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You don’t have to send your laptop to an expensive repair shop if a part breaks. If you have the proper tools and knowledge, you can do many of your own repairs or upgrades to your laptop, saving both time and money. Before you grab a screwdriver and start taking your computer apart, learn about some practices to follow. After all, there is a reason IT repair technicians need to have professional certifications.

Replacing Laptop Parts: Best Practices for DIY Repair

Ground Yourself

If you’ve ever walked across a carpet and touched a metal doorknob, you know what static electricity can do. That relatively small shock you get can travel into the computer when you take it apart, and the internal components have much more sensitivity. If you aren’t careful, your repair attempt could destroy critical parts. Before you touch anything inside the laptop, put your hand briefly on a metal object to dissipate any built-up static. When you handle any peripheral cards, hold them by the edges; the oils on your skin can damage circuits. An anti-static wrist bracelet can keep you grounded while you work. Always unplug the laptop from AC power and remove its battery.

Document Everything

Depending on what repairs you do, you’ll have to remove screws and components to get to what you’re trying to fix. Laptops are more compact than desktops and lack the space, so you have to be extra careful. Remember where each screw goes, in what order you disassembled the computer, and take pictures if necessary. Keep different sizes of screws separate and label them.

Use Minimal Force

If a part doesn’t easily and immediately click into place, do not try to force it. This is another reason why you need to label and document everything; it can be easy to place the wrong card back into a slot. Look for retaining clips beside the card slot before attempting to remove a card. If these clips break, the card may not stay where it needs to be. Putting too much pressure on a card can bend or break the electrical contacts.

Seek Professional Advice

Although it is possible to deal with laptop repairs on your own, some may require special tools that you don’t have. If you need to get an in-depth repair or simply have questions, don’t hesitate to contact us.

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Are you still using an older version of Windows, like 7 or even XP? If so, have you considered upgrading to Windows 10? While the window for free upgrades to Windows 10 for owners of Windows 7 and 8 has ended, there are a number of advantages that Windows 10 have over previous versions of Windows that make it well worth the cost of a license.

Still Not Using Windows 10? Here's Why You Should Be

Reason #1 – More User Friendly (The Start Menu is Back!)

Windows 8’s removal of the ubiquitous Start Menu from other versions of Windows was disliked by many consumers, leaving a number of people to feel alienated. Many people preferred the older style start menu and felt that Windows 8 was too focused on bridging the gap between traditional keyboard-and-mouse-driven computers and touch-screen-based devices, and some even went so far as to install custom start menus! However, if you use Windows 10, you do not have to go through any of the hassle of implementing third party solutions. The Windows 10 start menu is compact, concise, and offers a clean and distinctly modern update of the old start menu. Overall, Windows 10 is the fastest, most efficient, and user-friendly version of Windows ever created, surpassing both Windows 7 and Windows 8 in delivering a much improved, more enjoyable overall user experience across a wide range of hardware platforms and processor types.

Reason #2 – It’s Faster

Windows 10 features “Fast Startup,” itself an upgraded version of “Fast Boot” from Windows 10. This works similarly to the “hibernate” shutdown option from older versions of Windows and works by storing currently running programs and data in your system RAM into a temporary file on your hard disk, which is loaded on your next system startup. This allows you to easily pick up where you left off when you last shut down your computer. This results in the computer booting up significantly faster, especially when coupled with an SSD or solid state disk drive. In general, Windows 10 is more efficient and faster, and Fast Startup is one of many ways in which this is true.

Reason #3 – DirectX 12 Support

If you intend on playing modern video games with your computer, Windows 10 is an absolute must for two main reasons: newer and better hardware drivers and DirectX 12. DirectX 12 is the latest version of the Microsoft DirectX API, and features vastly improved performance over DirectX 11. It is significantly more efficient, which gives game developers a lot more freedom in making complex and detailed games at higher frame rates than would be possible with DirectX 11. Not to mention it also has full-fledged support for DirectX Raytracting, which is a ground-breaking new graphics technology allowing for hyper-realistic lighting effects and reflections unlike anything previously possible.

Reason #4 – Support and Updates

Windows 10 will be supported for years to come, in terms of both security updates and mainstream updates. On the other hand, mainstream support for both Windows 7 and 8 has already ended, and extended support for both will end in 2020 and 2023 respectively. This could leave your system more vulnerable later down the road if you do not upgrade.

