would imagine that you reintroduce some anti-virus solution at some point. In the seven months since this blog entry, I have probably had my laptop freeze 2 or 3 times, and those were with different symptoms. So, it would appear that I was lucky enough to resolve my issues with the above mentioned solution, but this does not appear to do it for all folks. 😦

      All the best, Vivek.

  8. MF said

    Sad to report that I am running Dell Latitude 620, which does not have an Nvidia chip, but an Intel video chipset. My laptop will lock up, as described, at seemingly random intervals. The only apparently common activity is that it seems to happen more when the WiFi is running, and less often or never when plugged into a network cable.

  9. Cyberfox2004 said

    Glad I am not alone on this issue 🙂
    I’ve got a Dell Inspiron 6400 laptop with ATI Radeon Mobility X1400 working for 3 years never bothered me with single problem,
    I have been experiencing frequent system freezes after I installed windows 7 RC recently from microsft.com .

    Immediately after installed and boot up it randomly freezes, I switched back to Win XP Pro sp3, A complete reload of Win XP did not solve the problem. I then took matters into my own hands and start cleaning the fan from dust, cleaning vents and make sure all is clear. and applying Heat Sink Compound / Paste to make sure there is no any lose on processor but did not help either.

    So, I thought if swapping the memory card with new one and new HDD as well, but none solved the problem, It is frustrating.

    My laptops freezes at random times no matter what I’m doing. While these issues have been monitoring over the past weeks the frequent freezes and the constant shutdowns hit me hard and became an unacceptable part of my workday for about a weeks.
    It could be as soon as the laptop starting or minutes or an hours after logging in.

    I have no idea where to start. I’ve tried a disk check but it froze, I’ve tried a virus scan, boot repair, Bios reset, chkdsk, bootfix, none helped, Even in safe mode it freezes so I’m thinking it might be hardware, So any suggestions?
     
    The laptop simply stops responding to mouse clicks & keyboard after running just fine for a few minutes or hours. The only way out is for me to hard reset the laptop It is extremely frustrating.

    I have run some Dell diagnostics and have not found anything wrong with hardware. I suspect the power adapter, ( Battery replaced with new one ) I believed it could be something with bad power or power management, It did not help.

    And I give up and called Dell support and Dell sent a technician on-site and replaced some Compoundment . technician on-site helps did not help to my previous problems and still frustration going on. I just really want to throw away the laptop and go and get another one, and then in other hand I just do not want to give up until overcome this issue and I want to be free from freezing.

    I came to know your website through google search for related to my issue, and excited to see these posts as I has having the same problem.

    My next step, I am thinking of it’s graphic card ( ATI Radeon Mobility X1400 ) So any suggestions?

    Thank you

  10. mikestam said

    I had these problems on my Dell Latitude D830. Problem especially arise when playing video and audio files. CPU usage gooes to 100% in couple of minutes. I found solution after 2-3 motnhs and the problem seem to be in overheating cpu due to dust in cooler and especially the screws that hold the cooling plate over processor and other chips were very loose, so system was trying unsuccesfully to cool down possibly lowering cpu clock which caused cpu usage to rise very fast to 100%. I thightened the screws and problem magicaly dissapeared.

  11. Andrew said

    I’m having a similar problem, but on a Latitude D810. Sometimes my computer will go a whole day without freezing, sometimes only a few minutes. When it does freeze, it is completely non-responsive and I have to hard reset. The only problem is, I don”t have nVidia. A dell technician thought it had to do with my RAM, but I replaced that, and it seemed to fix it for a while, but I”m having problems again.

    • Alexandre Peshansky said

      I have a similar (maybe even exactly the same) problem with my Dell Latitude D810. I believe it started as a extreme slow-down for a few seconds, and then, over the months, deteriorated to a complete freezes. During extreme slow-downs mouse and keyboard were unresponsive, so it was impossible to check CPU usage (once Task Manager, called during slowdown, appears, the usage is normal – several percents). The freezes typically happen during idle time (coming back to the computer I see frozen in mid-transition screen saver), but recently it started happen right when I type code.
      Windows XP Pro SP3, no nVidia (ATI MOBILITY RADEON X300), 2 GB RAM
      No unneeded services (that I can see). Does not seem to be overheating.

      • Vivek Agarwal said

        It does appear to be unrelated to NVidia as I have seen several posts from folks with ATI video cards that they have seen similar issues. At this point, I am unsure what the root cause is and what the right solution is on a global basis. I know that in my particular case, the steps outlined above resolved the issue.

        An additional point that I would like to make is that I had reinstalled Windows XP on my laptop (exact same hardware) a few months back. When I reinstalled, I installed Win XP SP3 directly (as opposed to installing SP2 and then patching it to SP3) and then applied the latest Dell drivers available at the time for my hardware. I did NOT disable NView, but I have been freeze-free. So to sum it up, since my reinstall I have SP3, the A13 BIOS and the updated NVidia driver, and I have not had my laptop freeze. Hope this helps!

        -Vivek.

  12. Derek said

    I have a Dell D830, 4GB RAM, 160GB HD, XP, NVidea Quadro NVS 140M. I’ve applied all the fixes Vivek has made except disable the NVidea drivers, upgraded BIOS to A14. The computer is ruining my life, the power button is d@mn near worn out. I’m writing this from another computer as I’m now running the Dell Memory Diagnostic on the D830 and it has been running for 8 hours has has not yet completed the first loop. I bought the computer Mar ’08 and it ran fine for about a year, then about 6 months ago I noticed the fan started running continuously and the problems began. I’ve tried Iolo Mechanic and PC Tools which seemed to help for a couple of hours but the slow downs and freezes would return after an hour or so. Recently the computer has shut down on the “high temperature” hardware function.

    I have a new hard drive and a copy of Win7 Ultimate sitting in boxes ready to do a clean install and leave me the option to swap back to the old system, as I still have to do work (I’m semi-retired, working now from home, but need a reliable laptop to bring to client’s office and when I travel).

    I was intrigued by Mikestam’s comments and will tackle cooling issues before I install the new HD & Win7. Right now I travel with an Acer Aspire 1 Netbook, which I find blindingly fast compared to the D830! I’ll post results.

    Derek

  13. Derek said

    Well! It seems the problem is fixed. Ran diagnostics, failed and wouldn’t continue, can’t remember the error code.

    Called Dell support who after much consultation said to remove one of the RAM boards. I started with the easy one to access (through the little door on the bottom (the other is under the keyboard)). Problem solved, runs like a charm on 2GB RAM, Dell sent a new RAM board so I’m back up to 4GB and all’s well.

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  15. Cortez Maguet said

    I have recently been attempting to do that to my own Pc but I can’t seem to get it done. Have you any idea of a good personal computer area which could complete this for me personally?

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  19. phlost said

    I’m also experiencing a freeze of the screen everytime I ran a java made video from a browser.
    Dell D830 using NVIDIA driver

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