Basic Troubleshooting


Troubleshooting computers is like solving the problems you solve in everyday life. Once you understand the basic structure, you can easily determine where the problem lies. Of course, this page is designed to guide you through the steps that are generally taken when a computer fails to operate properly. If you have only one computer and it fails to function properly, this will do you no good (it can't be read on a computer that is inoperative). If you think you may need it later, print it out but before you send it to the printer, do a 'print preview' to be sure that the background is printed white with black text. Printing the background color will use a significant amount of ink/toner.

  1. What if there appears to be no power?
  2. Improperly Seated Memory Modules
  3. What if it won't boot after a NEW install?
  4. What if it won't boot for no apparent reason (simply quit booting)?
  5. What if it quit booting properly after installing a new piece of hardware?
  6. What if it quit booting properly after installing a new piece of software?
  7. Miscellaneous software problems
  8. Using an Alternate OS
  9. Cleaning a Dusty Computer
  10. Suggestions for Working on Laptop Computers

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What if there appears to be no power?

If your computer fails to power up (you can hear/see no fans running and no lights are lit when you press the power button), check the following:

  • Make sure that you're pressing the power button on the front of the computer and not the reset button. If this is a new installation, try pressing the reset button to make the computer turn on. Some people have installed the switches on the wrong terminals of the motherboard.
  • Make sure that the power cord is securely plugged into both the power outlet and the computer's power supply.
  • Make sure that the main power switch on the back of the computer's power supply is on (set to the '1' position). This is shown on page 2 of the tutorial.
  • Make sure that the outlet you have the computer plugged into has power. Unplug the computer and plug a lamp into the same exact socket that the computer is plugged into. If the lamp lights, the outlet has power. If the lamp does not light and it's plugged into an outlet strip, plug the lamp into the wall socket. If the lamp lights when plugged directly into the wall socket but not when plugged into the outlet strip, be sure that the strip's power switch is on. If it has a circuit breaker, be sure that the breaker has not tripped.
  • Make sure that the power switch on the front of the computer is working properly. The power switch should short (connect) the two wires together when you depress the switch. To check this, you'll need a multimeter (set to ohms). You'll place one probe on each wire. If your meter probes can make direct contact with the metal terminal in the plastic connector, do so. If you cannot, you will need to insert two fine, solid wires as is shown in the second photo. The wires are pushed all of the way through to hold them in place and to help ensure that they're making contact with the terminal in the plastic connector housing. You will then touch the probes to the wires to check the switch. Ideally, the ohm meter should read 0 ohms when you depress the switch but many cases use poor quality switches that will not go below ~20 ohms. As long as it goes below ~100 ohms, it's probably OK. Do not let your fingers come in contact with the probes or the wires in the switch housing.

    For those who don't entirely understand how to use a multimeter, you need to set it to 'ohms' (sometimes indicated by a symbol that looks a bit like a horseshoe). If it's not an auto-ranging meter, you need to set the meter to the highest ohms range. With the metal part of the probes not in contact with anything but air, make a note of what the display reads (often OL or 1). Now, touch the probes together and make a note of that. Bridge the probes with your finger. It will display a varying value. When you have the meter probes touching the two wires from the power switch (or the reset switch, they function in the same way) and the button is not being pressed down, the meter should read the same as 'air' (as described above). When the button is pressed down, it should read the same as when the probes are touching. It should NOT read anything like when you touched your fingers across the probes. This is very important, especially if your computer is crashing for no apparent reason. I've had several switches which were leaky (reading as when you bridge the probes with your finger). This caused the computer to crash randomly.

    You can use a piece of wire (inserted into the back of the plastic connector housing) to short the terminals (to attempt to power up the computer) if you think the switch is at fault. Of course, the connector has to be on the motherboard when you do this. If you are careful and don't short to any other pins, you can short between the two pins for the power switch with anything conductive. If you have a shunt (like the ones used as jumpers on the motherboard or hard drive), you can use that to temporarily (momentary contact is all that's needed) short the power switch pins on the motherboard. I generally use either my meter probe (example below) or a jeweler's screwdriver.


    Many times, the motherboard isn't marked clearly (or at all). The owner's manuals for virtually all motherboards are available for free in PDF format online. Try Googling the model number of the board (generally printed prominently on the board) and 'motherboard manual'. If you haven't yet seen a manual for a motherboard, the one for the board above is HERE. I'd suggest that you only download from the manufacturer's web site if possible. Many of the other 'manuals' sites are infected with malware or force you to jump through hoops to get to the download page. If the download is an exe file, you probably shouldn't download it. It could be infected.

