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Should You Repair Or Replace Your Laptop?

Given that laptops are increasingly becoming less expensive with each passing year, should you find yourself in a situation where your laptop requires service, you may find yourself asking if you should repair or replace your laptop.  This article endeavors to answer that very question for you.

Depending upon the damage your laptop has encountered, you may find yourself tempted to simply replace your laptop.  However, before coming to that conclusion, there are several factors to consider, as it may be more cost effective not only to fix it, but to upgrade it as well.  

Before throwing your laptop out in frustration, let’s take a look at a few scenarios where fixing your computer may be a better solution for you.  Additionally, we’ll discuss several ways in which you can breathe new life into that laptop of yours, and perhaps make it faster than it was the day you bought it.  Finally, I’ll show you what to look for when purchasing a used laptop.

You First Need to Assess the Situation

People have a tendency to make poor decisions when a crisis hits.  For example, if one has an auto accident, the first thought is, “How do I replace my car?”  One of the hardest things to do is to honestly assess the situation. In as much as this applies after an auto accident (or a after having splashed soda on your laptop), you need to honestly assess the situation.

Take a Breather
Sometimes we just need to step away for a minute and take a breather.  If for example, you were to drop your laptop rom the desk and your screen just won’t come on no matter what you do. Well that can cause one to panic.  When panic sets in, people make a lot of poor decisions. Don’t be one of those people.

Instead of racing out the door to you your local computer store, just stop, sit down for a few minutes and take a breather. You will find that wisdom is found in just waiting a few minutes. If you do, chances are that you won’t make a rash decision.  There may be a fix for it, or there may be no fix, but if you sit down and assess the situation, you will make a better decision on how to proceed, without question.

The Frustration Factor
When a crisis hits, it takes you by surprise and it’s easy to get upset, even frustrated. Frustration tells panic that it’s OK to make a quick decision without consulting wisdom.

Accidents happen at the worst time.  Most often, when you have an impending deadline that you’re not able to meet because your laptop has taken sick.  Again, the worse thing you could do is go buy a new laptop when you are really frustrated and angry at what happened to your laptop.

Can You Repair the Laptop?

Is this something that you can fix?  Well, let’s take a look at some of the things that you could fix, and some that you definitely want to let the professionals deal with.

Know your strengths and weaknesses, and don’t try to do fix something that is beyond your capabilities.  If you are not sure about it, stop and take it in for repair. It’s better to have paid someone to fix your laptop that to have tried only to make a worse situation.  The old adage, “When in doubt, do without” rings true here.

There are some things you might be surprised that you can do.  For example, you can:

  • Attach a key to the keyboard that may have popped off.
  • Stick a pin in the hole on the CD player to force it to open if it gets stuck
  • Replace the battery.  Not a big deal at all.  Simply unscrew a few screws and it pops off and the new one easily pops in.

This may seem intimidating at first, but you can add additional RAM to the laptop.  It’s not nearly as difficult as you might think, and if have you have never done it before, be sure to consult YouTube regarding your laptop model first.  YouTube is a great teacher.

There are also some things that might better be left for the professionals:

  • If you are comfortable replacing the mechanical hard drive with an SSD hard drive, you could do this if you were to follow YouTube instructional videos.  Again, this is a bit advanced, but do-able.
  • Replacing the screen itself, is not an easy operation and requires a lot of know-how, even if you were to follow YouTube instructional videos for your specific laptop.  I would highly recommend that you not attempt to do this on your own unless this is what you do for a living.
  • Replacing the chip-set on the motherboard is absolutely something that you want to leave to the professional.

Other than physical damage to the laptop itself one of the worst things that can happen to your laptop is to spill something on the keyboard.  Unfortunately, right below the keyboard is the motherboard which houses all of the circuitry for your computer, and as you well know, liquids and circuitry do not mix well.

