Help! My Laptop is quitting on me.

I think my Toshiba Satellite laptop finally bit the dust.  I seem to have one of [photopress:iStock_000001883855XSmall.jpg,thumb,alignright] the few models that DO NOT have the battery being recalled.  Yet it’s one hot mama.   This morning it has shut down three times (before I can even read an email).   I simply cannot function in the mortgage world without my lap top.  So off the the lap-top market I go!

My needs are quite basic.  We use Encompass for our Loan Operating System (LOS) and therefore, I believe I need Windows XP (not Vista).  Of course it needs to support my blogging efforts and I’m toying with getting a built in camera.  I really have enjoyed watching how Morgan has evolved his blog: Blown Mortgage.  Although I’m pretty sure he’s using something more sophisticated than a built in camera for his video-documentaries.   I’d like the screen to be large enough for me to read without having to pull out my glasses yet have the computer light enough for me to carry without having to wheel it around.  Last, my Toshiba had built in software that seemed to fight with everything, like my iTunes and my backup hard drive.  I think I’m leaning towards an HP brand.

What ever it is, I need it now.   Any ideas?  Do you have a Lap Top that you’re in love with? 

I’m taking my laptop to Best Buy (where I bought it about three years ago) to see if the Geek Squad can breathe some life back into it.   I was hoping to stall this purchase until Encompass (and Mortgage Master) is Vista compatable.   

I’m writing this post from our “house” desk top which I swear has gerbals running on a habi-trail inside of the CPU!  🙂

This entry was posted in Tech and tagged , by Rhonda Porter. Bookmark the permalink.

About Rhonda Porter

Rhonda Porter is an NMLS Licensed Mortgage Originator MLO121324 for homes located in Washington state. Her blog, The Mortgage Porter, is nationally recognized for sharing relevant information to consumers about mortgages. She has been originating mortgages since 2000 at Mortgage Master Service Corporation #40445 Consumer NMLS Website: NMLS ID 40445. Equal Housing Opportunity. You can follow Rhonda on @mortgageporter, Facebook and/or Google+

76 thoughts on “Help! My Laptop is quitting on me.

  1. Tim,
    I’ve seen this coming… I was also hoping to stall until the market was improving. It’s so much easier to drop a couple Ks when volumes are higher.

    Alas…I may not have that option. Knock on wood, it’s running right now. I know it’s giving me signs that I do need to move on to a new lap top.

    Are you planning on getting a replacement? If so,what are you considering?

    I’ve been on CNet, Best Buy and Costco’s site so far this morning. I think it’s easier to pick out a lap top on line if your purposes are for “gaming” vs. business and blogging.

  2. Thanks, Alan. I just called the Geek Squad and from what I’ve described, they’re thinking its an issue with the fans and it will take up to 2.5 weeks to repair. I can’t function without a computer for that long! I’m going to haul my “hot mama” in.

  3. Rhonda,

    A couple Ks? Unless you’re buying it for some serious gaming (or getting a Mac), I can’t see why you would spend that much on a laptop. You can get a perfectly capable machine for well under $1,000. Personally I would avoid HP, Acer, and any of the super-cheap sub-$500 ones (you get what you pay for on the low end). I lean toward Lenovo, Sony (despite the battery issues that made news lately, they’re generally well-built and solid performers), and Dell.

    Also, please don’t buy your replacement at Best Buy. You can almost certainly get a better price elsewhere. Plus, they’ll do everything they can to sell you more than you need. I think your best bet is to head over to and customize yourself a nice Latitude, Vostro, or Inspiron with XP for $500-$800. Be sure to check both the “Home & Home Office” and “Small Business” sections to find the best deal.

  4. The Tim,
    I’m not a gamer and I WISH I could have a Mac…(at least I think I do). I was thinking 2k or less…but I like you line of thought much better!

    I’ll try staying away from Best Buy and check out Dell. I did notice Sony and Lenovo on cNet’s site (as well as Dell). I had a Dell pc for my last comuter and it actually performed well (much better than this piece of “Toshiba” I currently have).

    I can try to manage waiting a few days for it to built and shipped.

  5. My wife just got her new laptop after her HP died from Costco. It’s a sony. Cost about 1200. She loves it. And I must admit I am a bit jealous of it. It is pretty sweet.