    For times when you can get the computer to power up but need other information about it, try downloading PC Wizard from PC Wizard can tell you virtually anything you want to know about the computer.

If the lights light up and the various fans spin up when you press the power button but you get no display, check the following:

  • Be sure that the monitor is on.
  • Confirm that you have power to the monitor.
  • If you have an LCD monitor, there may be a small power supply (typically a small rectangular black box) between the wall plug and the plug that connects to the monitor's power supply input. Be sure that the plugs on the power supply and monitor are securely seated.
  • Make sure that the monitor is plugged in securely to the video connector on the back of the computer. This is covered on page 3 of the tutorial. Some monitors have a video cable with removable connectors on both ends so be sure to check the connection on the back of the monitor also.
  • If the monitor still has no display, see if the on-screen display for the monitor's controls can be displayed. You may need to find the owner's manual for your monitor to learn how to access the on-screen display. If the OSD works, the monitor has power but it is possible that the monitor is faulty. If possible, try another monitor on your computer. If another monitor works properly, your monitor may be defective. If another monitor (that's known to be in good working order) doesn't work, you may have problems with your video card or with the video drivers. Try booting to safe mode. If you have video in safe mode, you likely have video driver problems or the video settings are not set to work with your monitor (if the settings are not correct, the monitor will typically alert you to that problem).
  • If the operating system is causing the problem, shut the computer down (hold the power switch on the front of the computer down until the fans stop or disconnect power from the computer). Make sure the monitor is on (power LED will be on but likely amber instead of green). Depress the power switch to start the computer (reconnect power if you had to disconnect it to shut the computer down). After the power switch is pressed, you should hear several fans start and you should see simple (black and white) text on the screen as the computer reboots. If you do, you know the monitor is working. If you don't, the monitor or the monitor cable may be defective. The following is from a computer that didn't have a hard drive in it so it couldn't boot up. A working computer won't show this type of error and will go through this screen so quickly that you won't notice it.

If you've recently installed new graphics card, make sure that the monitor cable is plugged into the new card. Many computers have two or more graphics ports. If it has one on the motherboard's IO panel and a second one in one of the expansion slots, the one in the expansion slot is almost always the one that's going to be used by the computer. If the secondary graphics card is anything other than a basic card, it may need an external power source (from your computer's power supply). Check the installation manual for the graphics card. More on the power requirements for graphics cards can be found on the More On Video Graphics Cards page of the site.

Loose Connections:
Many times, a computer will not power up simply because one of the connectors on one of the components inside the computer isn't properly seated. If the computer was moved (or dropped) just prior to it becoming inoperative, there may simply be a loose connection). To check this, unplug the AC mains power plug from the computer's power supply (this is very important). Pull the left side cover off of the computer. On all connectors, gently press them to be sure that they're properly seated. There will likely be be several power supply and IDE connectors that are not to be connected so don't be alarmed if you see connectors that are unplugged. After you've checked all of the connectors, replace the side cover, plug the power cord into the computer's power supply and try to power up the computer.

Sometimes, memory problems cause system instability (crashes). If you want to test the memory, download a program like memtest and burn it to a CD. It's a bootable CD so if it's in the CD/DVD drive when you boot the system and the BIOS setting tell the computer to try to boot to CD first, the memtest software will run automatically. If it makes it through an entire pass, the memory is likely OK.

Power Supply in Protect Mode:
If, when you press the power button, the computer's fans start to turn, then shut off, you could have power supply problems or there may be something loading down the power supply (causing it to go into protective shutdown).

When you press the power switch, the green wire in an ATX power supply is connected to ground (by the motherboard, not directly grounded by the switch). At that point, the power supply is switched on and all of the various voltages are generated. When the various voltages are within a specified tolerance, a signal is generated on another of the power supply pins (the power OK pin) and the processor is then switched on. All of this takes well under a second and most people never realize that it's happening.

ATX power supplies can be tested by disconnecting them from the motherboard and connecting the green wire to any of the black wires. This will turn the supply on. At that point, you can test the individual voltages. If all of them are close to the rated voltage, the supply is likely OK. If the power supply tried to start but wouldn't start (or wouldn't run for more than a second) when it was plugged into the motherboard, you should suspect that something is pulling too much current. Plug the power supply back into the motherboard and disconnect all of the drives' power connectors as well as any accessories such as fans. Again, try to power up the computer. If the PS starts normally, begin reconnecting the power supply to the accessories and drives (one piece at a time and trying to start the machine after each piece is plugged in). If you find that one piece is preventing the machine from starting, you've likely found your problem.