If, however, do you happen to spill something on your laptop, immediately Press and hold the power button for eight seconds while you pick it up from one corner letting all of the liquid drain out from the opposite corner.  Once you think that you have left all of the liquid drain from that one corner, shake it. Try shaking out any remaining liquid from that very same corner. Again you only ever want the liquid to leave the laptop from one corner.  The goal here is to remove any liquid as quickly as possible.

When you set the laptop down, do not to set it down flat. Prop it up, do whatever you need to do, just ensure that the same corner that all the liquid drained out of it is touching the table and everything else is in an upright position, again, so that any remaining liquid will drain to that corner of the laptop.

Now comes the hard part. You have to let it sit and dry for several hours, perhaps even a couple of days.  If you shine a desk lamp on to the keyboard itself, the liquid will probably evaporate or dry faster.

Believe it or not the best Liquid to spill on your laptop computer is water, Because water is not sticky and it evaporates quickly. Coffee, Soda, and especially milk are very sticky substance is when they dry. Sticky substances will cause The key is on your keyboard to be sticky and on responsive when you use them.  There is hope, however.

I wants spilled soda on my MacBook Pro. After crying and applying all of the steps mentioned above, I was able to identify which keys on my keyboard were sticky, and after watching a couple of YouTube videos that taught me how to pop the keys off of my MacBook Pro, clean them, and then re-attach them to the keyboard, I was able to repair my laptop without having to send it in anywhere or pay anybody to fix it for me.

Breathe New Life Into Your Laptop

Sometimes, people think that they need a new laptop, when in fact, they just need to maintain their existing laptop to bring it back to the condition it was in when they bought it.  When we ask if we should repair or replace our laptop, are we really asking if it’s easier to maintain the laptop or just simply replace it?

For example, If you were to buy a brand new car and not to change the oil for 20,000 miles, you were definitely going to have car problems, even if it takes synthetic oil.  You just cannot neglect a car that long and expect it to be running in tip-top shape. Neither can you expect to neglect the maintenance of a computer and expect it to run in tip-top shape.  Maintaining your computer is the key.

Here are a few things that you can do to maintain your computer to keep it in great running condition.  Please note that the recommendations that I’m going to make here are by no means exhaustive. They are, however, things that I do on my laptops to keep them in great running condition.

cCleaner
Believe it or not, one of the software tools that I use to keep my laptop “clean“ used to run a utility once a week to clean my computer out. This utility is called cCleaner And I can safely be downloaded from cCleaner.com.  I am not being paid by them to make this advice, it’s just a utility that I have been using for years and I have found that it works very well.

You can purchase the software for about $25, but you don’t really need to. The free version works just fine. It will remove any clutter and junk left over by programs if you have uninstalled. It also removes any unwanted and un-needed registry keys from the registry.  Upon cleaning, it does ask you if you want to delete each and every item that it is found, but I don’t bother. I just trust its findings and I have never had any problems whatsoever in using this particular piece of software to clean my computers.

Start-up Programs
Another thing that you can do to ensure that your computer is running in ti-top shape is to ensure that there are no programs running in the background that you do not want running in the background.  If I may, let me explain.

When you install a piece of software onto your computer, that piece of software thinks that it is the most important piece of software on your computer and that it should launch as quick as possible whenever it is called upon.  So for example, if you were to install iTunes on your computer, it would by default require that the “iTunes Helper” run in the background upon installation of iTunes.

iTunes Helper, is a program that runs in the background for the sole purpose of monitoring your computer to determine if and when you plug an iPod, iPhone or iPad into the computer so that it will then automatically launch the iTunes application.  That’s it.

But what if you don’t have an iPad, iPhone or an iPad? It still runs in the background taking up precious resources.

GoToAssist Is another program that behaves in this manner, but it does even a greater disservice.  Let’s say that you had a computer problem and you hired tech support to remote into your computer using GoToAssist.  GoToAssist will now run in the background each and every time that you turn your computer on, whether you needed to or not, again, taking up a precious system resources.

Now, if every program that you were to install on your computer behaved in such a manner, your system resources would be bogged down by all of the applications that are running in the background.

This is easily fixed by simply following these steps.

