Computer Maintenance and Repair. Basic And Essential Steps

Laptop Maintenance

On a laptop, I would check if there is any dust in the processor heat sink. This is an important part of the laptop because if there is dust inside, it accumulates and clogs the fan and heat sink plates. This is when you get the laptop fan kicking in for no reason. 

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Different laptops have different processor heat sink designs, but in general, it consists of an aluminum plate assembly and a copper bar that goes to the processor. Depending on the design, you will be able to access only the laptop fan, laptop fan and cooling plates, or the complete processor heat sink assembly. 

How to Clean Laptop Screen

It is recommended to clean LCD or LED laptop screens with distilled water and a lint free cloth. But I get better results with a lens cleaner from Zeiss and a micro fiber cloth. Though, this Zeiss lens cleaner is pricey. 

How to Look After the Keyboard

If the laptop keyboard is dirty, I spray an all-purpose cleaning spray on a big brush and brush it from all possible sides and angles. This way, the brush gets underneath the keys. If the keyboard is not so dirty, I use a car interior spray cleaner and the same big brush. 

If there is a key missing, I recommend replacing it as soon as possible. This is  because there is a round piece of rubber that can get lost easily if there is no key, and you must then replace the keyboard. 

The laptop keyboard rarely survives water damage. If the laptop does not power up after a coffee spill, most likely this is the keyboard’s fault. 

How to look after the hard drive

The hard drive is the device where all the data is kept. A laptop hard drive is supposed to be more rugged than their desktop counterparts, but it is a still fragile piece of hardware and probably would not survive a laptop drop on the floor or constant overheating. 

There is speculation by folks who know hard drive stuff that, if we sometimes fill the hard drive, this will prolong its life. 


Antivirus is a must if you are using the Internet. Some antiviruses, like Norton or McAfee, will slow your laptop down noticeably. I do not know why they are still popular. My recommendation is to use Avira Antivir. It will not hijack your laptop like McAfee.


On a computer, the memory is called RAM. More RAM will make your laptop faster. It is important to have two identical memory modules as a pair. The laptop will become unstable if the two memory modules do not match. Usually, you will find different memory modules on a used laptop. 

Laptops from the factory always come with RAM in matched pairs. 

Each operating system needs a different minimal amount of memory for optimal operation. Windows XP needs minimal amount of 1GB RAM to operate optimally. Windows Vista probably will need 4GB to operate optimally. For Vista, any amount of memory is not enough. 

Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 10 can work with 2GB of RAM, but I think 4GB would be an optimal amount. 

Where to get drivers

If drivers are missing for a device on a laptop, the device will not work. Usually, you will notice this with a message on the lower right corner of your laptop screen. You can go to device manager and try to update it. Click start, type device manager. Right click on that device and click update the driver. 

If this does not work, you can get to a laptop manufacturer website. All drivers should be in the support section. 

You should check also a program called DRPSU. It will install all the drivers automatically on your computer. 

Laptop Repair

An important device on every laptop is its hard drive.  There are a lot of capacity hard drives out there, and there are two types of interface, SATA, and the older one, ATA. Today, some laptops come with so-called eMMC storage. Those are simply memory chips soldered on the logic board. 

How do you know that the hard drive is good or bad and when we must replace it to avoid data loss? There is a program called GSmartControl, and it shows if the hard drive in good shape. When you start it, and click the drive you want to examine, it shows a report in a table. Actually, you need not know anything other than, if there is a red line in the table, then is better to replace the hard drive. 

This program does not work on eMMC drives used on Cloudbook and Google Chromebooks.

How to replace laptop keyboard

A laptop keyboard rarely fails. Usually, it gets damaged with a liquid, and as a result, it gets a short circuit inside. A faulty keyboard can even prevent the laptop from powering up. 

Usually the keyboard is easy to replace. You would need to order the keyboard and use a screw driver. 

On Cloudbooks and Chromebooks, it is complicated because you must take out the logic board to access the keyboard.

Keyboard replacement is also complicated on Apple laptops. You also would need to take out the logic board. MacBooks also use a backlight, so you must be careful not to damage that LED assembly and not to tear the black cover. 

How to Replace Faulty RAM 

If you used MemTest and got a red horizontal line in the report, it is time to replace the memory. Memory replacing is probably the easiest task on a laptop. You will need a screw driver and a compatible or identical memory module. The memory is usually located underneath the laptop behind a plastic cover that also covers a processor and a wireless card.

