Finally back to computer normality after wiping the hard drive

Real Estate Agent with Prudential Preferred Real Estate

Last Sunday, my laptop began to have a serious and annoying problem. Whenever I typed on the keyboard, in ANY program, online or off. The keystrokes took an extra 30 seconds to repsond on the screen. It did it in Outlook, Word, internet, ANYWHERE.

I'm sure you can imagine my            f    r   u   s   t   r   a   t   i   o   n  .

 I ended processes in the Windows task manager. I checked my memory and CPU usage, everything was fine. I ran MSCONFIG and stopped all the startup processes from running. I ran a disk cleanup and defragmented. I cleared out cache. I used-to work for a computer company. I know what I'm doing here. It's not as if I'm some technophobe or novice around a computer. I was like, "WHAT THE HE%%?!?! is happenin?"  My machine, a Dell Latitude 131L, is only a year old. Sadly, I only had a one year warranty. Been expired since the end of August. Not that I would call those idiots anyway. I'll get to them in a minute.

I consulted my tech-savy associate and fellow realtor, Ryan Edwards. He's got a degree in computer troubleshooting. (God knows why he's a realtor, he's so brilliant at computers, but that's another story for another day.) He quizzed me on everything I had failed at trying.                                                         "Did you try _____?"                          "Yep."                                   "Did you try this?"                             "Yeah. Tried that."                                            I had tried everything.

I ran 3 different virus scans and 3 different malware/spyware scans. Notta. Called on a few other folks I trust for computer advice, just hoping someone had a new idea. Not so much. I was just hoping the inevitable would not be that I would have to wipe the hard drive and re-install Winders.

Well, too bad, Jay. Looks like this is not your week. By Wednesday, I was distraught.

So I spent about 9 hours backing up to my external hard drive, (By the way, if you don't have an external hard drive to back-up your files, RUN don't walk...) wiping the hard drive, reinstalling Windows, reloading all the drivers, updating everything, and getting my programs back on my desktop.

Guess what? It was still doing the same thing!          T - y - p - i - n - g       s - l - o - w.

Holy crap. Got to be hardware. Just went thru an incredibly slow season of almost NO sales, Christmas, and a new baby in the house. I can't afford to buy a new laptop. And having to replace the motherboard in one of these things requires a left-hand monkey wrench.

So I get online, back to all the blogs, forums, and support groups I had browsed before. Searching for an answer, any answer.

Decided to call Dell. Damnit.

After a freakin' 30 minute wait, I hear on the other end, " ELLO, Wellcomb to DELD teckinical sahPORTD. Ow kahn eye elp yo?"

Angels of grace defend us.

"Yes. I have a problem. My laptop..."

"Sird. Kahn yo gi mee yourd eggsprez serdviss code?"

"Ok. Yeah. It's 11_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _"

"Thak yo. Holdld on ford a mament. (5 minutes go by.) ......Id ap ears yord suhvis with us has expireddd. Yo will hahv to cole our Ot of wadranty suhviz depardmant. The nomberd is 888_ _ _ _ _ _ _. Hald on. I'll cahnectd yo..."

Phone rings forever. I get an answering machine that says "We're closed."

I'm close to tears at this point. All the while, I've been searching thru Dell support forums.

On PAGE 10 of a thread, I read something about FLEA power. I know, I had never heard of it either. Neither had my friend Ryan.

It seems that flea power is the power left over in your battery that needs to be discharged every once in a while. You power down your machine, unplug it, remove the battery, and depress the button on the battery for 5 seconds. Knowing that my laptop would run without the battery but plugged in the wall, I left it out and logged back on.


It worked. I mean better than ever, it worked. Put the battery back in. Same problem. Slow typing. Took it out. Problem solved.



 laptop battery

This battery was the culprit. I found a new one online for pretty cheap. Little did I know that taking the battery out should have been a troubleshooting tip. That's not said or written ANYWHERE in Dell's support/troubleshooting documents.

