of September 2015:
The following Laptop Factfile still has relevance for current MS OSs, as to software comments, and also, to the ongoing care and management of the Wintel hardware platforms now shared by MS, Linux, and Apple/Mac systems.
See also the MiniLinux Facfile, via the Home page, for care and maintenance of Linux OSs. Apple/Mac Oss are similar, tho specialist forums and manuals should be consulted, note that Nofrillstech does not have an Apple/Mac Factfile.
Choosing/buying a laptop for reasons of quality and longevity should be undertaken carefully, and wherever you go to make your purchase, be sure to note makes, models, etc, and, at least then ask Google for opinions of merits, shortcomings, etc. Buying good second-hand, off the crest of the consumer wave, is strongly recommended, also there will be solid comments on performance online, and even by word of mouth, and independent of your prospective vendor, OK!
1) Be sure of what you want, now and for any forseeable future, and, always buy an upgradable system, as to HDD/SSD, RAM, DVD, etc. Orphan makes and models should be avoided. Intel on ASUS will be your best buy...?
2) Sensible case architecture is important, especially for strength, durability, and upgradable features, such as panels underneath that give easy access to RAM, HDD/SSD, DVD etc. Batteries should have reasonable life left. Look for patterns of wear, cracks, etc, re the case condition, avoid purchase if excessive, or, beat down the price..?
3) Be sure that the particular CPU runs at a moderate or better temperature, and, that there are no recurring patterns of motherboard and other failures emerging from your research.
4) Macs can now run Linux, and, even MS OSs, with tweaking, but are difficult to work on, not easily upgradeable, and, are trending towards being mostly disposable as to the current Retina models. They are also much more expensive, and OSX needs to be purchased directly. Your choice, indeed, OK!!
5) Caveat Emptor, Caveat Emptor, Caveat Emptor, OK!! PCs have had standard architecture for years, are easily upgradeable, old PC cases last as long as you want them to, even if tinsnips and mastic are needed. Not so laptops, they are not standard in architectural detail, even within brands, and are a modern marketing dream as far as selling to gullible consumers is concerned, OK? If you have no trustworthy advisor or vendor, Do Your Own Pre-Purchase Research..!
consumer usage patterns, late 2000's,
mean that a home desktop PC is not always the first choice for a
personal PC, plus,
easy portable computing, and increasingly ubiquitous public Internet
also part of this trend. However,
laptop operating systems and hardware
still need care and careful use, or else expenses and inconvenience
will be the
This small Factfile addresses some of the
measures that must be taken to avoid such penalties.
There is not much that the
average user can do,
technically, within a laptop, so reliance on professional technicians
Proceed with your own in-case repairs entirely at your own
risk, is always
the caution, OK!
1) Laptop as a
generic term is being increasingly
replaced by notebook, and, netbook is the smaller variety,
usually without a CD/
Standard laptops certainly are useful and/or cost effective if relied on extensively, but may not always be justified because of security risks, or maybe expense, (especially new!), and, they do not have the ease of internal access and maintenance, or flexibility of upgrade, that a desktop PC does. If a portable note-taker only is required, you would be well advised to obtain, in lieu, a small notebook, netbook, or palm-top, or, a less-expensive older model laptop, and thus release funds for a more extensive home-base desktop PC system and peripherals that the cheaper portable note-taker would then support. Plus, some say a PC supports a laptop, others will say vice versa..! Others swear by one, and NOT the other!
choice or imperative is a portable computer,
note that laptops, et al, are smaller, less internally accessible, more
intensively designed, have installed
batteries as well as mains-fed
8) PCMCIA and other card
slots are very
handy for extra facilities such as card modems, (a laptop will accept
cards as well as dial-up modem cards, especially useful to circumvent
installed modem), to add memory, or, external peripheral devices such
cameras, plus, auxiliary mice, keyboards and monitors can also be used
appropriate connections as required. Take special care when ancillary
9) Clean dusty screens with a damp sponge, then gently rub with a dry paper tissue or soft rag. Never use any household solvents on any computer screen. A mild natural soap residue on the damp sponge should be enough to dissolve and then physically remove any fingerprints, or other film deposits, on a screen.