Reason #5 – Microsoft Edge

Microsoft Edge, Microsoft’s preferred, built-in web browser for Windows 10, is a huge improvement over Internet Explorer. Much like Windows 10 itself, it is sleeker, faster, more stable, and more secure its predecessor. In addition to being the most secure browser available for Windows, studies have shown Edge to be significantly more efficient in terms of memory and battery usage than alternate browsers such as Google Chrome. This can be a critical factor in choosing browsers for mobile devices such as laptops.

Final Notes

Not only is Windows 10 is a massive improvement from previous versions of Windows, it is an absolute must-have if you are building a new Windows PC. New licenses of Windows 7 and 8 are no longer offered for sale by Microsoft or from authorized Microsoft resellers.

This means than any new computer you buy now will come with Windows come pre-installed with Windows 10 in one of two versions, Home or Professional. Most consumer-grade PCs are preloaded with the Home edition.

For comparison of the two versions, consult this chart from Microsoft.

And if you have an older Windows computer, it is imperative to upgrade now to Windows 10, not only to take advantage of the many improvements Windows 10 offers over its predecessors, but to guarantee that you have the stability and security of many more years of trouble-free computing.

Do you need help with your computer, like selecting the best version of Windows 10 for your needs and installing or upgrading it? Feel free to contact us at one of our locations, and we will provide professional assistance and help you avoid the hassle!

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Your device’s touchscreen is one of the most fragile parts in your technology. Whether it’s a smartphone, a tablet, or even a dual laptop, the screen is designed to be hypersensitive and that can be bad news. If your screen looks frozen to the touch, don’t take it into a repair shop or force a restart just yet.

How to Troubleshoot an Unresponsive Touchscreen

Instead, try these simple ways to fix the screen or narrow down the likely problems.

1. Check the screen itself.

Dust usually isn’t enough to make a device not register your finger. But if there’s enough debris clinging to the screen, you’ll get only sporadic control over the device. Wipe down the surface without adding moisture and try again. If there are any chances your device has been near water, especially if it’s a phone, take off the protective screen and try again. Even a thin film of water between the screen and the plastic is enough to stop it from responding.

2. Plug in a mouse and go through your settings.

If your device doesn’t allow for anything but touch, this might be the point where you have no choice but a hard restart. With tablets and laptops, plug in a mouse and go through your options manually first. Start by going through the settings. Re-calibrate the touchscreen if possible, and change the sensitivity setting to its highest level.

Also, make sure the mouse or keyboard insert is connecting properly. If your USB is registering only a partial or intermittent connection, that can disrupt your touchscreen. This also helps you know if the problem is a hardware or software issue.

Another way to get to the bottom of things is to put your device in safe mode, especially if you have recently updated the operating system. Software glitches happen, and they can manifest in ways that make it hard to find the root problem.

If you have other screen problems besides it being frozen to the touch, go to PC Geeks for more tips.

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Batteries are getting better. Laptops can live for longer and handle more activity without draining the life out of them. But batteries aren’t perfect yet. Even if you have a great battery life per charge, there’s only so many full charges per battery before those cycles stop being so impressive. One of the best ways to keep your whole laptop in good condition is to protect the battery. So keep these three things at bay:

3 Things That Can Hurt Your Laptop Battery

1. A low battery charge

Don’t let your battery drop below 20% of a charge.

The easiest way to do this is to take advantage of many computers’ default battery-saving mode that dims the screen and recommends you shut down a few programs. Each time your battery gets too close to 0%, you risk diminishing the capacity the battery (if you have an older laptop) or slowly lowering the estimated of full charging cycles your hardware has in it.

Always have a backup power cord with you. Even better, get a backup battery pack that charges both your laptop and your phone. There’s no guarantee that you’ll be near a power outlet when you get the warning.

2. High temperatures

Heat is hard on every part of your computer, and the battery is no exception. Even though your laptop is called a laptop, keep it on a flat surface that doesn’t block the vents. Also try to avoid leaving it in your car during the summer.

3. Passive but high-activity programs

Computers have so much more capacity than they used to that it’s easy to have them do too much at once. But if you have a lot of programs running in the background, they’re going to eat through your battery power. Some sneaky programs don’t even turn off when you fold down your screen. Just like you have to clean every new computer off bloatware, uninstall everything that’s costing you too much battery life.

Go to PC Geeks for more ways to make every part of your computer last longer.

