Posts tagged computer repair

A broken laptop screen.

Repair Your Broken Laptop Screen

A broken laptop screen.

Fix your broken laptop screen.

Through some unfortunate circumstances, you have broken your laptop screen. What used to be your operating system’s display is now obscured by cracks and dead pixels. Unlike a computer monitor, you cannot just unplug the display and replace it with a new one so easily. You may even have to buy a whole new laptop. Before you start to run around in circles, crying out to sky “WHY?! OH! WHY ME?!!!” we may have a better alternative. With the right tools, you can fix the problem yourself and repair your broken laptop screen.

Access Your Laptop’s Damage

It’s important to examine the exact damage to your laptop, which can be the difference between you spending money to fix it yourself or having a professional do it. Also, you don’t want to risk fixing the issue only to have something else be the cause of your display issues. For example, if you accidentally hit the screen with something, your display is most likely the only thing damaged. On the other hand, if you dropped your laptop, you should consider buying a new one.

Most stores or computer repair shops can take a look at your laptop and let you know what you need to do. If you want to find out for yourself if the actual laptop is working, here are the steps you should take. First look for a VGA or HDMI port. Using one of these ports and their respective wires, you can connect your computer to your television. This process will display the images that should be on your laptop screen onto your TV screen. If everything looks fine on your television, then everything should be in working order. Your computer’s graphics card and other internal components haven’t taken any damage.

Buy an LCD Screen

Using your television as a display is a temporary solution to getting stuff done. This setup is not exactly ideal for a person on the move. Connecting the two devices is meant to make your laptop accessible until you can afford to have it repaired or buy the tools you need to fix it yourself.

If you decide to fix your computer, start searching online for a new LCD screen. Buying a new screen online is a rather straightforward and affordable option. Most online retailers (Amazon, Best Buy, etc.) will have the exact replacement that you need. To find the right screen, look up your laptop’s model number.

Replacing Your Broken Laptop Screen

Once you have the screen in your possession, you’ll need a Philips screwdriver, a needle to remove stickers on the laptop’s panel, a flat tool (like a knife) to remove laptop panel, and a container for keeping screws together. Make sure that you have a proper table with enough space to work. For safety reasons, you need to remove your laptops power cord and battery before fixing the display.

On the panel that covers your laptop screen, there are stickers. Remove the sticker to see if there are any screw. Remove any screws holding the panel in place. Next, you are going to carefully use the knife to pry the panel from the back of the laptop case. Once the laptop’s screen is completely exposed, unscrew the screws holding it to the back of the case. After detaching the broken laptop screen from the back panel, unplug it, plug in the new screen and follow these steps in reverse order.

Your computer should be back to its original condition, and you are ready to use it any and everywhere. Need a little help? Call Geek Aid.

A businesswoman is stress because she is dealing with common computer problems.

The Difference Between Viruses and Common Computer Problems

A businesswoman is stress because she is dealing with common computer problems.

What common computer problems do you often encounter?

At one point or another, all of us have problems with our computer. The wonderful machine that allows us to do work, browse the interwebs and do a myriad of other things sometimes malfunctions beyond our understanding. At that point, we are calling the computer manufacture only for them to ask us if we tried turning it on and off.

Some of the issues we encounter can be serious threats. Other times, they are simply common computer problems. As a user, you should know how to identify between the two and what to do when you encounter them.

Keeping Your Computer Security Up-to-Date

Viruses and spyware are often a user’s number one concern – as it should be. Online threats are more prevalent today than they have ever been. Your computer’s behavior is a telling sign. Look out for anything peculiar that doesn’t normally happen with your machine. More than likely, your computer is being affected by some kind of malware that you accidently downloaded.

Antivirus software is your best defense against malicious programs. These programs generally work to protect your computer from the latest threats. However, viruses and spyware evolve to work around your computer’s protection software. You have to keep your antivirus software updated. Once you have updated your computer’s security software, run a comprehensive scan. It will weed out any threats to your privacy.

Dealing With Common Computer Problems

If you are experiencing issues with your computer, it will usually tell you. Error messages with alert you of an action that cannot be completed or if you are doing something that conflicts with another program. Sometimes, a computer will only give you the error code, leaving you stumped and confused. A simple Google search will provide you with the answer to the problem. Follow the instruction given to you and everything should be in working order.

If your computer is running slow, check your local disk space. You could have too much saved on your hard drive. Look through your files and erase anything you don’t need. You could also have too many programs running in the background. Go into your settings and open the privacy section. Next, you’ll find a section labeled “Background Apps.” You can turn on and off apps as you see fit.

