Time To Throw Out That Laptop With The Busted Screen?

No!

Accidents happen. Sometimes, they can’t be avoided. Accidents can happen to you, to others, or to your mission critical laptop! And since your trusty laptop is rife with important information like emails, contacts, documents — essentially the keys to your castle — you have just kept on dealing with it. It’s not too bad, after all: it’s just a busted screen in the top right corner. At least you can still read your emails, although, the text has to be at the bottom of the screen. And hey, you’re pretty adept with Windows shortcuts, so it’s no problem to switch back to your spreadsheets with a simple ALT+TAB keystroke.

Time To Throw Out That Laptop With The Busted Screen?

Appearances Are Everything

But even though it’s not THAT big of a deal for you, your busted laptop is not exactly something you’d want others to see. It is a reflection of you, after all. Remember that lunchtime meeting you had where you almost got that client? Too bad that client doesn’t want to work with someone who is seen as clumsy. Did the client say that’s why they didn’t choose you? No. But they didn’t have to; your busted laptop screen said that for them.

On The Fence About It?

“I would love to get a new laptop, but I don’t want to have to copy all my files over, reinstall my programs… Plus, it’s not in the budget.” This may be a common thought process for many, but getting a new laptop is not the only solution. While it is true that many laptops are not easily upgraded, many laptops can easily have their components replaced, including busted screens. When a new laptop may cost several hundred dollars, a screen replacement will save you money.

“But I’m not a computer person, I can’t even change the batteries in my remote control.”

Not a tech person? No Problem! We are computer people! Contact us for your laptop screen replacement consultation.

Never Buy an Off-The-Shelf Computer Again

Take Control of Your PC

We’ve all done it, walking through the electronics department and a gleam catches your eye. You hurry over to a display housing the newest, shiniest mainstream PC available. Your current computer only has 8GB of RAM, so you’re drooling over the 16GB this beast is packing. The latest iteration of Intel’s Quad-Core i5 processor is proudly touted on the case badges. Do I need to go on? Shake yourself from this fantasy and glance down at the price tag. That’s right, it’s probably around $1500 for tech that’s at least two generations behind what’s available to anyone brave enough to build their own computer. Here’s what you need to know to never buy an off-the-shelf computer again.

Never Buy an Off-The-Shelf Computer Again

Where to Put Your Money

There are three parts that should get the lion’s share of your budget. The CPU (central processing unit), GPU (video card), and the motherboard. If you’re planning on doing a lot of graphics-heavy gaming, you’ll want your video card to be the priority. However, a hefty CPU would be a better focus in a work-at-home computer for any kind of content creation. Before you start looking at cases and cool, flashy parts like LED lighting, be sure your main functional components are up to the level you need them to be.

Do Some Research

There’s a ton of information out there on how to assemble a custom PC. Watch videos and read product reviews. If you don’t know what something means in the specs of one of your components, look it up so you can be as informed as possible when picking out your parts. NewEgg.com has some great information (and great products) to help you along. When you’re shopping for parts, keep compatibility in mind, and make sure they’re made to work together. This is especially important for the CPU and motherboard. Each motherboard out there is designed to fit a specific size, or socket, of CPU.

Just Breathe and Have Fun

Going on this journey for the first time can feel overwhelming because you can’t exactly call Dell and yell at them that your computer crashed, but there is support out there for home-built PC’s. If you buy your parts from a reputable retailer, they’ll usually have some sort of support department you can call to help you troubleshoot, not to mention there are countless PC building forums where you can get questions answered and look for ideas. As always, you can also contact us for more ideas or information.

Don’t panic if things don’t work right the first time, there’s help for you, all you have to do is reach out. Once you’ve got it put together and working though, it’s a feeling like no other and will be well worth the headache of getting things running. Your rig will be exponentially better for the same, or sometimes less, money than you’d spend on a pre-built PC.

Rejuvenate Your PC with a Windows Upgrade

Running an older Windows operating system (OS) is a bit like driving your car with the engine light on.  Sure, everything is running smoothly at the moment, but the voice in the back of your head reminds you that things can start to degrade or fail at any time.  You’ll never regret paying early attention to your car’s warning light, and you won’t regret keeping your operating system current by doing a Windows upgrade, especially with our experts to ensure a smooth transition.

Rejuvenate Your PC with a Windows Upgrade

Is a new operating system enough?

It is always tempting to start fresh with a new computer when it’s time to upgrade.  After all, an older operating system is most likely running on older hardware.  There are plenty of cases where simply upgrading your Windows installation makes more sense.

