What Causes My Laptop to Shut Down Intermittently?

Written by carole bruzzano
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What Causes My Laptop to Shut Down Intermittently?
A laptop is overheating if the keyboard feels hot to the touch. (Burke/Triolo Productions/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

Laptop shutdowns can cause frustration. There are several causes of intermittent shutdowns, including a low battery, a failed basic input-output system (BIOS) upgrade, and overheating. If your laptop shuts down, it's protecting itself by turning itself off, so trying to force it to cooperate through excessive attempts to turn it back on will likely cause damage beyond repair. Try a few troubleshooting techniques before you do more harm than good.

Low Battery

Most laptops go into hibernation mode or turn off completely when the battery charge is low. Charging the battery usually stops the shutdowns. But if the battery fails to hold a charge, it may need to be replaced. Also, the problem may be the AC adaptor. Check to see if it is functioning properly. Troubleshooting software problems can also cause shutdowns, as well as data loss, and bring up a blue screen that locks, preventing any activity at all.

BIOS Issues

The BIOS is the first thing to appear on a computer screen when it's turned on. Problems often occur after a BIOS upgrade, yet manufacturers will instruct users to install the latest BIOS version available when a fan or overheating problem occurs. Do a BIOS upgrade to correct the intermittent shut downs. A failed upgrade may cause issues that were not a problem before the upgrade.


Overheating will cause a laptop to shut down intermittently and will cause damage to the operating system as well. Serious damage to the laptop's hard drive is likely if overheating is not corrected. Signs that overheating is the reason for a shutdown include these: the keyboard or the underside of the laptop feels hot; the laptop operates efficiently until memory-intensive software is accessed; fan sounds are often audible; and the frequency of shutdowns increases over time. If you work in direct sunlight or in very hot temperatures, accept the shutdown as a protective measure and relocate before restarting the laptop.

What To Do

If you see smoke coming from your laptop or smell something burning, send it out for servicing. If the battery feels hot, try searching the Internet to see if it's included in a recall. Laptops periodically run the fan to cool off the unit. If the fan never runs, there may be a problem with the cooling system. In this case, the laptop needs servicing.

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