Just When You Had It Figured Out: Common Computer Maintenance Misconceptions Part 3

Don't stick your vacuum right inside your computer
Make sure you don't use your outside vacuum to clean the inside of your computer!

Well, it looks like we inadvertently skipped a day on Friday. The construction we’ve had going on for over a week now required us to move stuff around and the blog post became a casualty of time. But never fear, we will persevere. Stiff upper lip and carry on and all that. Today, we’re looking at the second part of the compressed air myth, and hopefully teaching you a little more science. Because, you know, Science!

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Just When You Had It Figured Out: Common Computer Maintenance Misconceptions Part 2

There are many kinds of canned air, make sure you get the right kind
This is NOT for cleaning your computer. Remember: Oxygen + Spark + Dusty Air = Inferno Tornado!

And we’re back for another exciting installment of the column where we learn that things we thought we know are actually wrong. Today, we’ll tackle a…well, not so much a misconception as an incomplete thought, centering on removing the dust and gunk form inside your computer case. And I hope you’re reading this outside on your laptop in a park, because missing this gorgeous day would be a crime worse than my occasional butchering of the English language.

 

#2: “You should open your case up every couple of months and spray it out with canned air. You can pick the stuff up for dirt cheap at the .99c store!”

Personally, I love compressed air. I remember as a kid turning the can upside down and pushing the trigger in real slow and watching the rapidly condensing moisture fall and his as the expanding air caused a sharp and rapid drop in temperature. It’s actually another common misconception that the liquid that comes out is whatever chemicals have been stuffed into the can, but it’s actually just the microscopic water particles in the air condensing around the nozzle. The air coming out of the can expands so rapidly that (as we learned in high school chemistry) it causes the air to cool. The reason this isn’t noticeable unless you push the trigger in slowly is that with more force, the cold air moves too fast to cause a noticeable temperature drop since the cold is spread out over a larger area. The more you know! ⌂

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Just When You Had It Figured Out: Common Computer Maintenance Misconceptions Part 1

With daylight savings time catching us by surprise, and the temperatures here in NYC hovering right around 50, it’s finally safe to say that spring has almost sprung. There go those lift-passes I hadn’t had time to use. Oh well. And with spring just about here, we will soon be inundated with the usual flood of “Spring Clean Your Computer!!” articles, in which overly-peppy reporters who can barely turn on

Defragging is not only unnecessary but can be harmful
I turned my computer upside down and all my files fell out! Now I need to defrag the floor!

their Powerbooks talk to an “expert” (usually, the only BestBuy employee who couldn’t invent a plausible excuse fast enough) about things that they don’t quite understand themselves and then string the words together in a way that makes things easy to understand but is generally pretty much completely wrong. Don’t you worry, we’ll get to the spring cleaning fever ourselves, but first we thought it might be helpful if we took a minute to dust off the shelves of conventional wisdom and common knowledge, pulled out the clutter of outdated truisms and unsubstantiated rumor, and replaced them with the bright, shiny, polished trophy of truth and accurate information. So without further ado, here is a list of the top 10 computer maintenance misconceptions and downright falsehoods, presented as a daily series (that’s right, you have to wait a day between tips):

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How is Your Laptop Like Felix Ungar? They Both Work Best When Things Are Clean.

From late-night Cheeto-powered gaming to breakfast-sandwich-in-hand commuter computing, laptops attract a lot of dirt, dust, crumbs, and various other bits of their owners’ debris. Add to that the air circulation system inside your computer, usually powered by at least one fan, and it’s tendency to suck in dust faster than Hoovering the Sahara, and you have a recipe for a mess inside your laptop. Not surprisingly, computers don’t like this at all. From dust clogging the fan and causing your system to run hot (which burns out critical components VERY quickly) to sticky liquids causing shorts or acting as magnets for other dirt, a messy laptop can cause all sorts of very expensive problems. You would not believe how many customers bring us their computers only to discover that all of their problems could have been prevented with a good cleaning now and then.

Luckily for you, several of our brave computers have agreed to undergo surgery so you can see how it’s done.

Asus EeePC ready for a laptop cleaning
Victim #1: An EeePC Ready for Cleaning

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When Technology Fails, Part 2: Fighting Back

A corollary to Murphy’s Law says that your fancy, expensive, shiny piece of technologyHow do you fix a wet cell phone? will choose to break when you need it most. Especially if it’s a piece of tech that you absolutely rely on. Luckily, there’s usually a simple trick that will fix things, at least enough to get you by. Yahoo! News has put together a list of 6 common problems and solutions, and we have a couple of comments to add:

1)Touchscreen phones that won’t work with gloves on:

Yahoo!’s Becky Worley recommends cutting a hole in your gloves or buying a fancy stylus. Fine solutions, if you don’t mind a hole in your gloves or a stylus that falls to the furthest reaches of your bag or pocket and passes through a magical gateway to an alternate dimension, never to be seen again. There’s a simpler way, though, two of them in fact. The first is to buy double-layer gloves with a Thinsulate layer, then strip one of the fingers (I do the thumb) of it’s outer layer. The black Thinsulate material is thin enough that it registers on touch-screen devices while still keeping your fingers relatively toasty. The other solutions is to just buy fingerless gloves with an optional mitten part -you know what I’m talking about- and pull a finger out whenever you need to use the phone. No cutting, no freezing, yes phone.

