Posts Tagged ‘dell’

Slow Disk Access with Dell Latitude E5550 in Windows 10 – Hopefully Resolved

Friday, January 15th, 2021

A quick note here on what I hope is a fix to this laptop that has been annoying me ever since I did the free upgrade to Windows 10 a couple years ago.

This laptop ran extremely well for me under Windows 7. After the upgrade to Windows 10, I would get occasional cases where the hard drive would slow to a crawl for minutes at a time. Usually, it would recover, but, sometimes I would get a BSOD, and other times I would give up and do a manual hard power-off (not recommended!). It generally correlated to the amount of disk access at any given time, more disk use, more likely to get hung up.

The hard drive in question is a 1TB Seagate SHDD (one of those drives with an 8GB Flash “cache” on spinning rust) – this was bought at a time when 1TB SSD’s would have been over $300. It’s possible that I manually upgraded Intel Rapid Store drivers at some point.

Over time this got worse, but, I suspect this is because web pages have become ever more complex – and web browsing, with easily 20 or 30 tabs at a time is very common for me. For the last couple weeks, I was getting complete failures every other day, and minute long pauses every few hours.

I uninstalled many miscellaneous software items I no longer use, or never used. I moved my web browser caches and profiles to the SD Card (which has been great, and deserves it’s own blog post) but didn’t stop the problems. I did NOT re-install – that’s far too much work on my day to day computer to do on a whim.

In the end (fingers crossed), what seems to have worked for the last few days is to switch the hard drive from RAID to ACHI mode in the BIOS. WARNING: Windows 10 will freak out, you need to get Safe Mode started for the drivers to reconfigure for this change.

Some combination of search terms in Google lead me to this thread: https://superuser.com/questions/1152901/hard-disk-suddenly-is-extremely-slow

That lead to this interesting thread here on WHY most Dell laptops of this era had the disks configured to RAID mode: https://www.dell.com/community/XPS/Pros-Cons-AHCI-vs-Raid-On-XPS13-9300-NVMe/td-p/7636984

For many people, it’s better to follow this to force Windows into Safe Mode on the first reboot after making the BIOS change, but I just waited for Windows 10 to freak out, and then worked my way through prompts to Safe Mode.

Windows 7 ReadyBoost with the built-in SD card reader in a Dell Lattitude E5550

Friday, August 28th, 2015

I bought a 16GB Class 10 SD card on super-sale, and I wanted to set it up with ReadyBoost on my new Dell laptop. To my dismay, I couldn’t get the ReadyBoost setup prompts to come up – for years I’ve been annoyed at constantly seeing that option when I plug in a Flash drive or SD card, and now, when I actually wanted it, it wouldn’t come up. Figures.

Apparently few people use ReadyBoost – there weren’t any search results specific to my Dell model.

I did find a reference to removing the manufacturer drivers for the SD card controller for a similar ReadyBoost problem, so I gave that a shot.

In the Windows Device Manager, under Storage Controllers, my card reader was listed as a “BayHubTech/O2Micro Integrated MMC/SD controller”, Driver version 2.2.2.1060, dated 5/12/2014. I have no idea if there is a newer driver, or if such a driver would support ReadyBoost. I did the right click, update driver, manually choose driver, “standard SD card controller” thing (not the exact words).

And… magically, it worked.

I now have a top level “SD host adapters” branch, and below that “SDA Standard Compliant SD Host Controller” in the Device Manager.

Whether or not I’ll be able to notice any difference with 12-13GB of ReadyBoost added, well, I’m not sure. I feel it did help on my previous laptop running Vista with a 4GB card.

Dell Laptop A/C Power Cable Images

Saturday, February 12th, 2011

After a month of off-and-on power issues with my Dell Inspiron 1525 Laptop, the A/C power adapter finally stopped powering the laptop. It had stopped being identified as an authentic Dell charger a couple months ago, as I wrote about here.

I was quite certain that the power cable had broken internally due to the constant flexing.  It’s happened on almost every laptop that I’ve owned.  Slightly jiggling the power cable approximately where it flexes during natural use would cut power to the laptop.  Putting little stresses in the cable with twist ties would sometimes make the power work for a few days.  These fixes were really temporary – they only  put off the inevitable complete failure.

The options are to buy a band new authentic Dell PA-12 (or higher rated) power adapter for more than $100 directly from Dell, buy a 3rd party “compatible” charger for about $20 from eBay or DealExtreme.com (but I don’t trust 3rd party items when they plug into the household power… I don’t like fires), find a used authentic charger, or cut the cord and solder things up again.

