Laptops forum

General discussion

Welcome to the Laptop Forum at CNET.

by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / July 29, 2009 10:57 PM PDT

Welcome to the Laptop Forum on CNET.

This sticky note is here to welcome you and to help you get the most from your discussions.

Getting the most from your discussion:
1. Please read those "words in red" when you post.
2. Supply details such as the make, model, age and the story.
3. Try to get the model number instead of the line into your post.
- Example. The HP dv1000 is some 50 models. The HP dv1242 is a specific laptop.
4. Never post email addresses, phone, serial, CD "numbers." These are consider private information you don't want all over the internet.
5. If your machine is in warranty, use that warranty.

More to follow in replies to this welcome.
Bob

Note: This post was edited by a forum moderator on 06/01/2015 at 10:00 AM PT

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What parts are in your laptop? What can you replace?
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / July 29, 2009 11:27 PM PDT

Laptops are made of just a few "parts" of which nearly all of the are rarely repaired by owners and even most repair shops. Let's get a list of the biggest parts so you can see what's inside. This is by no means the complete list but just the major items you'll change out to get a dead laptop to work again.

1. The power brick, adapter or charger as it is called by many.
- This unit is fairly easy for us to test. We use a Volt Meter and see if that output is reasonable. So far all adapters I've seen where the power LED is out have been dead.
- Try another AC cord from the wall to the brick.
- There are no user serviceable parts inside.

2. The LCD or display panel.
- That's the part you stare at.
- Very few user replaceable parts. Usually available from the laptop maker as a FRU.
- On older LCD's there is a power supply for the CCFL tubes that is sometimes "blown." Cost ranges widely but under 50 in most cases. Cheap and easy to replace but as you know, all laptop repairs at board level will be considered advanced repair skill.

3.The main board.
- Holds very few replaceable parts. If you suspect this part try a new "CMOS or BIOS Battery" first.
- Some CPUs are soldered in. A visual is needed to know as makers may drop the socket from first to some run of manufacturing.

4. Keyboard, touch pad, sticks, etc.
- These pointing devices are usually not too hard to replace.
- Prices run under 100 dollars and usually worth it since it's cheaper than a new laptop.
- TIP: Research how to operate the flat cable retainers before you dive it. The two types I encounter at a slide version and a flip up one.

5. Drives.
- CD/DVDRW drives are going to be the hardest parts for some to replace due to how these drives fail. You will see drives that read CD/DVD fine but write on CDR media but no longer write to DVD recordable media. There are far too many failing combinations to list here but the fix remains constant. Replace the drive.
- CD/DVDRW drive failures and what to try first. Baring software issues which are not addressed here you always try the CD/DVD Lens Cleaner, unplug and plug the drive in and try name brand media.
- Drives fail and have no user serviceable parts. Be kind to the owners and help then get over that with a demo of an external drive or if they pay, swap in a new drive for a demo.
- TIP: For shop owners, never do that swap until you record serial numbers of the customer gear. You know why.

6. Cables and the other tiny bits.
- Sometimes you find a damaged cable or such bit. Difficult at times to locate so be ready to call it "totaled" if spares are not found.

7. Cards, memory, or things in sockets.
- If you find parts like RAM, Wifi cards that are in sockets then its likely you can find replacement parts.
- TIP: Don't get suckered into thinking it's a driver issue with those Wifi cards. If the owner insists, quote a hourly fee for the efforts.
- TIP 2: There are well known machines that have Wifi failures a few years out. Learn about those and present the option to remove the failed card then install a replacement PC-Card to stand in. Never warrant those machines after replacing the Wifi card as they usually fail within a few months. You could lose your business over this issue.

8. Repairing Power Jacks, and other things connecting to the motherboard.
- Yes. Do that if you have excellent staff.
- Inspect your staff's work since you will feel the consequences if they get sloppy.

---> This post may be updated as I have time to expand it.
Bob

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The Laptop Repair Book (some of it online)
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / August 3, 2009 7:00 AM PDT

Take a look at http://www.fonerbooks.com/workbook.htm then look over the links on the left. Keep reading. Bonus material follows.