  •  You need to run new software that isn’t compatible with your older OS.
  • Upgrading software AND hardware right now is just too expensive.
  • Your hardware is plenty fast and stable, so you just need a software upgrade to stay flexible, secure and supported.

Can I do it myself?

There are three main areas where an OS upgrade can go wrong, or even result in data loss or the loss of functionality:

  • An older program may no longer run on the new operating system, which may require an additional update or extra configuration to correct.  Prior to any major PC surgery, it’s a good idea to prepare for the worst.  This link from Microsoft Answers points to several backup and restore strategies that can help you recover if an upgrade goes wrong.
  • Imperfect or missing support for your existing hardware.  Like your old programs, this may require a driver upgrade to correct, or in some cases, new hardware.  Check with Microsoft to make sure your existing hardware is supported.
  • Your old computer is a storage location for all of your old data, much of which is stored in user profiles.  These profiles contain preferences, history and other data unique to each user on your computer, and it is common for user accounts to become corrupt during Windows upgrades.

Just like you can fix your own car, you can upgrade your own PC.  In both cases, you should have significant experience before you try.  You won’t know you’re in over your head until, well, you’re already in over your head!  Our experts have seen it all.  Contact us for an upgrade, or to talk about what’s best for your situation.

Should You Get Integrated or Dedicated Graphics for Your Custom PC?

One of the biggest questions you’ll ask yourself when building a custom computer is which graphics processor you should use in your machine. The main choice is between integrated graphics and dedicated graphics processors. The decision mainly rests on what you intend to do with your computer.

Should You Get Integrated or Dedicated Graphics for Your Custom PC?

Integrated Graphics

Integrated graphics are where the graphics processing hardware is integrated directly into the main CPU itself. Examples of integrated graphics include Intel Iris and AMD Ryzen with Radeon Graphics. On the AMD processor, the CPU and GPU are on the same die, marketed as an “Accelerated Processing Unit,” or APU.

Integrated graphics are popular on laptops because they allow manufacturers to build smaller machines without the bulk of a separate graphics chip. They also use less power, enabling users to run off the battery for longer.

The downside is that they’re not as powerful as the dedicated GPUs you’ll find in gaming desktop PCs and laptops. If you play a lot of modern 3D games, you’ll likely be disappointed in the performance of an integrated chip, but they’ve been steadily getting better over the years. If you use your computer for basic tasks, you’ll be able to get by with integrated graphics.

Dedicated Graphics

A dedicated graphics chip is a graphics processor that is separate from the CPU. On a desktop machine, it’s usually on a PCI-X card. On a laptop, it’ll usually be soldered onto the motherboard. The main advantage of dedicated graphics is raw performance, whether in gaming, modeling, or video editing.

External GPUs have become more common in recent years and offer a compromise between the two solutions. The GPU is housed in a box that connects to the computer and to electric power. Some enclosures can accept desktop graphics cards, similar to a how a hard drive enclosure accepts ordinary hard drives. This allows for the portability of a laptop but the raw power of a dedicated GPU when higher performance is needed.

Conclusion

If you need advice about what kind of graphics solution is best for your custom computer, please feel free to get in touch.

 

 

 

How to tell when your Computer needs Fixing

Modern computers are quite the resilient beast and many of them can bounce back from any potential damage or particularly hard knocks with relative ease. However, there will inevitably come a time when your computer needs the repair person’s touch. The problem can come in with the fact that it isn’t always obvious when you have a repair-worthy problem and when it’s something you can fix by just pressing the restart button. Here are a few things to keep in mind to try and make it clearer when repair is needed for your computer.

How to tell when your Computer needs Fixing

Unusually Loud Noises

While loud noises aren’t necessarily a sign of the technological apocalypse, if your computer goes from operating fine to making loud noises then it’s time to take note. If nothing else, then this can be a warning sign to check that there aren’t any other problems that need your attention. Anything that sounds like something caught in a fan is also a warning sign to make sure there isn’t a fan with a poorly routed cable causing issues.

Hard Drive Disconnection

If your PC has multiple hard drives then it is important to keep an eye on their connection status. If, one day, the secondary drive starts randomly disconnecting and reconnecting then there are two main possible issues. First is that you could have a bad SATA cable or hard drive power cable. Second is that your motherboard may potentially be failing. Either way, a repair shop consultation is likely a necessity.

Files gone from your Hard Drive

There is no surer sign of a corrupt hard drive (and one that should be replaced ASAP) than when one turns on their computer to continue a major project only to find that a significant number of important files are now gone without a trace. Hopefully there is a backup to restore the files in question. Either way, this is a sign that a new hard drive is in order.

