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Old October 2nd, 2009, 09:47 PM
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Gray Box Filling up Screen

I'm suddenly having a weird issue that I can't seem to pinpoint a reason or cause. Just started yesterday and has happened several times since then. I'm in the habit of turning on my laptop when I get home from work around midnight and working with it until about 4am, and leaving it on overnight and then turn it off again the next day when I leave for work around 2pm. Yesterday morning, when I woke up and went to check email, there was this mysterious big gray box filling up 3/4 of the screen. Only the top 1/3 of the screen was visible and it was of my normal desktop. I could move my mouse around within that top 1/3 area, and could even move it around behind the box and open up the Start Programs menu, but as the box was not very see-thorugh, I couldn't see to do a shut-down. It can't be minimized and doesn't respond to anything or go away. I did a hard shut down on the laptop and when it was rebooted, it was gone, so I didn't think too much of it. Turned it off when I left for work and turned it on again last night when I got home. This time, it was there on the boot-up, even before Windows had loaded. So did another hard shut-off and tried again, and again, the gray box. Windows tried to do a start up repair from the hard shut-offs I was doing, so I let that run from what I could barely make out of it from behind the box, but after two hours, it didn't do anything, so I did another hard shut off and this time when it booted up, it was gone. I did a bunch of virus scans and stayed up most of the night playing with it and could find nothing, so I went to bed without a solution. Woke up this morning to find the gray box back. Did yet another hard shut-down and it was gone when it booted back up. Thought maybe it was with the screen saver since it seemed to appear after the screen saver goes on, so switched the screen saver and let it come on again, but the box still appeared. Another hard shut-down and turned off the screen saver and let it sit for a few hours. Didn't come back. Right before I left for work, I did a system restore to a week ago. I'm still at work now, so very curious to see if it comes back again or not. I am baffled. The only clue is that it seems to be possibly connected to the screen saver. I have not downloaded anything or been to any new or unusual sites or anything in the last few days and have not gotten any emails with attachments or the like, so I can't fathom how I could have gotten any kind of virus. And multiple scans from online scanners and in safe mode find nothing. I'm hoping the system restore does the trick, but was just curious if anyone has seen anything like this or has any ideas?? If it comes back in again, I'll have to take it into the repair store, but I really can't afford their starting price of $150 just to even look at it, let alone how much more they'll charge to fix it. This laptop is only four months old so is hopefully at least still under the basic warranty. I didn't buy the extended warranty on it. The basic warranty only covers hardware as far as I'm aware though.
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Last edited by Smiley14; October 2nd, 2009 at 09:51 PM.
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Old October 3rd, 2009, 01:13 AM
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It's still there. I had to reboot three times tonight before the gray box disappeared at start up. So it seems to be appearing at sometimes at start-up and when the screen saver comes on. Now I wonder if it's not the monitor going back or something?? On a four month old computer, that would be a bit disgusting.

Please excuse the grossness of how dirty my computer is. :0
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Old October 3rd, 2009, 06:31 AM
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Smiley14 if this is a laptop then I hate to tell you but your display (screen) is going!! sometimes it is just a loose connection but not too likely. Have you spilled any liquid on the laptop? If you have a warranty have it checked out cause they are costly to replace!
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Old October 3rd, 2009, 08:47 AM
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The only good thing about it is that there's a good chance your warranty might cover it. I've had hardware fail in two months--a hard drive in a brand new Dell. Sigh...of course, since it was brand new, I hadn't been as diligent about backing up as I should have been But the warranty covered the replacement parts and labor.
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Old October 3rd, 2009, 09:47 AM
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I do not know much about laptops, but wondering if it has a replaceable video card like the tower computers do.

If you're having this problem before windows starts, it's most likely hardware-related - not software. With the exception of the hardware drivers. Drivers tell the computer how to use the hardware. Sometimes drivers get corrupted and need to be updated or reinstalled once in a while.

Now, there is something you can try to check. If you can get it into Safe Mode and reinstall the video/display drivers. See if that helps.

If that does not help, either some wire that goes between the screen and the inside of the computer may be broken, the screen itself is bad or the video chips inside may be damaged.

Personally I don't think it's good for laptops to be on for an extended amount of time because they don't have as big cooling fans as the tower computers. All the stuff inside is a lot smaller than regular computers and it's all packed in there in a small space. I think usually they only have around two fans, one on the power supply (necessary) and one on the processor. But I could be wrong.

