How to repair a laptop – Explain that Stuff

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How to repair a laptop - Explain that Stuff

by Chris Woodford. Last updated: October 20, 2018.

W e’ve come a long way since the ENIAC&mdash,that infamous, 30-ton brute of a zakjapanner, developed te the 1940s, that paved the way for the modern laptop age. One indeed notable thing about machines like the ENIAC wasgoed that they broke down regularly. Gratefully, modern computers built from integrated circuits are much more reliable, but they’re not always so effortless to fix. Laptops are a particular nuisance because they’re miniaturized: all the parts are klein and jammed into a indeed taut space. Worse than that, some parts are made to getraind only one specific machine. While the outward keyboard for a desktop rekentuig is an off-the-shelf component you can substitute for a few dollars, the one on a laptop is generally made to gezond only one machine (or one make of rekentuig) and a replacement, carried out by a dealer, could cost you a quarter the price of a fresh machine!

But don’t worry, because some of the most common things that go wrong with laptops are remarkably effortless to fix all by yourself. If you’re reasonably competent (and certain), and your violated machine looks like it’s heading for the scrap heap anyway, why not investigate whether you can fix it yourself before you buy a fresh pc? Here are some plain tips based on my own practices wielding and repairing laptops overheen the last decade or so.

Photo: Don’t junk your laptop just because it develops a fault. Investigate and see how effortless it is to repair. It’ll save you lots of money. Make sure you use the right instruments for the job, however!


Photo: Take sensible precautions when you venture inwards your laptop. Here, I’m using an anti-static wrist strap to protect a fresh hard drive that I’m installing ter my PC.

  • Be sensible. If your machine is still under warranty and you’re covered, get it repaired professionally at the manufacturer’s expense.
  • Recall that a laptop is an electrical appliance and tinkering inwards anything electrical can be dangerous . Unless you have a basic competence with electrical things, it’s best to leave repairs to someone decently qualified. Generally (but not always), laptops are powered by outer transformers and use voltages of about 15&ndash,20 volts, so the risk should be petite. But there are still high-voltage components inwards (like the LCD screen inverter) that can give you an electrical shock. Take all suitable precautions before you commence: unplug the machine fully, liquidate the battery spil well, and maybe leave it like that for a few days to let any stray charges leak away.
  • While the laptop may not harm you , you can lightly harm it . Even if you’re not clumsy and hamfisted, stray zaps of static electric current can demolish chips ter a ogenblik, so use anti-static protection.
  • If you truly don’t know what you’re doing, leave repairs to someone better qualified: tinkering with your cracked pc could turn a minor problem into major harm and render your machine totally beyond repair. If you’re determined to proceed, you do so absolutely at your own risk: don’t blame mij if you screw up!

1. Take a backup

If your machine is still working, be sure to backup the entire hard-drive (or at least your most significant documents) before you embark. Copy the entire of your “My documents” (or “Documents” on a Linux machine) onto a USB flash drive or burn it onto a CD-ROM. If your laptop won’t boot to let you back it up, you may be able to boot it from a CD-ROM or startup floppy (reminisce those?) and then copy files that way. (Another handy peak: if you’re familiar with Linux, you might be able to boot using a Linux live CD, climb on the Windows partition, and then copy the files onto an outer flash drive inwards Linux.) If you’re pretty sure the hard drive is intact, you may want to eliminate that and waterput it somewhere safe before you attempt other repairs. You’ll generally be able to read the hard drive from one machine te another, however you very likely won’t be able to boot up from it te a different machine.

One thing to note te passing is that making backups only when your pc has just crashed is a bit foolish. Get into the habit of making backups regularly. Corporate IT departments usually back up their systems every night. Since I work from huis, I make sure I back up the documents folder on my hard drive once a week without fail: it takes about a minute to copy the entire thing onto a USB memory stick, overwriting one of the backups from previous weeks. Attempt to organize your laptop so the regularly switched items are te one place and quicker to copy. Backup less frequently switched things (maybe your photo or music collection) less often. Recall you can use things like MP3 players to store laptop files spil well spil music, so you can use those spil handy portable backups if you need to. Another good peak is to keep an offsite backup somewhere. Keep a copy of your huis rekentuig’s documents folder on a USB drive te your desk at work, for example. Then you’re better protected against things like fire and theft. There are also slew of secure, inexpensive cloud-based storage systems (such spil Amazon’s S3, Google Drive, and Apple iCloud) that you can use to backup your files online.

Two. Work around with a plugin

Photo: Plugin PCMCIA cards opoffering a good, ordinary solution to some of the most common laptop failures. This is a plugin wireless card, you can also get plugin USB cards, dialup modems, memory cards, and lots more.