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Blue Screens are bad news, no matter what causes them. They take up your time, they destroy the work you haven’t saved, and they’re hard on your computer. Even worse, one blue screen means that more are likely to follow. If you run a software check on your computer and everything checks out, that doesn’t mean it was a fluke. Check on these common hardware issues to start solving the problem:

How to Stop Hardware from Causing a Blue Screen of Death

1. Run hardware diagnostics.

There are plenty of programs available online that can check everything from your hard drive to the connectivity of your cables. Look up your blue screen’s error code and see if there are scanning programs that match it. A part could be failing from overuse or old age. Something could have also shaken loose, especially if you’re using a laptop.

Another common hardware problem is not having enough storage space. If your C:// drive is too crowded to hold the new updates or the most recent version of your operating system, you can’t patch problems.

2. Get rid of extra tools.

If your laptop has a lot of extra parts, take them out of the equation. SD cards, USB mice, and anything else you plug into your computer could be overloading the computer. If your computer is trying to do so much at once that it can’t function, it will pull up a blue screen.

3. Check your computer’s temperature.

One of the biggest clues you can get that something is wrong with your computer is its temperature. If the bottom or side of your laptop is too hot, the device has an automatic shutdown procedure that triggers a blue screen. Overheating can be caused by anything from making your computer do too much at once to putting it on a particularly fluffy blanket that blocks the vents. So let your computer cool off and check to see if the fan is working later.

For more ways to get to the bottom of your blue screen of death, go to PC Geeks.

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Native Backup and Data Recovery

Data recovery in the modern era is much easier than it once was. Both Windows and Mac now have built in backup and recovery tools that streamline the process and help minimize loss in the event of disaster. Both, however, take it even a step further. We’ve all forgotten to backup our hard drive. It’s that simple and imperative task that we either forget, or just never seem to have the time to do. Thankfully, there are more options than ever for keeping your data safe, and even your operating system crashing doesn’t necessarily spell the end.

Native Backup and Data Recovery

Windows 10 has a great feature that will detect if it fails to boot and offer options for recovery. Even if you can’t get into the operating system you can usually restore your machine, barring catastrophic hardware failure. The option to keep my files during the restore process helps add an extra layer of security that previously wasn’t there. Even if this doesn’t fix the issue it does allow users an extra chance to backup that important data and avoid a potentially devastating data loss. The integration of OneDrive also helps give users an extra edge by storing documents, photos, and other vital information safely in the cloud.

Apple now has an integrated internet recovery option built right into every computer. Simply press a few keys and select a few easy to follow prompts and you’re well on your way to getting back up and running. Furthermore, unless you use Disk Utility to completely erase the drive, it will keep your data exactly as it was and just reinstall a new copy of your current operating system. iCloud also helps further secure contacts, photos, calendars, and documents by syncing them to the cloud and offering the option to backup other important information.

Computers often fail with little to no warning. It’s not easy to always be prepared. Knowing about the backup features native to your computer is a vital step in ensuring the things you hold dear stay safe and protected. It often only takes a few clicks and an external drive to make sure your data is backed up regularly and can save a lot of time, work, and memories when disaster strikes.

If you need help or assistance recovering that important info, or just getting it setup you can always contact us. We’re here to help you make sure that you and your data are protected.

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When your computer crashes and it seems like there’s nothing else you can do, don’t restore your backup just yet. That’s a final solution that, aside from how it can irrevocably destroy current changes, might not do what you need it to. Here are two reasons to take your computer in for an expert to check out instead of turning to a backup.

2 Reasons Why a Backup Restore Won't Solve Your Problems

1. You’ll lose a lot of information.

If you run a business, your local server might save progress every night. But the backup schedule on your personal device is probably a bit less frequent. If you go back and do a total restore, you’ll lose all of your files, modifications to programs, and work that you added to between now and your last backup.

There are two ways to prevent the fallout for next time: keep your files in the cloud so it’s not a problem. Also, if you have to restore your computer, start with just the system files to see if that’s enough to fix the problem. These miniature backups can occur daily, especially if you have a Windows device. If you have an Apple device, try starting up your device in safe mode to see if that automatically corrects any broken permissions that caused the crash.

2. It won’t always fix the problem.

Unfixable computer crashes aren’t always sudden events. A lot of the time, it’s caused by errors that were building up over the past several months. If your computer has blue screened a few times but you never got around to solving the problem, that means the problem has wound its way into your backup restore points. Starting over from a few months go won’t be enough, and most computers start overwriting or deleting old restore points.

Go to PC Geeks for specific solutions that can get your computer working again with minimal data loss.

