Just a quick note to say we had a customer call today who had just been infected with the ‘Zeus’ virus. It seems the likely source was a popular video streaming website called PutLocker – so watch out if you use it. The customer did the best thing and pull the power immediately, and called us. We’re in the process of trying to extract the user data, which hopefully has had the chance to get encrypted. Then we will work on either cleaning the hard drive, or wiping it completely for a fresh Windows installation (best bet to be sure any virus has gone).
- Just got a virus? pull the power immediately, especially if it is a crypto-locker virus (as this will not give the program a change to encrypt everything).
- Use an antivirus program! Avast is a good from one and Kaspersky has been rated the best paid for one for several years.
- Backup – always backup you files. You are only as good as your last backup. Backing up to an external USB and the ‘the cloud’ is the best solution.
Computers, especially laptops can get very dirty on the inside. Over months and years dust, hair and all sorts of dirt will get sucked into the exhaust, and gradually build up (generally on the heatsink and fan blades) and make cooling the machine much more difficult for the fan. Eventually it could get to the point that the air cannot be blown over the heatsink to aid cooling, or the fan cannot physically rotate anyone – when this happens the system will overheat and shut down. Too much of this can lead to a chip overheating and permanently damaging the chip, requiring new parts which can cost a lot depending on the part.
Taking apart and cleaning a laptop can be quite a challenge. Thinking back to the very first laptop I took apart…there was a lot of sweat and it took a whole evening. We’ve recently had quite a few jobs requiring us to finish a clean up job that has gone wrong, so we thought we’d give you a little advice for those that want to do it themselves (hopefully not too late if you are reading this).
If you want to clean a laptop watch out for the following:
- Losing screws – we see so many laptops with screws missing after a DIY attempt
- Blowing into the hot air exhaust can help, but is dangerous because if there is a big dust build up it could stop the fan from rotating can cause the laptop to overheat quickly. There is a photo of this happening below
- Static electricity – clean using non-static materials and watch static from your clothes
- Remember to replace the thermal paste. This is vital. You should not just put the heatsink back on the chip with the old thermal paste – if you do chip cooling will be irregular and inefficient it’s likely to cause overheating or worse
- Scratching chip surface and damaging it, especially when cleaning or applying thermal paste
- If you use liquids to clean make not to use too much liquid and get a component flooded and also make sure everything is dry before the system is powered up again.
- Watch out for short circuiting – so easily done with tools, loose screws, not reconnecting wires etc.
- Broken screw fixings and laptop covers: Especially with aging laptops, the plastic material becomes increasingly brittle. Take great care removing and tightening screws and separating parts of the laptop body.
- Don’t forget to connecting everything back up as it was!
Prices: We charge a flat rate for fully cleaning a laptop physically inside and out. £40 if the work is done here, £49 is the job is a callout. This price includes:
- Full outside clean including:
- USB / power / VGA ports etc.
- Full inside clean including:
- All components
- The case
- Replacement thermal paste
- Putting the laptop back together again.
We get a lots of customers coming to use with blue, black or grey screens. We can usually fix these errors quickly and without any loss of data (unless the hard drive is failing). Windows PCs usually crash with a blue or black screen, and Macs crash with a grey screen.
Here are a few common problems we repair:
One of our most popular services in Sheffield is laptop screen replacement. Details of services including prices we offer can be found on our Sheffield laptop screen / lcd replacement and repair page. It’s not as easy a job as many think which is why customers come to us to get the job done properly. There are many pitfalls to watch out for it you attempt to do the job yourself including,
- Ordering the wrong replacement part – many laptops have two different types of screens LCD or CCFL which can be used in the same model
- There are no ‘official’ replacements parts easily available for a decent price…which is to be expected, especially for an older models, but getting a good quality replacement without any dead pixels is important. A dead pixel is one or more pixels (of 1,049,088 on a standard laptop screen) that is defective (usually manifesting as a black dot). Some people wouldn’t even notice, others like ourselves would be infuriated with even just 1/1,049,088th of a screen being ‘dead’, so we have worked hard collecting an excellent range of top-quality suppliers which has allowed us to provide customers with 100% perfect screens. Touch-wood, this will always be the case
- Ensuring you have all the parts. Many laptop screens require a power converter. This many be the defective part, rather than the LCD screen…it’s hard to tell.
- Incorrect removal of the existing screen and installation of the replacement. To avoid damaging the bezel and LCD casing a lot of care is need to ensure that a screen can be fitted again correctly and no other damaged is caused. Remembering the first screen replacement jobs we ever did to our own machines, the process took hours…only research, experience, care and patience can ensure everything goes perfectly
- Working with the new replacement screen can be tricky. A customer came to us after attempting to replace a MacBook Air screen when they had tried to remove a layer of protect plastic but in fact started to remove part of the LCD screen!
- Scratching the screen – so easily done… A good methodical and careful technique is vital.
- Dust in the screen – especially a problem for Macbooks, Macbook Pros and MacBook Airs. Dust in-between the screen and glass panel looks terrible.
We recently had a customer in need of their hard drive wiping after a nasty crypto locker virus locked all their files. Arter discussing options and finding out that the 6/7 year old desktop was a a decent spec to begin with, we installed a super fast solid state drive alongside the existing 750GB hard drive. After reinstalling Windows 7 on the SSD, drivers, useful common programs, security and other tweaks the system booted to a useable state in 50 seconds (20 seconds of which is the standard BIOS boot test that can’t been sped up). Here is a video of the boot time:
Total price for this job was £150 (£85 for the SSD and the rest for all the work). The customer was very pleased with the work.
Please get in touch if you would like to discuss a similar upgrade, prices for SSDs constantly change.
We had an old beast of a machine in the workshop for repair today – a Mac Pro “Quad Core” 3.0GHz Intel Xeon 5160. The diagnosis at the Apple shop was a faulty graphics card but they wouldn’t work on it because it was ‘Obsolete’ being made n 2008.
Despite being somewhat old we discussed the option of upgrading the graphics card but decided to go for a straight swap because the workstation graphics weren’t being utilised much anyway. We sourced a replacement ATI Radeon x1900 XT 512MB from our suppliers and got it working again. We also checked over the OS doing all the necessary maintenance after 8 years of work.
A customer bought us this HP laptop that was overheating. The usual cause of overheating is a clogged up heatsink and/or fan – dirt, hair, crumbs etc. block air flow so the fan cannot cool the heatsink which takes heat away from the CPU.
In this case the laptop was getting extremely hot, too hot to hold for long, and the fan was working, loudly at top speed.
As you can see from the pictures below, there was a lot of dust and dirt. We dismantled the laptop, removed the dust (and changed the fan at the customers request), and then the machine worked at normal temperature, fan speed and sound levels.
The left mouse button was also broken…so we fixed that too while the laptop was dismantled.
A fairly regular job that comes to us…replacement of the cracked glass on a Macbook Pro after a knock. This one was particularly tricky because the glass was completely fractured. It took a little long than usual, but this sometimes happens. The customer was happy with the work and price done, and we’re sure they’ll try to avoid it happening again.
This was an interesting job! The customer had unfortunately managed to get some of those small silica gel balls (the kind put in packaging to absorb moisture) into the headphone and microphone jacks of a laptop. We weren’t sure what the outcome would be, hoping it wouldn’t require replacement of jacks. Thankfully, after dismantling the laptop and carefully using a thin wire to poke at the balls through small holes at the back of the jacks, we were able to get the balls out without any other damage. These types of jobs are always interesting because they provide a new challenge!