I can't wait to buy a Mac.

Comments (10)

Shane OnullGorman
Eau Claire Realty, Inc. - Eau Claire, WI
Eau Claire Wisconsin, Real Estate Agent & Realtor- Buy or Sell

I have been fixing computers for many many years and have never heard of that either. Thats just plain crazy. How can a battery affect hardware like that? Sounds like they use some crappy components as well.

On desktops you have issues with the cmos battery. I wonder if it works similarly?

Jan 12, 2009 01:08 PM
Shane OnullGorman
Eau Claire Realty, Inc. - Eau Claire, WI
Eau Claire Wisconsin, Real Estate Agent & Realtor- Buy or Sell

One thing I was going to add is that as much as that sucks doing all that work and all the headaches look at this way. You have now made a good solid backup of all your stuff and its good to wipe the drive and reinstall windows once a year anyways. I am sure it helped smooth out many other issues as well.

Jan 12, 2009 01:09 PM
real estate real estate
Providence, RI

Wow, I am a tech geek and I fix all sorts of macs, ibms, dells, hps. I have never found any problem like this. But is nice to know.

If you have to buy a windows machine, buy an ibm laptop. It is well worth it. Or, if you travel to Japan, buy a toshiba or fujitsu there. A high end lenovo laptop is as good as a mac hardware wise. Maybe even better. My three macs also got problems and I am a mac geek.

Jan 12, 2009 01:15 PM
Melinda (Mel) Peterson
Grants Pass, OR - Bend, OR
The Blessed Realtor - ABR, CRS

Interesting, I am having a similar issue with my desktop computer.  Not quite a 30 second delay in strokes, but definitely a delay.  Thought it was a virus, but nothing is appearing on the scans.  I don't think there is a battery in the tower???

Jan 12, 2009 01:27 PM
Jay Knorr
Prudential Preferred Real Estate - Auburn, AL
Auburn Al Properties

Hey Shane. I too had heard of issues with the CMOS battery on desktops. Same principle I guess. And you're right. My new year's resolution is to back-up more often.

And Zhuang, I've had IBMs before and loved them in the past. I got a deal on this one. My office's server (I know - can't belie!ve we still working with a server either) requires XP Pro and all new machines only come with Vista.

And Melinda, yes there is a battery in your desktop, but if you didn't know that already (no offense), you should probably have someone else look at it.

Jan 12, 2009 01:37 PM
Stephen D White, E-Pro, ABR Cape Cod Real Estate
SDW Realty of Cape Cod - Falmouth, MA

Ive heard of lots of problems with Dells from plenty of people. Of course Im assuming Jay that you are over your first year of warranty with your battery? Good job troubleshooting by the way!

Jan 12, 2009 02:11 PM
Leslie Stewart
Oregon Licensed Broker with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Real Estate Professionals - Stayton, OR
Realtor, ABR, CRS, Oregon Licensed Broker

I am intrigued enough to try this.  Mine is doing the same thing.  Thanks!

Jan 12, 2009 02:27 PM
Jay Knorr
Prudential Preferred Real Estate - Auburn, AL
Auburn Al Properties

Hey Stephen, yes the warranty was up last August.

And Leslie...Good luck! If that doesn't work, let me know. I can give you a list of other things to try.

Jan 12, 2009 02:40 PM
Jon Wnoroski
America's 1st Choice RH Realty Co., Inc. - Green, OH
Summit County Realtor

Interesting post.  I'm not a techno-expert; just know enough to get myself into trouble.  I have been able to resolve issues and am comfortable with most technology.  I have seen this problem before and never even though about taking the battery out.  Thanks for the information.

Jan 13, 2009 08:44 AM
Jay Knorr
Prudential Preferred Real Estate - Auburn, AL
Auburn Al Properties

Hey Jon, glad I could help!

Jan 13, 2009 12:26 PM