Sony Vaio laptop woes and fixes

Computers. Ugh. Problems. Ugh. I was on my laptop this morning, literally using it on my lap … I moved it over to reposition my legs, and vrrroooop. The whole this shut down instantly, like it’s magical powers had suddenly vanished into thin air. Nothing would make it come back on. The battery was fully charged and it was also plugged in with the power cord.

I learned much this morning and afternoon.

I found out where my CMOS was finally. I’d wanted to know that before. The thing that I’ll write here are the basic symptoms, to help some poor soul in a similar crisis.

I learned that if I took the battery out, and re-plugged the power cord in, the caps lock line of lights above the power button would flash for a brief second when the plug met the receptacle on the back of the laptop. Then, pressing the power button on the laptop would elicit the hard drive and battery lights to light up momentarily, as if they’d be doing more … but then they’d go out. No other things would happen.

I’m somewhat familiar with the insides of my Sony Vaio laptop, since the COKE SPILL INCIDENT of last month. So, I took stuff apart and poked around, went down to Frank’s computer and search online, go back upstairs and poke, plug, poke, feel like slapping it … then back down to surf again … on and on we went.

I finally found a thread online about COMPAQ laptops of a certain model that had something similar in common, with each other, and my situation. I didn’t hear an difinitive answers though.

I was research then how to get my laptop hard drive slaved to the PC, to save the data that wasn’t yet saved. Most was, but not all was externally saved. I found one online place with possible $13,+ change little kit to hook one up and even mount it to the PC, cool. Anyhow, that’s a future solution perhaps.

I read and read and read, and finally realized that the CMOS battery may look quite different than what I was looking for. I finally found it, blue shrinkwrapped plastic two segment thing with a two-prong jumper cable coming out of it. It has battery info written on it, but it was upsidedown and very hard to read due to location.

The thing I read that enlightened me enough to try this, said to put the battery in the freezer for about 10 minutes, then re-install it and the dead computer with revive.

My Vaio PCG-GRV550 has been through so much the past month, what the hey, why not just pry that battery off of it’s sticky perch on my motherboard. And pry I had to, really tug and pull. Off it came. I precautionarily put it in a plastic freezer bag to keep it dry. I set the stove timer for 10 minutes. I twiddled my fingers waiting, looked at the timer, it said 8. Time flies when you are having fun. The opposite is also true.

So, I took myself down to the PC to surf for more info meanwhile. Wouldn’t you know it, time flew. Beep, Beep, Beep, … I was called back upstairs in such a short time.

I turned of the timer beeping, and went to the freezer, removed the battery from there and the bag, and plopped it back into the Vaio GRV550, snapping the jumper in first, then re-seating the sticky bottom of the CMOS battery. I plugged the power cord in to the computer, and no lights flashed. Good.

Then I pushed the power button, and voila! BIOS was reset to 1987 and everything was working great!

I had to reset the time.

Now, I suppose the search for a new CMOS battery will begin. As long as I don’t power OFF, BIOS will hold. That is, unless it decides to go bye bye in the middle of stuff again, which the freezer trick will work to cure again, and again, perhaps.

This sad tale is not as sad as it has to be. A solution was found in less than half a day. I saw later a site that advertised truly fixing computers, repairing motherboards, etc. not just “replacing things”.

They had a banner below some of their info that read something like:

“Has you Sony Vaio Laptop stopped working is dead? Send it to us and for $90 we’ll revive it.”

Hmmm. sounds a bit familiar … is this a Sony Vaio laptop problem? CMOS Battery goes bad? Sony was no help on their site. It was torture trying to load any helps on sony’s site. So, now I just need a local source for a new CMOS battery. IT friends are helpful when it comes to parts, and so I sure hope to have this all solved completely soon.

I thought perhaps I had this problem due to the Coke Incident, but maybe not, or partially not. Hmm.

14 responses to “Sony Vaio laptop woes and fixes”

  1. I might have to try that…..My Sony Vaio pcgfx120 700 mhz does the same thing. I press the power button and nothing but the HD, power lights light upthen go out. but no boot up.
    if you have anyother ideas plz email me.
    I do know where the battery is but where is the “CMOS”???? AND HOW DO I RESET IT??? my email is >

  2. Anthony,

    The CMOS battery is little, inside the computer. I don’t know how your model is made, here’s how I can get to mine in my Vaio GRV550:

    On the left-hand side of the body of the computer there are ports, a USB and an I-Link, with flip-up covers. Next to the I-link port there is a little screw. That screw holds down the cover that comes off of the top section of the computer body, basically it’s the speaker cover … the power button is on this cover, on the right.