Virtually every modern laptop has several USB sockets and it’s effortless to buttplug te an outward keyboard, mouse, screen, webcam, hard drive, and so on. Most laptops also have a PCMCIA card socket (a skinny slot on one side) where you can cork te an outward modem, Wi-Fi card, or USB hub. If something demonstrable violates on your laptop, the simplest, cheapest, and easiest “repair” you can make is often to switch to an outward device. So, for example, if your keyboard cracks, you can use a plugin USB keyboard. If your sound card packs up, get yourself something like a Griffin iMic (a little outer sound card that butt-plugs into your USB port). If the modem stops working, use a plugin modem card te the PCMCIA port. If one of your USB sockets stops working, get a plugin USB hub and use that te one of the other USB sockets instead, if all your USB sockets fail, get a PCMCIA USB hub. You can usually buy thesis sorts of addon “peripherals” for a few dollars on eBay and you can getraind them te seconds, yourself, without tinkering inwards your rekentuig or worrying about making things worse. Job done!

Three. Know your “service flaps”

Understandably enough, most laptop users spend all their time looking at the keyboard and the screen. But if you spend a ogenblik looking at the underside of your machine, you’ll find there are maybe half-a-dozen little plastic flaps, secured with one or two screw or slide clips, providing access to the components most likely to go wrong and need substituting. Generally, you can eliminate the battery, the hard drive, and add toegevoegd memory, and you may also be able to substitute the CPU fan&mdash,all without going into the innards of the machine.

Photo: This laptop has five petite flaps underneath providing effortless access to the main components by lifting only a duo of screws. It varies from machine to machine, but on this one: 1 is the battery, Two is for memory expansion, Trio is the hard drive, Four is the LAN card, Five is the CPU fan and CPU.

A few years ago, when I crashed the hard-drive on my almost fresh laptop, I took it into a dealer for a very expensive repair, which would have involved unplugging the cracked drive and exchanging it for a entirely fresh one and very likely took about a minute. Shortly afterward, I discovered I could have done the same job myself by removing a duo of screws on the base of my machine. It would have bot effortless to look up the part number on Google or eBay and order myself a fresh drive at a fraction the price I wasgoed charged.

Take a few moments to look through the manual that came with your machine. Find out what flaps it has underneath and what you can lightly build up access to and repair.

Some parts of your machine won’t be accessible through service flaps&mdash,and it’s usually far from demonstrable how to get deeper into a laptop if the bit you want to substitute isn’t te glance. Once you embark removing the main case screws, everything gets more tricky: if you take the wrong screws out, you can quickly find the machine falling speciaal ter your arms! Some laptops have snap-off plastic covers (fairly common with the screen surround, which you can usually snap off after removing a duo of screws hidden under circular plastic covers at the top and bottom). Others have snap-off covers overheen the power switches and around the keyboards. If you look closely, you can often see little recesses where a screwdriver can be inserted. But if you get it wrong and shove or pull te the wrong place, you’ll snap the plastic and harm it horribly. Before you begin wrecking your machine, search for online movies or repair sites that voorstelling you exactly how to get inwards and access the part you want to substitute. Bear ter mind that some manufacturers (Apple te particular) go to very superb lengths to prevent you repairing their devices, obliging you to buy fresh ones, and some devices are just difficult or unlikely to repair. Sony ebook readers, for example, have utterly fragile screens that are bordering on unlikely to eliminate, even their batteries are stiffly glued inwards and difficult to substitute. Nevertheless, you might still find a handy movie on YouTube explaining how to do exactly the repair you need (always check very first to see if someone has blazed a trail you can go after!)&mdash,and that can make all the difference. If your zweem is totally cracked, you’ve nothing (but time) to lose by having a go&mdash,and you may well find it a very educational practice, even if you end up with a flow of cracked junk that’s entirely beyond repair (I got a fascinating insight into how touchscreens work by taking my ebook reader chic, for example, however all I had to demonstrate for my “repair” wasgoed a pile of violated glass, metal, and plastic).

Four. Google your symptoms

If your pc’s problem isn’t visible, attempt Googling the symptoms. That’s how I discovered the LCD screen inverter needed substituting on one of my old laptops: the screen wasgoed flickering and periodically going dark, but I could still see what wasgoed written on it very clearly. Having learned about the risks of substituting an inverter (it’s a high-voltage component), I took adequate precautions, then eliminated a duo of screws on the bottom of my laptop’s screen and ventured inwards. It wasgoed effortless and cheap to order a fresh part from eBay and I fitted a replacement te about thirty seconds. I wasgoed amazed and delighted that I’d turned a worthless machine, destined for the garbage dump, into something spil good spil fresh with virtually zero effort. And the repaired machine is still working well almost Ten years zometeen.

