Archive for the ‘Hardware’ Category

Is it worth repairing my laptop?

Monday, July 7th, 2014

At some time or another, accidents will happen. The classic scenarios we see are laptops trodden on after being left on the floor or stairs, laptop lids closed on pens or other items which crack the screen or glasses of wine or other drinks tipped over the keyboard.

So what can you do if this happens to you, and, if physically damaged, is it worth repairing your laptop or more economical to bin it and start again?

Liquid spills

Spillage on laptop keyboardIf you are unfortunate enough to get your laptop, tablet or phone wet, remove the power lead, if plugged in, and switch it off straight away – hold the on/off button in until it powers down, don’t worry about shutting down programs etc. as time is of the essence!

Remove the battery, mop up any excess liquid then leave it somewhere dry and warm to completely dry out but not right on top of a radiator or fire! A warm airing cupboard is perfect. It can take 2 or 3 days to completely dry. Don’t try to switch it on until you are sure it will be dry inside.

If you are lucky, once completely dry the unit will switch on and carry on as normal. If not, then it may be necessary to strip the unit down and clean the circuit boards, especially if the liquid was sugary such as wine or fruit juice.

If the unit is completely dead then it is likely that the motherboard has short circuited. In this case, chances are it will not be worth repairing and it would be more costs effective to claim on household insurance for a replacement.

Physical Damage

Laptop with cracked screenDepending on the age of the laptop, some hardware repairs are worth considering. Screens can vary from £60 – £200 depending on the age and type of laptop. Keyboards cost around £30 – £50 and we can even supply individual keys.

We regularly see broken power connectors where cables have been caught. Again, these can be replaced fairly economically. Replacement batteries and power supplies can also be purchased relatively inexpensively.

Motherboards and processors are generally not worth repairing unless the laptop is 12 months or less old.

Will I lose my data?

With liquid spills and most hardware failures, the hard drive should be OK. Don’t send the laptop off to an insurance repairer or assessor without getting a copy of the data first. This can be done by a local IT company or, if you feel competent in basic electronics, by removing the hard drive and connecting to another PC.

If the laptop has been dropped or crushed then the hard drive may have been physically damaged. Hopefully you will have an up to date backup on another drive or in the cloud but, if not, it may be possible to retrieve the data via more advanced methods. This can cost between £250 and £750.

See our laptop repair section for further details.

PC, laptop, ultrabook, tablet? Which is best?

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014

If you are looking to invest in a new system  the choice can be daunting.  But don’t panic, by considering a few simple questions you should be able to determine the best solution for you.

Start by asking yourself the following questions.

iPadWhat do I want to use it for? Browsing the web, checking emails and a few apps?  If so, a tablet or ultrabook would be suitable.  If you want to start opening and creating documents, editing photos or playing serious games then a PC or laptop would be better, or you will need a hi-spec tablet or ultrabook.  Remember that Tablet devices only have the onscreen touch keyboards as standard so are not that great for typing long documents.

Are you going to be traveling with it? Do you want to take your device on holiday or away on business?  Would you like the flexibility to use your device around the house? If so, then you’ll need to look at a laptop, ultrabook or tablet, depending on your answer to question 1.  If you’re just going to have the system set up in an office or spare room then a PC would fit the bill though this will need either a wireless card or a cable to your router for Internet access.

What sort of features do you want? If you are looking for something low to mid-range for everyday home computing then either tableta laptop or PC would suite.  If you want to look at video editing, high end gaming, design or graphics works then you would probably be better off with a PC.  PC’s are much easier to add additional hardware and upgrades to, plus you have a choice of monitors, speakers and other peripherals.  Of course, you can also add larger monitors, keyboards etc. to laptops if you want the best of both worlds!

Tablets and Ultrabooks have limited features and ports so don’t expect to be able to automatically connect lots of external devices.  They will also only have Wifi and possibly Bluetooth support for networking.

