When to Replace a Laptop Hard Drive

Lifespans vary considerably, but many modern hard disk drives last around five years. You might need to replace your laptop’s drive when you notice these signs of failure:

When to Replace a Laptop Hard Drive

1. If files vanish or become unreadable, a faulty hard disk may be to blame. Filenames might get scrambled as well. However, keep in mind that malware could also trigger these problems.

2. When unusual errors start to appear as you manage files or run software, it’s a possible sign of impending failure. Some messages may report disk I/O problems.

3. Do you experience long pauses when opening files? If so, your HDD might soon fail. Remember that other things can also slow down your computer, including certain anti-virus programs.

4. Peculiar noises may foretell a hard drive crash. Listen for abnormal humming, grinding, clicking or scratching sounds that you didn’t hear in the past.

5. A failing laptop HDD might prevent the operating system from booting when you power up the computer. It may boot a few more times if you restart it repeatedly.

6. When the machine frequently freezes up or displays blue-screen errors, it could need a new drive. This is more likely to happen as you open or save files.

7. If you don’t find any viruses, try running a disk check. This scan may detect bad sectors. Complete failure could be near if it finds many of them.

8. Has your notebook computer simply stopped detecting the hard drive? If so, the unit may need replacement or isn’t properly connected to the motherboard.

Hard disk failure is more likely if you notice any of these symptoms after the laptop suffers some type of harm. For example, it may have overheated or been dropped.

It’s wise to back up your files and take action before the drive completely fails. If you need help diagnosing the problem or replacing hardware, please contact our knowledgeable technicians today.

Why You Should Switch to PC Gaming

Have you ever considered switching to PC gaming? After all, while consoles are a good way to play your favorite games, many of these can be played on PC with even more features and options. While a PC is always going to be more expensive than a console, PCs are cheaper than ever to build. Today even a budget build can outperform consoles while offering more features, a longer lifespan, and much better options for upgrading: after all, not every part of a PC will need to be replaced every time you build a new machine! Furthermore, if the cost of a gaming PC is what worries you, since you probably already need a PC anyway you could spend a little bit extra cash on getting a more powerful PC that you can play games on in addition to use for work and other tasks instead of getting a console.

Why You Should Switch to PC Gaming

Flexibility

“Flexibility” in one word describes some of the major advantages of a PC. Flexibility in parts and upgrades means that you can build a PC with some parts for a budget around $500 and then upgrade that same machine over time to outperform every console on the market without having to replace everything. Flexibility in performance means that, unlike with a console, you can adjust the settings of your games to maximize performance and graphics. Why settle for 30fps at medium settings at 1080p on a console when a PC that isn’t too much more expensive can do 60fps with much higher quality graphics at the same (or higher) resolutions? Meanwhile, the computer itself is extremely flexible: not only can a Windows PC play games but it can also be used for work, browsing the web, chatting with friends across the globe, and innumerable other tasks- not to mention that you could even make your own games! There’s also flexibility of controls: on PC not only can you change what each button does, but you can also change what you’re using to play your games: you can use a keyboard and mouse, a joystick or steering wheel, console controllers, and much more – some of which are better suited for different genres than console controllers are. For example, a mouse and keyboard setup for a first person shooter is much, much better than a controller.

True Backwards Compatibility

Unlike consoles, a PC offers true backwards compatibility. You can install games that are over twenty years old like Unreal and Half-Life and play them with little to no issues, and some other games that are older can work on your PC with some adjustments and workarounds. Even though some may need a little work to make them run perfectly on modern systems, this is already an improvement over consoles that do not allow much backwards compatibility (if any at all). A PC can offer a nostalgia trip at any time without having to pull out another old console or PC to play your favorite games of old.