11) Laptop batteries
are only good for 300 cycles, at
most, and, reliance on mains power also carries the same hazards as for
electronics not further protected by a
Batteries should be charged at least monthly if portables are used infrequently, and, the batteries must be removed for any storage duration, and also before opening the case. Store any unused batteries in a cool, dry place. Rotate batteries as/when is this affordable, and, always use AC power when available, to extend battery life, and definitely when batteries are beginning to loose storage capacity. Battery storage may be enlarged by running down, then fully recharging, at least three times, and, relative to existing battery health. BatteryBar or similar will also prove useful.
the battery is
removed for mains-only use, then utilize a good power conditioner,
13) Apart from the standard
guardians, Wintel O/Ss will need to be maintained, as per scrap files,
entries, Defragging, etc. XP,
Win7, all respond well to using CrapCleaner,
System Care as minimum
Housekeeping measures. Also, keep Startup files to a minimum, plus
14) Laptops may have interference problems when live mobile phones, or other similar technology, are used in close proximity, so, be sure to maintain 30 cm or more distance from the laptop.
15) Avoid environmental dust, liquids, food debris, sunlight exposure, etc, and, always acclimatize laptops before Startup when moving between differing ambiences of humidity, and temperature. One hour should suffice, if the the laptop is left open..?
laptop to pass thru a metal detector when travelling, and, always
17) Health Issues and Portable Computer Use: Laptop use is rather cramped and restrictive, especially with ever-smaller models. You may wish to try different external keyboards, eg, ergonomic or Dvorak (different key layout), and there are typing, and other aids, for those with disabilities, such as large external trackball mice. Extensive mouse use with one hand/arm more than the other may be alleviated by ambidextrous mouse use, especially when using the left/right-compatible mouse settings. Always easier, of course, for those who grow with new technology, rather than having to learn the new tricks! However, if you do spend a lot of time at any keyboard, you risk physical damage such as RSI if care is not taken to ensure comfort and well-being over the longer term, and, do not forget wellbeing of eyes, the maintaining of good general working posture, sensible diet, and, even sensible toilet stops!.
RSI, Repetitive Strain Injury, aka Cumulative Trauma Disorder, can, and does, affect the strongest of us, as the occurrence is not a matter of physical strength or of sheer endurance, but of the consequences of sustained tension suffered by muscles and tendons, unrelieved by variation of activity to work other muscles combinations, and by the limiting of healing and repair opportunities, thus resulting in chronic inflammation, swelling, thickening, and even possible deformation by foreshortening, of involved muscles and tendons. Keyboard activity, especially, affects some of the most complicated and nerve-rich muscle groups humans have, ie, those involving arms and hands, as well as those of the larger muscles and joints that relate to maintaining seated postural integrity.
Overuse and consequent inflammation of the wrist can result in the well-known keyboard-related condition of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, in which tendons, ligaments, and nerves that pass through tunnels between the wrist/carpal bones, within the encircling carpal tissue band, begin to exert drag as they inflame and thicken, causing more and more pain and inflammation, especially by compression of the relatively large median nerve. Other hand, arm, thoracic spine, and shoulder areas can also be affected by poor computer habits, and all will cause pain and discomfort, often continuing even after the cessation of the causative activity, and then becoming chronic in nature. As well, in susceptible people, prolonged inactivity of large lower body muscles may lead to blood clots forming, ie, DVT, aka Deep Vein Thrombosis, may result, the greatest hazard being the further movement of parts of these clots, were they to break up, which may then cause further blockages in heart, lungs or brain, after setting off on their own particular journeys of destruction.
Note that prolonged laptop posture is even more stressful than for PC use, especially for the young with their growing bodies, so, interspersed usage of ancillary keyboards, mice, monitors, and, other proper computer furniture and seating is advisable, as well as the prescribed mandatory exercise, relief, and relaxation breaks. Also, where practicable, use of a port replicator, in conjunction with seating at a normal computer work-desk, plus conventional keyboard and monitor, will optimise convenient and healthy laptop usage.
So, RSI is real, DVTs are real, eye-strain is real, and a general lack of regular exercise and postural variation breaks bring their own long and short-term health penalties. Develop good keyboard and general computer usage habits as part of becoming a savvy and long-term effective computer operator, portable or otherwise. Better, therefore, than to have recovery time being later imposed that reduces actual productive output, or even just hobby and browsing pleasure.
