Three Common Laptop Repairs and How to Avoid Them

At my computer repair shop in Louisville I see these three problems over and over. Sometimes it is the result of normal wear-n-tear. Parts wear out, right? And there are plenty of lemon parts with computers. I’ve seen a new hard drive fail in the first thirty days of use, for example. But sometimes accidents happen. And, often mistakes are made due to the fact that people don’t know how to properly maintain and handle their computer equipment. This article will make you aware of lurking dangers so you can avoid accidents and maintain your equipment properly, and avoid these costly and preventable laptop repairs completely.

DC Jack Repair

DC Jacks or charging ports take a lot of abuse. I know I’ve had several ignitions in my car replaced over the years. When I was a starving college student I remember one winter I would spray deicer in the ignition so my key would work. It got me through the winter, but finally I had to replace the ignition. The DC Jack on a laptop is the hole where the power adaptor or “charger” plugs into the computer. In most laptop units, the DC jack is directly soldered onto the motherboard — which not only makes it delicate but also expensive to repair. Often the entire laptop has to come apart to do the repair as there is no access anywhere around the jack. The three most common reasons the jack breaks is: 1.A child or animal trips on the cord. 2. People jerk the cord out hard and at an angle and do not realize it is not that difficult to break a solder joint and 3. People travel — either across the room or across the city — with the charger still connected to the laptop. Don’t do it!

Screen Repair

Perhaps even more common is laptop screen repair and replacement. I have seen laptop screens break when someone picked up a laptop by the corner of the screen to move it off of the floor up onto a table. Their thumb went right through the screen. I almost did it once myself. It is a very delicate screen. It does not have to be a dropped or take a hard impact to cause a cracked laptop screen. Another common scenario is closing something in the laptop. A mouse, a letter opener, even a flash drive left on the keyboard when the laptop is closed can cause a screen to break or fail. It is an expensive repair depending on the laptop screen and computer make and model. So, be aware of this “soft spot” on your laptop and be extremely gentle with it.

Motherboard Failure

Perhaps the most expensive and devastating, but rather common laptop repair is motherboard repair. This is what I consider a “catastrophic event” in the computer repair business. The entire machine has to come apart, the board taken out, and repaired at the microscopic level with expensive equipment. Sometimes this part simply fails, but often it is the result of what’s known in the industry as a “thermal event.” That is a heat related issue. To prevent this from happening, keep your laptop computer as cool as possible. Despite the name, a laptop should NOT be anyone’s lap. While the exhaust fan for the CPU is often located on the side of a laptop, the air intake is often located on the bottom. If your laptop is on your lap you are probably covering up the air intake for your exhaust fan which is extremely dangerous. You want to keep your laptop on a flat, cold, hard surface at all times! You can install free software such as the core temp monitor (be careful not to get a virus infection when you’re downloading free utilities) to monitor the actual temperature of your laptop from the inside. Also you can leave the battery out. I’ve never even had a battery in my laptop it’s still in plastic. It is not necessary to power a laptop that is plugged in to a wall outlet and only generates more heat. Keep the fan basins blown out with compressed air – especially if your home is dusty or you have dogs or cats. And as the computer starts to age if the heat monitor utility shows your laptop heat is on the rise, you can even go to the power options and turn your processor down a bit. As your laptop ages you probably don’t need your processors to run at 100% constantly. Mine is set to 95% and that alone gave me about a 5 degree drop in core temperature.

My old laptop, which is now my field machine, lived the first years of its life set up in my home office. It hardly ever went mobile (only when I traveled out of town). It is way past average life expectancy and still runs great at ten years old. So, heed the warnings and follow these simple suggestions and avoid these expensive and common laptop repairs in your future. You can find more information on laptop repair here.

How To Set Up Your New Computer or Laptop Like A Pro

At On-Site Louisville Computer Repair Co. I often get asked to set up new computers for people.  This is a good idea since there is much involved in the process.  Nevertheless, there are many people that like to do things themselves, so I wrote this article for you “Do-it-yourselfers” which covers the process.  Hope this helps.

Get Your Files off Your Old Machine

If you have files and folders on your old machine you need to put them on a portable storage device, a flash drive, and then move them to your new machine after you set your computer up… I would leave a copy of the files on the flash drive and that is your back-up should you experience a catastrophic machine failure in the future.

Plug In, Go Through Set-up Menu and Run Your Updates:

When you turn your new computer on you will be prompted to choose settings for the computer name, time zone, language, network, updates, etc.  This is very intuitive — just fill in the blanks.   This is also a good time to register the computer and software.  Then you are ready to run updates. Since your machine has been sitting on a warehouse or retailer’s shelf for a while you will have updates due at the time of purchase.