  6. Frank,
    I work at my home office and at “the office” about 50/50. I need to have something portable. My current lap top has a huge screen so it’s almost like a desktop (just not as affordable).

    I still have a treo. I made the mistake (I must be technically challenged) of switching from palm to windows based and it drives me crazy. I may eventually go to a crackberry.

  7. Sorry, Jeremy…I just read your previous comment. My bad. I’m probalby a little thrown off not having all of my tools in working order.

    The Toshiba is up again and I’m transferring my recent photos to my portable storage drive.

  8. Here is great computer story for you. One day, of course it was a very busy one with a huge project due for a client, my Mac Laptop suddenly died. Just plain out died. I was in a serious situation.
    I googled it. I tried everything under the sun and nothing worked. Then it occured to me. I bought my computer at a small locally owned company that had their own in-house tech dept. SWEET!
    So, I simply brought it over and told them my situation. They had it back up and running for me within a day and I knew what had happened.
    It is important to know where your stuff comes from even if its a computer.
    I am not biased, well perhaps a bit, but I own a Mac.

  9. I have a Dell “order” on my ol’ desk top and a Lenovo on my “hot mama” (who’s operating at the moment). The Lenovo is about $120 less than the Dell. My big problem is that I’ll be waiting 1-2 weeks to receive either one of them. Costco may be the option!

  10. Costco is definitely a good way to go too. You won’t find any quite as cheap as you can online, but their return policy is pretty good (although not as flexible as it used to be, due to people abusing the privilege). I think they carry a Sony or two that look pretty good.

  11. Rhonda,
    I have had Dell laptops for the past 10 years or so (3 laptops). The machines are okay – not great BUT (IMHO) their tech support is abysmal. The problem is that others aren’t generally that much better, if at all. On the last computer I paid a little extra (can’t remember how much but it didn’t seem like all that much in the grand scheme) and got the upgraded tech support. It paid for itself when my screen died about one year and one day after I bought the machine (ie just after the normal warranty would’ve expired). The troubleshooting and communication by phone was smooth and they showed up at my door (though 3-4 days later and not the day after as promised upon purchase of the upgraded service) and replaced the several hundred dollar part for ‘free’. No mailing boxes back and forth, etc. In the meantime, I actually got to communicate with tech support folks (in this country) who seemed to know what they were doing and didn’t get the huge runaround that I would normally get with previous machines that had standard warranties.

    I hate the idea of paying extra to compensate companies for the fact that they provide bad basic service, but reality is what it is. They make decent machines at a good price, but know what you are getting into with Dell.

  12. I’m a bit ashamed to say that my husband took the bottom off of my lap top and found chunks of hair and dust. Almost the size of a small cat (just kidding…but it was substantial).

    You would not believe how much better my lap top is running. It’s quite and not as hot now that the fans can operate!

    Good thing I’m in mortgage and not computers! 😉

    I’m still checking out new laptops…my hubby just bought me more time.

  13. Hi Rhonda, Weird that I had a problem with my laptop today but it appears to have been caused by a windows update. I went back on a restore point and that solved my problem.

    I once had my laptop power setting change to automatic shutdown if running on battery after a certain period of time. I realized that my laptop was turning off because even though it was plugged in a power surge protector, the surge protector itself was actually switched off. Hopefully, it is something silly like that.

  14. Chessnoid, my laptop will just scan forever when I try to do an update. Technology is such a huge part of our lives and its great when it’s working and $#%$#%@ when it’s not!

    Phil, Dell does have XP laptops. I’m considering Inspiron or Vostro from Dell.

  15. Thanks for the offer, Ardell. I think I need to stick with Windows XP and after dealing with Toshiba conflicts with other standard programs, I don’t want to hassle with Mac vs. Microsoft.

    We are toying with getting a Mac for our home computer desk-top.

    My work computer needs to get along with the rest of my office systems at Mortgage Master.

  16. Great news! It’s always nice when it turns out to be something easy (and free!) to fix.

    I just realized something about the laptops at Costco that might be a bit of a snag for you: I don’t think you can get one there with XP. I could be mistaken, but I think all of theirs come with Vista, so you would have to wipe them clean and install a fresh copy of XP if you really wanted to stick with XP (which personally is an idea that I strongly endorse for the time being). Probably a bit more than a non-computer techie would want to undertake.

