[ major vendor Service Departments & Recovery discs - find an authorized repair shop in your area ]
Recovery Discs below can be found in the links below for your manufacturer for $20-$50/set if yours is a major mfr. I try to update these links once in a while. if you are unable to get recovery discs, or would rather just get win7, a new windows can be bought for old xp boxes that are unrecoverable atbuy a new Windows Retail (full) OS for $200-$300 but you will need to make sure you have a directx9 or better video card. sorry, no internal video suffices that I know of.
you are supposed to make recovery discss with the provided software on the machine and your own DVD's while the machine is still good (within 3 months of installing windows or getting new machine).
manufacturer may limit the number of times you can buy recovery discs, so avoid losing them.
Acer has bought out
- TI Mobile Computing
- controlling interest in Packard Bell
- a percentage of Olidata
- iGware Inc.
- Altos Computer Systems (historic computer company)
The Service/Repair Departments below can be used for finding a local manufacturer-authorized repair shop which will fix your major-vendor computer (laptop, desktop, whatever).
As per Microsoft regulations, XP Recovery Media can no longer be sold. sorry folks. if you didn't make recovery discs or you lost yours, you have several choices:
- buy a new computer and get used to the new OS (maybe buy a book on it)
- buy a used computer that DOES come with recovery discs (very little chance of this, people are in the habit these days of wiping the machine before selling, which removes the OS recovery partition), and 99% of the time you don't get recovery discs
- buy a used computer that has a recovery partition
- buy a new Windows Retail (full) OS for $200-300 - the $300 7 pro version you can run xp mode (a virtual machine for 32-bit XP in microsoft virtual pc) run most of the drivers you need are built-in. XP Mode is available in Pro and Ultimate - you may have to manually install it. Maybe buy a book on it. win7/8 requires a directx9 or better video card. sorry, no internal video suffices that I know of.
- if necessary, get help from a techie friend and install a favorite distribution of linux I usually think of
- OpenSuse linux (not all that great for installing software)
- Fedora linux
- Ubuntu linux
- edubuntu for college students and kids
- reactos (windows clone still in alpha stages)
- linux mint
- turnkey linux (for business servers)
- zentyal linux (for business "office" servers)
- debian linux (comes on a blu-ray-DL disk)
- see if there is a trade-up/trade-in program for your machine via the manufacturer
- recycle the machine at a local computer recycling shop
- if your system is running, use it till it drops.
tech support/parts/repair departments for major computer manufacturers
no recovery disc creation software
this technique works for creating recovery media for systems which have no software for making recovery media,or you have lost the recovery media and there is or is not a recovery partition. it is only useful if the system is in good shape.
Alternative is to buy a new version of windows (not oem or system builder edition - that's not legal) - this has a 80% chance of working.
support and other phone numbers
1-800-227-8164,2 (recovery discs)
Gateway support, warranty Gateway phone support, out-of-warranty Gateway phone support, Gateway parts, order recovery discs #1 (doesn't work very well, cd patch download is password protected), recovery media purchase program via serial number or SNID (no XP Pro), order Gateway eRecovery discs/sticks $20-$45, gateway support search: recovery, Using Recovery Management outside of Windows (medialess recovery using recovery partition)
the thing about dell phone numbers is it seems like they all route to the same menu tree.
creating recovery discs via Dell Data Safe on consumer dells (before hard drive dies in 5 years)
acer support has taken over support for e-machines and now directly sells its own parts (yay!).
ability to create recovery discs on machines 2006 and later (before hard drive dies in 5 years) - older models you must order recovery discs (under warranty), warranty repairs, order recovery discs #2
making system recovery discs (before hard drive dies in 5 years)
recovery discs not sold for apple products that I know of, you just buy a new OSX disc.
making recovery discs (before hard drive dies in 5 years)
1-866-968-4465 Monday - Friday 9am - 9pm (EST) (sales)
making recovery discs (before hard drive dies in 5 years)
order recovery discs/software for eee pc
order recovery discs/software for eeebox pc
order recovery discs/software for all-in-one pc and eeetop pc
order recovery discs/software for essentio desktop
order recovery discs/software for notebook
order recovery discs/software motherboard
order recovery discs/software multimedia and graphics
order recovery discs/software for server motherboard
order recovery discs/software for server barebones
1-626-581-3001 (support/cust service)
to order recovery discs, if you are in the US, call MSI Tech Support team at 626.913.0828 Option 3 during regular business hours
making recovery discs (before hard drive dies in 5 years)
There are HP desktops that have ATX power supplies that can be replaced with regular ATX power supplies if you have a metal nibbler tool.
