How to determine if a laptop is stolen

It’s really important to ensure that if you are buying a laptop that is second hand, that it is not stolen. If you buy one and hand over money for it in good faith, if it is traced and found with you, not only could you be in trouble for handling stolen goods, but that laptop does not belong to you and will be returned to its rightful owner, and you will be out of pocket. Even if they find the person that stole it, it is unlikely that you will get all your money back, so whilst it might seem tempting to buy a laptop at a really good price when you have doubts, in the long term you are risking a lot.

There are a number of ways to check if a laptop is stolen or not, and it’s worth taking the time to check where you can. If anyone is pushing you to buy right away and discouraging you to carry out any checks then walk away, it’s a dead giveaway that they have something to find. First of all have a look at the serial number. It can be found on every laptop and is a unique ID for that laptop. They can be used to find out if a laptop has been reported as stolen, and you can do that by either contacting your local police or by visiting the manufacturers’ website. A lot of major laptop companies such as Dell have a database of stolen items which you can check that number against.

A lot of laptops are password protected, and it is possible to get these passwords unlocked by a professional, but if you are buying a laptop where someone doesn’t know the password and is selling it at a good price ‘to compensate the money you would have to spend on getting it unlocked’, don’t do it. If they had bought it from someone they would have got the passwords, and if it was theirs they would know it. There’s no good reason why they wouldn’t so walk away.

Another way is to look and see if there are any files or photos on there, and if so ask them some questions on them. If there’s a load of photos they are vague on or are obviously not a part of, again, walk away.

Common Computer Repair Tips

Almost everyone owns their own computers these days. As day follows night, the more computers you have, the more likely you are to experience a problem with one of them. A lot of people new to computing and computers can fear the worst as they have little experience with laptops and can think their device beyond repair.

Do not despair though, there are plenty of common computer repairs you can make yourself. These simple tips can help you repair your own laptop computer.

Turn your Computer Off and On again.

This is the oldest and by far the most effective way of applying a quick fix to your computer. If your computer is running slow and applications keep crashing, then restarting your computer could help. Reason being, when you restart your computer you restart everything. So if an application has crashed, causing your computer to run slow, this will also be restarted and your computer will be fine when you load it back up.

Run a Memory Test

A littler trickier to pull off but definitely worth it if you’re running into problems with your computer. Beware though, executing a memory test can take some time so make sure you have a cup of tea handy. To run a memory test open your start menu on Windows and search for “Diagnose Windows Memory Problems”. A window will pop up and you can run a memory test from there. You may need administrator access for this. This will then run tests on your Hard Drive and RAM modules. It should be able to fix most errors but if not then you could need a laptop repair.

If you’ve tried these common computer repair tips and still experiencing issues with your computer or laptop, Get in Touch.

How to clean a DVD Drive on a laptop

laptop dvd driveIf you are a film fanatic and love watching a DVD on your laptop then it is important to keep your disk drive in good condition. Over time, dust particles begin to gather as they do on any other piece of hardware and can effect the reading of the disk.

It is not just films which can be affected but also businessmen tend to do presentations on disks and it would be a bit of an embarrassment if you turned up to a big meeting and your disk drive fails you. So it is not just the average laptop user which it can affect.

First of all you will need to gather the following cleaning items;

• Cotton buds

• Can of compressed air

• Rubbing alcohol

This items can be picked up at any local DIY store and you can get them for relatively cheap.

The first thing you will need to do is locate the disk drive on your laptop which is usually on the side and press the eject button.

Once the drive has opened inspect it carefully and see if you can see any noticeable damage such as grazes on the tray or scratches on the lens. This will save you time because there will be no point in cleaning a physically damaged drive.

After you have inspected the drive and there is no damage, you can proceed to the cleaning process by blowing the compressed air onto the drive and this will remove any dust particles which have gathered.

Ensure that the force of the compressed air is not too much as this could cause damage.

Once you are happy that there is no visible dust left on the drive, next get your cotton buds and dampen them with warm water and the rubbing alcohol.

This part you have to be careful, dab the lens with very little pressure as it is very delicate and can easily be damaged. If the lens gets damaged then unfortunately it will need to be replaced as this is the crux of reading disks.

You should do a full system clean of your laptop every 3-5 months, cleaning all peripherals and internal components.

Ideal Computer Set Up For Beginners

computer set upIt’s true that the number of those that are trained and experienced in using computers is on the rise because of work training as well as the use of technology in schools and further education, but that doesn’t mean that everyone is completely confident with them.

When faced with a new computer to set up, a lot of people are overwhelmed and worried about breaking it before even using it and decide to get help or pay for someone to do it. You don’t need to do this with a few simple steps and following the instructions.

First of all you need to make sure that you place your computer where you want it, as it will be harder to move when plugged in and set up.

This should be a cool and well-ventilated area to ensure that your computer does not overheat and break. Once you’ve done this you should find your monitor cable.

Connect one end of the cable to the monitor port on the back of the computer case, and the other end to the monitor.

Tighten the plastic-covered screws on the monitor cable by hand to ensure that it is secure. If a cable won’t fit into a hole don’t force it, it’s clearly the wrong one.

