Win7 sudden shutdown problem – Windows 7 Home Premium installed on a laptop shuts down by itself after variable periods of working properly

PROBLEM: For several years, Windows 7 Home Premium running on my laptop PC worked properly, then, all of a sudden, it started shutting down immediately, cutting out by itself after variable periods of working properly and even during installing updates. It doesn’t go through the shutdown process, just switches off as if I had held the power button down. Any work not saved beforehand is lost. I have it installed with Windows XP Pro in a dual-boot system and XP is working properly. Mysteriously, it also happens in Safe Mode. I have disabled all of the power options under Power Options in the Control Panel to no avail. I also formatted its partition and reinstalled and updated it to SP1 and subsequent updates, also without success. It switched off when only the original version of Win7 was installed. I tried using the 64-bit version instead of the 32-bit version that I had been using, but this made no difference. I won’t be able to use Win7 unless I can get this fixed and the web forums just provides rubbishy suggestions such as use a Registry cleaner.

ANSWER: This problem is usually caused by a default setting in the power management of Windows 7 that is monitoring the temperature of the computer’s processor too intolerantly and shutting it down as a protective measure when a safe temperature is reached. It is easily fixed.

Open Power Options in the Control Panel (with View by: Small icons enabled that provides a list). You can also open Power Options by right-clicking its icon in the Notification Area, the icon of which shows as a plug when connected to the mains and a battery when running on battery power.

1. – Click on the link called “Change plan settings” of the enabled plan.

2. – Click on the link called “Change advanced power settings”.

3. – Scroll down the list until you get to the Processor Power Management option.

4. – Open “System cooling policy”.

The settings for “On battery” and “Plugged in” must both be set to Passive if they are set to Active. In your case, the “Plugged in” option is no doubt set to Active. Setting it to Passive will fix the problem.

It might be that the computer’s processor is activating even the Passive setting to shut it down. In that case, using a USB or other laptop cooler that you place the machine on would probably keep it cool enough to prevent Win7 from shutting it down. If the shutdowns are happening on a desktop PC and the above solution doesn’t work, increasing the case and processor’s cooling is the way to go. The PC’s BIOS often allows the CPU fan’s speed to be controlled. If not, a program such as the free SpeedFan can be used. There is a beta version available, which I wouldn’t use on a computer that you do work on because it comes with a warning saying just that.

I fixed one persistent case of this problem by changing the setting in the laptop’s BIOS for the processor. The BIOS allowed the processor’s speed to be set at maximum, minimum or automatic. The automatic setting allowed the computer to switch between the maximum and minimum speeds on the fly, depending on what it was being used for. I enabled the minimum setting, which finally fixed the problem. Most computers have processors that run much faster than they need to for the work they are performing. The person whose laptop it was only did office work and accessed the web, so it made no difference whether it was running at its maximum or minimum speed, it just ran cooler and did not make Win7 shut down all of a sudden. Most laptops have these settings for the processor, especially laptops with Intel processors. Of course, users who want high performance from their laptops, for example to play demanding games, won’t find success with this method and will have to try better processor cooling.

Additional measures are setting all of the Power Options in the Control Panel for the power plan being used to Never and setting Win7 for high performance instead of appearance. To do the latter, just type the word performance in the Search… box and click on the link that is provided (without pressing the Enter key) called “Adjust the appearance and performance of Windows”. Enable “Adjust for best performance”. Windows is fully functional but looks basic. You get used to it very quickly and may even prefer the look.

When Win7 updates itself from Microsoft Update, usually on the second Tuesday of every month, Win7 produces a message asking if you want to postpone restarting the system to install the updates. If you are not at the computer, it will shut down after a predetermined period, losing what has not been saved.

Fortunately, there is an easy way to solve this problem – most of the time. Download and install the free ShutdownGuard, which is available from several download sites. After it has been installed and set up, you have to go through it to shut down. If you try using the Windows shutdown procedure, it will stop saying that ShutdownGuard is preventing shutdown.

The app places its icon – a lock – in the Notification Area – and is enabled if the lock is closed and disabled if it is open. Just clicking on the icon makes it lock or open. Right-click on the icon and enable Autostart with your mouse or touchpad. This makes the app start with Windows. If you want to shut down, click on the Shutdown option in the right-click menu. A window comes up with the following options: Log off – Shutdown – Reboot – Nothing.

About Eric 275 Articles
I am an experienced PC technician who has been the owner and sole writer of the PC Buyer Beware! website since 2004. I am learning all the time in this very dynamic, ever-changing field.