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How to Reflow a Laptop Motherboard

This article describes a reflow procedure that can be performed at home in a conventional household oven for a common laptop motherboard repair of the broken graphics chip.

What is a Reflow?

The term ‘reflow’ describes a process of briefly melting (reflowing) the solder on an electrical circuit board, in this case a laptop motherboard.

Why would you perform a Reflow on a laptop motherboard?

The solder used in laptop motherboards tends to degrade over time, becoming brittle and weak. It can change from being a solid block of solder into more of a honeycomb structure. This weaker solder joint can fracture causing tiny broken connections in the circuit, invisible to the naked eye. The idea behind performing a reflow is that it melts the solder, allowing it to form a solid block again and joining up the electrical circuit. Continue reading

CrystalDiskInfo

CrystalDiskInfo is a great little free tool for checking the general health of your hard drive.  It works by reading the S.M.A.R.T. data off your hard disk and displays it in a simple graphical format.  It can work with internal or external hard disks, with either IDE (ATA/PATA) or SATA connectors, and it even works for hard disks plugged in via USB.

Each of the S.M.A.R.T. parameters has a threshold, beyond which it could indicate a drive starting to fail.  If CrystalDiskInfo determines that any parameter is showing potential problems, it will highlight that row in the results table. Continue reading

Fix for a missing CD or DVD drive

If you find that your CD or DVD drive no longer appears in My Computer and you can’t read or write to disks, there is a known Windows registry fix that could help you.

Of course, you should first check that the drive is properly connected, just in case.

This Windows registry fix is based on a problem that can occur related to CD/DVD writing software.  Unnecessary registry entries get created which interfere with how Windows communicates to your CD/DVD drive. Continue reading

Why you should shutdown your computer and not just press the off button

This article explains why it is important to shutdown your computer properly.

In our repair shop, we are sometimes asked by customers if there is any harm in shutting down their computer by just pressing the power button for a few seconds, rather than going through the Windows shutdown procedure.

As far as the customer in concerned, the end result appears to be the same, the computer shuts down. In fact, from their point of view, holding the power button for a few seconds appears to shut down the computer immediately, whereas a proper Windows shutdown takes maybe 20 to 30 seconds. So is it a good idea to do this?

To get straight to the point, it is a very, very bad idea to shutdown your computer by holding the power button. Continue reading

How to Create a System Restore point in Windows 7

In a standard install of Windows 7, you should find that System Restore is turned on by default, creating restore points automatically on a regular basis.  But in case you want to manually create a System Restore point, perhaps just after a virus cleanup or before installing a new program, here’s how to do it.

There are a lot of different routes to the System Restore point creation screen in Windows 7, but this is the way I create a System Restore point.

Click on the Start button and then right click on Computer. Select Properties from the context menu that pops up and the System window will open.  This window displays a lot of basic information about your computer and the version of Microsoft Windows that has been installed on it. Continue reading

Finding drivers for unknown devices

After installing and setting up a fresh copy of Windows, there are times when you check the Device Manager and you see the little yellow exclamation point meaning a driver hasn’t been installed for a device.

If the driver isn’t on a driver disk, and maybe you don’t have a copy of the driver because your original hard disk was broken – what do you do? The device just shows up as unknown modem, or unknown media device or something similar.

What you can do is check the properties of the device, find out its signature and look it up on a great little website www.PCIDatabase.com. Continue reading

Getting the best out of your laptop battery

In our repair shop, customers often ask about their laptop batteries and how to get the best performance out of them. A lot of people don’t realise that the laptop battery, much like the battery in any other device, is a consumable item. After a couple of years it will not hold charge for as long as it used to, or maybe it just won’t charge at all.

There will come a point in time where the laptop battery should really be replaced, and your local laptop repair shop will be able to advise and supply a replacement when the time comes.

In the meantime, there are a few tips and tricks listed here that you can employ to get the best out of your laptop battery and to prolong its useful life. Continue reading

Norton Removal Tool

This article continues our series on anti-virus removal tools – standalone programs that are designed to completely remove an anti-virus program when it’s own uninstall goes wrong.  This week we cover the Norton Removal Tool 2012.

It should be noted that the Norton Removal Tool is much more that just a remover for Norton Anti-Virus and Internet Security. Continue reading

Perform a Clean Boot using the MSCONFIG utility

A Clean Boot is a method of starting Microsoft Windows in Normal Mode (as opposed to Safe Mode) with the minimum of drivers, startup programs and services.

A Clean Boot is one method that can be used in diagnosing Windows startup problems, especially in cases where there is a software conflict or driver problem.

Note: If Windows will not boot into Normal Mode, this Clean Boot procedure can be performed in Safe Mode, as an aid to getting the computer working again in Normal Mode. Continue reading

AVG Removal Tool

The AVG Removal Tool 2012 is another handy tool for computer repair professionals and home users to tidy up after an AVG uninstall. AVG Anti-Virus and Internet Security programs, like lots of similar software from other manufacturers, can leave various files and registry entries behind after an uninstall. This can happen for many reasons, like a crash during the uninstall, a conflict with another program, or sometimes the uninstaller program just doesn’t remove everything it installed. Continue reading