Question Laptop that seemed completely dead powered up once and then went dead again. Can it be saved?

halfbeing

Honorable
Sep 2, 2014
31
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I have an old laptop (Lenovo Thinkpad R61i) that I was using as a spare, running a lightweight Linux distribution on it. I leant it to a friend whose computer had died. I don't know what she did or didn't do with it, but she never managed to make it start up, and I couldn't get anything to happen either. However, today, several months later, I tried plugging it into the power supply again, pressed the power button, and it came alive once more. The power supply connection light was on, the battery light flashed a low battery warning, and the computer beeped a warning and displayed a message saying there was no operating system (this was because I had removed the hard disk). However, once I had powered the machine down to put the disk back, I couldn't get it to start again. Once again, no lights come on at all.

Is it possible to get the machine working again? Obviously I don't want to throw a lot of money at something so old, but I would like to stop it going to waste if that could be avoided.

Might something as simple as an exhausted CMOS battery be causing the problem? Again, I don't want to spend loads of money trying one fix after another, but if getting a new CMOS battery would be likely to fix it, I will give it a go.
 
  1. Verify the power status indicator.
    The power status indicator is illuminated whenever the computer is on and is not in standby or hibernation mode.
  2. Check all power connections, and remove any power strips and surge protectors to connect the AC adapter directly to the AC power outlet.
  3. Inspect the AC adapter.
    Check for any physical damage to the adapter, cables, and plugs, and ensure the power cable is firmly attached to the adapter brick and the system.
  4. Verify the AC power source is working by attaching another device to the outlet.
  5. Remove the ThinkPad system from any docking station or port replicator.
  6. Remove devices and then test for system power with minimal devices attached.
    1. Disconnect the AC adapter.
    2. Remove the battery, if the battery is removable (check the manual).
    3. Wait for 30 seconds before reconnecting the devices and power sources.
    4. Reconnect the AC adapter to test the system with minimal devices attached first.
    5. Re-attach each device that was removed in the previous steps, one at a time.
 

halfbeing

Honorable
Sep 2, 2014
31
1
10,545
1
  1. Verify the power status indicator.
    The power status indicator is illuminated whenever the computer is on and is not in standby or hibernation mode.
  2. Check all power connections, and remove any power strips and surge protectors to connect the AC adapter directly to the AC power outlet.
  3. Inspect the AC adapter.
    Check for any physical damage to the adapter, cables, and plugs, and ensure the power cable is firmly attached to the adapter brick and the system.
  4. Verify the AC power source is working by attaching another device to the outlet.
  5. Remove the ThinkPad system from any docking station or port replicator.
  6. Remove devices and then test for system power with minimal devices attached.
    1. Disconnect the AC adapter.
    2. Remove the battery, if the battery is removable (check the manual).
    3. Wait for 30 seconds before reconnecting the devices and power sources.
    4. Reconnect the AC adapter to test the system with minimal devices attached first.
    5. Re-attach each device that was removed in the previous steps, one at a time.
That's the strange thing. Basically the computer appeared completely dead. The power status light didn't come on anymore, until yesterday, when it did start working, the power light came on and the battery light blinked. But this happened just once. I haven't been able to make it do it again.

I checked the power supply with my multimeter and it appears to be working. And the fact that the power light didn't flicker after that one time that the computer came alive again, even as I was moving it about, suggests that the connection between the power supply and the laptop isn't flaky.

I've tried with battery and without battery. I even took out the hard disk again to get back to exactly the setup I had yesterday when it worked that one time, but I haven't been able to make it work again.
 

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