How to Reinstall Operating System or Reset the Laptop to Factory settings

When you have a virus infected laptop or it is slow beyond belief, it is time to have the operating system reinstalled.

This can be done in a few ways. Some laptops come with a system recovery partition on the hard drive. You can access this feature using keyboard key combinations during laptop startup. This is probably the easiest method.

The other way is to use system recovery disks. These disks are available on eBay, and you can get them for any laptop model you can imagine. The advantage of these disks is that we will not need to install the original drivers on the laptop because they are on the disk. 

The third way is to use Windows installation disks. The steps will be the same as using recovery disks, but at the end, we would need to get the drivers.

How to Replace Wireless Card

The laptop wireless card is easy to replace. It is located underneath the laptop and covered usually by a big cover that also covers the memory and processor. Most laptops can accept different manufacturer wireless cards. Though Dell laptops the wireless card to have a matching model number or be the same

There is usually one wire that goes to the wireless card. It is the antenna. This cable is easy to remove; you need just to pull it out holding near the connector. And again, you will need a Philips screw driver to unscrew a screw holding it. 

How to Replace the Screen

A laptop screen is easy to replace. You will need a Philips screw driver and a plastic credit card. The first step is to remove all rubber or plastic caps that cover the screws. Now, you must unscrew all the screws. After we remove the bezel, we will see that the LCD screen is also fitted to the hinges. We must unscrew these screws also.  There will be a screen cable we need to disconnect, and if this is a LCD screen, we would need sometimes to disconnect the inverter cable and separate the inverter from the screen. Usually, the inverter does not come with the screen so we must keep it. 

Sometimes the inverter gets faulty, so we follow all screen disassembly steps, and we do not separate the screen from hinges.

Compatible Battery

Today, it is much easier to find a replacement battery for a laptop. You must know the laptop model number. Sometimes we must check that the battery has the same voltage. 

Logic Board Faults

Usually, the logic board is repaired by a specialist. Louis Rossmann is one of them and can tell you many things on his YouTube channel. 

If you want to become as brilliant as he is, I recommend getting a faulty motherboard for practicing. You will screw the first one up so it shouldn’t be a good one. If you decide to go with the repair, you can repair with minimal knowledge. 

DC jacks are somewhat complicated to repair because you must de-solder them first from the logic board. Soldering in the new DC jack is a piece of cake. 

Then there are capacitors that sometimes die and shorten the circuit

And there are transistors, called MOSFETs. If one of them dies on the logic board, we frequently get smoke and a bang.  Usually after this happens, the motherboard never powers on again without a repair. 

Dropping Wireless Connection

Wireless connection can be unstable not only because of your laptop. I recommend to login to your internet router first and try to change its channel. Then use the Internet for a day. If the connection is still dropping, login to the router again and change the channel. Choose a channel number that is higher or lower by 3. 

If this does not help and other laptops work properly with the router, this may indicate a faulty wireless card. 

Water Damage

Water or other  liquid spill usually damages only the keyboard. On Windows laptops, the keyboard is easy to replace, but Apple laptops will cause struggle.

Replacing Broken Screen Cable

How difficult it will be to replace a laptop screen cable will depend on which model you have. On Dell laptops, it is easy. You must remove the screen bezel and keyboard. The screen cable connector will be located underneath the keyboard, and the other end will be connected to the back of the LCD  (LED) screen.

Desktop Maintenance

You will find desktops similar to laptop computers. Here are some differences.

Upgrading Desktop RAM (memory)

Desktop memory modules are bigger in size compared to laptop ones. They also should be used or upgraded in pairs. There is a so-called dual memory channel, which gives higher memory speeds. For this feature to work, we must have the same memory modules fitted into similar color slots. 

Processor Heat Sink Maintenance

The desktop processor heat sink usually sits on the processor. It is fitted with four clips or four screws. The design with clips requires no screw driver but actually is more complicated than the version with screws. You must turn those clips to take the heat sink out.

Power Supply

If you upgrade the desktop graphics card or even have two, you should look if the power supply is strong enough to handle this load. You calculate the total wattage by adding wattage of your graphics cards, adding about 250W for the motherboard, processor, and the other peripherals. There is a label on each power supply that tells its wattage. This number from the power supply must be bigger than the number you just calculated. 

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