Time-of-day clock stopped

[UPDATE] I have discovered that my DELL XPS m1330 has a motherboard problem, which now prevents the laptop battery from being charged – it has become “desktop” now effectively. After some research, I found that it is quite a common problem with DELLs. This is the first time I have encountered a motherboard problem with a laptop in 13 years. And even that with a top-of-the-line model within 3 years of its life. I guess I am done with DELLs.

I have a DELL XPS m1330 laptop with Vista Home Premium. It is just over 2 years old and has a Core 2 Duo CPU with 4 GB RAM. Last week it refused to boot up. It started showing “Time-of-day clock stopped” message even before it hit the hard disk and it won’t let me into the BIOS setup.

I looked up the laptop manual and it did list the error message in troubleshooting. It suggested to leave the laptop plugged into a power outlet for some time to charge the CMOS battery. But that didn’t help at all.

My next stop was Google search and I very quickly realized that this problem plagued multiple Dell models. People reported various fixes and others reported those fixes not working. The fixes ranged from replacing the CMOS battery to plugging/unplugging parts in various orders.

After trying some of the easy fixes and remaining unsuccessful I tried to order the CMOS battery (part number 23.22056.001). It is not a part that is easily available since it is not really supposed to be replaced. The battery itself is glued to chassis with a strong glue and has wires going out that plug onto the motherboard. This image shows the battery pointed to by the left-most arrow. I finally found someone selling it on eBay and ordered it.

As I was fearing, replacing the battery didn’t do any good. So I went back to Google. Luckily I ran into a post that suggested something I hadn’t tried before and it made a lot of sense. Someone had suggested removing power, battery, and CMOS battery and then reconnecting them after some time. I had already tried this. But there was a follow up post, which suggested pressing the power button while every source was disconnected. This was to drain any charge that may be sitting and holding info in CMOS memory.

I wasted no time in trying this and voila! the boot process moved forward suggesting to reset the time. I ran into the error one more time but the fix worked again. I updated Windows and all available drivers and the system has been stable since.

I believe that this is either a power management issue, a hardware defect, or a combination of both. I think that some defect leads to stopping the time-of-day clock and then the system doesn’t have a way to reset it.


27 thoughts on “Time-of-day clock stopped

  1. Hi,

    This is called flea power leak. This usually occurs if there are Power/wiring problems at the place where you plugin your Laptop or if there are fluctuations while the Laptop is plugged in.

  2. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! This issue has been plagueing me for weeks. I bought the new battery (which is actually available through Dell for $2.99) but it didn’t fix it. This did the trick! Thanks for posting this.

  3. Thank you. This really helped. I saw it on one other site and it helped. Will this happen again and again or is this temporary?

    1. Not sure. It has happened couple of times. However, the clock keeps slowing down so I am not sure if this will happen again or not. The network time sync is working but I don’t want to set it to run too frequently.

  4. Thanks a million ……I had my laptop out of warranty and was thinking my motherboard had to be replaced… but thnx to u i don’t have to pay anything….

  5. Thank you so much for taking time and creating this post. It really helped. I would never believe that it could fix the problem, but it worked and saved my time and money!

    1. Thanks a lot, this really helped me to solve the same problem. I just wanted to let you know that this problem began with my XPS M1330 after I bought a generic replacement battery… we’ll see it the laptop keeps complaining about the change!

      1. That battery complaint is quite annoying. I have seen that as well. I have run into another issue now – it doesn’t recognize the power adapter at times and has stopped charging the battery. Many other people have complained about this as well. It seems like the socket for the power adapter is not well-made and becomes loose over time. At this time I can use a battery only if I have another way to charge it – which I don’t have.

  6. Thank you so much this was so helpfull!!!!!!!!!! when i first called dell they said that they could not help me because my warrentee expried but if i would like i could talk to a rep for a min charge of $58!!! SO my husband got a line and found that the prob was possibly the cmos batt so when it came in he installed it (i jsut break stuff so he had to do it) and the same thing popped up!! I WAS SO FRUSTRATED then this was the first website i pulled up and to my surprize you had the answer and you wernt trhying to sell anything just help! Thank you so much

    1. It depends on the model. In my XPS m1330, the battery is glued to the chassis and the wire is connected to the motherboard via a plug/socket mechanism. I just had to carefully pull the wire/plug out to remove the existing battery. I didn’t try to remove the battery physically – it turned out that the battery was fine.

  7. Perfect! completely fixed the problem and saved me wasting money on new CMOS battery and Dell’s £29 out of warranty diagnostic fee.

    XPS clock fault always suggest new battery and several sites suggest a new motherboard may be needed. Wrong!! Wrong !! Wrong!!

    Excellent fix. Saved me from buying a replacment laptop.

    Many thanks

  8. Sincere thanks for posting this fix. It worked perfectly.

    I had recently replaced the main battery and thought there might be some causal link there, but I also had a tell-tale sign in that the computer clock had stopped advancing a couple of days before final failure! (but as it was mains connected, it might have been the first re-boot, I can’t actually remember)

    Anyway it’s fine now (for the time being). Note that the CMOS battery, although wired-in and glued to the motherboard can be easily disconnected with the small white plug to the motherboard. It doesn’t need to be replaced, or “torn” off the motherboard.

  9. THANK YOU! I have been without a computer for 6 months, finally ordered me a new Dell battery and charger. Unplugged the little battery, put it all back together and it works!! I usually do nothing with a computer but turn it on and work. I am so proud that I was able to fix it myself after 3 people worked on it and could not figure out what to do.

  10. In short, this works. I replaced the small battery, then pulled the main battery, then hit power, then replugged the main battery, then hit power, then it was fixed. Thank you.

  11. This worked on the first try. My husband now thinks that I am miracle worker and I am not telling him otherwise, Thanks for your help!

  12. Thank you for your thread, it has helped me resolve the problem with my Dell XPS 1318.
    But I had to initially replace the CMOS baterry anyway as it was the first thing that came to my mind when I saw the above warning message & my laptop failed to reboot.
    Thanks again.

  13. I have just been given a Dell XPS 13xx by a person who bought another laptop because his (or her’s got this same error) and this OTHER person asked for it to give it to me to tinker with. I think I just scored!

  14. I would like to genuinely thank you for sharing this info, it worked for our out-of-warranty Dell M3800 which RTC stopped ticking in spite of CMOS batt at 3.19V (full). The internal battery had to be disconnected too. I shorted the RTC battery terminals with a screwdriver to fully drain the circuit.

    Shame on you Dell for not being able to correctly address this 100% software issue and mislead people into buying a new motherboard. It’s a pitty such a basic problem has been affecting various Dell machines for more than 10 years !

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