You will not know how susceptible you are, personally, to cumulative trauma disorder, or, how or to what degree the condition will affect you, until it actually develops, so be warned, and do not put yourself to that particularly needless test, OK! Test the Mousotron and the Screen Magnifier, and see also Eye and Arm Strain.Laptop Maintenance and Repair Tips:
For more very detailed information about overall laptop maintenance and repair, beg, borrow, or buy the current Upgrading and Repairing Laptops by Scott Mueller. There is also much in common with PCs, and other Wintel desktop models, for software and hardware troubleshooting and repair. (See also CBMSF) For those with sufficient skill and confidence, here are some tips for keeping personal laptop $$$ down:
2) RTFM is strongly advised, so, download the appropriate Users and Technicians Manuals before attempting any disassembly. Often there are Web info-files on specific laptop models, with good graphics also posted, that can be consulted. Frequent digital camera shots of disassembly stages are also useful for reassembly. First recourse for drivers and manuals should be the brand manufacturer's own website, in most cases.
by comparing with known-goods where possible, and, a handy PC is useful
drive testing, plus, digital snapshot and Webfile viewing as well. Note that
testing HDD SMART will not be possible with a
6) When replacing motherboard components such as CPU and ancillary processing units, video cards, sound, CMOS batteries, fans, etc., be sure that components do match/are compatible. Interchangeable monitors are also possible, if connections are the same, and, the screen fits, as usually, voltages are all the same. However, do note that when laptop displays fail, 5 components may be involved, singly or otherwise, viz, flourescent light, inverter, display panel, connection to motherboard, and/or video card, so expert attention will be required. The simple test for video card functionality is just to plug in an external monitor.
8) As with any PC disassembly and servicing, practice on an older functioning laptop before attempting these steps on a more modern model. RTFM, RYFMueller, and, know when to consult a professional, OK!
9) Just before final case closure, boot up the system to make sure all is well, turn off, and then complete the closure.
10) Being organized, orderly, and uninterrupted, while you tinker, always helps, as does the use of correct tools. Observe standard anti-static practices inside the laptop case, and, when handling internal components.
A serviceable Wintel computer system, PC or portable, should have the following operational factors:
2) Additional support discs: An O/S disc that goes with number(s), system, viz. age, type, 32/64 bit etc; Startup disc, Drivers disc, ancillary software discs, or other appropriate media. O/S discs can be downloaded, Startup discs made as per O/S facility, and, drivers can be recorded and saved with DoubleDriver or similar, also on appropriate media for the system in use. Be sure to check that all drivers are present. Updated drivers are not so important as actually having drivers that work, especially for network and Internet use, being most important for solo home systems, OK!
BIOSs will enable booting from a
O/Ss should be constrained within a boot partition, 50 Gb
min should do,
and, there should be one or more storage partitions on that
5) Always have a good quality flash drive to
save data externally, on a temporary basis, and a similarly, a
Recommend a clone boot partition
depending on system management expertise, easy enough with XP, though
Easy BCD is required for Vista/Win7/8.
Consider also a spare cloned
7) If you just want the
basics of Internet,
Email, and word-processing, graphics, etc, then consider using freeware
Source O/Ss. The
gaps between these
O/Ss in performance, between Wintel, and now Mactel, are always
closing. Little if
any Housekeeping is
required, and any
For Linux users, see the Mini-Linux Factfile, via the main page.
are many Apple books and online forums which can be consulted, so,
these Apple comments file merely presents some initial common-sense
tips, for new and average users. As well, only desktops and laptops,
and relevant OSs, are discussed.
desktop and laptop systems hardwareare now based on Wintel platforms,
means easy transfer of skills for management, maintenance, and
troubleshooting. The Oss are similar in layout to Linux, including
Terminal Command line use, being based, in turn, on Unix. The
OSs are relatively cheap, but Apple hardware is expensive,
and Apple prefers that only their own OSs will run on these machines.
Note that this rule can be circumvented, but, is best left to more
expert users to practice.
The OSs are not licenced as MS Oss are, but
do have a cost, however, and just downloading a Mac OS iso,
especially an older version, can be problematical, especially older
versions, Apple itself does not help in this regard. Apple
at present, 2015, variations on OS X.