So, the other day I cut the cable.  Here are a couple pictures that might make it easier for anyone who needs to do this in the future.

 

 

Dell Laptop Cable Inside - Cable Half

Dell Laptop Cable Inside - Cable Half

 

 

This is the cable half of the cut. You can see the top of the magnetic field minimizers… the name of which escapes me right now. There are three conductors. The tiny one in the center is for the chip in the PSU that tells the laptop whether or not the charger is an authentic Dell device – in my case, this broke months ago, when the Dell battery stopped charging – even after re-soldering, this charger still does not register as authentic; there must be another break further up the cable. Then two more layers of conductors.  I’ve covered off the outermost in red tape as I prepare to re-solder things together.

 

 

Dell Power Cable - Plug Half

Dell Power Cable - Plug Half

 

 

This is the plug half of the cut.  I’ve removed some sort of epoxy or hot-glue that held the above wires together in the form that fit inside the plastic shroud.  I think it’s hot-glue because it seems to hold the shroud over the plug.  I managed to pull the shroud off without cutting it, by running a unrolled paper clip around the edge, breaking the glue’s bond a little at a time.

As I expected, the outermost strands had all broken from repeated movement. You can see the random fraying in the strands at the top left.  Also, the center wire was clearly detached.  The 2nd conductor, white, on the right, was OK.

I’m not very good at soldering to plugs.  I tend to melt the plastic badly before getting the metal parts hot enough to solder.  So, instead of disconnecting the stubs left over in the image above and soldering directly to the plug,  I decided to trim them up and splice the wires together and inch or so from the plug. The middle wire I soldered directly.

Then I used hot glue to keep things from flexing, then wrapped it all with  electrical tape.  The end result is passable, but not pretty, so I won’t post a picture. And my Dell lives for another day… I’m using it to type this post now!

Comments appreciated!

 

 

Dell Inspiron 1525 – problems getting Bluetooth stereo (A2DP) working

Friday, July 30th, 2010

I pulled out my old Bluetooth A2DP headphones and tried to get them to work with my Dell Inspiron 1525 today. As usual, getting everything working wasn’t as easy as it was supposed to be.

I could get the headset to pair correctly. It also worked fine in “handset” mode – i.e. to make phone calls. But I wanted to listen to music and my device wouldn’t “connect” to “Bluetooth Stero Audio”. Annoying.

I’m not 100% sure that the problem was generic to my laptop model, or specific to my computer due to some software incompatibility. After some web searching, I decided to try downloading and installing the Bluetooth drivers from a more current Dell model, the Vostro 1401. This uses uses the same Bluetooth module, the Dell 355. Things seem to be working so far.

Dell Laptop, plugged in, not charging in Vista

Monday, July 19th, 2010

My Inspiron 1525 has intermittently not been charging while plugged in. It’s gotten worse, as many intermittent problems tend to do. So, it was time for a bit of research.

It’s intermittent, so the charger generally works. I do have some battery life when it’s charged, so the charging circuits and the battery do work, though, this two year old battery doesn’t hold much power anymore.

If you search the web, it turns out to be a relatively common problem – remember, Dell sold millions of these laptops, you would expect a few problems to be reported. This laptop power connector consists of a pin in the centre of a circular connector which itself has two metal contacts, one on the inside and one on the outside of the circular ring. The inside pin is used to identify the A/C adaptor as being an authentic Dell charger. If the centre pin does not make contact with the socket on the laptop, then it will not charge; however, it will still work while plugged in.

A couple references:

– http://www.laptop-junction.com/toast/content/inside-dell-ac-power-adapter-mystery-revealed
– http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/9519-2-dell-laptop-power-jack-pinout

So, I ever so slightly bent the inside pin to the side so that it would make contact again, and it seems to be working. I’ll wonder how long it will last though.

Given how often I move my laptop around, I think it was just general wear and tear rather than a manufacturing problem. Though, I wonder if there was a legitimate purpose to the identification pin. Can an non-authentic Dell power brick really damage the battery charging circuits, while still being OK to power the laptop in “plugged in” mode?

[Edit: Hmm… upon reading some more about this, new laptops might need a way to communicate with the power brick to determine maximum power output.  If the maximum output of the transformer is too low, then the laptop can skip the battery charging to keep total power consumption down.  This also would be useful in “airplane” mode where there is a very limited amount of power from the outlet.]

Anyway, I’ve had a very similar problem happen with a cellphone charger a couple years back, so the fix wasn’t all that unique. Let’s hope that someday we can all have magnetic power connectors like the Apple guys…