Exclusives: Games and Genres

For the most part, the exclusive games for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 were somewhat lacking, whereas the PC has hundreds (if not thousands) of exclusive games and genres. For example, pretty much all strategy games are exclusive to the PC, like the Total War games and the Civilization games. A lot of indie games see good success on PC, too, whereas on console only a few have done particularly well. Furthermore a lot of older classic games are either PC exclusive or have their best versions on PC. Some good examples of this are the first two Thief games, the Half-Life series, the Unreal games, and Deus Ex- all of which are classics and feature either only PC versions (like the Thief games and some of Half-Life’s expansions) or feature vastly inferior console ports (like the PS2 ports of Deus Ex and Half-Life and Unreal Tournament’s Dreamcast and PS2 port).

Conclusion

While PCs are more expensive than consoles, they offer significantly better value for their utility, flexibility, backwards compatibility and the exclusive games and genres that find homes only on the PC.

Do you have any questions about PCs or PC gaming? Do you want help picking parts for a potential build, or do you want your computer built by our highly qualified professionals? Contact us today at one of our locations!

We’re taking preventive measures at each PC Geeks location!

The safety and health of our customers and employees is our top priority. We’re taking preventive measures to keep each PC Geeks location clean and maintain a healthy environment. If you’re having issues with your computer, please don’t hesitate to let us know.

We’re taking preventive measures at each PC Geeks location!

The safety measures listed on the CDC’s website are very important as we continue to address this ongoing situation and as we do our part to help prevent the spread of illnesses. Therefore, please continue practicing good hygiene and following these preventative actions:

  • Wash your hands for 20 seconds.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue and throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Keep your distance from others if possible.
  • If you are feeling sick, please stay at home!
  • Call ahead before you go to the doctor and tell them about your symptoms.

We are more than happy to help our customers during this time! Please give us a call. We’re happy to help with any computer related issues.

The Best Gaming Computer Is the One You Build Yourself

PC gaming can be hard, historically we have had to fight with hardware and software in order to run games on the limitless configurations an open platform like the PC allows. Today’s PC gamers can do a little less troubleshooting and a little more fragging as computer parts and drivers become less esoteric and more standardized. But to some the thought of learning to build their own PC keeps them locked into video game console upgrade cycles or searching the internet to find which company builds the best gaming computer.

The Best Gaming Computer Is the One You Build Yourself

You can look at any other article about why it is better to build your own PC and you’ll find reasons like keeping costs down and having control over each component. Why pay for parts and features you don’t plan to use? We have better cooling options for high performance systems. But I think there are some more abstract reasons to build your own PC as well.

First and foremost, there is a very satisfying feeling in sitting next to a machine you have built yourself. I feel like a mechanic restoring a hot rod or a jet pilot sometimes when my rig is purring next to me as it blasts out frames. You can feel some pride in those buttery smooth graphics and that whisper quiet cooler when you have assembled and tuned it all yourself. It’s like the difference between a toy that will get discarded when something newer comes along and your favorite pair of broken in jeans and that can even go a long way in easing buyer’s remorse when you think about how much it cost! On top of all that, by building a PC you’ll start learning a new skill set that is in ever more demand in today’s economy. As automation becomes more feasible the only jobs left for humans may be in IT…or to dial back the doom and gloom: you’ll be on your way to being the “computer guru” at work or among friends.

In the end the decision is yours. Some of us won’t have the time or the technical skill to build a PC. Others just prefer the convenience of buying something factory made. But for my money, the best gaming computer is the one I’ve built myself! For more information on creating the best gaming PC for you, contact us today at PC Geeks!

Processor & Memory Harmony in Electronic Music

Today, computers play a vastly major role in making music, especially within the EDM genre. Having the right components at your disposal will make the difference between a great performance or a massive technical meltdown. No relationship within your machine is more valuable and important than the one between the CPU and RAM memory. These two factors alone can completely halt the creative process of electronic music when not working in harmony.

Processor & Memory Harmony in Electronic Music

The CPU (central processing unit) inside your computer is the main brain and function creator for the entire system. All main processes and actions for the computer to take are stored here until needed. The RAM (random access memory) recalls the information needed from the CPU, letting it know what processes should currently be running. The CPU can only run as many processes as the RAM allows, so naturally, an increase in RAM will yield more processes being rendered at the same time.