Mac OSs needs the correct disc for your model,
after which you can boot holding down the Alt key, with the disc
installed, or, you can insert the OS disc while the system is running
normally, and select the install option that way, if practicable.
computers and laptops come in just a few models,
so, hardware and software compatibilty throughout the range
is generally assured, 'integration' is thus the key descriptor. The
systems are robust, but, only the newer A-type laptop models are
relatively easy to dissasemble. Sadly, the latest Retina models now
revert to custom HDDs/SSDs, and RAM is soldered onto the system
board. Similarly for Apple all-in-one systems. PC-style cases and
contents are more straightforward, well, at present, anyway. For
the average user, access to battery, RAM, HDD, and CD/DVD is
important, and Wintel models are thus much easier to work on, and
recyclable, if you are that way inclined?
Apple, the change to Wintel systems came 2006/7,
thus, OS install discs also reflect that change. For laptops the
change came between G3 iBooks, and Macbooks, so select the correct OS
type and number for your particular system.
hardware diagnostics can be run by pressing 'D' at boot,
can be used to check the HDD/SSD
when the system is running. System
also be used, check for particular model numbers before downloading.
Otherwise, plug to other systems to test as practicable. On
Older Macs, HDDs
and/or their ribbon cables were very common failures. Memtest
will test memory while the system is running. Note that programs are
downloaded and then run, recommend using the Applications
folder, and to uninstall, just dump in the Recycle
that Mac Oss recognise Fat32, the universal file system, so ensure
this is usede as drive formatting when swapping storage between MS,
Apple, and Linux systems.
that the same physical handling rules rules apply for any Apple
systems, that apply to all computer hardware,
viz, keep as cool as possible, do not jolt or drop while operating,
(especially with SSDs installed), keep way from liquid spills, direct
sunlight, avoid excessive EMF, and, ensure a steady mains electricity
supply, where possible, etc.
systems now have problems with viruses and other malware,
antivirus is recommended, as well as Malwarebytes,
although be sure you have the genuine article of the latter. Time
can restore infected systems as well, but as for all Internet use,
common-sense prevails, and supervision of minors, in other words, so,
be always wary online, of what is searched, and/or clicked on, OK!
can be downloaded from the Apple App Store, plus other sources, but,
is best left to advanced users, or, seek informed help as required.
Updates can be manual or automatic, but are best allowed to proceed
uninterupted, as with any OS, to forestall being corrupted, and
consequently causing problems even to the extent of clean booting
Make sure that the system clock is set to the correct time before updates
Oss defrag automatically, cleaning for speed does not involve file
accumulation, but more streanlining operations,
https://discussions.apple.com/thread/3642953 Kappy's Personal Suggestions for OS X Maintenance
Plus https://discussions.apple.com/docs/DOC-4032 see also Everyday Mac, How To Geek/Apple
is needed, beyond the given system, or The Cloud,
and, a good quality platter external drive is still recommended. (WD
Black or Blue HDDs, not Green.) Note
that SSDs usually fail catastrophically when they do fail,
and, are thus not recommended for long-term storage, similarly for
are not as easy to set up as for MS and Linux Oss, but, can be done
by advanced users. Resizing partitions can be done with the OS disc,
for more expert users. Cloning entire Mac drives is achievable with
Easeus Disk Clone,
(latest version of which includes SSDs), so, for the ultimate clean
back-up, just swap the drives, update, and then reclone to another
HDD/SSD to store.
MS apps on Apple Systems, and vice-versa,
look for, and use, the respective equivalent native formats first,
seek advice, virtual
environment programs may need to used.
Notes re Choosing and Purchasing a Laptop:
To begin with, if you actually want value for money when computing, choose a PC, as in Big Beige Case, et al, optimum 17x17x7.5 in/43x43x19 cm minitower, if available, which can also be non-new, the reason being that the BBCase will have standard mountings for motherboards of various types and sizes, plus, the case can be 'modified' for front-end fittings, etc. Always use a good quality PSU, and years, even decades, of BBCase service are possible. Lots of add-on and hand-room inside, good cooling too.
However, if computing portability is required, then some sort of laptop purchase will need to be made, new or secondhand. But, note that the same 'error' was not made, re motherboard bases being standardised, in the construction of laptops. So, interchange of non-peripheral parts, except to some extent within actual brand ranges, is almost non-existent, thus, motherboard swapping cannot be done so easily, if at all. (This also applies to other portable devices such as 'smart' phones.)