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What’s the most valuable part of your laptop?

Whether you’re buying a new laptop or fixing an old one, one thing you’re probably very conscious of is price.  But do you really know how all that money you’re spending gets allocated?  And for that matter, what IS the most valuable part of your laptop? Is it the screen? Maybe it’s that super expensive Intel processor you bought? Or is it something else entirely…

If you said ‘DATA!’ then you’re probably right.  At LaptopMD, the most distraught customers we see are those with data loss.  Whether it’s family photos, your iTunes collection, or Excel spreadsheets for work, we often don’t realize how valuable our data is until we lose it.  This leads me to another good point:

BACKUP! BACKUP! BACKUP!

If you aren’t backing up all of your valuable data in at least one place NOT on your laptop’s hard drive then you’re at risk! Backing up your data is the best way to avoid that sharp twang in your stomach when you realize your vacation pictures from the last two years are gone for good.  That being said, when presented with data loss you almost always have data recovery options available to you. It’s not cheap though, and you can end up paying anywhere from $99-$2500 depending on the level of damage.

Image from https://computer-networks-webdesign.com

A hundred bucks can get you some basic software solutions for bringing your data back.  If you’ve got any kind of physical damage or platter damage though, you’re looking at the $1000+ solutions. Imagine a clean room with giant machinery built specifically to read data off dissected hard drives.  They’ll take the data plates out, soak them in patented aqueous solutions and recover every 1 and 0 they can.  Yeah, it’s intense.

While it’s typically the corporate clients who NEED those lost documents that opt for the pricey, extreme solutions, there’s one practice that can help everyone.  Have I mentioned it before?

BACKUP! BACKUP! BACKUP!

As much as we love your business, we’d prefer to be selling you external hard drives instead of telling you your data is toast. That being said, I think I’ll end on a shameless plug. J  If you DO experience any data loss, we are here to help! Bring your laptop in and we’ll get back any and everything that is physically possible.

Troubleshooting Laptop Motherboard and CPU Problems

Diagnose and Repair Laptop Motherboard and CPU problemsWe wanted to give you an inside look, today, at how you can go about troubleshooting laptop motherboard and CPU problems. Many times a computer may stop working or it may function abnormally if there is a problem with your motherboard and/or CPU. A computer’s motherboard is best described as the central nervous system of the computer. Everything from your laptop to your desktop computer to your smartphone has a motherboard of sort. The motherboard connects the various hardware pieces together. The CPU, or the Central Processing Unit, is the piece of hardware where most of the computer’s processing work is done. This might be described as the brain of the computer.

Combined together, the motherboard and CPU are at the root of a lot of problems that can occur with your laptop and where we might look first if you bring in your laptop for repair. Slow computer speeds, system crashes, and other hardware problems can be a result of a malfunctioning motherboard or CPU. Remember that our certified laptop and computer repair engineers are trained to diagnose these specific types of problems. We can help you if you don’t where to begin. Contact us today about any problems you might be having with your laptop or computer. Continue reading

How To Replace a Keyboard Key On Your Own

Sometimes keys fall off of keyboards due to age or excessive wear.  If one or more keys fall or break off of your keyboard, we have keyboard repair tips for you!  You can most likely fix your keyboard on your own without having to buy a new one.  There are no universal guidelines since all keyboards are different but here is a general step-by-step guide on how to put back a missing key back onto the keyboard.

Replace a Keyboard Key On Your Own

Step 1:

Remove the work key Form Key so that only the cover comes off, leaving the inside intact. This will help you to know exactly how the broken key should be put back.

Broken keyboard key, fix keyboard key, how to take out keyboard keys Inner and Outer Retainer, Rubber Gasket, Keyboard Keys

Step 2:

Identify the Key Retainers (small plastic parts) that hold the rubber gasket in place.  Most likely there will be two pieces that interlock together and snap in place at four different points. Use tweezers to gently lift the retainers up and make sure you take into account how they link and where they snap together.

keyboard key retainers, removing retainers using tweezersseparating internal and external retainers in keyboard keys

Step 3:

Similarly, use tweezers to unsnap the retainers you need to replace the rubber gasket underneath. Start by separating the outer retainer from inner retainer, one side at a time. Finish removing the final gasket by softly pulling it out with your fingers.