  17. I still plan on getting a new one but I want to eak as much life out of this one as possible. Plus, being able to buy on my own time instead of being panicked to make a purchase is much better. (Kind of like how people with ARMs should be planning now instead of waiting before they’re in a crunch).

    If I were to go to Costco, I think I would need to order on line to get the XP.

    I can’t believe I didn’t fry my computer. I’m pretty sure at least one (if not two) of my fans were not working. I’m LUCKY it was shutting down.

    It’s running so quietly and content right now (knock on wood!). 🙂

  18. My guess is that the existing fan is going bad, and/or the heat pipe radiator is clogged with dust. I have to clean out my Toshiba laptop at least once a year.

    On my model it just involves removing the battery and power line, unscrewing about 4 screws and cleaning things out. It’s not that tough. But I have a newer Toshiba that looks like it might be a bit more difficult.

  19. David, it IS a valid point. Sorry for not responding…I thought I was dreaming when I read about a “small local shop”. I’m not sure we have such an animal in the Seattle area.

    Kary, I think you’re right. The dustball the size of a penny stuck in my fan was not doing me any favors!

  20. “Kind of like how people with ARMs should be planning now instead of waiting before they’re in a crunch.”

    Nice way to bring the conversation back to real estate, Rhonda ;^)

    “I can’t believe I didn’t fry my computer. I’m pretty sure at least one (if not two) of my fans were not working. I’m LUCKY it was shutting down.”

    It’s actually a feature of most modern laptops I’ve worked with. When they get too hot, some of the chips inside shut themselves down to prevent damage. Just think, the “geeks” at Best Buy would have probably charged you $75 for that fix!

    David’s got a good point as well. If service is something that’s important to you, checking out some smaller local shops is a good choice too. Unfortunately I do all my own computer service, so I can’t recommend a good one.

  21. Thanks for seeing my point The Tim,
    Smaller shops generally do not cost much more and personalized service you receive is really worth it. You really get some fantastic advise and post-purchase support should you need it. I will add though that when your computer has issues it is never fun and almost never easy.

  22. I really can’t think of any small computer shops that sell them. Just the big box stores and the internet.

    The Tim, my mind always relates to mortgage! It’s awful. I went to dermatologist a few months ago and almost wrote a post about how that experience is like visiting a LO…I’m sick!

    The geeks at Best Buy said it would be $35 (if no problem) to $100! You’re right on.

    We’re planning on giving this lap top to my step-daughter (who spilled super glue on hers…can’t imagine why SHE’s having troubles with her’s)…her laptop is about 5 years old now.

    I’m hoping to stall a little while longer before making my purchase (even though I love new tech toys!).

  23. Rhonda,

    If you want a small local shop you can go to Hard Drives Northwest. Havent had one of their machines in a while but when I did it was a great desktop. I heard mixed review of their laptops, but if you want to go that route, they might be a good starting point. As for Costco, with their new customer service program they have implemented, I have been really impressed. They take a very hands on approach to dealing with issues. Obviously you cant just drop in, but if they can’t help you over the phone in 30-45 minutes, they usually send someone out for no charge.

  24. I don’t know if it would qualify as “small,” but Hard Drives Northwest (in Bellevue) is a local computer shop. From looking at their website, I can see that they have at least one Lenovo under $1,000.

    One more comment about Best Buy and the Geek Squad. I would think twice, thrice, and even four times before bringing any computer in to them for service. Not only because of the high cost, but also because of a track record for dishonesty. Geek Squad employees have admitted to copying customers’ personal files, and in a Consumerist sting, others were caught doing the same. Granted, I’m sure you don’t have the kind of files most of them are “interested” in, but there’s still a serious privacy issue there, and I wouldn’t trust them with any sensitive data whatsoever.

  25. Thanks for bring up this topic Rhonda, I have been enjoying reading everyones’ tips. I am planing on buying another laptop this fall myself and everyones’ comments have been very helpful.

    I am glad to hear that since doing some serious “laptop cleaning” that yours is humming away!

  26. Thanks, Deborah. It’s been 2 days and my lap top has been doing great! At the very least, this can serve as a reminder for people to clean their fans…or am I the only dope who hasn’t? 😉

Leave a Reply