This is a very important factor for Electronic Music, as many of the computer-based plugins are very RAM heavy and can take a toll on the CPU over time. Having a great amount of memory in your computer will allow the CPU to run multiple plugins at once without lag or sacrifice in speed. As a rule of thumb, most DAW programs for music making require a minimum of 8 GB RAM now to keep up with the processing speeds of modern CPU’s. When just starting out, a 4-core CPU with 8 GB RAM is the proper configuration to understanding how your current plugins handle in relationship to one another. Over time, the ideal system to meet all needs as far as music production are concerned will include a CPU with 6 to 8 cores accompanied by a 32 GB RAM chipset.

Regardless of the genre of music you choose to make with your computer, it is always important to make sure the processor and memory harmonize well together. Doing so helps to eliminate one of the many roadblocks creatives face when transferring ideas into a digital stream for the world to hear.

Contact us today for more information!

Why it’s better to Custom Build a Gaming PC

When it comes to a gaming pc, there are two main choices: buying a prebuilt computer or building your own. In general, the ideal choice is to custom build a gaming PC due to a combination of factors which make it the ideal choice.

Why it's better to Custom Build a Gaming PC

#1. Price

When you compare the price of buying all the parts for a computer and building it yourself to purchasing a machine with general specs, building your own is generally cheaper. Not to mention that it is far easier to get a computer with the exact specifications you want by building it yourself than it is by trawling through various computer stores in search of one that fits your needs.

#2. Customization

In general, building your own PC gives you a lot more options on what you would like to include in your system than buying one does. In general, most pre-built computers use a limited selection of parts with little in the way of choices. If a prebuilt computer does offer the option to change certain parts, it will be with an extremely limited number of preselected parts.

Building your own system gives you so many more options as you can literally choose from every single part on the market to customize your machine as much as possible, and for a fraction of the price most prebuilt part changes will run you.

#3. No Bloatware

One of the main problems with prebuilt systems is that they tend to come with a lot of useless software that you don’t want or need and just takes up unnecessary space, forcing you to spend hours removing these useless programs when you get your computer. If you build your own computer then there is no bloatware to speak of and you can just get started right away without having to spend time removing useless programs.

If you’re building a new computer then let the experts help you out. Head on over to PC Geeks for all the latest tips when you’re ready to  custom build a gaming PC and all the best parts for building a computer and more.

Your Power Cord Only Works At Just the Right Angle: Now What?

We’ve all done the dance routine of trying to make a power cord work when it doesn’t want to. Sometimes you have to bend it at just the right angle. Sometimes you have to push it in just hard enough. Sometimes, it stops working for no reason at all and you don’t notice until you get the low battery warning.

No matter what strange ritual your computer cord is demanding, it’s better to fix it now than try harder and harder halfway solutions until it finally fails when you need it most. Try these four fixes:

Your Power Cord Only Works At Just the Right Angle: Now What?

1. Align it in the socket.

Just like the sockets in your home indicate, your charger’s plug has a larger prong and a smaller prong. Usually, it doesn’t matter which way you plug in a device. But sometimes it can make all the difference, especially if your prongs aren’t making a complete connection. Mark your charger so you always align the larger prong with the larger slot, and see if that creates a more consistent charge.

2. Put electric tape over those frays.

Charger cords see a lot of damage over their lifetimes. The ends get bent and twisted, the middle probably gets pinched and stepped on… Eventually, wires will start to fray or even pop out of the protective material. Cover the gaps with electrical tape. This material can stop tears in the rubber from growing and cover electrical wires. Use electrical tape specifically, never duct tape.

3. See if a new one solves the problem.

Wasting money on new supplies always seems like a cop-out. But if the problem is the charger, you have to get a new one. Even if the problem isn’t the charger, testing out a new one lets you cross potential problems off the list. Borrow one from someone who uses exactly the same cord as you do, or take it into an electronics store to see if they’ll let you test it out.