  1. Press the CTRL-ALT-DEL keys on your keyboard.
  2. Click TASK MANAGER.
  3. From there, click on the START-UP tab and highlight the program that you don’t want running in the background each and every time you start your computer.
  4. RIGHT-CLICK on that program and click DISABLE.
  5. Now RESTART your computer and these programs will not launch at start-up.

So far we’ve talked about a couple things that you can do to speed up your computer by using software. But there are two significant things that you can do to your computer that will dramatically speed your computer up.

Replace your mechanical hard drive with a Solid State Drive (SSD)
If you have an older laptop, this will breeze years of life into your laptop. A Solid State Drive, otherwise known as an SSD drive, has no moving parts and is it light-years faster than the old mechanical drive as of yesterday.

In fact, there is nothing greater that you could do to breathe life into an older laptop then to replace the mechanical hard drive with an SSD drive.  It will speed up your boot time from a couple of minutes to literally 20 to 30 seconds, if that. It will also cause your applications to load a lot faster, particularly large applications such as Photoshop or AutoCAD.

Today, SSD drives a relatively inexpensive and are not that difficult to install, however, I would not recommend it for the faint of heart or those who are new to computer repair.  Again, if you have any doubts, be sure to hire someone to do this for you or take it to your local computer shop. This job can be done within 15 minutes by a professional.

Add More RAM
If your computer allows for it, the next best thing that you can do for your laptop is to add more RAM to it. This will help applications launch faster, but it will not have nearly a fact that an SSD drive would have on your laptop. So, if I were to choose between getting more RAM or getting an SSD drive, getting an SSD drive would be my first pick, hands down.

What if my Laptop is Really Old?

If you have a laptop that is very old, and by very old, I mean a laptop that is 10 or even 11 years old, is there any hope?  Maybe you have a laptop that does not allow you to increase the RAM and beyond 4 GB. That’s an old laptop. But is there any hope for a laptop that old? After all, you may not even be able to run Windows 7 on a laptop like that, let alone Windows 10.

It really all comes down to what you are using the laptop for. If you are using a laptop that is 10 years old, in the hopes of running The latest version of Photoshop on it, you are going to be disappointed. If, however, you simply want to surf the Internet, send e-mail, and maybe create some documents, there is another solution that I would like to bring to your attention.

You could format the computer and install Linux on it. Linux is a free operating system and nearly all the love the software that is used for Linux is also free.

Linux is a very powerful operating system that was designed specifically to run optimally on older computers. When running Linux on new computers today, it just flies.  If you are new to Linux, I would highly recommend that you check out Ubuntu Linux. Ubuntu is a very user-friendly Linux distribution and there are literally tens of thousands of people that use it, end it is the most widely supported distribution of Linux.

If you were to install Linux on your laptop computer, regardless of its age, you would easily be able to send e-mail, surf the Internet, and do a whole lot more. It is different, because it is a different operating system, but it is a great solution for old laptops. If you are in a pinch and don’t want to spend money on a new laptop or even a used laptop, I would highly recommend that you check out Linux as an alternative.

What About Buying a Used Laptop?

If you need to replace your existing laptop, you just might want to consider purchasing a used laptop. Laptops do not depreciate as quickly as cars do, especially MacBooks.  So there should not be a stigma attached to purchasing a used laptop. There are some things, however, that you should look for when purchasing a used laptop, and if it all possible, do your best to meet the person Who wants to sell you the laptop face-to-face.

Who Primarily Used it?
When purchasing a used laptop, do your best to try to find out who is the primary user of that laptop. If it was an elderly person, chances are that it would be well cared for and did not get abused. However, if it was used by a freshman in college, chances are that it was a view, if not intentionally, unintentionally by simply being in a college backpack and dropping the backpack on the floor.  This is where dings coming to play, but more on that in a minute.

What was it Used For and How was it Used?
I always try to find out what The laptop was used for because they give me a good indication as to how it was cared for. For example, if it was primarily used for kids, a red flag goes up for me. Kids don’t take care of laptops, and parents who get laptops for kids tend not to care for them as well as they would care for their own work laptop.