In conclusion, there are times when your computer starts having problems you can fix with a quick restart or by running an antivirus and times when it is seemingly half broken for no well-explained reason. If a problem has no clear cause then a repair technician is your best friend. If you think your PC needs fixing or it just has been acting strangely, contact us. Our friendly and experienced staff are always ready to help.

New Computer? Don’t Forget About the Monitor

There are many things to consider and budget for when planning a custom PC build. At the heart of this process is the usage scenario. What exactly will your PC be doing most of the time? If you’re gaming, what kinds of games will you be playing? Besides the internal hardware of your PC, you must also carefully consider the display that you will use. Computer monitors vary greatly, and just like the PC itself, the monitor you will need depends primarily on the usage scenario.

New Computer? Don't Forget About the Monitor

When looking at a monitor, the two most impactful factors on the viewing experience are a) the refresh rate and b) the screen resolution. The refresh rate is the rate at which the pixels refresh to display an image, and the higher that rate is, the smoother the viewing experience. This is especially beneficial for faster paced games that require lightning reflexes. The screen resolution of a monitor is the density of the pixels in a length times width format. Some common resolutions are 1080p (1920 x 1080), 2k (2560 x 1440), and 4k (3840 x 2160). A higher screen resolution means the display image will be more crisp and exact.

The most important quality to remember is balance. What monitor you purchase will be determined by the hardware in your PC, primarily between the processor and graphics card components. The expectations that you have for a monitor should match the power of the hardware in your PC. For example, you shouldn’t expect a budget gaming computer build to run modern games at 4k with a smooth 60 fps. Understanding the components in a computer will help you to choose the correct monitor for your new build.

Ready to plan your new setup? By consulting with experienced builders, you can be sure to balance your computer with your display monitor, making your overall gaming experience more enjoyable and maximizing the use of your budget as efficiently as possible. Be sure to contact us for information about any current or future PC builds.

Why You Should Update Your Computer’s Firmware

In the past, most people never bothered to update their computer’s firmware, or BIOS as it was called in the PC world, even though it was possible to do so. Nowadays, with mobile devices, firmware updates are frequent. They’re also becoming more frequent for desktop users. Why should an ordinary computer user bother?

Why You Should Update Your Computer's Firmware

What is Firmware?

Firmware is a piece of software that controls the low-level functions in the computer. It’s a bridge between the hardware and the operating system. In modern PCs, it’s known as UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface). Some computer manufacturers still may refer to it as the BIOS (Basic Input/Output System), because that was the term used when the original IBM PC was created.

Why Update Firmware?

The biggest reason to update your computer’s firmware is to improve security. Malware that targets firmware can be insidious, surviving reboots or even replacing the hard drive. Attackers are getting increasingly sophisticated in targeting the firmware to gain control of the computer. Manufacturers are releasing updates to try to stay ahead of them. Firmware updates also fix bugs to keep your computer working in optimum condition.

How to Update Firmware

Updating firmware is easy. To find updated firmware, your computer manufacturer might have installed a utility that automatically updates your drivers and firmware. Otherwise, you’ll have to navigate to your manufacturer’s website and locate the correct firmware update for your machine. If you built your PC yourself, you’ll find firmware updates on the motherboard manufacturer’s website.

To update the firmware, you’ll download a utility that will “flash,” or install, the firmware to your computer. When it runs, it’s very important that you not turn off your computer while it updates or you might find it permanently becomes unusable, or “bricked.”

Now that you can see how easy updating your computer’s firmware is, there’s no reason not to do it. If you have any questions about firmware or need any help, please feel free to get in touch with us.

Why You Should Never DIY Your Data Recovery

Databases are likely to get corrupted. When data gets corrupted or deleted, most people opt for DIY data recovery. However, DIY data recovery might not necessarily be successful. It comes with several advantages as well as disadvantages. Here are some reasons why you should not opt for DIY data recovery in case of a data loss.

Why You Should Never DIY Your Data Recovery

Not Suitable for Novices

Data recovery is a complex process. Review your computer knowledge before you decide to perform a DIY data recovery. Novices who do not have an idea of what they are doing should not attempt a DIY data recovery. It could end up causing more harm than good.

Risks Permanent Data loss

You might have stored a good number of vital information on your drive. Thus, attempting DIY data recovery, especially if you don’t have the correct knowledge, could end up bringing more damage. Also, you could end up affecting the data stored in the system if you do not have the necessary expertise to handle the data recovery tools.

Inefficient in Cases of Physical Damage

It is not possible to restore data from a drive that is fully damaged even if you use the DIY data recovery software. Instead of recovering the lost or corrupted data, you could end up severely damaging your hard drive. Therefore, you should always seek the aid of a data recovery expert.