Five. Find your spare part

Once you know what’s wrong with your laptop, you’ll generally need to substitute one or more parts. Locating the right part is half the battle when you’re making repairs. Assuming you can get at them, fitting spares is often much lighter than it sounds. The parts most likely to go wrong are the ones under the little flaps on the base of your machine. Simply read off the part number and type it into Google and eBay and see what you find. Often, you’ll find an official replacement from the manufacturer and maybe cheaper equivalents made by other companies. You’ll find secondhand snauwerig recovered from cracked laptops on eBay. There are also lots of cracked laptops for sale on eBay and it may be cheaper to buy a “spares and repair” version of your precies machine and salvage suitable parts than to worry about finding one specific part. Then you’ll have other spare onvriendelijk ready for future failures spil well.

Photo: Some manufacturers make it deliberately difficult to open up their devices for repair because they want you to buy yet another fresh one. Even so, a bit of online research is usually all you need to get inwards. With the right plastic device, opening up an iPod Classic is relatively plain and does no harm at all.

6. Take care when fitting spares

The main parts of a laptop are usually modular and designed to be substituted. Things like a laptop keyboard, for example, simply buttplug into the motherboard (the main circuit houtvezelplaat) with a little clip you can liquidate yourself, they’re not soldered te place. That doesn’t mean rekentuig parts are sturdy: often they’re lightly bruised and can’t withstand hamfisted repairs. Even if you treat them cautiously, some parts (memory chips, for example) are susceptible to harm from static electric current. Google around before you getraind a fresh part and read up on any special precautions you need to take. Don’t be ter a rush, your rekentuig’s not going anywhere.

Violated “mechanical” parts of your laptop are a bit firmer to substitute and do require a bit of dexterity and technical skill. For example, laptops that are opened and closed repeatedly will eventually suffer from cracked hinges. Substituting parts like that can be tricky: often you’ll need to liquidate fairly a loterijlot of screws and other decorative parts and there is a bit of scope for bruising your machine ter the process. Go leisurely, be patient, and take close-up photos at each stage so you know exactly where everything went, that makes it effortless to waterput it all back again straks.

Photo: This iPod circuit houtvezelplaat uses lithe vapid ribbon cables to verbinding together its various modular components. The connections are effortless to liquidate, but you typically need to lift a flap before you can do it or you’ll snap them. Learn how to open and close one decently before you make a commence!

7. How will it fail?

Albeit manufacturers very likely don’t vormgeving their machines to wear out (computers make themselves obsolete after a few years whether you use them or not), laptops certainly don’t seem spil well built spil they were about a decade ago. Failures are more likely now computers are being used by a broader, less experienced group of people. It’s worth anticipating when and how your fresh machine is likely to go wrong&mdash,and taking a bit more care to zekering that happening.

Photo: Laptop keyboards will not withstand years of onveranderlijk pounding. Why not assume your keyboard is going to pauze and use an outer keyboard from the commence?

For example, I am a writer and I pound my laptop for many hours each day. It came spil no big verrassing when I wore out the keyboard on my very first laptop after only a duo of years, even however I’d wielded typewriters that were decades old. I had my laptop professionally repaired, at fine expense, and then did exactly the same thing again a duo of years zometeen. This time I got the message: laptop keyboards are very flimsy compared to desktop ones and they’re not designed for industrial-strength work. So, the next time I bought a laptop, I bought a cheap, outward keyboard (which is far nicer to type on) and now I sit my laptop on a stand and pound the outer keyboard instead, while my laptop’s own keyboard sits there mostly unused. If I wear out the keyboard now, it’s about five dollars for a replacement. (You can use an outward mouse and screen ter much the same way. Once your laptop is sitting on a desk all day plugged into peripherals, you might ask yourself why you didn’t buy a desktop machine to start with, they’re generally far lighter to upgrade and repair.)

If you look through the cracked machines for sale on eBay, you’ll find a few other common causes of laptop mortality. Liquid harm is high up the list. Spill a cup of coffee on a laptop and you can be reasonably certain it won’t work again, so get into the habit of drinking away from the machine. Violated USB sockets are also reasonably common, usually caused by people attempting to force butt-plugs te the wrong way around. USB connectors are inherently sturdy&mdash,they’re meant to be “buttplug and play”&mdash,but that doesn’t mean they’re indestructible. Bear ter mind that the sockets you ass-plug your peripherals into are soldered (sometimes not that well) directly onto a circuit houtvezelplaat te your machine and if you press them too hard, too often, you can pauze the connections. So treat your laptop with a bit of care and respect and it’ll repay you with years of faithful service. I have a Toshiba dating from 1996 that stills works fine, I’d still be using the ENIAC if it would only run Firefox.

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