Majorly annoying problem with my laptop running XP


Guys, I could really do with some advice.

Yesterday, as I was typing an email my PC started to behave strangely and this has been happening ever since.

4 Obvious Problems:

1. When I type, a space is not always inserted when I press the space bar even if I go back and try again, then for no apparent reason it will "auto-type" space indefinitely :blink: .
This happens in all apps, not just outlook, which is when I first experienced the problem. This even "auto-types" spaces when I try to login to email services or pretty much whenever it feels like it.

2. When I boot up the PC, there is a very loud beeping that goes on for a fairly long time between the initial computer boot (when it says VAIO in my case) and when XP starts loading (this is when XP DOES load, as it often just stays as a blank screen).

3. When there are options and one is highlighted (eg. "Yes", "Yes to all", "Cancel" tabs), only the highlighted (default) one can be selected. This is quite infuriating.

4. The "powerbar" or shortcut bar, at the bottom right of the screen in XP, when maximized starts doing a max/min dance and can only be stopped by pressing one of the options, it will then be minimised. So I can never see it maximized at the moment (or at least not for more than a split-second).

I have checked the drive for errors, none found.
I have run Kaspersky AV and Norton AV, no viruses found.

I'm currently backing up my stuff and will attempt a clean reinstall of XP, but here again I have a problem: my optical drive is not recognizing any discs, and I don't have a floppy slot.

Is it possible to re-install XP from an external HDD using USB?
I have copied all recovery discs to my external HDD (thank God my girlfriend has a laptop), but I have no idea how I'll be able to browse to the appropriate part at startup.

Has anyone seen or heard of a problem like this before?

I am writing this post through my girlfriend's PC as it is pretty much impossible to write anything with mine.

Any suggestions or comments would be extremely appreciated as this is driving me crazy ;) .


Staff member
I agree with Skibum, a keyboard issue can cause some of these problems (the beeping at startup, the spacebar issue you are describing, usually happens when a key is stuck or shorted, and creates a 'buffer overflow' while booting, so the system will start beeping rapidly), but since you are having other problems, I am wondering if something is seriously wrong with your laptop motherboard. It shouldn't be a problem to install XP from an external bootable USB device, I have done this before, but be prepared for some downtime as your system sounds pretty flaky.

One other thing I would suggest doing is running a memory scan using Doc Mem or something like that, it boots from a floppy and scans the memory for hardware defects, I have had similar issues which were traced back to bad memory.

Is this laptop still under warranty? If so, might be time to get it checked out. Good luck and keep us posted.


Thanks for the quick reply guys,

I've downloaded Doc Mem and will run it in the morning (your evening).

I really hope it's not the keyboard as the PC is no longer under warranty, and I don't have an external keyboard at hand to try it with.

So I'll hold off the complete re-install for the moment.

I'll keep you posted.


Senior Member
When someone at work had similar problems, we traced them to the keyboard (as mentioned above). Since it was a desktop, we disassembled the keyboard. We found remnants of material that looked remarkably like Diet Pepsi inside the keyboard - mostly around (under) the spacebar. We cleaned it up and the behavior mostly went away, but we ended up swapping keyboards anyway.

In a similar incident, Coke spilled on a laptop keyboard resulted in the laptop going in for repairs - it killed a lot more than the keyboard.

I believe it was in Jerry Pournelle's column in Byte [1], a long time ago, that he mentioned someone having keyboard problems. They found that soda had been spilled in the keyboard and ants had found the soda. The ants shorted out some of the electronics (and died), killing the keyboard as well.

[1] Back when it was a good magazine (and long before the print version disappeared).


Hey E,

I assume when you said "Doc Mem", you mean Doc Memory 2.0, right?

I had a look at the docs and it doesn't mention about analyzing different hardware problems. If it finds a memory problem, how will I know if it's my keyboard?

Thanks for all the feedback guys, it does seem to be likely to be my KB from what you have all experienced.

By the way, I've never spilt any kind of drinks on my keyboard, the ant story is funny though!


Staff member
Doc Mem is only to scan the memory for defects, it's just a good thing to do since the software is free, eventho it really sounds like you are having issues with the keyboard circuitry.


Active Member
It's amazing the amount of cr*p that keyboards pickup. Food crumbs, pieces of paper, a pin (no, I have no idea how it got there), assorted beverages, etc. I normally take my primary keyboard apart once a year for cleaning. Looking down right now, it appears that I'm well past the point where it needs to be cleaned.