This is then, in turn, a licence to print money for expedient manufacturers, re model 'changes' and 'upgrades', which can be just cosmetic, ensuring non-interchanging of parts. This, coupled with consumer cupidity and 'designer' features, such as 'slimness', means that the practicality of portable computing is compromised, as well as useful life-span, plus, cost and waste are unnecessarily high. Ideal for sweatshop manufacturing to churn out even more questionable overdesigned and engineered products at inflated prices..?
First of all, slimness and 'beauty' really means:
1) The fragilty of the case must be compensated for by more screws to confer rigidity, and, there now is a semi-monocoq trend away from utilising those handy detachable base-plates that would give ready access to RAM, HDD, and fan inspection/cleaning.
2) Motherboards and leads, connectors, etc, all become more fragile, cases become more cramped, cooling is more of an issue, and displays, hinges, are also more fragile.
3) The point can be then legitimately made, that there is no such thing as a hot CPU, rather, the laptop into which it is fitted has been poorly designed, especially as pertains cooling passages, vents, fan, etc. Plus, the smaller the enclosure, the closer in proximity to each other are the main heat-producing components, being CPU, GPU, HDD.
4) Also re heat, even the term 'laptop' conveys a poor description of ideal running conditions, laps are not places for booted laptops, of any description, nor are bedspreads, carpets, etc, rather, firm table-tops, hard-topped lap bean bags, are more suitable, as more heat build-up means more material stress, due to a greater range of expansion and contraction. Always use temperature-measuring software, OK!
5) Bigger cases and fans also mean more efficient cooling. Customer education for usage is thus important, including for HDD safety and health, bumps and strong vibrations should be avoided, as well as excess heat, although SSDs are now increasingly being used, with cooler operating temps, and, are not so susceptible to bump and vibration damage.
6) If small and slim really means a tablet, or even just a smartfone, then do not buy a laptop..¦..especially if you just need to connect to the Internet whilst travelling..?
Secondly, points to look for, re laptop pre-purchase choice:
1) Mainstream brands will be advisable, especially those common in your own country, and/or, look for those compatible with your own domicile, and personal, requirements.
2) New is not necessary, especially if using Linux, and also, to avoid depreciation $$. Check for obvious signs of ill-use, wear, lid-hinge stability, cracks, dusty fan and vents, etc. Do your own detailed laptop research pre-purchase, new, or used, OK!
3) Check online for respective CPU operating temps, and, avoid small cases when these hotter CPUs are being used. Recheck temps again with pre-purchase running, the underside of the case should, at most, feel comfortably warm to the hand, whilst running at more than just idle speed. Units with small, and over-occluded fan vents, should be avoided, unless you consider 'renovation'..? Do not cover the PSU pack whilst in use..!
4) Sensible, serviceable cases are optimum, with handy detachable plates for convenience, which is also good for cooling, especially if a laptop is to be used on a desk or table in lieu of a PC. Note that laptops can also be used as desktop PCs, if external monitors, keyboards, and mouse are used, which means that the case can be opened up, fan vents also, (get out the tin-snips?), remove case panels, run on a hard surface, raise the laptop for more space underneath, with extra rubber pads/feet, etc.
5) Sensible, accessible layout, inside the case, especially with the HDD spaced away from CPU, fan easily accessible for dis-assembly and cleaning, similarly for CD/DVD access. This layout detail can also be checked via Google laptop breakdown links.
6) On/Off switches being sensibly located, (inside the lid, optimally), that cannot be accidentally tripped, with casual or careless handling. Check the condition of the external PSU connection, and the PSU itself, plus check the battery life, if this is important, both for new and secondhand units.
7) Externally-fitted batteries that can be easily detached for storage, or, to prevent accidental overcharge on mains power, etc. Ask Google re optimal laptop battery health, OK!
8) Check all necessary connections, USBs, monitor, card slots, wifi switches, CD/DCD, sundry other connections, etc, for presence, 'liveness', and, for suitability of purpose.
9) More valuable units should have physical non-theft locking device(s) present, but, any other hardware or software security is a personal choice, thus, do note, and remember, that software locks, and passwords, only keep honest people, and owners, out..? Anyway, purchase, and carry, an external storage unit of some kind, be it SD card, flash drive, or, external HDD, always kept separate from the laptop.
10) Make sure the PSU pack is matched as being electrically optimal for the laptop: volts and polarity being correct, and, of quality manufacture, plus, higher amps and watts is OK, but, lower amps will mean that PSU and laptop will both run too hot, OK!