Once you’ve eliminated all other possibilities…

I just had one of the oddest tech problems I’ve ever encountered come across my desk. One of the folks here at the office who just got a brand new, out-of-the-box Lenovo laptop with a fresh image on it was having an issue where it would go into sleep mode randomly every few minutes for no apparent reason. This was happening even though Windows was configured to never go into sleep mode whether on battery or plugged in. When she’d bring the laptop to me to try and fix it would stabilize and work just fine. When she took it back to her desk it would start doing it again.

I poked around through system settings, looked to see if there was any obvious malware, updated drivers, installed some Windows updates, ran a troubleshooter, did all the standard stuff. Nothing changed. When she used it it would randomly go to sleep. When I used it it ran just fine.

Time to turn to Google. Typed in “windows 10 goes into sleep mode when typing” and started poring through the results. First few pages all offered the same troubleshooting tips I’d already tried. Kept digging through Microsoft’s answers forum and various tech blogs and everyone kept suggesting the same solutions. Then I came across a post on Quora about the problem which had the following comment by a Max Ddos on it:

This is an older post but I’l like do add some new information as I had the same problem and maybe it would help other people.

I had a brand new Dell Laptop and it also went into the standby mode while I was typing. After several attempts to solve the problem, I bought a new one (or rather, my company).

But the new laptop had the same problem.

Now I found the solution: I was wearing a bracelet with a magnetic closure, and this magnet was causing the problem.

Source: Quora

There was no way this could be the problem, I thought to myself. I can’t even begin to imagine what a magnet could be interfering with to cause this issue. However, I was at a loss as to explain why it was happening for the user and not me because she even filmed it happening with her phone to prove she wasn’t crazy and I’d been working on it for at least 20 minutes without it so much as slowing down.

So when she came back around to see if I’d made any progress I just had to ask, “You don’t happen to have any jewelry on your wrists or hands that uses a magnetic closure, do you?”

Turns out that she did. Her watch band had one. I explained that, as crazy as this theory sounded, it was the only thing that appeared to match her situation. I told her to go back to her desk and try working on it again with her watch on. If it started going into sleep mode again then I wanted her to take her watch off and place it on the other side of her cube and try it again.

Fuck me. That was actually the problem. Almost immediately it went into sleep mode when she started working on it. She took her watch off and it’s been stable since. I have no freaking clue why this is a problem. The best guess I can come up with, and I’m sure it’s wrong, is that maybe the magnet is strong enough to cause the system’s fan to stop and it’s overheating the laptop enough to force it into sleep mode. This is the first time in my 30 plus years as a tech support guy that I’ve had to tell someone to take their watch off to fix the problem they were having.

4 thoughts on “Once you’ve eliminated all other possibilities…

  1. Her bracelet probably triggered the “lid is closed” switch in the laptop base or lid.

  2. Rats, George beat me to it, that’s what I came here to say. I want partial credit. 🙂

  3. It’s a good guess so I had her test that by setting closing the lid to Do Nothing, but it still went to sleep mode randomly if she had her watch on. So, in this case at least, that’s not the issue.

  4. “Published Date: March 22, 2016” – at:
    https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT203315

    “Magnets in devices might cause your Mac notebook computer to sleep

    Placing a device that contains a magnet under your Mac notebook computer or on its palm rest might cause your computer to sleep.

    Your MacBook, MacBook Air, or MacBook Pro might go to sleep unexpectedly if a magnet is placed under your computer or on its palm rest. Here are a few ways this might happen:

    Placing an iPhone, iPad, or magnetic device on your computer’s palm rest.

    iPhone speakers and most iPad cases contain magnets.

    Placing an Apple Watch or its magnetic charging cable on your computer’s palm rest, or resting your wrist on the palm rest while wearing Apple Watch. Some watch bands contain magnets.

    Stacking computers. The magnet in the bottom computer might turn on the switch in the top computer. For example, if you turn on the top computer, it might go to sleep before it starts up.

    Placing your computer on magnetized items.”

    The OTHER people who already replied / commented were essentially correct.

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