Removing Key Retainers using Tweezers

Step 4:

Assemble the plastic key retainers to reassemble the working key if the retainers are being replaced. If the rubber gasket needs replacing, remove the worn piece and replace it with a new one.

You can buy individual keys or rubber gaskets on eBay or Amazon.

Step 5:

Push the key retainers gently over the rubber gasket until it snaps into proper place on the keyboard. Follow the reverse procedure starting with the retainers, link them together, snapping one end in at a time, sliding the retainers over the gasket and then snapping the other end onto the keyboard base.

Step 6:

Snap the key cover back on. Gently push until you feel the key cover snap into place.

See The Repair Experts

If you face any problems replacing the keys on your keyboard, LaptopMD is always here to help you.

Computer Cleaning Tips

Computer Cleaning Tips

Dusty laptops/computers tend to overheat and as a result they may restart automatically or not function properly.   When a lot of dust and dirt builds up inside the computer, the computer will stop functioning properly and may need to be taken in for a ‘repair’ job where technicians must take the computer apart and perform a deep clean to get the computer to run properly again.  As preventive maintenance, here are some tips on how to clean your computer, keep it functioning and running safely, and avoid taking it in to the repair shop.

Computer Cleaning MaterialsCan of Compresses air, cotton buds, cloth

  • 1 Can of Compressed Air
  • A Few Cotton Balls
  • 1 Soft Cloth
  • Cleaning Fluid

Before Cleaning

Make sure your computer is turned off and unplugged before you start cleaning your computer.  This ensures that no part of the computer is harmed as you clean it.

Steps to Clean Individual Components

  1. Blow away the excess surface dust with a can of compressed air.
  2. To clean the keyboard, use cotton balls to remove large particles of dust between the keys, then blow away smaller dust particles with the can of compressed air.
  3. Wipe the surface of the keys with a damp cloth but ensure that the cloth is not excessively damp as fluid can damage the computer’s keyboard.
  4. Put a small amount of cleaning fluid on cloth and gently clean the screen.  Make sure you don’t apply pressure while cleaning the computer screen.
  5. To clean the ports on your computer, carefully wipe the inside of each port with cotton balls and then spray each of them with compressed air.
  6. To clean the computer’s fan, hold it and spray it with compressed air.  If you don’t hold it, the air will cause it to spin and could break it by making it spin faster.
  7. To clean the DVD or CD Drive on your computer, open it and spray the compressed air inside.

Speeding Up Your Slow Computer

Too Desktop Icons, How to remove desktop icons and make your computer run faster.
What makes your computer slow ?

Often times you might ask yourself why your computer is running slow.  When people bring in their computers and laptops for repair this is one of our most often asked questions.  Read below for common problems that will cause your computer to run slow and easy solutions to speed your computer up.

What makes your PC run slow?

  • Constantly working with a lot of files (moving, copying, deleting) will slow down your computer and use computer processes that are reserved for other functions.
  • Similarly, keeping several computer programs open at once can bog down system resources.  This is true, especially for certain programs that perform higher end functions, such as image manipulation programs – like Adobe Photoshop, movie editing programs, and design programs.  Video game programs can also slow down your computer system.
  • The computer’s processor speed is a factor in many cases.  Each computer is limited by its hardware (the processor) to the number of simultaneous functions it can perform.  If you are running or editing multiple programs or files, as described above, your processor will get bogged down and not be able to perform the needed tasks.  Your computer may simply have an outdated processor or the tasks you need to perform may outpace the ability of your computer’s processor.  The computer engineers at LaptopMD can look at your computer and, based on your needs, we can recommend a new computer processor which will help you perform at the most efficient level.
  • Related to processor speed and multiple computer processes, your computer speed can be affected by the computer’s RAM or the amount of available memory available to your computer.  All programs and tasks take a certain amount of memory while in use.  The amount of RAM can be increased in most computer models to allow for more user activity on the computer.
  • Windows, program, and other computer animations can also slow down your computer.  Playing video games, watching videos online and running programs with intense animation may take a lot of processing speed and use large amounts of RAM.  Animation is a common problem that can significantly slow your PC down.
  • Cookies, registry processes, and an internet browser’s cache are information files stored by programs to remember internet preferences, program settings, and other temporary files.  Over a period of time, these can accumulate and slow your computer down.  To prevent the cache, cookies, and registry processes from slowing down your computer see our solutions section, after the jump (click the ‘Read the rest of this entry’ link below).

All of these problems can be remedied either by modifying your computer’s hardware, talking with a computer expert (at LaptopMD), or by reviewing our easy solutions section after the jump (click the ‘Read the rest of this entry’ link below).  Reply in the comments with any questions you might have and we’ll help you out!

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