I've read that some power supplies require a load on one or more of their outputs to power up. I haven't encountered this yet but you should be aware of it.

You may not realize that the actual output voltages are rarely precisely at the rated voltage. The following voltages are from a relatively inexpensive supply. The variation from the rated output that you see here is relatively common and this supply will work fine in most computers. Of course, when the power supply is loaded by the computer, the voltage WILL change somewhat. This is an UN-loaded power supply. As a side note, sometimes the output voltage of some of the outputs will actually increase when the supply is loaded. This often happens when the regulated output (generally the +5 volt output) is loaded down. The reason it happens is that the pulse width of the power supply is increased to maintain the regulated 5 volt output. When the pulse width is increased, all of the other outputs will increase (the 5v output should remain constant). Recently, some power supplies have begun employing two independent sets of regulators. This will help keep more of the output voltages within a tighter tolerance.

^ Orange ^

^ Yellow ^

^ Red ^

^ Blue ^

^ Gray ^

^ Violet ^

If the machine will not start with no accessories plugged in but the power supply powers up fine with the green wire shorted to the black wire (don't try shorting green to black while it's connected to the motherboard), the processor may be dead. This is a somewhat difficult situation. When troubleshooting computers, it's common to simply replace the questionable component with a known good component. Since you won't know whether the motherboard or the CPU is defective, you may want to plug the questionable CPU into a known good test board. If the test board has insufficient protection and the CPU is shorted, the PWM regulator in the test board could be damaged (leaving the board irreparably damaged). If you plug a good CPU into a questionable board that has a defective PWM regulator, then you will kill the test CPU. Many times, if you have a blown CPU, it's best to replace both the CPU and the motherboard. If you decide to swap the CPU to check it, make absolutely sure that you have the correct heatsink properly installed BEFORE applying power to the unit. Some CPUs have no thermal rollback/shutdown protection and if the heatsink isn't properly installed, the CPU will fail within seconds.

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Improperly Seated Memory Modules

One very common problem (after a computer has been moved) is improperly seated memory modules. If the computer won't boot up or gives a memory error on the BIOS screen, shut the computer down, remove and re-seat the memory modules. If it still gives an error, you may have to remove all of the modules and install only one at a time (in the various memory slots). If you find that one memory module or one memory slot is causing the error, you will need to avoid using it. Remember to support the board from the back as much as possible when seating the modules.

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What if it won't boot after a NEW install?

When you assemble a new machine or install a major component (motherboard, CPU...), sometimes it won't boot up the first time you turn it on. The problem could be a defective component, a connector that's not properly seated or a BIOS/motherboard setting that isn't right. These are just a few of the possibilities.

  • If this is the first time that you've attempted to power up a newly assembled computer (and therefore have made no changes in the BIOS), you can try clearing the BIOS. This will return it to the original state. I've had a couple of boards that refused to do anything when they were initially booted up and clearing the BIOS allowed them to power up. Do not do this if you're working on a computer that only recently became inoperative and uses a RAID array for the hard drive. If you do and you're not familiar with the original setup, you may cause all data to be lost on the hard drives. Of course, this doesn't apply to a new system that has never booted.
  • Be sure the memory is properly installed/seated. If you can find no other problems, you could have a defective or incompatible stick of memory. There have been times when a stick of memory wouldn't work in one machine but a different stick (from a different manufacturer) with the same specs would function properly. The stick that wouldn't work in the first machine was fine in other machines. The stick that wouldn't function properly fully passed all memory tests without errors.
  • Be sure you have a working graphics card installed. Generally, the POST (Power On Self Test) beeps will tell you that you have a defective or improperly installed video card. The beeps vary with different BIOS manufacturers and you should do a Google search for 'POST beeps' to determine what they mean for your BIOS. For Dell computers, they have 4 indicator LEDs to help diagnose problems. You can find the codes by clicking HERE or searching for 'Dell diagnostic code' on Google.
  • When you can't determine what the problem is, reduce the system to its most basic form. The system only needs memory, the processor and the power supply to power up and post. Of course, if the board doesn't have on-board graphics, you'll also need to have a video card. For this level of testing, you should not even have the mouse and keyboard plugged in. It may also be good to disconnect the power and reset switches from the motherboard. If either is stuck, it could cause problems.