I wrote the author and he (Morris) replied with an OK to link to his page PLUS he clued us into more content. Thank you Morris! Morris's reply follows:

"Robert,

BTW, for reasons I don't even remember at this point, my laptop material online is split across my old website and the newer site that you linked.
The newer site has all the photo procedures, the old site has the original six flowcharts that I did for the book:

http://www.daileyint.com/hmdpc/repair.htm

If you click on the miniatures, you get the full size ones, and the decision symbols on those are clickable, leading to text descriptions. I have to replace the drafts with the final flowcharts from the book someday, but it means redrawing the image maps.

Morris

Morris Rosenthal
http://www.fonerbooks.com "

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UPDATE. Now Online. Free. Give it a whirl!
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / March 11, 2013 9:55 AM PDT
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Mouse Jumping? The old touch pad issue.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / August 4, 2009 8:58 PM PDT

A Thank You for "mike 138" who posted 8/5/09 a reply to: It's not just the touchpad for his contribution as follows.

"I have an out of warranty vaio and suffered with an over-sensitive ALPS touchpad while typing - almost as if hitting the keys was enough vibration to make the cursor jump. I was able to adjust this in the control panel > mouse > tapping > adjust sliders to suit or disable tapping.
I then done a search for some software and found this little beauty which freezes the touchpad during typing
http://www.softpedia.com/progDownload/TouchFreeze-Download-80581.html

I hope this helps some of you"

Yes, this will help quite a few folk. Let me supply the Google Code page as it has the download and source code too.
http://code.google.com/p/touchfreeze/

Bob

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Reset a laptop. (Generic version)
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / September 29, 2009 3:21 AM PDT

Many laptops have a reset feature. Some don't but as not all machines have it, here's something to try when a laptop won't start. Remember this is generic, doesn't apply to all machines but when faced with a non-starter dead laptop, why not try this?

Ready?

1. Remove all connections to the laptop. (USB, power, etc.)
2. Remove the battery.
3. Press and hold the power on button for 1 full minute.
-> Explainer. Yes, many machines only require 10 or 15 seconds but this reset instruction is generic and I've found people hold the button for 9 or 14 seconds so let's write the full minute.
4. Let go of the power on button.
5. Slip in the battery pack.
6. Plug in the power to the laptop and to the wall.
7. Do not plug in any other devices.

Try the power on button!

Good luck,
Bob

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Cleaning a laptop. Sorry folks, laptops need cleaning too!
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / December 12, 2009 2:26 AM PST

Let's take a look at HP's site at this link:

http://h10025.www1.hp.com/ewfrf/wc/document?docname=c01657439&tmp_task=prodinfoCategory&lc=en&dlc=en&cc=us&lang=en&product=445335

Even HP notes the cleaning and getting the lint out. But if it has gone this far I get some heat sink compound then pull the CPU heat sink and put fresh compound on it. Be sure to clean as you button it up.

More at this search -> http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&id=cnet&q=Replacing+thermal+compound.+Instructions+for+laptops.
Bob

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Bonus material for cleaning a laptop.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / December 26, 2009 9:59 PM PST
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"Plugged in, not charging" SOLUTION!!!
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / January 12, 2010 11:08 PM PST

Content from http://forums.cnet.com/5208-19681_102-0.html?threadID=345945&tag=forums06;forum-threads

""Plugged in, not charging" SOLUTION!!!
by angelbuer - 1/2/10 12:51 PM In reply to: "Plugged in, not charging" by BadCookies

THIS IS THE SOLUTION AND IT WILL TAKE 90 SECONDS TO FIX

Power management software in Windows Vista

Understanding battery charging issues
If the notebook battery is not charging or the notebook does not indicate that the battery is charging, the most likely scenario is that the battery itself is operating correctly, but its power management software may have become corrupt. In order to correct the problem, you will need to uninstall and reinstall the power management software by using the Device Manager. This document will explain how to uninstall and reinstall the ACPI Battery listings in Windows Vista, as well as how to obtain and install updated BIOS files, if needed to correct other battery issues.
Uninstalling and reinstalling power management software in Windows Vista
In order to correct problems with the battery's power management software, follow the steps below.
1. Click Start and type device in the search field, then select Device Manager .
2. Expand the Batteries category.
3. Under the Batteries category, right-click the Microsoft ACPI Compliant Control Method Battery listing, and select Uninstall .
WARNING: Do not remove the Microsoft AC Adapter driver or any other ACPI compliant driver.
4. On the Device Manager taskbar, click Scan for hardware changes .
Alternately, select Action > Scan for hardware changes .
Windows will scan your computer for hardware that doesn't have drivers installed, and will install the drivers needed to manage your battery's power. The notebook should now indicate that the battery is charging."

