LAPTOP FAQS

How do I change the sleep settings on my laptop?
To change when your computer goes to sleep:
   1. Right-click the laptop Desktop -> Properties.
   2. Click the 'Screensaver' tab then click 'Power'.
   3. Use the drop-down menus to select power options for Battery and Plugged-in settings.

How is my data backed up?
Anything that you save on your laptop defaults to the My Documents folder on the local hard drive (C:/) of your laptop.  If working at school, you could change that path when saving any document to have it save directly to your H:/ drive, which is your home drive where all your documents are saved at school.Every time you log on or off, an automatic backup utility called RoboCopy will run.  This will automatically save all document files from the C:/ drive of your laptop to your H:/ school network drive.However, it's important for you to know that RoboCopy does not copy pictures, video, and audio files to your H:/ drive. If you want these copied from your C: drive to the H: drive, you would have to do this manually or backup to an external hard drive.It is always good practice to keep your own backup of all important files on an external hard drive.

All my desktop icons are gone!  What should I do?

If you log in and your desktop is blank or missing some icons, your laptop is not properly recognizing your login profile.  Shut down the computer, and at school plug in with the blue ethernet cable to a network drop.  Now start up the computer, log in, and the problem should be solved.If not, ask your school Site Administrator to file a Help Ticket.

How can I get all the software from the school network on my laptop for home use?
Many of the programs on the school network (Word Perfect, Comic Life, SMART Notebook and many more) are deployed through a process known as "virtual applications".  This means that the programs are not installed directly on the local computer, but are accesses remotely from the Board Office.

How come my laptop doesn't run as fast as it used to?
It's true after months or even years of adding software, photos, music, videos, documents, downloads, and other innumerable application you may notice your notebook does not have the responsiveness it once had. One way of returning your notebook to its former performance speeds is by defragging your system.

Why won't my laptop turn on?
Are you holding down that power button and the notebook simply won't turn on? It is quite likely the problem is your notebook's battery, although it is possible other hardware malfunctioning is responsible.

First check if the battery light is illuminated -- this should always be on when your notebook is plugged in. Did you allow for a full charge? If this light is not on, the first thing you must verify is that your power adapter is plugged in at both ends with no interruption.

Liquid Spills on Laptop
I have repaired many Laptops exposed to accidental liquid spills. This is a recoverable condition in most cases. It is most important to respond to the cleaning up process as soon as possible (before corrosion or internal soakage occur)! Liquid intrusion can cause the following types of laptop damage:

Laptop randomly turns off Problem.
This is often due to:Troubleshoot Laptop LCD Video Display problems

Here are some tips and tricks for troubleshooting and fixing laptop video problems. Video issues are very common within portable computers and with the following tips you should be able to detect and eliminate basic laptop video problems.

Laptop LCD screen has a faint image or is very dark
Look closely at the laptops LCD screen, and see if you can see a very faint image. If you can then it is possible that the Laptop's LCD lid close switch is stuck in the closed position. In this mode the backlight stays off, even with the LCD lid open. This is to conserve power when the laptop is ON with the LID closed. Check the LCD lid close switch. It is a small plastic pin located close to the back LCD hinges. Try tapping the lid switch a few times to see if you can turn on the screen backlight. If that does not help, then I would suggest to replace the FL inverter board.

Laptop LCD screen is solid white colour or garbled
Connect an external computer monitor to the laptop. If the external monitor display is fine, then you have a problem with the Laptop LCD screen or the LCD cable connection. If the external monitor image is the same as on the Laptop LCD, then it is likely to be a faulty integrated onboard video, this means replacing the motherboard of the Laptop.

A typical Laptop LCD display assembly
The above simplified block diagram illustrates the basic components that are involved on a Laptop LCD video display problem.

    Connector Locations 1 - 2 - 3: Video data is sent from the motherboard through to the LCD screen at connector 2. The video cable also feeds voltage to the FL inverter board at connector 3.

    FL inverter PCB Locations 3 -4: This section converts the low voltage DC source (connector 3) to high voltage AC (connector 4), as required to energise the backlight bulb. If the FL inverter PCB is faulty, the LCD screen will appear as a very dim image on the Laptop display screen.

    CCFL (backlight bulb): When the backlight bulb is working, you can see the image on the LCD screen. With some Laptops, the backlight bulb is a part of the LCD screen assembly and needs to be replaced with a complete LCD screen assembly. It requires a specialized Laptop repair workshop to replace the backlight bulb.

    Laptop Lid close switch: This switch is a small switch (mechanical or magnetic) that is located close to the rear display hinges. Most laptops will either hibernate or operate in standby mode when the LCD is closed. This is achieved by interfacing with the Laptop's BIOS power management software. In turn this is linked to the Windows operating system.

Laptop is slow and continually shows Internet popup's
The Laptop is very likely infected with spyware. Spyware is software that hides on your computer and attempts to collect information about your activity on the internet. Spyware is sometimes transferred to your computer when you download 'unknown' free software or when you link to free music Internet programs (KaZaA, Limewire, BearShare, etc). The best method to remove and further prevent spyware is to use Spybot. Please read my Spyware Software Help Page.
Laptop is frozen, no response to keyboard or mouse, cannot Shutdown

With most Laptops I have seen that this will happen from time to time! The easy method to solve this problem is:
   1. Disconnect the laptop power cord
   2. Remove the battery from the laptop
   3. Wait a short while (10 seconds)
   4. Replace the Laptop battery into the unit
   5. Reconnect the Laptop Power cord
   6. Turn the Laptop on

The Laptop will start normally and be fully operational. If you were working on a Microsoft Word or Excel document at the time of the problem, then you may find that the data has been auto-recovered for you. In this case, you will be automatically prompted to view the last document you worked on when you open the Microsoft program.