Uninstall Bloatware and Activate Antivirus Software Suite

Bloatware is the software that will come preloaded with your brand new laptop or desktop in the form of 30 day trials or trail subscriptions or other junk.  While this software may not be harmful (debatable) most of the times they are just a waste of space. To remove simply go to Control Panel > Add/Remove> Uninstall.  If your machine has a one year subscription to an antivirus suite you can activate that at this point.  Otherwise you can uninstall the 30 day antivirus trial and read my article on “Five Free Antivirus Suites You Can Try for Zilch.”

Creating a System Restore Disk

You can create a restore disk in case something happens and you need to restore your computer to its factory state.  Since most computers come with a recovery partition that allows you to recover your computer to factory state, making is disks is optional; however, there are circumstance where the recovery manager will not function normally, such as destruction of the partition by a virus infections, etc. Therefore many people still choose to create disks in case of emergency. To do this:
♦Go to start menu.

♦In the search bar, type “backup”.

♦Click on the “backup and Restore” option.

♦On the left side of the panel, you will see an option “create a system repair disc”.

♦Click on the option and follow the process.

Configure Power Options:

Familiarize yourself with the power settings and options available in your computer. In Windows Vista and 7 just go to start and search for “Power Options.”  You can configure all your power options here including when the screen turns off, when or if the computer sleeps, what happens when you close the lid and what the power button does.

Choose Your Home Page and Make Bookmarks

When you get on the internet with Internet Explorer you probably want the page that comes up to be your favorite search engine, or your Email Login Page (which are often the same place).   Most people set their homepage to Google, Yahoo, or Bing.  In your browser window go to Tools>Internet Options> and then set your home page to the preferred URL.  This is also a good time to visit your Bank Website, Favorite Shopping Site, and other places you visit on a regular basis and add those websites to your favorites, favorite’s toolbar, or bookmarks.

Transfer Your Files From Your Old Machine

Remember the files we pulled off your old machine earlier?  Now is a good time insert your flash drive and drag old documents, photos, and music to your new computer. Plug in the flash drive and wait for it to populate “Computer” screen.  Then drag a copy of your files, photos and music to the appropriate folder on your new machine and get back to computing as usual on your new computer!

Should I Buy A Tablet, Laptop, or Desktop?

Deciding whether to buy a tablet, desktop or laptop can be a hard decision given there are so many choices in the market today. Although it largely depends on the individual choice of each buyer, I hope that having knowledge about the features and functions will help. Below is a brief description on each one of them so you decide which one is best for you.

A tablet is highly portable computing device, that has features similar to that of laptops with a bit more portability but less functionality for serious computing tasks. If you are someone who is always on the go and need your computer handy all the time, then this might be your choice. A tablet has a touch screen that can be used with fingers or stylus. It has a durable body and comes with a 7-inch to a 10-inch display screen and weighs less than 1 pound. Caution should be taken by the user to avoid any damage of the touch screen display. The main advantage of a tablet computer is its portability, light weight, powerful pen recognition, small size and attractive design. Tablets often have a longer battery life than a laptop. While it’s been my belief that “no serious work can be accomplished on a tablet” with the advent of the attachable keyboard I’ve revised my belief on that a bit.

A laptop is a slightly larger but still highly portable computer that is also capable of serious computing tasks. They consume less space on a desk or a table than a desktop computer. Laptops are battery operated and are attached to a single cord instead of multiple cords like in desktop. They come with a built in touchpad, speakers and webcam. Although, I still prefer attaching a mouse. A mouse is essential to accomplish any type of real research, creation and production. Laptops are very useful for people in the corporate sector who are always on the move and for international students as well. They are great for traveling and if you are using an aircard you will have access to an uninterrupted internet connection anywhere and anytime. I actually prefer a large, powerful laptop now for my primary computing. I leave it set up stationary 98% of the time and don’t carry it with me. I have a smaller laptop I keep for trips.

Desktop – A desktop is a personal computer with a separate tower, keyboard, mouse, and monitor. A desktop computer can be plugged into a wall outlet. Unlike a laptop a desktop is not a portable device. It is stationary. If you need a supercomputer, for some reason, a desktop is probably a best choice as the larger case can hold more components. Another benefit is that you can hook as large of a monitor to it as you like, whereas you’re limited on the size of your monitor with a tablet and laptop (you can plug an external monitor to a laptop but it is not as practical usually). Desktops are easier to upgrade than laptops and and generally speaking –easier to repair. You never have to worry about running out of battery life. And, finally, 90% of computer thefts are of tablets and laptops – not desktops.

