Avoided potential critical problem

As my work computer, I have a Dell XPS 15 which has been great. Only a few small problems along the road during my 2 years and 4 months. But now I luckily avoided a potential critical problem.

So during my 2+ years with the XPS 15, there’s been very few problems with it and I’ve been really satisfied with the machine. As an IT guy, I still have re-installed it a couple of times during the years to keep it running smooth. There’s been no need for any onsite support or repairs at all. The only “problems” that I have been experienced, has been due to software issues from installed operating system, but those have been ironed out pretty easily.

Recently I then decided to take the backplate off, to see how dusty or dirty the inside is, and once lifting the plate off, I got a HUGE surprise. Out of the the 6 cells in the battery, two were expanded. What the…?

The machine itself has not shown any symptoms of this potentially dangerous issue. The effect of the battery has not faded to any alarming or even noticeable extent, the PC has not given any warnings or issue notifications of this, so I were truly taken by surprise to find this.

Picture can be enlarged by clicking on it.

In the worst cases the battery can explode, in bad cases the battery expands so much it breaks the computer case, as in the picture beside.

But with my computer, there has been no visual indication to the problem. The result was for me to call Dell support, and talking to the technician I got the problem sorted out fast. I have to hand it to the support technician, he was polite, friendly and did his job very well. He opened a support case at their end, ordered a new battery and had it sent to my location. As I’m capable of changing the battery myself, there was no need for any onsite technician in this case, and the new battery will arrive shortly. So the problems is getting fixed pretty fast.

But that got me thinking. If this problem has not been noticed by me, how many other expanded battery’s might there be out there? In cases where the user might not know of this potentially critical issue. We’ve read about exploding batteries in phones, but one thing I’ve never thought of before is, does the battery always gets swollen before exploding?

So after my revelation of the battery, I decided to re-install a Dell program called SupportAssist. I’ve removed it earlier due to it causing software issues in Windows. Reason for re-installation was just to see if the program does find the issue.

You see, the Dell support technician asked me to run the computer diagnostics and that did give a warning. But that diagnostic is ran from the BIOS of the computer, so even before Windows starts. Dell SupportAssist is from what I’ve understood, created to find issues like this once users use their computers from chosen operating system, as well as thru a easier to understand graphical user interface. Ordinarily non-tech users don’t run computer diagnostics by themselves.

So after SupportAssist had scanned my machine, there was no pop-up, or other notifications. At this point I thought for myself; “well, it didn’t find anything. That’s strange!”
But to be sure, I headed in to the History tab of the program, and took a look at the Activity Details, and at first glance, everything was green, but then I started to read the text, and hold and behold. At the Hardware Scan Result row, there was a Warning at the end. So confusing!

Dell should really do something about this! Because showing a warning text in green colour, among all other green text, is not very obvious. In a normal persons mind, Green is for OK, yellow for a Warning and red for critical issue. I clicked open the row, and got the next list, which was divided into sub-categories. And again, ALL green coloured text, but at the Battery row there was the text; “Warning”. Deeper than that, is not possible to go, so IF I were to run this scan as an ordinary user, I’m inclined to say, not many would notice or even find that warning. And further more, not finding any explanation of the warning is a truly weak performance by Dell.

And that’s easy to tell, as when I ran the diagnostic earlier thru the BIOS stage diagnostics, the error I got from there was MUCH more informative and clear.

Picture can be enlarged by clicking on it.

So on a closing note for this post, if you have a Dell computer, install SupportAssist program, run it and thoroughly read the activity result. If you have another brand on your computer, you should definitely google for a similar software for your make, and run it as well. Specially if you have an older machine!

These support programs usually all so check for updated drivers, and installs them which help keep you PC running smoothly.

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