When it comes to computer problems, many people instinctively shy away from trying to fix it themselves – computers are complicated and can be intimidating. But in fact, there are several common errors that you can very easily fix on your own.
You can of course take the computer to a service technician who will fix it and bill you for an hour or two even if it only took five minutes. But why? The secret of computer technicians is that many of the most common repairs are so easy to do that anyone can do it at home at their desk.
Here are three simple steps that you can definitely take care of yourself and save both time and money.
Change or expand the working memory
Do you know how to change a cassette in an old video game console or a disc in a DVD player? Good, then you have the technical prerequisites to replace or put in more internal memory (ram) in your computer. Most computers, including laptops, have memory that is easily accessible and extremely easy to replace. On laptops you usually have to loosen a few screws on the underside and remove the cover, while on desktops you have to unscrew the side of the chassis and open the computer.
Once inside the computer, locate the memory modules, remove the old ones if you need to replace them, and insert the new modules. They only fit in one direction so you basically can’t go wrong. You may have to push them in firmly, which can sometimes feel risky, but memory modules are – despite all warnings – really sturdy and don’t break easily.
There are of course exceptions, such as most of Apple’s Macs and many ultrabook models where the memory is fixed to the motherboard to save space and thus cannot be replaced at all. But if you have a Macbook Air or similar, you probably already knew that it is not possible to do any repairs or upgrades.
This is how easy it is to access and change the memory in a gaming laptop.
When it comes to memory upgrades, the most difficult part is not the installation itself, but choosing the right modules for your particular computer. You need to make sure you get the right size, the right type (ddr2 or ddr3), and the right speed (in megahertz, but often listed as pc10600).
To find the right one, you can check the computer manufacturer’s user manuals, or use a tool like Crucial System Scanner or Cpu-z that checks what type you have today.
Replace a broken keyboard
Similar to the internal memory, replacing the keyboard is actually a breeze on many laptops (this even applies to many of Apple’s Macbook models). You may need to do this if, for example, you have accidentally spilled something on the computer and the computer itself was fine, but the keyboard started to slip on one or more keys.
On laptops with plastic chassis, you usually just need to unscrew a few screws, gently slide the keyboard to the side and up, then lift it and disconnect the data cable that attaches it to the motherboard. Once it’s loose, insert the replacement keyboard by going backwards through the instructions.
A small data cable keeps the keyboard in place and connected to the motherboard, and you’ll often find it like this along one edge.
This the most common approach, but many manufacturers still have some variation and especially with more expensive models that are thinner and lighter, it can be more complicated. The best way to check how difficult it seems to be with your particular computer is to search YouTube for, for example, “keyboard swap [din datormodell]”. On Ifixit there are also guides for many computer models, both Mac and PC.
To find a reasonably cheap keyboard, Ebay is by far the biggest and best source.
You do not need help reinstalling your operating system. Trust us on this point. This is even more true if you are running Windows 8, which has built-in system recovery tools. If you plan to upgrade to Windows 10, according to Microsoft, it will be even easier with that system.
The most basic thing you need to know is that you need to have a fresh backup of all your files before you restore – but you probably have that anyway. After a reset, you will need to reinstall third-party programs that you had before, which can be done either from installation discs or by downloading the programs from the web. Windows 8’s built-in restore feature automatically reinstalls programs you’ve purchased from the Windows Store.
An important detail is that you should check that you have your product keys to hand before you get started. If you don’t have these on paper, you can run the excellent Belarc Advisor and write down all the keys you find under Manage all your software licenses. This applies, for example, if you bought a computer with Windows pre-installed and did not save manuals and other papers where the Windows key was probably located.
Fixing computer problems yourself can be daunting, but once you get started, you’ll find that it’s not that difficult at all, and from these three simple fixes, you can move on and learn more.