What is a typical laptop repair?

Here’s one example. Someone brings in a reasonably modern laptop purchased from a pawn shop. It has plenty of personal data from the previous owner and needs to be wiped clean with a fresh Windows installed. It also has an unknown bios password…. and it overheats.

Step 1: Fix the overheating problem.

Step 2: Reassemble the laptop, and then remove the bios password via secret proprietary method.

Step 3: Wipe the drive, and then install and activate Windows 10. Windows 8 laptops can be upgraded to Windows 10 without making an extra purchase from Microsoft. Install all drivers and updates.

Step 4: Remove the junky advertising from the start menu and add useful freely available programs and utilities.

Total cost: $95.00 exactly


Upgrading a Vintage Computer

You might feel as though you have to buy a new computer when your browser fails to access many current web sites or when Microsoft announces that it will no longer support a particular version of Windows. You may not need to buy a new system. We recently upgraded a 15 year old Dell to run the latest browsers as well as run an operating system that is more secure than the latest version of Windows. We even cleaned and upgraded a Power Mac G5 (non-intel) from Tiger to Leopard and added up to date browsers. You might be surprised at the things your old computer will do… and you might even prefer it to some of the newer models sold in other stores today.

Windows Update Horrors

They happen all the time. If you read the online forums, you’ll find that people deal with failed updates for months in spite of all their efforts to fix them. The consensus seems to be that the problems are caused by file corruption due to some sort of glitch.

 Indeed, there are glitches. System files are often missing. Fortunately, they are almost always fixable without reinstalling the entire operating system.

 Notice the many failed attempts to apply the security update for the  .NET Framework 3.5. This one almost gave me a headache, but ultimately it was fixable. So, if you think you’re the only one with these update problems, you’re not. It happens so often, it seems to be something that’s just in the nature of the operating system. It’s not even something that your nephew did (everyone blames the nephew). In any case, don’t let the glitches keep you down. Just drop your computer off here.

The Wanna Cry Ransomware

Wnacry is the name of the ransomware that is currently infecting Windows computers worldwide. If you want to avoid it, I’d suggest following the advice in the above video. Backing up files is the priority. Depending on the amount of data you need to back up, I’d suggest either copying files to a USB flash drive or an external USB hard drive and then verify that the files have actually been copied. Make certain that you didn’t just copy the shortcuts to folders that contain your files (I’ve seen this happen).  Of course, you can disconnect your computer from the network (or internet connection) while you are copying files. Ideally, you should maintain at least 3 copies of your important files. For online storage of photos, I recommend Flickr.com. Also, be sure to check out box.com and Google Drive. Keep in mind that once your files are encrypted with the originals deleted and possibly overwritten, that your files will be practically impossible to recover without the decryption key… and you don’t want to pay the criminals.
P.S.: Talk to me about Linux.

Since it upgraded to 10… can’t get anything to work

The fallout from the free upgrade to Windows 10 continues even today.  Sometimes it’s just a compatibility issue and you may find that you can just reinstall the non compatible program in compatibility mode and it might actually work. Other times, you may have to find an updated version of the program. Some computers just don’t run Windows 10 without crashing.

One of the biggest drawbacks of the Windows 10 free upgrade, however, is the fact that you no longer have a unique Windows activation code. The code that comes with the free Windows 10 upgrade is not like the code that is present in the registry of Windows 7 or Windows 8. The Win 10 code is just generic. If your upgraded Windows 10 computer has a failed mainboard and you replace the mainboard, then you may find that Windows 10 will not re activate with the new mainboard. However, if you used your Microsoft account to log into your system while you were using the latest build (1607) of Windows 10, then you should be able to re activate. Yes – Microsoft has some confusing activation issues.
Anyway, the moral of the story is this… if you have a Windows 7 Certificate of Authenticity that is still legible, take a picture of it and write it down somewhere. You may need it.

XBox One Stuck DVD

I don’t know how a DVD gets to be jammed into the XBox optical drive, but it has happened enough times for Microsoft to add a tiny hole to allow quick access with an appropriately sized paper clip or Allen wrench to use in order to dislodge the stuck disk. Does this work? No, it doesn’t.

Disassembly is often required. Ideally, Microsoft would just add a button that ejects the entire DVD player.