Vista sleep woes- an update

The problem sleeping and resuming that my HP 2710p Tablet PC suddenly developed has been preoccupying my time over this long holiday period and has resonated with a lot of readers.  Some readers agree with me that Vista is to blame for my problems and others do not agree with that and believe that something I did caused the sudden onset of the problem or that some of the device drivers are to blame.  There is no answer to the cause of the problems, nothing was updated on the device nor did Vista apply some update that changed the OS.  I am very familiar with battling flaky Windows installations and I can swear that nothing was changed by me during the timeframe when this ugly problem arose.  I have spent a lot of time going over system logs to see if I can spot something that changed to no avail.  Vista doesn’t think anything changed yet my sleep problems started happening all at once and consistently so logic dictates that something changed without my knowledge.  This is in my opinion a big problem with the Windows ecosystem as it is not uncommon in my experience.  Read on to see what I’ve done so far to try and resolve this new issue.

Good friend Ed Bott, who knows more about Windows than anybody on the planet, contacted me and had a few suggestions for me to try.  I appreciate Ed’s interest in helping me resolve this and I took a lot of his advice.  First up I did a Vista system restore to the day prior to this problem occurring.  The logic here was solid and since the problems I am having started all at once the assumption that something must have changed in the system is a logical one.  The system restore went as planned and I watched the system for the next 24 hours to see if the problem went away.  I tried to force the problem to come back by sleeping and waking the system a lot, both in and out of the dock, and it worked without problem for most of a day.  I was feeling pretty good when I had another reboot in the dock when the device was going to sleep.  I was obviously disappointed at that.

Ed pointed out that one of the biggest culprits with docking and sleeping problems is the video drivers.  I was still using the video driver that shipped with the HP since I was having no issues prior to this situation.  HP hasn’t updated the video driver for the 2710p anyway so I wouldn’t have considered it a viable solution but Ed convinced me otherwise.  Vista actually offered a new Intel 965 video driver update via Windows Update recently so I went ahead and applied that update.  I watched the system for a day and had no problems until I popped the HP out of the dock to take it out with me and got the Vista Sleep of Death.  The device woke up from sleep mode running normally except the screen was dead.  The only recourse was a hard reboot since you can’t do much with a system with no active screen.  I was totally bummed out as I had only experienced this once in the months I’ve used the HP even though many have reported it under Vista.  Time to try the next thing.

Ed also had pointed out that HP has a BIOS update for the 2710p that is supposed to resolve sleep issues so next up yesterday I applied this update.  It was dated December 7 and I had seen it before but not applied it when it was released because at that time I was having no sleep problems and I didn’t see any reason to rock the boat as at that time the 2710p was running better than any other device I’ve used with Vista.  Since I am having the problem now I updated the BIOS and watched the HP for the rest of the day.  It performed flawlessly until last night when I was using it in slate mode in front the TV.  When bedtime approached I hit the Power button which put it to sleep and then popped it into the dock for the night’s charging.  It was still in slate configuration when I did this and after popping it in the dock I noticed that it was not sleeping, the hard drive was thrashing and the power light indicated the system was up and running yet I had the Sleep of Death.  The screen was off and nothing I did would bring it back as usually happens in this situation.  I had to hard reboot and waited for the reboot process to complete which took over five minutes.  When the system settled down I hit the Power button and put the HP to sleep for the night.  This morning when I awoke it was still asleep and had not rebooted during the night and the system was ready to go.

The current situation is that it doesn’t appear that my problems are resolved with the system restore to a time before the problem started happening, a video driver update and a BIOS update.  The Sleep of Death has happened twice during the past few days, something that had only happened once months ago.  I will have to watch it now to see if the HP starts rebooting in the dock during the night.  I should make clear that I realize the problem may not be the fault of Vista directly.  It could be the dock, the video driver or any other device driver that is now corrupt somehow.  I will state emphatically that I do believe ultimately it is the responsibility of the OS to prevent this sort of thing from happening.  It is great that Windows is an open OS in that it supports a lot of different hardware from many vendors, as opposed to the closed (and expensive) hardware that Macs employ.  But if the OS, in this case Vista, can’t prevent a solid running system from suddenly developing a major flaw like this then who wins?  Is the openness worth the trouble?  If you have run Windows devices for a few years how many hours have you devoted to dealing with problems like this?  How many times have you had to rebuild a Windows system from scratch to deal with weird problems?  It seems that the more things change in the Windows ecosystem the more they stay the same.

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