    Take that screw out and carefully begin prying the cover up. It will slide out to left some, as it has plastic guides that hold it in and come out that direction.

    Basically the entire top of the body now is accessible inside. You may see a plastic shrinkwrapped thing with a little black and white cable cominging out and pluging into the board towards the left of it. That’s the CMOS battery. Mine is green and looks like two circles next to each other shrinkwrapped — small circles – dime size–but thick.

    Pry up the battery, it’s held down by sticky stuff. [unplug it too, of course].

    I put mine in a plastic baggy to keep it clean … I put it in the freezer for 10 minutes, took it out, replace everything, and voila!

    So far, it’s been fine to power off. It’s not gone bad on me again, yet. It’s been a month so far.

    The above is how to RE-SET the CMOS and battery for it.

    The first time you power on you’ll have to change the system date. Everything else should work. You may need a new battery, of course, but this fix is worth trying. It seems that from what I’ve seen online, it’s not an uncommon occurance for Sony’s to do this, but I haven’t been able to find out if the CMOS battery should be replaced, or if it just needs to be re-set. Well, re-set freezer style worked for me, and it’s worth the try!

  3. Hey thanks for the tip on how to remove the cover. I was trying unsuccesfully to access everything from the bottom. My GRV550 is overheating on any graphics heavy program, which causes it to shut down. At least I was able to see that the fan was working, and it seemed that the heat sink was moving the heat to the air vents. So I now know that I’m going to have to send it in for repairs and it’s not something simple I could have fixed.


  4. Rob, glad to help! One tip about laptops is they do overheat easily. Prop it up with CD-ROM cases, I stack two and put one stack on the left and one on the right, on the back corners of the laptop. This keeps it cooler. You can purchase things to put your laptop on that raise it up some too, but I don’t mind doing it the cheap way.

    Also, the GRV-550 has a powerscheme utility that you can use to make the fan work differently with different programs. I don’t like how noisy it is, so I set it to quiet on most stuff, but let it work for best production when need be.

    I had a Compaq laptop last year, it overheated and I wasn’t aware of how to cool it down. Live and learn. It ended up messing everyting up, and the horrid time after that spent with customer service … well, the manager of the store let us trade that in for any other new laptop. We chose this Sony. It sure doens’t overheat like the Comapaq did, that one had a real problem. But we did learn that laptops are notorious for over-heating, and really why wouldn’t they? Intensly powerful parts in a little case. So giving it air to breathe all around is the best thing one can do for their hardware.

    A tip for you if you send your laptop in, keep your hard drive if you want to. You can take it out easily, one little screw to remove, very visible, then just pop it out. That way your data is really safe, if that matters to you. They might argue about it, but really, it’s your data. If you have your original restore disks, you can re-install, and keep your stuff if you move all your data to the D: partition, you have the option to re-install only the C: partition with the restore disks. That will set everything to factory on C:, therefore being annoying yet not. You can be assured that all the hardware drivers are fresh and the utilities that run them as well. Then you just have to delete stuff you don’t want and move your data back there again Just a few tips in case you, or anyone else, has need to save data, & re-install, but not burn everything on discs, or move it to other network computers, etc.

  5. Joe C.,

    No I haven’t found them, but I haven’t looked hard for it, since the freezer trick, my laptop has worked alright.

    I’m guessing I need to find a replacement though, so that “WHEN” it’s time, I’ll have one.

    I was so surprised though, when this first happened, that the “Freezer trick” worked. It’s really magic. My laptop was dead. Dead. Dead. I had little hope. Hope overflows now! Try it!

    I’m thinking that a computer store more locally would have a replacement, one of the little strip mall kinds of computer stores. I looked online, but didn’t run into anything. I must admit, I didn’t look very hard. Hope it works for you to do the freezer trick though!

  6. I found a source for CMOS batteries in CA !!… they had to configure one for me. Phone # 800-490-8418
    I serached for hours all over the world … in dispare I even ordered a CMOS from an online store in England … they never shipped one. Finally I was glad to find
    Good luck guys. I did get my battery, checked it to be good, and still no lights. … oh hum….. would appreciate any advice on what to do next for my VAIO (other than trash it)

  7. Thanks to Marysue and the others for sharing your useful insight into failing Sony laptops.

    Regarding a CMOS battery source, here is the only site I was able to locate:
    I have not ordered anything yet, but it’s encouraging they have a live person you can talk to on the phone.

