Five signs your laptop is dying, and what to do about it
By Annabell Halpert
When your car is on its last legs, the signs are pretty clear. You might hear loud clanking from under the hood, see smoke pouring from the tailpipe, or even feel the death-rattle of a cracked cylinder.
With a laptop, it’s not always so easy to tell. It won’t shake, rattle, or smoke (hopefully) when it’s nearing the end. But with a little bit of guidance, you may be able to identify the symptoms of a sick system, and perhaps even cure them. Here’s how.
The symptom: The battery won’t hold a charge.
The severity: This is more of a death sentence for your battery than your laptop, but it’s still a hassle.
The solution: Simple: replace the battery. This may cost you a pretty penny, as laptop batteries often sell for $100 or more, but at least it will greatly extend the “life” of your laptop.
The symptom: Keyboard keys that no longer work.
The severity: This is fairly normal wear and tear, but even a single non-working key can interfere with your work. And if one key goes, it’s only a matter of time before others follow. It may not be long before you’ve got a laptop that doesn’t type. Try getting your work done on that.
The solution: Check eBay for replacement keys and keyboards for your exact laptop model. You might be surprised at how easy and inexpensive a DIY repair can be. If that doesn’t fly, it’s time to get a repair shop involved.
The symptom: Frozen pixels or weird lines on the screen.
The severity: It depends on the number of pixels and size of the lines, but it’s probably interfering with your work and could be a sign of imminent screen failure.
The solution: Look for a repair shop that will give you a free estimate on screen replacement. If it ranges into the hundreds of dollars, which is likely, you might be better off replacing the entire system.
The symptom: A clicking noise and very slow drive access.
The severity: This is serious. The “click of death” means your hard drive is nearing failure.
The solution: Copy your critical data to an external hard drive immediately. Then look into replacing the hard drive, ideally with a solid-state drive (SSD). These have no mechanical parts and therefore won’t succumb to mechanical failure.
The symptom: Overheating causes random shutdowns and system crashes.
The severity: Major. Excessive heat can cause premature failure of various system components and reduce the overall longevity of the laptop.
The solution: This is probably the result of a blocked, dead, or dying fan. Try using a can of compressed air to blow the dust out of the laptop’s cooling vents. But if the fan itself isn’t working properly, you’ll need to get it repaired.
Your laptop is perhaps your single most valuable work tool. Problems like these are like problems with your car: frustrating, time-consuming, and potentially very costly. And don’t forget everyday threats like vandalism and accidental damage. That’s why an insurance plan makes a ton of sense, offering complete peace of mind during anything from a minor glitch to a total catastrophe.
To learn more about the common dangers your devices face and what you can do to keep them safe, check out this infographicfrom Worth Ave Group.