Get out the keyboard to connect it to the computer. If it uses a USB connector, plug it into one of the many USB ports at the back of the computer, or if it uses a PS/2 connector, plug it into the keyboard port on the back of the computer, these are often purple.

Then find your mouse, and do the same, except if it uses ad PS/2 connector the port to insert it into is usually green. If you have speakers of headphones, plug them into the audio plug at the back of the computer, which will be signposted.

At this point all you need to do is plug your computer in and start it up. Your computer will then most often give you instructions on how to continue, and any software you wish to install will have step by step installation guides as standard. At this point you will be up and running, and ready to learn how to use your computer.

Have You Tried Turning It Off and On Again? Why does this work?

Have you tried turning it off and on again?We hear this solution every day and it’s usually one of the most common and effective solutions for a user who’s device has picked up a little bug. This isn’t going to rework your entire system proving that fresh out of the box feel that our [enter service here] does. But any minor glitches or problems you’re having with your computer can usually be fixed with this trick. But why and how does it work? See below for your answers.

First of all, this fix doesn’t apply just to Windows computers either. It also works with Macs, iPads, Smartphone and a host of other electrical devices.

Examples of how this Fix Works:

> Windows/Mac OSX/Android is running slow: Tech Savvy people will be able to open up each operating system’s task manager or equivalent, and examine which processes are misbehaving. Unfortunately not everyone knows what to look for when opening up task manager, so they’re stuck.

> A program is draining memory: This can quite commonly be because of a software or a hardware error. It’s more often than not a piece of software that’s somehow got stuck when writing code or encountered something it didn’t expect. As this piece of software cannot continue it’s functions, memory will continue to be sent to it even though it is stuck. This memory cannot then be used and you have less memory to run your other programs.

> Wifi/Internet is running slow: This is also more often than not a software problem. The internet is a pretty complicated thing and your router has to tackle it head on. Most cases arise because of some kind of conflict/error with the software that causes it to run slow or even stop completely.

These three errors can all be cured by the resetting of each device. This is because each process finds itself reset on a reboot. So for the first example, the OS process would start again and wouldn’t be stuck with and error. This is the same thing for the second issue and with the router, well that’s got it’s own operating system so it’s a fresh start without any current errors on it.

 

Hard Drive Maintenance: What are bad sectors and how to prevent them

hard drive maintenanceBad sectors can cause the risk of losing important data, which we all know should not be the case when using a computer or laptop. A bad sector is basically a sector of storage in a hard drive which doesn’t respond or write requests.

This can only spell bad news for the storage, bad sectors occur in both a magnetic hard drive and also a solid state hard drive. So even though hard drives have advanced, this problem hasn’t so preventing bad sectors should be the main priority.

Bad sectors occur from two main problems, physical damage to the disk or pin which cannot be prepared or a software or drivers issue which can be repaired.

 

Types of sector damage

With “physical” damage to a sector it can range from a simple scratch on the disk or dust gathering to an electrical blow out. With the new solid state hard drives, they use flash memory and the cell could possibly wear which can lead to electrical problems.

With “logical” damage, this can be unpredictable as it is a software problem and they are more trickier to diagnose.

The common cases of a sector damage can be the sector is not matching up with the program it is trying to read such as an operating system or application.

 

How to check for bad sectors and repair damage

If you are a windows user, then there is a built in utility called disk check. It is simple to use and could save you from losing data.

The disk check does exactly what it says on the tin and checks the disk of the hard drive for any noticeable errors or corrupt data and repair them.

If you have another operating system then these also have these easy to use built in disc checker utilities. These utilities are there for a reason so use them when you need them.

To prevent any loss of data or important files then back up your hard drive regularly and format your hard drive before restoring.

If you have any problems regarding bad sectors on your hard drive and you think that is what maybe affecting your system, then contact us today and we will support you easily through the problem.

How to clean your HeatSink

First of all lets clarify what a heat sink is. A heat sink is primarily used to manage the heat levels of the CPU. When microprocessor is running, it starts to give off a lot of heat and unless the heat is removed from the CPU, the computer will shut down to protect itself. Otherwise the CPE would become irrevocably damaged and you’d be left with no “brain” for your computer to run on.

So why do I need to clean my heatsink?

For several reasons in fact but the most clear one is that a clean heatsink is an efficient heatsink. Cleaning your heatsink will help make your laptop or computer run smoother and will also extend the life of it. To clean your heatsink you will need three things. A screwdiver, a can of compressed air and some thermal paste.

First of all you’ll need to find a model specific guide for your laptop or computer so that you know exactly how you can dismantle your laptop or computer and access your heatsink. Once you have located your heat sink and removed it, here are the tips you’ll need to clean it.

Using the can of compressed air, you need to locate the vents of the heat sink and give them a quick blast of air as they’ll be covered in dust. You should also detach the fan that’s connected to the heatsink (some heatsinks don’t have this) and give this a blast with the can of compressed air too. Top Tip: Wedge a pencil in the fan to stop it spinning whilst you give it the air.