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Laptop overheating, possible cause is video chipset
by Willy / January 27, 2010 11:40 PM PST

HP and other vendors of laptops have an issue with Nvidia G84x and G86x chipsets. If yours has such a chipset it maybe at fault for overheating. Excluding any attempts at cleaning, etc., the chipset itself will sooner or later fail due to overheat condition. HP and others offer a s/w fix, which when used supposedly controls the cooling apparatus(fan) or throttles the chipset within tolerance levels. This is intended to be used with the original installed OS.

http://gizmodo.com/5023963/inquirer-every-nvidia-graphics-card-with-g84-or-g86-chipset-is-ready-to-die

Google for other posts on the topic and/or resolutions. You should check your laptop support website or query there for the fix.

tada -----Willy Happy

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Thank you for your contribution.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / January 28, 2010 12:01 AM PST

If others have finds like this, please drop me an email if I don't spot your post with the gold in it.

Thanks again Willy,
Bob

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Dell Issues BIOS updates about this issue.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / January 28, 2010 12:23 AM PST
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Laptop Pictures database
by 9manuals / May 20, 2010 2:55 AM PDT

Hey guys,
I?ve created laptop underside, bottom pictures database. I?ve been using these pictures for years to identify similarities between laptop models. I wonder if anybody else needs them. You can open the page in 2 browsers and compare pictures.
Check it out here: http://www.9manuals.com/pics-home.htm

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Keyboards. Why do they wear out so fast?
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / October 18, 2010 11:55 PM PDT
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Is the battery locked in? (Possible no charging fix.)
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / January 18, 2012 3:26 AM PST

Contribution by M-baby2 - 1/17/12 11:42 AM
"I had a real duuh moment with this problem. Before you freak out, and spend a lot of money....try turning the batteri release to LOCK. My was 'UNLOCKED' and I looked all over for a solution. Then flipped the sucker over and pressed the lock into place. Presto, all fixed"

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How can I save my files?
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / June 22, 2012 12:44 AM PDT

The two most common methods I use today are to use a LiveCD or put the drive into some USB case. Here are links about both methods for you to read further.

"Laptop Data Recovery - Recovering Laptop Hard Drive Files With A USB Shell" (some of us call the a USB "case" or "enclosure."
Full article at http://www.fonerbooks.com/laptop10.htm

"Use Ubuntu Live CD to Backup Files from Your Dead Windows Computer"
This is one of my favorites as there is no install required and we can get files out without disrupting the PC or changing anything on the HDD. It works for almost all operating systems that folk run on PCs. The article mentions Vista but the laptop could be running Windows 7, DOS, some Linux or others and we'd still get our files out.
Full article at http://www.howtogeek.com/howto/windows-vista/use-ubuntu-live-cd-to-backup-files-from-your-dead-windows-computer/

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The Netbook Tips. 1920 x 1080 pixels and other tips.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / June 24, 2015 5:37 PM PDT
This is a post to consolidate the forum stickies. Will edit over time.

How to enable Pan and Scroll to support software that has screens too big for our Netbook. A step by step.

Let me boot up my Acer AOA 1690-1447 to get the exact clicks I used.
1. Right click on the desktop, Properties.
2. Click Settings, then Advanced.
3. Click Monitor and uncheck the Hide modes that this monitor cannot display.
4. Click OK.
5. Advanced closes and now you can change the Screen resolution up to 1920 by 1080 pixels.
Easy as pi.
Check the Hide modes to undo the changes.


Can't get to that OK button?
Here is what worked for me:
1. click on start
2. click on control panel
3. click on display
4. click on the settings tab
5. click on the advanced button
6. change your dpi setting to read 96 dpi
7. under the compatibility section on the same screen, click apply without restart.
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