HP desktop computer was acting crazy. the one HP desktop power supply that I worked on's fan spun so slowly that it wasn't pushing enough air to make a difference to cool the power supply. after replacing the power supply, computer worked fine. got an ATX power supply (same form factor, different placement of switch & plug), used metal nibbler tool on case, job done. made sure none of the metal bits got in the case or anywhere else.
parts that I don't have
I have SOME parts, but only some keyboards and mice that are new. I can usually find the part you need (not always, but usually).I can make driver discs if you need them, but that's tough because mfrs make it tough and mix bunches of different kinds of drivers for the same kind of thing in one product's web page download area :-(. If you are looking for parts from me, I have to order them online like everybody else, except I have to add sales tax. I generally google for them just like anybody else. I found my laptop parts at getpartsonline.com and everything else at newegg.com
just very plainly ask me to help you find a part, and I will try to get on the computer when I can and help you find something genuine if possible (genuine usually works out best).
I typically start by going to the manufacturer and ask for the part price and model number there. or I google. I will need a part number.
I usually won't buy your parts for you because I don't make that much money. if you contact me by email, I will forward my findings to you. (or if you give me your email address over the phone and it works).
OLD MACHINE PARTS: sometimes I can even dig up refurb parts for old machines (don't remember the company, but they require you to be a business) - if you are going to do that, be absolutely sure you are going to buy, it may cost retail price for a refurb. but even finding some parts can be a real hassle, because they drop off the existence radar of manufacturers (turnover)...
Startech.com, koutech.com, gwctech.com, siig.com, rosewill.com, cdw.com, typically has all the little connector type stuff, adapters, etc, cablestogo.com has cables galore, cyberguys.com has hard-to-find stuff, like PS/2 y cables for kb & mouse for computers that have only 1 ps/2 port. all kinds of adapters. there are lots of companies and distributors. some parts I get off of newark.com, mouser.com and digikey.com. it's some work finding parts sometimes.
a single-rail 12V power supply is better than dual or triple rails for use with video cards, especially with high-wattage video cards, because the video cards tend to use all their power on one rail, and most power supplies just aren't designed for it. If you are using a high-wattage large video card, get a power supply from PC Power and Cooling, and check your video card's power supply requirements in the manual before buying. some have said that a 9800GT requires a 600W PSU, and that high of a wattage is generally an EPS12V. ATX12V and ATX generally don't go above 510W or max 550W.
If you need a good replacement ATX power supply, I generally recommend two.
they cost more, but they are heavier and use better parts and will probably last longer.
the PC Power and Cooling is only slightly more expensive, ultra quiet and is rated for 7 years.
PC Power and Cooling Silencer 420, also available from eastluna $67
Antec earthwatts EA430 430W Continuous Power ATX12V v2.0 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Power Supply - Retail $62
EPS12V vs. ATX12V power supplies
EPS12V power supplies are not a direct replacement for ATX. they have a larger form factor (generally longer), and there is generally a fan on top which would be blocked in a standard ATX case. so if you do go EPS12V, get a new case that can take an EPS12V.
the connectors for EPS12V are larger than ATX. compare 1 or 2 8-pin 12V to 4-pin 12V, and 24-pin motherboard connector to 20-pin motherboard connector. Some ATX power supplies now come with a modular 24/20-pin motherboard connector. you can plug an 8-pin into a 4-pin as long as there is clearance.
LAPTOPS: if you have a laptop that needs repair
laptop motherboard (and subsequent formatting of hard disk, loss of data): $800. laptop screen $400. cpu fan cleaning (recommend this)? & laptop keyboard: $200.
the keyboard is usually the first thing to go. unless you have dropped it, or spilled water or juice or (worse) pop in it.
if your laptop is wonky/flaky, take it to a local manufacturer-authorized service center/shop in town or somewhere nearby. you can look them up in the service departments of the companies listed above. get an estimate of the cost.
- IF your data is precious to you (pictures, songs, whatever) and either your laptop's hard disk or your motherboard (which requires a disk formatting, total loss of data) needs to be replaced, you can do one of 2 things:
- WINDOWS:for the motherboard, request of the technician that they do an OS Repair instead of a format when they redo the OS - this will keep your data yet still recognize the new motherboard and cpu (tell the technician that, he might want to know that). you may need to reinstall software. you will definitely need to reinstall service packs and windows updates. NOTE: this is not usually possible on Windows XP computers. in that era, XP builds did formatting ONLY. very few didn't.
- remove the hard disk and mount the hard disk in an external drive case. Apricorn makes one ("EZ Hard Drive Upgrade Kit") that works well and happens to come with laptop drive upgrade software in case you ever need to upgrade your laptop hard drive to something bigger (when the drive is 4-5 years old). If you plan on using the old laptop, buy a new drive for it (make sure you get the SATA or IDE type right) and purchase recovery media and reinstall the OS on it.