Troubleshoot Laptop Hibernate and Standby problems
Power management options on laptops sometimes to cause problems. Hibernate and Standby modes are power saving modes of operations to battery powered laptops.

Hibernation is a procedure by which the working state (contents) of your work is stored to disk before the computer goes into hibernation or standby. When the Laptop is woken up, you are restored to the exact place you were before. Standby and Hibernation use a low power consumption mode, with enough power to preserve the content of such memory. This means that Laptop computer can wake up without a full restart and loss of work.

Laptop does not wake up from Standby or Hibernation
Here are my tested suggestions:
    * Give it time - some older Laptops may take up to 30 seconds to wake up - fully
    * Some Laptops have special keys or buttons for 'Wake Up' - read the manual
    * Press and hold the Laptops power button for five seconds or more. Some Laptops are configured to Suspend or Hibernate with a press of the power button. Holding the power button for 5+ seconds will usually reset and reboot the Laptop
    * As a last resort, remove the laptop battery and the power cord, wait 30 seconds, replace the batteries and reconnect the power cord

Now that the Laptop is operational, you should research the underlying problem. Typically, such problems arise from a disagreement either between the power management features of the Laptops BIOS and Windows.

A conflict with the Laptops BIOS power management and Windows power management is the most common cause of such wake-up failure. Try different settings in the BIOS to see if that might solve the problem. Look to see if the Laptops BIOS is configured to suspend the computer, and how it compares with the value configured in Windows. In most cases let Windows control the power management.

    * AC power adaptor sensing an overload of power drain
    * Overheating processor due to a build of internal dust (clogged fan)
    * AC power adaptor not able to sustain normal power needs (faulty power adaptor)
    * Battery overheating, due to internal battery fault, or charging levels
    * Intermittent short circuit or open connection (check condition of power leads)


Laptop Trouble Shooting
Before getting in touch with us, you may want to try to solve the problem yourself. This page lists some common problems and their possible solutions. We can't anticipate every problem, but you should check here before you panic.First things first! make a note of everything that happened and in what order, have you installed new software, did it give an error message. Making a note of everything is good for you to remember waht happened and good for us if we need to look at it for you. Sometimes a simple reboot will fix the problem.

Basic Hints & Tips
Many of the following may seem like the "bleeding obvious" but they are often the solution to a problem when your computer appears not to be working.
Power - Is the computer actually plugged into a working electrical outlet? If plugged into a power strip, make sure it is actually working. Check the LED Power Indicators to see the computer's power status.
Connections - Check all the cables to make sure that there are no loose connections anywhere.
Brightness - Check the brightness of the screen by adjusting the brightness
Power Savings - Make sure that the system is not in Hibernate or Standby mode by pressing the key combination for your laptop or by pressing the power button, to wake-up the system.
Display Choice - make sure the system is not set to "external only" display
Boot Drive - Make sure there are no floppy disks in the drive when you start up your machine (this is a common cause of the message "Invalid system disk - Replace the disk, and then press any key").
Laptop won't boot up properly. - There are many things that can go wrong with the operating system and other software on laptops. Many laptops have customised software installed according to a persons needs.

One easy trick is to try to go into Safemode by pressing the F8 key on your keyboard during startup and try to clean up your laptop using antivirus. If the need arises to reformat the laptop, reinstall the operating system from the CDs that were supplied with the laptop. You will need all the drivers CD's at the time of installation.

One of my Drives is missing? - If you turn on your computer and cannot see the CD-ROM or any other removable drives like DVD-ROM drive in the Computer window. This problem is common for laptop and notebook computers and it may be caused by a failed drive or by corrupted software. If its a removable drive try taking it out and pluging it in again.

Failing that you may need to reinstall the drivers. A quick search on the internet and you should be able to find the latest ones.

Dropped Laptop! - Unfortunately dropping a laptop can cause numerous problems, from cracking the case to smashing the screen. Many older laptops have modular parts that can be replaced, but now the newer and smaller laptops have almost everything integrated on the motherboard itself, and that makes them very expensive to repair. In some cases, depending on the damage done and age of laptop, it can be cheaper to replace the whole laptop than have it repaired.

Power Problems

You turned on the power but it doesn't work. - Battery missing / incorrectly installed. Check the battery bay, make sure the battery is present and seated properly (the design of the battery only allows it to go in one way). Make sure there's nothing interfering with the battery contacts. Remove the power adapter, remove the battery, press the power button and wait 5 seconds. Replace the battery and plug in the power then try and power up the laptop.

The Battery LED power indicator is blinking. - Low Battery. Plug in the AC power source. If the computer doesn't start up immediately turn it off then on again.

You are losing battery power too quickly. - The system is using too much power. If your OS has a Power Options scheme check its settings You may also be using a PC Card device that is drawing a lot of power.

The battery pack will not charge. - The battery pack is exposed to an excessively hot or cold environment. Place the battery in a suitable environment and after it returns to normal temperature try again. The battery maybe bad and may need to be replaced.

The notebook feels too hot. - Make sure the notebook is properly ventilated and the fan port is not blocked. If this doesn't cool it down, put the system into Hibernate mode or turn it off for an hour. Make sure the vents aren't blocked and the computer isn't sitting on a thermal surface Make sure you're using the correct adapter.

Battery time is shorter than expected. - The battery has not been fully discharged before being recharged. Power options have been disabled or a peripheral device is using too much power.

Speed Problems - Are you running a Desktop antivirus system such as McAfee or Symantec Antivirus? These use a lot of system resources.

We recommend that ANY laptop has at least 512MB of system memory(right click my computer and select properties to find this). If you are running 256MB we recommend a RAM upgrade.