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What if it won't boot for no apparent reason (simply quit booting)?

Sometimes, a computer will simply fail to boot. If you haven't done anything that could be causing problems (installing/updating software/drivers), some of the system files may have become corrupted or some piece of hardware may have failed. If the computer starts to boot (it shows signs of life), it means that the power supply is probably OK. If it repeatedly fails to boot into Windows, you need to try booting to 'safe mode' (covered earlier in the tutorial). If it boots into safe mode, it indicates that the computer's hardware is likely OK and the problem is probably software/driver related. Unless you want to go through extensive troubleshooting, the best thing to do is to go back to the last restore point. Restore Points were covered earlier in the tutorial.

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What if it quit booting properly after installing a new piece of hardware?

If you installed a new piece of hardware to upgrade an older (but still functional) piece of hardware, the first thing to do is to remove the new piece and reinstall the old component. If the system again begins to boot and works as it did before, the new piece of hardware could be defective or causing some conflict in the system. Its drivers could be corrupt (if you downloaded them) or they may have some sort of incompatibility with your other hardware/software. If you're not going to try to reinstall the new piece of hardware, you should uninstall the drivers for the component that you tried to install.

If the machine will still not boot after reinstalling the old component, you may have pulled a connector out of its socket. Try pushing on all of the connectors on all components (don't forget the memory modules) to be sure that they're all properly seated. If that doesn't work, try booting into safe mode. If it boots there, your hardware is very likely OK and you simply have something loading during boot-up that's causing the system to crash. At this point, you can do a couple of things, you can go back to the last restore point (it should have been created when you installed the drivers for the component that caused the problem). You can boot in safe mode and uninstall the drivers that you recently installed and/or you can go through the startup list (run >> msconfig >> startup) and start removing components until the system boots. If you're removing items from the startup list, begin with the ones that seem to be related to the hardware that you recently installed.

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What if it quit booting properly after installing a new piece of software?

If the computer attempts to boot but crashes repeatedly, boot to safe mode and go to START >> CONTROL PANEL >> ADD AND REMOVE PROGRAMS and uninstall the software. We covered the procedure to uninstall software earlier in the tutorial. If the computer still refuses to boot, you may have to go back to the last restore point.

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Miscellaneous software problems

One of the most important tools for troubleshooting strange software problems is Google. There is no way that any one web site can cover every problem. If you have a problem, take note of the EXACT wording of the problem (take and save a screen-cap if you have a poor memory) and search Google. If you enclose the error statement in parentheses, it may make the search more successful. You may have to follow several links because many of the solutions offered on the forums or in the newsgroups will not be the solution for your problem. If you're having trouble with a specific piece of software, try the software's home page. Look in the 'support' and 'FAQ' sections of the site.

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Using an Alternate OS

Sometimes, a computer will not boot due to a corrupt file in the OS or a defective hard drive. The problem you face is determining which is the culprit. One tool that you can use is a 'live CD'. A Live CD is a bootable operating system (generally a Linux distribution or a stripped down version of Windows). My favorite is the Hiren Boot CD. It's not always easy to find but if you can find a copy that has mini Windows XP on it, that's the one that I'd suggest that you use, especially if you're working on a computer that was using a Windows operating system. With the live CD, you can go in and confirm that the drive is accessible and the files are generally intact. If, for some reason, the operating system is damaged, you can use the live CD to move the files to a different drive (either a USB flash drive or a second hard drive). If you're going to have to reload the operating system from the Windows installation disc, it's best to make a copy of all important files that are on the same partition as the operating system (generally the partition normally labeled C drive). Sometimes these files will be lost when reloading Windows. If you're going to restore the partition from a recovery file like those produced by True Image or Ghost, EVERY file in the restored partition will be wiped out.

If you can't find a good live CD, you can remove the drive and connect it to another computer. I generally keep a working but generally unused computer around for this. Although it's unlikely, it's possible for malware to infect the computer when the drive is connected to the system. When you do this, you should boot the computer and then connect the drive. If it's a SATA drive it may automatically be recognized. If it's an IDE drive, you will have to go to START >> RIGHT-CLICK MY COMPUTER >> select PROPERTIES >> select the HARDWARE tab >> select DEVICE MANAGER >> RIGHT-CLICK DISK DRIVES >> select SCAN FOR HARDWARE CHANGES. You should see the new drive appear in the list of disk drives. When you go back to Windows Explorer (My Computer), the drive should show up in the list of drives. From there, move the files you need to save.