4. Take it in to see if the input jack is loose.

If it’s not the charger itself, it could be the input jack. Sometimes this internal part gets loosened or knocked to the side because it’s such a high-contact part. If your charger can’t make a good connection because the jack no longer lines up with the holes, it won’t charge. Luckily, this is something a shop can easily fix.

Browse our site for more DIY fixes or repair advice.

Shut Computer Viruses Down Before They Start!

Are you infected?

If you suspect that your computer has been infected by malicious software, contact us to speak with a technician about the best course of action for your computer viruses!

Shut Computer Viruses Down Before They Start!

There is hope!

Computer viruses are scary. Most of us don’t know where they come from, or how to get rid of them before they send our bank information to a hacker or steal and delete our family photos right out from under us. Using your computer to explore the internet doesn’t need to be scary, though! Here are a few quick and easy steps to keep yourself safe from the cyber boogeyman.

Protect yourself.

The cyber world is full of opportunities for hackers to craft bespoke viruses and release them to simply wreak havoc or steal your information. Thankfully, there are trusted companies producing excellent free and paid antivirus applications to keep your systems clear of viruses and malware—use them! Downloading and consistently using virus protection software is a huge step in defending yourself and your data from attack. This is an excellent first step that will drastically improve your chances to fight off a nasty virus!

Update. Update. Update.

Update notifications can be annoying and intrusive, but they could also save you from losing your information to a virus. The best way to keep criminals out of your home is to close and lock the doors and windows, right? Applications and operating systems are no exception to this rule. Developers do their best to keep up with security threats and release updates and patches to close down security holes, so click that ‘update now’ button and be patient! Stop avoiding that update for a much-used application—it may just save you from bank fraud or identity theft!

Remove old software.

Be careful! Some old software has fallen out of support with developers and is no longer getting security updates. These programs sitting on your computer could have old vulnerabilities that leave cracks for viruses to work their way into your computer without you knowing. Take stock of the applications on your computer and get rid of the ones you don’t use regularly. Removing unsafe programs will immediately boost your security!

They will pretend to be your friends.

Awesome! Your system and applications are up to date, and you have removed any software that has been sitting on the shelf collecting dust with massive security holes. You are good to go explore the internet, right? Not quite. One of the most important aspects of protecting yourself from a computer virus is your behavior online. Hackers can use plenty of technical vulnerabilities to wriggle a worm into your computer, but often the easiest thing to do is get you to put the virus on your computer for them.

Teach a man to phish…

Phishing is a common tactic for attackers. What is phishing? It is a technique used by hackers who present you with bait in an attempt to trick you into giving up the information they want. They can phish for: bank credentials, phone numbers, email addresses, system information, or even something seemingly as harmless as the school you graduated from (you haven’t used that as a security question, right?). The bait could be an email that looks like it came from your bank, asking you to update your password and requesting your old username and password for ‘confirmation’. The phishing bait may take the appearance of an email from a coworker asking you to take a look at an attached spreadsheet file that will slip a virus into your system if opened. Has a long lost relative from Nigeria contacted you recently sounding desperate for help and money? Be careful, and don’t trust any links sent from unconfirmed sources! When in doubt, always contact the source that appears to be sending the information directly to confirm its authenticity.

Pesky Pop-ups.

Pop-ups can be more than an annoyance. They can be downright harmful. Be careful when browsing the internet if a pop-up interrupts your session warning you of a harmful virus or much needed security update. Be sure to only trust verified developer sources for updates and keep your virus protection software up to date through its integrated update features.

Start with these tips to make yourself a hard target for viruses and attackers, and check out our blog for more related information!

Shopping For a New Computer? Why a Custom-Built PC Might Be Right For You

Are you thinking of getting a new computer? If you are, you likely have an idea of what you will use it for, and even some plans to upgrade it in the future.