    My Sony PCG-F650 developed three bad keys and fails to recognize the CD-ROM drive during BIOS. These occur intermittenty but with increasing frequency, and they seem to be related to overheating by prolonged use. Cleaning with compressed air as much as possible after lifting the top cover and keyboard gives no appreciable improvement. I could not locate the CMOS battery to replace it and could get to the fan in order to clean it. Any suggestions would be welcome.

  8. Hello!!! I had read all this article, but I couldn�t find how to reset the bios password on a Sony Vaio PCG-r505tf, can someone help me???

    I�ve tried by taking off the internal batery but it didn�t work…
    Regards, Pablo

  9. Pablo, did you freeze the battery you took out? That will reset, or should at least, your CMOS, which includes the system password, if I remember correctly.

    I got that to work in my GRV550. I didn’t put a new one in.

    I still am using my laptop as a glorified Desktop. I have a wireless (USB connected) Microsoft mouse and multi-media keyboard. I have the laptop mouse and keyboard disabled, need replaced from all the ridiculous things this ‘puter has gone through.

  10. Hi…
    I spilled coffee on my Sony Vaio…not a lot…but enough to jam it up for a few days while it dried out. Now, all the keys work, except ONE…the one I need to get into my account! I push, and it doesn’t register a character. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Did you have this problem? I can get into the main account since it doesn’t use that notorious “sticky” key. But I have to get into my personal account. Any suggestions as to what I can do? I’m clueless. Thank you so much! DJ

  11. All you can do is take the key off and see if cleaning the area where it belongs with alchohol will help.

    My keyboard got totally ruined by the Coca-Cola Spill. I tried to clean it, actually had to take it entirely off and wash it, per a friends (a Tech) suggestion, but I still couldn’t get all the keys to work, and ended up bending it trying to get it to work which made it even worse off.

    So the only thing to do is to:

    A: Pay a large price for a new keyboard to be installed by Sony

    B: Pay a smaller large price for Sony to ship you a new keyboard and you try to install it safely

    C: Find someone else to install [B:’s] keyboard

    D: [What I did] Buy a wireless keyboard

    I did that, as I said above. Actually a wireless keyboard and wireless mouse that work off the same USB thingie that filters the info into the computer.

    My touchpad went a tad goofy too, and the mouse buttons got royally stuck and I ruined the whole thing trying to get it apart to clean it.

    This Vaio GRV550 is still working. I’m typing on the wireless keyboard right now. It’s a mess to look at, with no keyboard and all that. But the screen is loverly and the insides are working, for now. I’ve had issues with overheating which just blowing every crevice with canned air, taking out the harddrive and battery and cd-rom to do that, cleared up the overheating. Otherwise it was just like the “Vaio shutdown” problem, but it cleared up immediately once I did that invasive canned air therapy. Not much dust actually seen, but something was fixed by the air therapy, and that’s what matters.

    So as for sticky nonfunctioning keys … it’s the whole keyboard that needs to be replaced, as far as I know. Easiest thing is to have a wireless keyboard, which is actually something nice to have for sometimes use anyhow, it’s an egenomic board I have, compared with the laptop keyboard 😉 Nice to sit back with keyboard and keep laptop on table and type with lightweight gizmo on lap, not whole computer. 🙂

  12. Hi. I am not sure what does the freezing has to do with it. For what I know about computers as soon as you remove the batery, or if the batery is dead the BIOS will reset to default. This problem could be to something else.

  13. sENAD,

    Talking about a Sony GRV550 (laptop):

    I don’t know why it works either, but it does. Freezing the battery DOES do something that simply removing the battery every does.

    I’ve removed battery for a minute and that did nothing. I removed the battery over night, that did nothing.

    Putting it in the freezer for 10 minutes then back into the computer produced Start-up success.

    I’m talking about the CMOS battery here.

    I did that long ago now, and it kept working fine. I haven’t needed a new battery or to reset the date and time since then.

    Go figure. It’s a mystery, just works. I found it as a possible fix on the ‘net somewhere, tried it as a last ditch effort for a “quick and easy fix” and it worked.

    I’m telling the absolute truth here. 🙂

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