If the owner of the computer has a lot of important files and can't remember where they all are, the best option may be to simply buy a new hard drive (~$39+ shipping) and load the OS onto the new drive. Then, the owner can move the files to the new drive as they find them. If you do this, make two partitions on the new drive. Make one for the OS. 40-50GB should be plenty. That will leave at least 25GB for the owner to store her files on. It's best (in my opinion) that you not store important files on the OS partition. If you're read the Backing Up Your Hard Drive page, you know that it's also important to have additional backups of important files.

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Cleaning a Dusty Computer

When working on computers, you'll find that many of them have pulled in a lot of dust/dirt/bugs... If you know that the computer is going to be repairable, it's best to clean it before you begin working on it. If you're uncertain as to whether it will be repairable, you may want to wait and clean it after it's up and running.

When cleaning a dusty computer, the best tool is compressed air. The compressed gas that you can buy works but not as well as air from an air compressor. If you're going to use air from an air compressor, you must make sure that the air coming from the compressor is clean and dry. Compressors set up for mechanics often have oilers on them to keep the air tools lubricated. If you live in an area that has high humidity, you'll likely need a water trap on the compressor. Before using the compressor to blow out the computer, you'll want to blow air onto a clean dry surface for about 30 seconds. If the surface is dotted with water or oil, it's not suitable to use on any electronic components.

Before you begin to blow out the computer, you'll need to remove the optical drives. If you leave them in, dust can be forced into them and can make them malfunction.

When you blow the computer out, you'll definitely want to do this outside with the wind/breeze blowing so that the dust is blown clear of you and anything in the area. Some of these computers can be quite dirty. When you do this, you should disassemble the computer as far as possible (remove both side covers, front bezel...) When blowing the computer out, blow from many angles. For fans, blow from both sides (being careful not to spins the fans too fast). When blowing the power supply out, you'll need to blow repeatedly from both the intake and output sides from every conceivable angle, until no more dust can be blown from it. Expect to do this for 5 minutes or more for really dirty computers. When it's clean, there should be no dust coming from the computer, no matter what angle you blow into the case.

If the computer was in the home of a smoker, the dust will probably be very sticky and be difficult to remove. For critical surfaces like the heatsinks, you may need to remove them from the computer and wash them with a stiff brush, soap and hot water (after the fans have been removed).

In the case of live infestations of bugs (namely, cockroaches), it's often better to let someone else deal with it. If the cockroaches are alive, they can infest your home or shop and be difficult to get rid of. In cases where there is a heavy infestation in the computer, the smell can be awful and very unpleasant to work around. If you get a computer that's infested with live roaches you should immediately spray the computer with insecticide and put it in a garbage bag that you can seal up (so they can't escape). Many insecticide sprays leave an oily residue and are not well suited for this. If you can find Bengal roach spray, use that. It's VERY effective and is a dry powder. Be aware, however, when you use Bengal, roaches will try to escape it and will exit from every hole in the computer. If you think that you'll have to work on the infested computer again, seal every entry-way that you can find. Tape those that don't need to be open and install fiberglass window screen over the rest of the openings (like those for fans). Tell the owner about the infestation and recommend that they hire an exterminator or apply insecticide themselves (recommend the Bengal, it works). This is important because cockroaches can cause a lot of damage to the other electronic equipment in their homes. Even if it's repairable, it may not be possible to find a service technician that will repair it for them.

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Suggestions for Working on Laptop Computers

Working on laptop computers isn't something that I'd recommend that you do unless you're very confident in your abilities or you don't absolutely need the computer to work when you finish. It's very easy to make a mistake that can cause significant damage to a laptop computer. If you damage the motherboard, there is little chance that the computer will be repairable. There are, however, a few things that most people can do if they're careful (tighten a loose monitor bracket, replace the power jack, change the processor, clean the heatsink and fan for the processor or graphics adapter...). The most common problems with laptop computers (that require partial or complete disassembly) are broken power connectors, defective keyboards and failed drives.

Laptop computers are held together with a combination of screws and locking tabs. The tabs are generally located around the perimeter. To release them, you have to push one half of the case in or out along the point where they meet. Using your fingernails to do this may work for some but the proper tools work better. You can use the same types of tools used to take apart the dashboards of cars (available on eBay or from Harbor Freight). The 'black stick' spudger also works well.

