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Sony VGN-FS830 Laptop Memory Woes

While I’ve moved away from my computer repair days, I still occasionally take a “my computer has a problem” request. So this latest one was regarding a friend’s Sony VGN-FS830 (PCG-&G2L Series) with a 1.73G Pentium M Processor and 512GB Memory running Windows XP SP3. After scanning Add/Remove Programs and running a virus scan, I concluded the system was pretty clean with minimal bloatware. So I then proceeded to Start up Task Manager and see how much memory the system was using during normal operations. After starting up some medical software, Internet Explorer, and Firefox, the system was running 600MB+ of virtual memory and 460MB+ of the physical 512MB (includes resident programs too). I consider these levels quite high.. So logically my next step was to determine the memory type and proceed to get additional memory.

When I opened up the memory compartment, I noticed there was quite a bit of dust and other particles lodged in the compartment and on the memory module. This has never really been a problem before, so I did my best to remove the loose dust and particles and continued on my way. After determining the system uses DDR2 SoDimms (2 slots total, only 1 used), I proceeded to reinstall the memory and boot the system up.

To my surprise the system would not post. The power light and hard drive light would come on. I would even hear the hard drive try to power on. However, no post, and not Windows XP start up. This was really quite surprising and alarming considering this was being done pro-bono. I took the memory out a couple times, dusting it each time before reinserting, with no avail. I took the battery out and then tried my tricks again… Again with no avail. My next course of action was to try booting the system without memory and then with the memory in the second slot. Both of these options yielded similar results. This gesture of friendship was looking to turn ugly.

So I headed to the store to buy a 1GB SODimm and a can of air (to help clean the crud). On my way to the store, I did a quick google search for Sony laptops not posting, and found some rather discouraging and also bizare results (e.g. use shrink wrap to put pressure on the memory). So in the back of my mind, I knew either the memory or system was now defunct… and hoped I can pull something together so I didn’t have to tell my friend I toasted his laptop. I purchased these items (and of course checked the return policy). When I got home, did a quick dusting of the compartment and installed the original SODimm back in Slot 1 (making sure the SODimm was seated completely in and locked in place.. And to my surprise and relief, the machine actually posted! I then went ahead and installed the second SODimm.. and the system still booted and is now reporting 1.5GB of memory. So mission accomplished!

I’m still not quite sure what did the trick with the memory. Either the SODimm wasn’t properly seated, and/or perhaps the machine needed some time to reset (machine was unplugged with no battery while I went to the store… approx 30min). Definitely a case for the unsolved mysteries file (No.. I don’t really need to know why it all happened..)

Posted in Ramblings.

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