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Issue #520: July 9-15, 2017

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Q: I enjoy your column and read it every Saturday. Your Geek Lights are fantastic as well. The motherboard in my laptop died of old age and I successfully replaced it myself with a new, not refurbished, motherboard. However, I’m not sure if that relates to the problem I’ve had which started a couple weeks after replacement. On login a couple days after a Windows 10 automatic update, I got an error from “Microsoft Visual C++ Runtime Library” that said “Runtime Error, C:\ WINDOWS\system32\atibtmon.exe. “This application has requested the Runtime to terminate in an unusual way.” This resulted in my battery not accepting a charge, even though my charger was working. I tried the “battery out, hold down power button, reinsert battery, and charge” trick to no avail. Let it sit overnight and surprisingly the battery began charging and was fine until my next Windows 10 automatic update. A day or so after that, the same problem occurred. The problem occurred after every Windows update until recently, and now happens every time I login after the battery recharge. In fact, now it just stops charging without an error message after being on the computer for 5 or 6 hours. Have tried several fixes I read on-line to no avail. Find it very odd that battery has to be out for 6-8 hours before it starts accepting a charge again. Could provide more details but I’ve probably used all your column space. I believe atibtmon.exe is associated with Adobe Acrobat. Any help you can suggest Geek, would be appreciated.

– Robert L.
Shalimar, Florida

A:  You did a pretty good job of using up my column space, Robert.  As-written, your original question was 449 words.  I managed to pare it down to “only” 257, which is still pretty big, considering I need space to actually answer you.  So, thanks for the compliments on both the column and Christmas lights, and let’s get to it.

First, and most important, atibtmon.exe is most definitely not associated with Adobe Acrobat.  Rather, it is a support file for systems with a graphics adapter made by ATI Technologies Inc. (now owned by AMD).  Many vendors use cryptic shorthand when naming such utilities, and I believe you can safely translate this one as “ATI Battery Monitor”, and its purpose seems to be to adjust the display settings when your system transitions from battery to AC power or vice-versa.  My research on this issue uncovered several people having the same problem as you, and under the same circumstances – that is, after allowing Windows 10 to install a particular update, although if anybody knows which update, they’re not talking.

I’m afraid the fix isn’t as simple as a software update, as there doesn’t seem to be one that addresses the problem.  I did find a few creative solutions for you to try.  One user hacked his way around the problem by renaming atibmon.exe to prevent it from running in the first place.  No running means no crashing, but doing so disables the ability for your laptop to reduce the power demands of the graphics system when running on battery.  Note that this user wisely chose to rename it rather than delete it outright.  This allows him to restore it if he so desires. 

Another option is to tweak the power settings, in a particular way, which users on several message boards are praising for providing relief.  To do this, start with your laptop on batter power.  In the notification area, right-click the battery/charge icon, and select “Power Options”.  In the center of the dialog that comes up is a section labeled “Choose or customize a power plan”.  Locate the one that is checked, and click the “Change plan settings” link to the right of it.  Click on “Change advanced power settings”.  In the list that appears, locate the entry for “ATI Graphics Power Settings” and expand it, and also expand the “ATI PowerPlay Setting” entry that you’ll find inside.  Change the settings so that both “On battery:” and “Plugged in:” are set to “Maximum Performance”.  Click “OK” then “Save changes” to back out of the power settings snap-in, then close the Power Options window.

Note that if you have a custom screen brightness set in your power plan, these steps might reset it to 100%.  You can manually set it to anything you like after completing the above steps. 

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