Shopping For a New Computer? Why a Custom-Built PC Might Be Right For You

People use their computers in different ways. An entrepreneur could have a laptop with a moderate hard drive and processor for business work. A website owner could have a home server PC with fast-acting hard drives, a large network card, and a good hardware controller. And a PC gamer could have a full system with a large solid state drive, a surround-sound system, the latest multi-core processor, top-notch graphics processors and video cards, and colorful lights in the case.

With this in mind, do you really want to settle for just any laptop or PC at the big-box store? If you want to do more than surf the web and send emails, a custom-built PC might be right for you. Here are just a few good reasons why, according to Tech Guided:

  • If you buy a pre-built computer, it may not have the best hardware, cooling, storage, or processor you really need. As a result, you will have to make compromises, do without, or spend extra money and time upgrading an unfamiliar system. At times, you may not be able to make such upgrades.
  • The store’s warranty for the whole system is usually for a year at most, and requires you to send the entire computer for repairs. This could leave you without a computer for a while – even if just one part needs to be fixed.
  • The store could offer you subpar technical support. This could leave you waiting for hours on the tech support line, only for the agent to not identify the issue or find a solution.
  • You may not like the operating system the computer came with. Even a brand-new operating system could suffer from glitches or other problems, or it may not be compatible with the programs you regularly use. Building your own computer gives you the option to choose the best operating system for you.

In the long run, it is better to get a system tailored to your needs the first time, with plenty of room for upgrades and the best support.

Getting a Custom-Built PC

Whatever your needs for your new computer are, PC Geeks can help you. Let us know your needs and your budget. Then we will design the system with only the best parts for you and your wallet. Your choices for your desktop, workstation, or laptop are unlimited, but some of the most popular options are:

  • Advanced CPUs (Central Processing Units) and GPUs (Graphics Processing Units)
  • Storage devices and custom RAID to store and safeguard your data
  • RGB lights
  • CPU cooling systems
  • Custom cases and case designs

Even after the building is done, we offer repairs on custom-built PCs and a written warranty. If something goes wrong with your computer, we will take care of it. Our most common repairs include:

  • Replacement for parts such as power supplies
  • Problems with overheating, stability, speed, booting, etc.
  • Upgrades for parts including hard drives and processors

Getting a custom-built PC will ensure you have the best parts, storage, processing capabilities, and operating system you need and leave room for upgrades and further customization. It will also give you the best technical support and warranty. If you are ready to get started, call or visit PC Geeks today.

Reasons to Upgrade your PC’s Memory

A computer with limited RAM will likely suffer from a number of related problems such as multitasking slowing down the system, slower internet browsing speeds, and limited access to certain newer computer programs, and many other reasons besides.  It may be time to upgrade your PC’s memory for several reasons.

Reasons to Upgrade your PC's Memory

1. Avoiding Computer Slowdowns

The more RAM you have the better for multitasking and consistent operation speed. These days, most computer users are running quite a few programs at the same time so having the ability to run your typical load of programs without experiencing delay or system slowdown can be quite handy as it will allow you to avoid having to go off and close a bunch of programs in order to improve your system’s speed.

2. Access to more new programs

There are a lot of newer programs with bigger and bigger memory requirements and the bar is being raised more and more as time goes on. So, another important reason to consider a memory upgrade is so that the catalog of programs you are capable of using is as big as possible and that you don’t end up finding a program you would like to use but can’t because it requires far more computer memory than you currently have.

3. Web Browsing Speed

Despite how low-memory intensive it may seem at first, even casual web browsing can be improved if you have more memory. Upgrading your memory can result in your web pages loading faster, even if you have done nothing to the speed of your internet. Also on the increasingly rare occasion that you visit a website that still makes use of flash in its content, additional memory can also help you because it will allow your browser to load this content far quicker.

If you are wanting to upgrade your PC’s memory and would like some help in choosing the brand that will get you the most value for your money then contact us today for more tips and suggestions on which memory model is right for you!