When cleaning the grill, if the can of air doesn’t do the trick 100% the first time, get some cotton buds and give the grills a going over.

Finally, when you go to replace the heat sink, there should already be some residual paste on there, wipe this off with some kitchen roll. You should then apply the paste you’ve got. Make sure not to over apply this, as applying too much can lead to an overspill and the paste will damage the CPU pins.

Once you’ve cleaned your heatsink, applied the thermal paste and put it all back together, your computer should be running as if it were just out the box.

Optimising your wireless router to improve your wifi network

wireless routerOne of the biggest frustrations for internet users is that the connection is slow. Many people just conclude that their router is broke. This is not actually the case the majority of the time and there are many techniques you can do to improve the performance of your wireless connection.

There are basic methods which can have the right affect such as placement of your router in the building. Putting your router in a place away from metal objects and other devices that transmit a signal will increase the speeds a little.

Speed Check

The first thing ideally you want to do is check the speed is running at the speed your provider has agreed to. To do this you can use some free software which is easily accessible from research. Or you can simply google speed test and there are a variety resources you can choose from.

This can determine whether the speed is where it should be and that you need to upgrade for faster speeds or whether there is actually a problem with the router.

Additional Hardware

If you are really sure that the speed is not down to the provider and you don’t want to pay to upgrade then there are a range of hardware parts which will give you a little boost. Most modern day routers come with the same antenna which transmits signals in all directions.

There is an antenna which you can purchase for a little cost which has the ability to double your signal strength by limiting the transmission in one direction.

Unauthorised users on your network

This is the most common cause of slow connections and that is people who have gained unauthorised to one of the routers on your network. It is incredibly important you keep your wifi protected at all times to prevent this from happening.

This does not just affect you but also the other people who are on your network. Choosing the perfect wireless channel is something you could consider. This gives you the option of connecting to the channel which contains the least users thus making your wifi a lot faster.

IDE vs SATA

SATA vs IDEIDE and SATA are both different types of interfaces to connect storage devices, such as hard drives, to a computer’s system. SATA is short for Serial Advanced Technology Attachment and is sometimes called Serial ATA. IDE can also be called Parallel ATA or PATA.

The main difference is that the SATA or Serial ATA cables are only 7 pins wide whilst the IDE Ribbon Cable has many more; 40 pins. Other differences include that the SATA cables are also usually a bit longer then the ribbon cables, some up to a metre longer.

This makes them more useful in large cases or where there is a longer distance to cover; IDE cables are only around half a metre long. IDE cables can connect two hard drives to the motherboard, but a SATA cable only connects one hard drive to the motherboard.

Another difference is the data transfer speeds. IDE transfers data a lot slower than SATA, and data can be transferred in nearly half the amount of time, which is good for those wanting to transfer a lot of data or those needing to transfer it very quickly possibly for business reasons.

In short the SATA cable is a lot smaller and faster, and so a lot of people consider it a lot better. It reaches further then an IDE cable and also reduces the obstruction to air cooling which IDE cables can contribute to.

SATA cables also transfer data much faster which is pretty vital if you have two or more hard drives, and they are much easier to install.

There is only a few downfalls of a SATA cable. Firstly, they can easily fall out of their positions which can make them a little less reliable.

Also, you can only have one drive per cable whereas with the IDE you can have more. In summary, most laptop and computer technology fanatics battle to have the most advanced system and if this is the case I would definitely go with the SATA cable.

They take up less space and are more modern as they only came out in 2003 whereas the IDE cable rolled out in the 80s. They also transfer data a lot faster (150mb/second – 6Gbits/second) compared to the IDE’s 133mb /second.

 

Graphics Card:Why do you need a graphics card and what is it for?

graphics cardA graphics card, which is also sometimes called a video card, display card, or graphics board, is technically described as a card which generates a feed of output images to a display and offer a range of functions such as faster rendering of 3D scenes and 2D graphics, MPEG-2/MPEG-4 decoding, TV output, or the ability to connect multiple monitors.

However, all you really need to know is that a graphics card is necessary in order for you to be able to see anything on your screen, and therefore is an essential part of any computer or laptop.

There are a range of different kinds of graphics cards. Most computers and laptops come with a standard size one which is suitable for most functions that the standard person would carry out; using word processors and making spreadsheets, accessing the internet, playing standard games, watching tv and videos, using social and viewing photos etc.

It is possible to get a better graphics card if you think you need it and get it put into a computer or laptop, or choose a computer or laptop with a better graphics card from the off.

You may wish to consider a different graphics card if you do a lot of gaming where graphics plays an important part of the game. Games are much more sophisticated these days with companies aiming to give the most realistic gaming experience.

This means that those with a standard graphics card may struggle to enjoy the game to the best of its ability, and to enjoy their hobby properly they choose to upgrade that component of their computer or laptop along with their processor for speed.

This is especially important for those playing online multi-player games where they need to be able to see everything clearly in real time to compete.

A computer part supplier will be able to advise you of the best kind of graphics card that you need, or if you are buying a computer or laptop it is worth looking at reviews to check that the graphics card that it currently contains will meet your needs to avoid paying out more for an additional part.