Another red flag for me is finding out that the laptop was primarily used for gaming. Gamers use laptops for hours on end, usually with the fans are blasting as fast as they can to keep the processor as cool as possible because it is being used like a workhorse. A computer that is been used like a workhorse is not going to last as long as one that is generally cared for.

Are there Any Dings or Scratches?
When purchasing a used laptop, you want to look for dings and scratches. More importantly, you want to make sure that there are no dings on the laptop, especially on the corners, which indicates that it was dropped. There is a high risk in purchasing a laptop that has been dropped, or abused.  A laptop that has been dropped or carelessly handled in a college backpack, may have a cracked motherboard which could lead to problems down the road.

Personally, if I see any scratches, or for that matter, micro scratches on the screen display, that’s a showstopper for me. But that’s just me. I certainly walk away if I find any dings anywhere on the laptop.  They may only be selling that laptop for $100, but you very well could be out $100 shortly after the transaction because of a cracked motherboard.

Scratches on a laptop really show how the laptop has been cared for. If you find a lot of scratches on the bottom of the laptop, that means that it was transported frequently.  Just be aware of that just like a worn shoe can tell you a lot about the person who wears that shoe, a worn laptop will also tell you a lot about how that laptop has been used in the past.

Where Should I Purchase a Used Laptop From?
It’s OK to purchase a laptop that is on clearance from your local computer store. In fact, that might be a great idea because when you do, you get the full Warrantee and you’ll probably get it at a discounted price.  Not to use another car analogy, but this does make my point. Buying a used laptop from a retail store, is almost like buying a used car from a car dealership. Both will give you a warranty and ensure that it is it in tiptop shape before leaving the store.

I have purchased laptops from eBay and Craigslist.  Of the two, I would much rather purchase a laptop from someone on craigslist then from eBay. The reason for this, is because I get to meet the person who is selling the laptop, face-to-face.

There is so much you can learn from somebody when you speak to them face-to-face. For example, you can ask them all kinds of questions, all of which will help determine what type of user they were and how they use the laptop itself. You can get a pretty good idea as to how they cared for the laptop as well,  just by talking with them.

Most people who are trying to sell a laptop,  are selling it because they don’t use it anymore and would rather have cash. Just because they are selling it, does not mean that there is anything wrong with it at all.  A few years ago, I purchased a 15 inch laptop from somebody off of craigslist for $150. I was thrilled because it looked brand new and there was nothing wrong with it whatsoever. The gentleman who sold it to me also was thrilled to have sold it.  It was a very fair price and we both left very comfortable having conducted business together.

After Buying a Used Laptop, What Is the First Thing I Should Do?
The very first thing that you should do when purchasing a used laptop, regardless of where you got it from, is to format it and reinstall windows from scratch.  Don’t even think twice about this, just do it, and if you don’t know how to do it, pay somebody to do it for you. It’s just not worth it.

There could be malware or spyware on that machine, and the only sure way to rid of it is to format the computer completely. Note that I did not say to upgrade it from one version of Windows to another version of Windows.  Format it.

Risking your identity is not worth it. Ensuring that you have a very clean computer from the get go is of utmost importance.  I’ll say it again just to make the point: format it.


Related Questions

Where is a Great Place to Purchase a New or Used Laptop?
There are two really great places that I personally buy laptops from.  The first is NewEgg.com and the second is from MicroCenter.com. Both companies offer steller prices, excellent customer support, and offer phenomenal prices.

Where Can I Go to Get My Laptop Repaired Today?
If you must get your laptop repaired today and you can’t find a local computer shop, one of the best places to get your computer repaired is at your local BestBuy retail store.  Why BestBuy? They stand behind their work, and you can get it done quickly.

Tim Chesonis

Tim has been helping people with computers needs for over 29 years, and loves to help people succeed. He brings a wealth of wisdom and insight from an entrepreneur's perspective and enjoys freelance writing. To learn more about Tim, click here.

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