Preventing Future Incidents

Your computer is an important tool. That’s why you need to be more careful online. When you are browsing the internet, stay away from shady and untrustworthy sites. Also, beware for freeware apps that promise you a service that you would normally have to pay for.

Also, remember that computers can be dumb. Certain parts of your operating system may break or are plagued by a bug. That is why companies release weekly updates. They eradicate common issues that interfere with your computer.

Hopefully, you now have a better idea of what is happening with your computer and if they are just common computer problems. If there are any issues that are beyond your control, then call us at Geek Aid. We are here to solve all of your computer repair issues.

A closeup of a hard disk drive, which may need someone to recover lost data from it.

How to Recover Lost Data From Your Hard Drive

A closeup of a hard disk drive, which may need someone to recover lost data from it.

If your hard drive fails, use these steps to recover lost data.

One way or another, accidents happen. It’s worse is when something happens to your precious hard drive. An important tool like this carries crucial data that you absolutely cannot lose. If a situation like this were to occur, do not panic. There is some hope. Follow these steps and you just might be able to recover lost data from your hard drive.

Analyze the Problem

The first thing you need to figure is how you lost your data in the first place. If you can figure that out, then you can know the best way to recover your information. During that time, try to use your computer as little as possible. That creates new data, which can overwrite files and lower your chances of retrieving your lost data.

The Best Ways to Recover Lost Data

  • Did You Throw in the Trash? – Did you happen to accidently hit delete on one of your files? If data goes missing, the recycle bin should be the first place you check. Nothing is ever completely deleted – at least not at first. Your computer will keep deleted files for a certain amount of time before purging them. By simply opening the recycle bin and restoring that data, you can have it back in your possession.
  • Backup Frequently – Backing up your hard drive should be a bi-monthly ritual. When you back up your hard drive, you save another version of its data at that point in time. So, if you lose your data, your backup may have the latest version of those files.
  • Prepping for an Extremely Dire Situation – Sometimes, recovering your data is not as simple as checking the recycle bin or using a backup. In that case, we suggest using recovery software. It may cost you some money, but it can scan the area where you lost your files and retrieve them from whatever invisible digital space they disappeared into.

If you are in need of data recovery, contact us at Geek Aid. One of our Geeks can walk you through the steps to recover you lost information.

A 3d illustration of a computer and desktop in need of tech support.

Solving Common Tech Support Problems

A 3d illustration of a computer and desktop in need of tech support.

Simple steps to avoid tech support.

We all get that feeling. That nervous pit in our stomach. It’s the feeling that comes right before you dial the phone number to tech support. It might be the simplest issue that makes you feel stupid for not knowing how to fix it.

Before Calling Tech Support, You Should …

None of us want to go through the embarrassment of calling tech support. Let’s face it, phone conversations with strangers can be awkward. So, before you pull out your phone, here are a couple of ways to solve the simplest computer issues:

  • Restart Your Machine – It’s a very simple step, yet so many people ignore it. It should be the first thing you do, no matter what issue you have. A good reboot can realign your computer system to the way it should be.
  • Check Your Updates – Your computer should always be running the latest operating system (OS). If you are on a PC, check Windows Update. For a Mac, click software update in the settings. Remember, updates happen because hackers exploit an old OS.
  • Check Your Hard Drive – A full hard drive will slow your computer a significant amount. See where you can clear up some space. This may make your computer run a bit more smoothly.
  • Disable Startup Items – Have you ever had a billion things pop up every time you turn on your computer? Yeah, well those are startup items. Programs set to open when your computer receives power. Just press Windows-R, type msconfiq into the search bar that pops up, and enter. This will present you with a list of startup items. You can disable as many programs from opening up, just avoid anything labeled Microsoft corporation.
  • Speed Test and Network Hardware – Speed test can tell you how fast your download and upload speeds are. A really good one is speedtest.net. Compare your results to what your provider promises you. If you are experiencing connection issues, then restart your router and modem.

Simple, easy, done. These are just some simple solutions to simple problems. Check back next week to find out more.

Introducing Sway, from Microsoft

Microsoft has a new app. It is called Sway, and it is designed for telling stories. Basically, Sway will act as an alternative to the already popular PowerPoint when it comes to developing a presentation. If you have Windows 10, you can get the Sway app now. It is also available for download by Office 365 users. A Windows Phone app is in the works. How will Sway differ from its predecessor?

Because they are backed up to the cloud, Sway presentations are easy to embed in a website or share with other users. Instead of presentation pages, you use cards. It is easy to rearrange the storyboard and edit cards. To keep things simple, much of Sway is automated. While this may feel limiting to some, it will keep others from spending endless amounts of time working on a presentation that needs to be done by tomorrow.