- IF your computer is shutting down all by itself, the cpu fan is probably clogged. take it in for a cpu fan cleaning or replacement (usually needs cleaning after 1-2 years). pet hair make things worse.
- IF your screen is black, you have one of 2 problems:
- computer is running, but screen black: windows 7 is not genuine, product code is invalid (for some reason). happens a lot with OEM builds of systems. take your computer back to the manufacturer/vendor for a replacement and tell them the product code is probably invalid and tell them the symptoms.
- bad cable inside the laptop to the LCD screen. happens with much flexing (frays the cable). can also cause silver blobs in center of screen. replace the screen $400 OR spend $120 and get a new monitor, use the appropriate keyboard Fn+F8? (yours may vary) key multiple times to switch the monitor out to the VGA out connector on your laptop. buy a monitor that has VGA in.
- LCD backlight has died - replace the screen $400 OR spend $120 and get a new monitor, use the appropriate keyboard Fn+F8? (yours may vary) key multiple times to switch the monitor out to the VGA out connector on your laptop. buy a monitor that has VGA in.
- IF your keyboard is putting out strange characters when you type or is just generally acting funny, your keyboard needs to be replaced.
- IF your synaptics touchpad is not working anymore (RARELY dies) then turn it on - somebody probably turned it off. very few people realize there is a switch that turns these things on.
- IF your synaptics touchpad is being wonky/flaky, that's part of its design: it is designed to receive gestures, and taps as mouse clicks. I have found that unfortunately, it is also sometimes proximity sensitive (static charge?), meaning that it will fire with your finger (or thumb or part of hand) just being close to it - that's not part of its design, but it's a fact of laptop life, get used to it, buy a USB mouse, you will be SO much happier.
- DRIVE REPLACEMENT SCHEDULE: IF you don't replace your optical drives and upgrade your hard drives after being 4 years old of continuous use, you will kick yourself after about 5 years when you start having data loss.
- DROPPED LAPTOP: definitely take it in for an estimate for repair at a local manufacturer-authorized repair shop. the hard disk is probably damaged ($250-500 requiring sending the disk to a clean room data recovery facility [is your data that important to you?]), possibly also the screen $400.
- LIQUID SPILLS: new keyboard $200. poissible new motherboard $800 (you may be better off removing the hard drive, mounting it in an external drive case, and getting a new laptop, unless you have a really expensive laptop or you really like this laptop).
buy recovery media while you can in case something goes wrong (virus, spyware, malware, OS corruption over time) and keep it with the computer, it will only work with your computer, costs $20-50 for a set. see if you can get drivers too or download them from the mfr's web site and burn them. if the hard disk went bad, make sure the technician gets your apps software (Office, etc) and OS recovery media.
you can order recovery media: first try the parts department, then technical support if that doesn't work, then sales.
why you should not repair the laptop yourself
- the repair guy is more skilled than you probably at taking the thing apart and putting it back together
- repairing it yourself can be a daunting task, and also dangerous to your laptop if you don't know what you are doing.
- there are 40+ different kinds of screws that go in all kinds of places that you MUST keep track of
- the laptop shell is difficult to separate without breaking something in some cases
- there are usually removable cables that criss-cross all over the place, sort of holding the shell together tightly! (how did they put the laptop together in the first place is my big question)
There are service manuals available on the mfr's web site usually, and sometimes deconstruction guides on the internet for your laptop.
don't drop your laptop.
Panasonic Toughbook as an option
Panasonic Toughbooks are not made for steep drops. but a Toughbook is expensive as all get out, and probably your best option if you can afford it. specs aren't really that great though. small disk, small screen, small resolution, semi-ok keyboard. not a lot of ports. just tough.
the toughbook is not entirely drop-proof (read the specs). I suggest you use an SSD instead of a hard drive. your screen is the next thing that takes the hardest hit during a drop.
SSD's as a shock-proof replacement for hard drives
big (and better) SLC on the order of 1TB is only available through Enterprise channels and generally very large physically, so you are going to have to stick with MLC flash. the 256GB drives are probably at the best price point: $659.
SSD's are solid state: they can take a beating/shock/g's - all electronics, no platters and heads to damage.
If you buy an SSD, you would also need to purchase recovery media for your laptop, since the system recovery partition with the OS on it is on the hard drive most likely (common vendor practice), not the new SSD. so you need to buy the media to reinstall the OS+recovery partition. you will need information off of your laptop (model number, make, serial number, build id, any numbers, OS type on the Microsoft COA sticker) in order to order the media. see this page for manufacturer information on getting the part from the parts department or from tech support known as "recovery media".