No Guarantee for Success

Research has proven that data recovery software does not fully assure you that data will be recovered fully. So, if you are not sure of the data recovery process, do not go for a DIY recovery with the help of recovery software.

A data recovery expert knows the correct data recovery procedure from start to finish. Contact us at PC Geeks, and we will help provide you with the experts to ensure your data is retrieved successfully.

Dealing with Blue Screens

Typically, blue screens, sometimes called the blue screen of death, caused by an error in the Windows operating system that when occurs, a blue screen will be generated on the monitor connected to the computer, typically with some information about the cause of the problem. The cause of the nuisance varies but can be isolated with some patience and instruction from well-informed computer users — it’s recommended to be cautious in order to avoid augmenting the problem.  When the error occurs, it generates a core dump file containing the contents of the computer’s RAM memory at the time of the error, as well as some hints about any software involved.

Dealing with Blue Screens

However, whether to use this file as part of the troubleshooting process will depend on certain factors. Computers have a chain-like function which when one component malfunctions, another will. For example, if the power supply is not functioning properly, it could cause problems in various parts of the computer even though the core dump file says a specific software was involved — the power supply might not have been meeting the needs of RAM memory at the time a certain software was in use, causing a critical error. Furthermore, sometimes the problem might be higher up in the chain such as faulty RAM memory modules — even if the power supply is working correctly, faulty hardware could trigger errors somewhere else down the chain. Overheating, buggy apps or programs, and various other problems can be the cause of blue screens as well.

However, if ruling out faulty hardware is done and the core-dump file is accessible, it might help to shed light on the issue.  Assuming the hard drive is in working order, the computer will write the core-dump file to the hard drive at the time of the error, which can be retrieved in a number of ways. Sometimes, removing the hard drive from the faulty computer and connecting it to a working computer will enable the file to be retrieved — via the working computer. If successful, software called blue-screen readers can be downloaded for free which can decode the file and display helpful information.

Please, contact us for a consultation.

Data Recovery for a Crashed Hard Drive: What to Know

In the best of circumstances, a hard drive failure is a minor inconvenience. When the drive holds the only copy of personal photos, crucial business documents, or other important data, a sudden crash can have catastrophic consequences.

The good news is that qualified data recovery experts can retrieve files from a crashed hard drive in most situations — provided that computer users take appropriate actions immediately after the failure.

Data Recovery for a Crashed Hard Drive: What to Know

Why Hard Drives Crash

Hard drives have a number of sensitive mechanical and electronic components that can sustain damage from physical shocks, electrical issues, and gradual wear. Given enough time, these components stop functioning, causing a “crash” that prevents the computer user from accessing data. Some common symptoms that indicate a physical hard drive failure include:

  • A clicking or whirring sound
  • Corrupt, unreadable, or disappearing files
  • Extremely slow computer performance
  • Failure to boot the computer’s operating system

Hard drives have an average lifespan of 3-5 years, according to a study from online backup company Backblaze. That study analyzed server hard drives, and many consumer drives operate for much longer without major issues.

Even so, every hard drive eventually fails and needs to be replaced. There’s no way to completely prevent hard drive crashes, but subjecting the drive to poor operating conditions (for instance, excessive heat or an inconsistent electrical supply) could raise the chances of a premature failure.

Steps to Take After a Hard Drive Failure

Operating a failed hard drive can cause permanent data loss. A hard drive reads and writes data with an assembly of magnetic heads that float just above the surface of a set of platters. When a failure occurs, the heads can come into contact with the platters, damaging the thin layer of magnetic material that stores data.

If your drive isn’t operating normally, keep it powered off until you’re able to get a professional diagnosis. Running the drive for even a few seconds can greatly reduce the chances of a full recovery. Unless you have significant experience with computer repair, you shouldn’t remove the HDD from your computer.  Leave it in place and contact a professional.

Finding a Qualified Data Recovery Expert

Data recovery requires substantial expertise, as technicians may need to replace damaged components or rewrite firmware to restore the device to a functional state. A qualified technician will be able to temporarily repair the drive, copy the important files, and return the data to the user, but a failed attempt could make the damage worse. Most computer repair shops don’t have the necessary tools to offer professional data recovery services.

PC Geeks provides safe onsite service for many data loss issues, and we partner with a dedicated firm to offer clean room data recovery for your crashed hard drive, solid-state drives, and other storage devices. When data is critically important, we offer an alternative to permanent data loss. Contact us today to discuss your options or to schedule an evaluation.