This is one major difference between Sway and PowerPoint. You can’t actually create anything in Sway. You create your content elsewhere and then upload it to your story. Again, the point of this is to streamline the process. You can connect Sway to accounts in Facebook, YouTube, and Flickr to draw content.

You can also import your existing documents such as a PDF, a Word doc, or a PowerPoint presentation (which automatically converts it to Sway). You also get to choose which direction is more convenient for scrolling between horizontal and vertical.

The fact is that this new app does not replace PowerPoint in any way. It is, however, a simple way to throw together a quick presentation with preexisting materials that can be embedded into a website or easily shared via the cloud.

In the meantime, despite being designed to streamline the process of presentation making, Sway is not simple to use right out of the gate. There is a learning curve, and it won’t begin saving you time until you have had the chance to play around with it a little or watch some instructional videos.

Which Display Is Better: IPS or AMOLED?

Usually when this question is asked, a person wants to know whether the mobile digital display is better on a Samsung device or an Apple device. That is because Samsung has become well known for using AMOLED technology while Apple uses IPS. Let us consider the pros and cons of each type of mobile display.

IPS Liquid Crystal Displays (LCD)

Pros:

Sharpness is a major benefit of IPS screens. The clarity of an IPS screen results in truer colors. IPS displays also perform much better in bright light situations than AMOLED screens do.

Ultimately, IPS is more of a photographer’hs screen because you get a more accurate picture of what the image genuinely looks like. Unfortunately, it may suffer in quality when you try to read or watch a movie in a dimly lit situation.

Cons:

Backlighting can actually be a negative factor when you need darker blacks in your images. For example, if you are watching a movie like “Interstellar” where much of the action takes place in space, the dark colors can suffer a little. This also affects contrast when you are reading since a little light will always be filtered through the letters.

Viewing angles are not as good on an LCD display too. This can be a negative when you are trying to show a video to a bunch of your friends. It can be a positive when you are trying to send a private text in a crowded room.

NOTE: Apple is not the only brand that favors IPS. LG and HTC make Android devices with IPS displays as well.

AMOLED Displays

Pros:

Theoretically, AMOLED displays are better for battery life (although battery life comparison on iPhones and Galaxy phones would make a stark opposing argument). AMOLED screens also produce darker blacks because every pixel can be turned on and off rather than having the whole screen backlit. Super AMOLED screens provide the brightest colors.

Cons:

AMOLED screens do not always render the truest colors because they have a tendency to oversaturate everything. That may be a negative factor when you take a picture and post it on a social media site thinking it is perfect only to discover that it was dull and undersaturated. Burn in is another issue, although not a very common one.

The Verdict

Both IPS and AMOLED have their strong and weak points. Which one is better for you will likely depend on how you use your mobile device the most. In the end, there will likely be other factors that will determine which phone or other mobile digital display device you decide to get since the battle between IPS and AMOLED is too close to call.

Improve Your Windows 10 Experience With These Tricks

The Windows 10 upgrade is already a huge step up from Windows 8, but you may enjoy it even more if you know about all of the useful features. Here are a few that we love and think you may be interested in.

Update Your Start Menu

Boy were we ever glad to get the Start Menu back! Now it is time to customize. Right-click on those tiles to unpin them from start, pin them to your taskbar instead, or resize them. You can actually adjust the size of the start menu too by hovering over the edge and dragging it like you would a window. You get even more features to customize by right-clicking on the desktop and selecting Personalize and then the Start tab.

Switch Between Virtual Desktops

Windows 10 allows you to create more than one virtual desktop. This allows you to have one for work, one for play, one for the kids, etc., without having to log out and back in as a different user. Just click the task view button on the toolbar when you want to change desktops or get rid of one.

Start Talking to Cortana

Open the Cortana app to turn on the “Hey Cortana” feature. Be sure to choose the option that allows your computer to learn your voice. Then you can just start your command with “Hey, Cortana!” instead of having to click in the box anytime you want to ask your assistant for something.

Are You Using Microsoft Edge?

Yes, we know you love Chrome and Firefox, but it is time to give the new Microsoft browser a shot, especially if you need to comment on an existing web page. Just click on the Web Note button, chose among the highlighter, pen, or eraser, and you can make notes directly on web pages to save and send.

Biometric ID

If your computer or tablet has the technology for it, a Windows 10 upgrade allows you to unlock your device with fingerprint detection or facial recognition. Just go to “Settings>Accounts>Sign In” to see what options are available to you.

 

Giant Leaps in Memory Technology

While you may sometimes blame your processor for the running speed of your computer, the fact is that most modern processors spend more time waiting for the computer memory chip to their job than anything else. Intel and Micron, however, may have created a revolution that will serve as a giant leap in memory storage technology.