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Blue screens of death look a little friendlier than they used to, but that doesn’t make them any less aggravating. Now they come with nicely worded messages and maybe a progress bar, which beats out the impenetrable blank blue they used to be or the tightly packed streams of Courier text. The next time you see one, don’t just read the screen and wait. Immediately start on these three tasks:

3 Things You Need to Do ASAP When You See a Blue Screen of Death

1. Take a picture of the screen.

If nothing else, the friendlier versions of the blue screens of death at least tend to have a bit more information. Depending on the type of error causing the forced stop, the screen might tell you a bit about what the problem is. Whatever wording or specific name the screen shows for the event is precisely what you need to search for to fix the problem.

Take a picture of the screen so you can refer to it later. If you’re panicking about the hours of work you just lost, you won’t remember the details.

2. Search for the best scanning program.

Having a phone in front of you is one of your strongest advantages when it comes to blue screens. As your computer sluggishly gets itself back together, you have time to research solutions on an uncompromised machine.

Spend the next several minutes looking for the best scanning program you can find. Then find the most reputable site to download it from. Email that link to yourself or make sure you have a search term that leads you straight to it. There’s no guarantee your computer won’t crash again.

3. Link a file sharing program to your computer.

Just like with the previous step, you’re operating on an uncertain timeline. If your computer blue screens once, it’ll do it again. There’s also no guarantee that the next time your computer turns on won’t be the last time it cooperates. So make sure you have a plan ready so you can file share or migrate all of the work you haven’t backed up.

For more blue screen tips, go to PC Geeks.

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When shopping for laptop replacement parts online there are a few things to consider. If you are currently looking for parts and cannot find them at a local computer hardware store and shopping online is your only option then follow these five tips to avoid the worst problems.

5 Tips for Buying Laptop Replacement Parts Online

1. Never pick the cheapest option.

When things are cheap online, they can be pennies on the dollar. However, there’s always a reason for that. Maybe a vendor bought something in bulk and they want to get rid of their inventory. Maybe the parts are terrible quality. There’s no way to know for sure. But if you have the slightest suspicion about the quality of an unknown bargain brand, don’t buy it.

2. Shop around for reviews.

Reviews are still the best way to ascertain quality. While bots and automated comments might corrupt the information source a bit, it’s still easy to tell when a good review is written by a human. Make sure that the part has both a sufficient number reviews and a high enough rating. Not all of the reviews have to be on the site where you make your purchase, but they do have to be for the specific part.

3. Know when you don’t have to use a manufacturer’s part.

Sometimes you have to use the manufacturer’s products. Sometimes it’s because they make the only version that works right, and sometimes you have to do it to keep your warranty. Before you get started, know which parts you have more freedom with.

4. Double check that it’s meant for your model.

It’s easy to accidentally buy the wrong thing, especially if this is the first time you’re buying detailed parts. Find a trusted database or a forum with a good reputation to make sure.

5. Get everything you need.

Nothing can ruin your drive to repair your own tech like getting started and then realizing you don’t have all the parts you need. Look online and make a list of everything you need. You might need a specific wire, conductive paste, or just the right type of tiny screw.

If you have a particular part you need to replace or repair, go to PC Geeks here to search for specifics.

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If you have a desktop computer, it’s vulnerable during lightning storms. Because it’s plugged into the socket 24/7 and doesn’t have a battery, you don’t have the same options you would with a smartphone or a laptop. But here’s what you can do to limit the risk of damaging your computer or losing progress:

Two Ways to Protect Your Computer from a Power Outage

The hard stop: Turn off your computer during a storm.

If you know a bad storm is on the way and you don’t have time to buy any protective tools, the best thing you can do is turn off your computer and unplug it completely. While it’s not a fun option, this means lightning can’t reach your computer through your house’s wiring. It also gives you plenty of time to exit out of programs and save files so you aren’t caught unprepared.

Give yourself a small window with a surge protector and a UPS.

If you don’t want to fully unplug your computer, then the most important thing you need to do is to protect it from surges. A surge protector won’t give your computer ongoing power during a blackout, but it will stop a surge from destroying the device. Find a legitimate one that was certified from UL (Underwriter Laboratories) with good reviews.

But a surge protector just stops the worst from happening. Combine it with a UPS, or an uninterruptible power source, to stop the follow-up disaster of losing all of your work. Everyone hopes a storm won’t reach them, and it’s tempting to keep working on your current project through a storm. A UPS gives you a few extra minutes when the power goes out to save your progress. It also means you can save them, transfer them to a flash drive, and keep working on a battery-powered tablet.

Go to PC Geeks here for more ways to protect your desktop and other electronics, no matter what’s going on around them.