Q: I have a “crashing” issue with an 8-year-old ACER laptop which I recently upgraded to Windows 10 and installed a SSD drive. (I couldn’t upgrade RAM from 4 gigabytes, however.)

Unpredictably, the machine shuts down instantly (black screen) and then reboots of its own accord. It’s the same as if I had chosen to restart.

It’s mostly an annoyance as it gives me a “restore pages” option, but I’d like to diagnose the cause as sometimes I’m disconnected from important chat conversations, etc. In some cases it may be momentary loss of internet as there sometimes have been “no internet” messages in the rebooting process (internet returns fairly quickly) but my other machines don’t do this. Any ideas?

— Barry

A: It sounds like a hardware problem to me and, unfortunately, I couldn’t begin to hazard a more informative answer without hands-on troubleshooting.

I’m a little surprised that an 8-year-old laptop could meet the system requirements for Windows 10. And if it didn’t meet those requirements and somehow upgraded anyway that may explain the crashes.

What to do? If it was me, I don’t think I’d put money into taking that old a computer to a repair shop. I’d recycle it and invest in a newer computer.

Related Tech Q&As

Read more from Patrick Marshall here >>


Q: My computer was hacked, and although I’ve had it repaired, I’m wondering if someone could “see” my list of autosaved passwords in Chrome, which I learned is actually on my Google account when they got in there. I’m particularly interested in any websites that might have a stored bank card, all of which cards have been changed.


— Jan S.

A: Yes, if your computer was hacked the hacker would have had access to anything you had access to, including autosaved passwords in your Web browser. As a result, you’ll want to immediately change your passwords. And you’ll want to keep an eye out for any suspicious activity on your credit cards. A pain, I know.

Readers to the rescue

Mike Kellar writes: Your recent article about System Mechanic running a virus detector and possibly causing conflicts is easily remedied by turning off or not activating it in System Mechanic. I have been using System Mechanic for many years and I have never used their antivirus module. I have been using Norton for over 20 years and run it along with my System Mechanic program, again no virus checker running in System Mechanic. My current version of System Mechanic is 20.3.03. I have great success with this program in keeping my system running in top shape.

And Brian Szuter, a Google senior software engineer, suggested a possible solution for another reader’s question about eliminating popup ads in Google Chrome.

Brian writes: Since this was happening “across all [their] PCs” and appears when opening Chrome to use Gmail (and not some random website), this could be a Chrome Notification, and not a pop-up. Notification settings are [saved] in their Chrome profile. I’d suggest the following steps:

• Within Chrome, go to Settings.

• Type in “notifications” and then click on “Site Settings.”

• Click on “Notifications”

• You’ll see a list of all sites that are “allowed” to send these notifications.

• For any site that shouldn’t send these notifications, on the menu next to the site, click the dropdown and then “Block.”

I suggest blocking everything except your Email, Calendar or other Web-based messaging services (e.g. Skype, Hangouts).