Windows 8 laptopDo you need plenty of storage? If you want to download a lot of photographs, videos or movies then you will need to look at either a PC or laptop with a large hard drive or an external storage device to accompany an Ultrabook or tablet.  You can watch videos and TV without storing them locally on the device but this will require good WiFi access to the Internet or a good mobile signal (and data tariff!)

Do you need compatibility with other software or devices? Many Tablets and Ultrabooks will not run the Windows operating system.  They may be running Google’s  Android operating system, Apple’s iOS or maybe a version of Linux.  This means that it may not be possible to install or use existing software, open existing files on them or connect other devices such as cameras or printers.  If you need to have compatibility with existing software, files or devices then you would be better with a device running a full Windows or Mac operating system (depending on what your old device was using)

Don’t forget to consider the cost of additions such as office software, anti-virus and any accessories.  Not all licenses can be transferred from an old system plus you may find that older software is not compatible with the new operating systems.  Also be wary of systems being offered pre-installed with software as often these will only be trials and will require additional purchases once the trial finishes or for full functionality.

If you need help choosing a new system, would like to purchase a new item and/or would like your new system setting up, please don’t hesitate to contact us!

Life after Windows XP – What will happen when Microsoft stops support?

Monday, January 6th, 2014

As we are all aware, everything comes to an end eventually.  That includes your white goods, your TV, that lovely bottle of wine and your PC’s and laptop’s.

Microsoft has announced that the Windows XP Operating System (the software that runs your PC or notebook) will become end of support in April 2014.  Basically this means that after next April they will no longer provide any of those updates that it keeps prompting you to install (but which keep your system safe from all those little security loopholes that people have found!).

Windows XP logoWhy?

Well, XP was initially released 31st December 2001 so has been around for over 12 years!  In technology terms that’s an awfully long time and it has been superseded by 3 further editions of Windows!

What will happen in April 2014?

  Your PC won’t suddenly stop working next April if you are still running XP.  However, Microsoft will no longer offer any form of support.  This means that if a hacker finds a loophole in the software they can exploit with a virus for example then Microsoft won’t issue an update to fix that loophole.  Also, they won’t fix any further faults that arise with the software or any compatibility issues.

What does that mean for me?

If you are using Windows XP then we would strongly recommend looking at upgrading your software to a current Operating System.  After April your PC or laptop will be open to any vulnerabilities that hackers and viruses decide to exploit.  Nobody knows exactly what effect this will have or how quickly, however, it would be wise to be prepared.

Windows 8 laptopWhat can I do to protect my system , data and identity?

If you are looking to replace your PC or laptop anyway then we would suggest doing it before April and then you’ll not get caught out. Have a look at our current laptop, tablet and PC offers as a guide.

Due to the age of XP it is likely that most machines are going to be of quite an old technology and not up to running the latest Operating Systems.  However, if you happened to buy a top end machine then it may be possible to just upgrade the Operating System software rather than having to replace the whole machine.

If you really can’t afford or don’t want to upgrade or replace your PC or laptop then make sure that it is fully patched up to date by going to http://update.microsoft.com in Internet Explorer and following the instructions.  Make sure you have a valid, paid for anti-virus product installed which is activated and up to date.  Finally, be savvy when using email, the Internet or working online.  Be careful of clicking on links in emails that you don’t know for sure where they have come from.  Avoid clicking on pop-ups when surfing the Internet and be aware of anything that seems unusual when online banking, filling in forms online or if the PC becomes slow or starts to crash regularly.

Windows XP screenshotHow do I know if I have Windows XP?

  If you are not sure if you are running Windows XP on your PC or laptop it is simple to find out.  Firstly, when you first turn your machine on then you should see an image displayed showing the operating system that is being loaded (Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7 etc).  If you miss this (as it can flash by quite quickly!) you can hold the mouse over the My Computer icon on the desktop, click the right mouse button and select properties.  A window will appear showing your computers properties including the operating system.

What if my machine becomes infected with a virus and I lose access to my data?

 Depending on the impact of the virus, you may be able to run a variety of software to remove it. But if are worried about doing this yourself, most IT Support companies offer a service to deal with such problems. Please do take a look at the Virus Removal Service that we offer.