As technology advances, speed of access to data has become the primary bottleneck. After all, the latest and greatest applications are only as fast as a database can spit out the necessary information. Processors, on the other, have grown in power by leaps and bounds. The result is the equivalent of processors that twiddle their thumbs waiting for their slower counterparts.

One of the toughest things for researchers when it comes to memory is that, to keep things affordable, sacrifices have often been performance related. DRAM was invented in 1966. That was the only memory available until 1989 when flash memory (NAND) was developed. NAND is way cheaper than DRAM but also slower.

The future, however, is XPoint. This new form of memory is exponentially faster than NAND (about 1,000 times the speed), and it is more stable. It is also denser which allows it to be contained in a smaller space. In fact, you can get 128GB of storage operating at lightning fast speeds on a single memory stick.

While the speed of XPoint still does not match that of DRAM, it is far more stable and infinitely cheaper to produce. Plus, being able to but 10 times the amount of storage in a single wafer is a must in the modern world of smaller and smaller technology.

The highly advanced technology of computer memory is already in production by Intel, and there are many applications for this far faster memory. Everything from AI to 8K gaming will be benefited by this advance in memory. Memory intensive data analysis such as genetic analysis and fraud detection will also find this tech useful. Plus, social media is requiring far fast transfer of data with social networks expanding across the globe.

Important Custom Setup of Windows 10

No doubt you were excited to receive your free upgrade to Windows 10, especially if you were languishing under the idiosyncrasies of Windows 8. But now that you have the new operating system, what should you do with it? Here are a few settings you should check and set to meet with your personal preferences.

“Hey, Cortana!”

Cortana starts out as one of the Start Menu apps, so unless you immediately deleted it, you can easily navigate to your Cortana settings. What is Cortana? Your personal assistant to help you remember things, provide you with weather updates, suggest local restaurants based on your personal preferences, and so much more. The default setting, believe it or not, is for Cortana to be off. So if you want to use this feature, you will have to enable it. Be sure to turn on the “Hey, Cortana” voice activation, and set it to recognize your voice. It only takes a minute.

Avoid Surprise Reboots

Keeping your operating system up to date at all times is vital to security. That is why Windows 10 automatically updates whether you want it to or not (this is for your own good). The good news is that you can schedule restarts under the Advanced Windows Update options. Select Notify to schedule restarts to get an advance notification. After all, an unexpected reboot while you are working can be super inconvenient (although not as inconvenient as a security breach due to not updating at all).

Disable Wi-Fi Sense (unless you really want to use it)

Wi-Fi Sense automatically sends anyone in your contacts list an encrypted password to your network (and vice versa when you are in range of their network). The questions are: Do you want to trust every contact in Outlook, Skype, and Facebook with your network key? Do you trust their networks to be secure – enough so that you want to connect automatically? If you answered no to either of those questions, you will need to disable Wi-Fi Sense. It is found under Change Wi-Fi Settings>Manage Wi-Fi Settings.

Just because Windows is new, it doesn’t mean that you have to be happy with every default setting. If you did not perform a custom setup, these are a few places to start.

Is Data Lost to a Bad Drive Sector Gone Forever?

This is a common question when it comes to technical assistance. One of the most common problems that consumers have with a hard drive is the failure of a sector. Let’s discuss what sectors are, why they go bad, and how data can be recovered.

Defined

A sector is just a small section of the data that is stored on your drive. If your computer is a few years old, each sector may only hold as little as .5Kb of data. More recent machines hold about 4Kb per sector. It is a tiny amount of data, but it can throw off a lot if there is a failure. While the sector only holds a fragment of a file, without that fragment the file may not open properly or may take a long time to load.

Why Do Sectors Fail?

Depending on the model hard drive that you are using, the drive may spin from 5-15,000 RPMs. Not only is that speed a strain on drive sectors, but it also creates a lot of heat – technology’s worst enemy. Over time, this causes stress to the hardware at the molecular level.

The part of a hard drive that contains stored data is basically a film of magnetic material. It does not take much to cause damage. As damage occurs, it may simply take longer to open files. As the number of bad sectors increase, it is a strong indicator that hard drive failure is imminent. Your best bet is to back up your data and abandon the drive.

Can I Prolong the Inevitable?

Again, your best bet is to have a backup. Other than that, try to reduce heat on your device as much as possible. For example, you may want an external fan for your laptop.

Can I Rescue the Data?

If you lose data without a backup, do not give in to despair. Nine times out of 10, a well-trained, professional service with experience in data recovery can retrieve your data.

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