Is it Safe to Bank and Buy on the Internet? Three Ways to Ensure You Are Safe

As more and more people become aware of the benefits internet banking and purchasing, there has been a steady increase in the number of people using it. Little doubt exists that doing things on-line is time-saving and very convenient. Many, however, are concerned about whether online banking and purchasing is safe. And, given the ever- increasing rate of cybercrimes, this is a very important question to consider. In this article, I will address these issues and also provide some tips that you can implement to make your online banking and purchasing safe and profitable.

Beware of Phishing Attacks

One common method used by individuals and crime syndicates that attempt to scam on-line users is to first obtain the victim’s online banking credentials, credit card details or any other login information. This is generally through e-mails, and by designing duplicate web pages that may look similar to your online banking page. These fraudulent e-mails and websites can be identified with a little awareness. No bank will ever ask their customers for login information via e-mail. Never click on the link provided in an e-mail asking to enter your login information. Always type the URL provided by the bank in your browser or through a bookmark created by you to login into your online banking account. Even if your bank sends you e-mail, don’t access the website through the e-mail. You can read the email, but then close it and go to the next email in your inbox. No need to link from your inbox to your bank website. You can do your banking after you read your email.

Observe Details on the Login Page

First make sure your banking website looks normal. If you don’t think it looks like it usually does, call your bank and make sure the URL (web address) is correct to the letter. Next, banking and secure online stores are always done through a web page that encrypts your information to keep it safe from unauthorized people viewing it. An encrypted webpage should have two elements: a small lock icon in the address bar, and a starting URL of https:// rather than http://. These are two signs that your data is securely encrypted and cannot be accessed by anyone else.

Buy and Bank at Home

If you want to be super secure with online purchases and banking then don’t bank or buy at the library, your friend’s house, work or Starbucks. You should ensure that you do your on-line banking and purchasing at home on a secure WPA network that is password protected. Not on public networks or your workplace where you have little control over your computer and network settings. Information accessed or typed on public networks can be accessed by others. At your workplace, there might be server settings in place to monitor your online activity which also makes your information susceptible to others.

It is fairly easy to stay cyber-safe regarding on-line financial transactions. Often it is the negligence of these little things that makes us vulnerable to cyber-fraud. A little bit of caution will definitely make your on-line banking and purchasing rewarding, convenient, and above all safe.

Photo Transfer – Smartphone to Computer

With a smartphone, clicking and transferring pictures is an easy task! Just keep clicking and when done transfer them to your computer. Only how to do it?  Transferring pictures from a Smartphone to computer can be done in a number of ways . . . here are the most popular below.

Send As Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS)

Ever texted someone a picture?  You just used MMS. Smartphones have an option to send images via MMS usually just by touching the image you wish to send and following some simple menu commands. To send the image to your computer, instead of filling the cell number, you will need to fill your Email in the send section. Once sent, you can login to your email and quickly download the photo, which comes as an attachment.

USB Cable Method

All Smartphones should come with an USB cable, which connects to any computer directly. If not you can call your cell phone provider and request a USB transfer cable.  Your phone needs to be ON, when you plug the cable into your phone and computer. A new drive will come up (or populate in the “my computer” window of your PC where your other drives can be accessed), then search your phone for images right from your computer.  You open the files in your phone, just like you would open a flash drive — two quick left clicks. Then drag and drop pictures wherever you store your photos on your computer.

Memory Card Method

Most smartphones have an internal memory card called a micro SD chip; check if your phone has one by removing the back cover and looking for a small chip with a memory designation such as “2gb” on it. If you need help you can visit your cell phone provider and they will help you for no charge.   Pictures which you would like to transfer can be plugged directly into your computer usually SD to Micro SD adapter which can be purchased for about $10 almost anywhere with an electronics department.

Sync Method

Sync your phone and computer and the photographs will be automatically transferred to the computer. If you have syncing enabled on your phone once you plug your phone to your computer it will quickly prompt the computer to open the specific photo application that displays the pictures on the Smartphone. Select to upload photos and place them in your photo folder on your PC>

Bluetooth Method

Activate the Bluetooth of your Smartphone. It is usually found in Settings or Control. Ensure that Bluetooth is turned ON in your computer. Bluetooth settings are usually in the system tray of tiny icons in the bottom right hand corner of your taskbar.  With Mac’s it is located on the upper toolbar, ride side. Open the pictures gallery in your Smartphone and select send or copy option. Next choose the Bluetooth option. After confirming that you intend to enable Bluetooth, you will find the menu usually pops up automatically. Click ‘look for devices’ and select your Computer name or ID from the list. A request will be immediately sent requesting communication from your computer and phone.  Then simply then simply drag your pictures to the appropriate folder on your computer.

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