You don't have to go to a large chain store repair service. Look for the little stores and ask around. Sometimes they have better, more knowledgeable and geeky people working there than in the bigger stores and may charge you less because they will take less time to figure out the problem.
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Old October 3rd, 2009, 09:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CearaQC View Post
I do not know much about laptops, but wondering if it has a replaceable video card like the tower computers do.

If you're having this problem before windows starts, it's most likely hardware-related - not software. With the exception of the hardware drivers. Drivers tell the computer how to use the hardware. Sometimes drivers get corrupted and need to be updated or reinstalled once in a while.

Now, there is something you can try to check. If you can get it into Safe Mode and reinstall the video/display drivers. See if that helps.

If that does not help, either some wire that goes between the screen and the inside of the computer may be broken, the screen itself is bad or the video chips inside may be damaged.

Personally I don't think it's good for laptops to be on for an extended amount of time because they don't have as big cooling fans as the tower computers. All the stuff inside is a lot smaller than regular computers and it's all packed in there in a small space. I think usually they only have around two fans, one on the power supply (necessary) and one on the processor. But I could be wrong.

You don't have to go to a large chain store repair service. Look for the little stores and ask around. Sometimes they have better, more knowledgeable and geeky people working there than in the bigger stores and may charge you less because they will take less time to figure out the problem.
I was thinking video card or drivers too!
Great advice CearaQC

Is the "box" always in the same spot? if it's not, or it doesn't always cover the exact same part of the monitor, chances are it's not the actual monitor having a problem but the video card or drivers.

Goood Luck!
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Old October 3rd, 2009, 09:58 AM
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Originally Posted by otter View Post
I was thinking video card or drivers too!
Great advice CearaQC
I have always had bad luck with video cards and drivers over the years. But luckily I know how to build the tower computers and it only takes a few minutes to replace a piece of hardware. I cringe at the thought of cracking open a laptop though. Then it's like surgery.
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Old October 3rd, 2009, 10:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CearaQC View Post
I have always had bad luck with video cards and drivers over the years. But luckily I know how to build the tower computers and it only takes a few minutes to replace a piece of hardware. I cringe at the thought of cracking open a laptop though. Then it's like surgery.
Hee, hee, I think we are in the same boat! I've ripped apart and frankensteined a bunch of towers (taken parts of many broken ones and put them together to make a new good one) but Laptops scare me to death! Some day I'm gonna have to find a semi broken one and do an autopsy, just to see what's inside
oppps, sorry for the TJ!
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Old October 3rd, 2009, 01:45 PM
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Thanks guys!!!! I sure hope it's not the monitor going bad on a four month old laptop! But I'm afraid that's what it might be. When it appears, the box never moves and is always in the same place. Hopefully the basic warranty will cover it at least. The downside is that means they usually have to ship it back to HP for repairs and that takes about a month, or at least that's been my experience in the past when related to hardware issues. I'm going to try reinstalling the video/display drivers just in case and if it still appears, then I'll have to take it in.

I've never had a monitor go bad on a laptop, so this is all new for me! Usually my laptops always last me exactly three years before the CPU or fans start dying. There hasn't been any liquids spilled or damage done to this laptop so no reason for the monitor to have issues. Frustrating! Oh, and I keep it on a cooling mat with 6 fans at all times.
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Old October 3rd, 2009, 04:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Smiley14 View Post
The downside is that means they usually have to ship it back to HP for repairs and that takes about a month,
Maybe not , I bought a lap top from Best Buy in March (or May) and didn't buy a warranty with them. Last month I had a problem with laptop , kinda my fault called Best Buy who gave me phone number to call Toshiba company. They sent me to the closest repair shop with who they deal with and I got my computer back after a week.

N/C of course !
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Old October 3rd, 2009, 05:47 PM
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Maybe not , I bought a lap top from Best Buy in March (or May) and didn't buy a warranty with them. Last month I had a problem with laptop , kinda my fault called Best Buy who gave me phone number to call Toshiba company. They sent me to the closest repair shop with who they deal with and I got my computer back after a week.

N/C of course !
Oh, that's encouraging to know, thanks Frenchy!!! I reinstalled the drivers and have rebooted a few times and so far, no more box! So I'll test it for a few days and see if it comes back or not. Hopefully not!
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Old October 3rd, 2009, 08:46 PM
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Oh, that's encouraging to know, thanks Frenchy!!! I reinstalled the drivers and have rebooted a few times and so far, no more box! So I'll test it for a few days and see if it comes back or not. Hopefully not!
Yay!!

I don't understand how drivers get corrupted, but they do.

Is it NVIDIA based?
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Old October 4th, 2009, 12:20 PM
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Still has not reappeared yet! Yay! Thank you all again SO much for your help!!!
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