The black spudger below is a Menda #35622. You can find them for less than $2 each. Buy several. You may break one or two until you learn how much stress they can take.

One of the most difficult thing to remember when repairing laptops is where each of the screws goes. Here, a camera is your best friend. If you have a video camera, set it on a tripod and allow it to record the disassembly of the computer. Record at the highest resolution possible. If you don't have a video camera, photos are just about as good. Take a photo of each side of the computer and take new photos each time that you remove something that reveals another area that was not previously visible. As you disassemble the computer, you will see that there are many different screw sizes (length and diameter). Use the photos that you take to make a diagram of the screw locations. Start with #1 for the first screws that you remove and mark #1 on the photo. Use a divided container to keep the screws organized. The best that I've found are the 14 day containers. Mark the container from 1-14 (15-28 on the second container, 29-42 on the third...) and place the corresponding screws in the various slots. You will need several of these for most laptops. When placing the screws in the individual slots, only include those that were taken off at the same point in the disassembly process and that match exactly. When you reassemble the computer, simply reinstall the screws in the reverse order. Many people will think that this is a waste of time but it's very annoying when you think you have the computer properly reassembled only to find that you have extra screws. Sometimes a screw is critical to the proper operation of the computer because it grounds part of the board or ensures that the heatsink lays properly on the CPU.

When you use a photo to show where the various screws go, lighten the photo. It makes it easier to see the marks on it. You can either print it and make the marks with a sharpie or save the photo with a new name and mark the photo with MS Paint or your favorite software.

I recommend the type of container above because each of the slots can be latched closed. You may be tempted to use ice trays but I can tell you from experience that it's not a good idea. A slight bump to the tray and screws will be thrown farther than you'd imagine. This will generally result in the loss of many of the screws.

During the disassembly, there will be numerous connectors to disconnect. Most are straight-forward. The first is the simplest. You can see that the plug is white and the socket is beige. Pull up on the white part. It's better to only apply force to the plastic but you can generally help by pulling 'gently' on the wires as well. I strongly recommend only using your fingernails to help pull the connectors. If you use pliers and they slip off of the top of the connector, they can VERY easily sheer off the wires. When disassembling a laptop that you've never worked on before, it's important that you take your time and don't force anything. Most pieces come off easily once all of the screws have been removed. If you use too much force and are not careful, when the piece finally comes free, it could result in the tearing of the various cables (ribbon cables are the most vulnerable when force is applied to them along a sharp corner).

The following connector is for the video monitor. It's like the connector above but a bit larger. These can take a bit more force to disconnect. If you must pull on the wires, pull straight up. If you pull at an angle, you may apply too much force to the wires on the end of the connector which can cause it to break. The break may not be visible (if part of the insulation was crimped into the terminal) and can cause a lot of un-necessary problems.

This next connector is common on keyboards. It's a 2-part connector. The black part is stationary. The white part slides up and down to release and lock the ribbon cable in the connector. To release the cable, lift the lock about 1/16" and pull the ribbon free. When the lock is open, the ribbon should pull free very easily. To reconnect the ribbon, make sure that the lock is in the up-position and insert the ribbon. Then push the lock down until it clicks.

The next image shows the heatsink and fan for the CPU. I'd advise against touching this unless you absolutely need to do so. The large gray part with the four brass posts is the heatsink. The two pipes that go out and to the left are heatpipes and move the heat to the fins of the heatsink. Sometimes, a laptop will begin to overheat, even when none of the vents (bottom and rear of the computer) are blocked. This is sometimes due to excessive dust in the fins. The best way to clear this is with canned air (compressed gas dusters). This generally works well enough but sometimes, you have to remove the sink. When you remove the sink, you MUST replace the heatsink compound that goes between the sink and the processor. If you try to re-use the original compound, the processor may overheat and fail. the additional photos show the fan shroud and fan removes as well as the heatsink removed from the processor.

In this last photo, you can clearly see the thermal interface material (turquoise/green). That would have be completely removed and replaced. Virtually any thermal heatsink compound will work. Some like the Arctic Silver 5 but it's not necessary to use it. If you were going to replace the processor, you would release the processor by turning the screw on the socket counter-clockwise. After replacing the processor, you would turn it clockwise to lock it in.

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You May Be Interested in My Other Sites
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