Years of using your laptop can slow it down and wear it out. The good news is you can still save your machine by doing a few checks and repairs here and there. This applies especially when you’re dealing with problems that are common for most laptops. Learn the essentials in refurbishing your laptop with this step-by-step guide.
Step 1: Check your laptop manual
Laptops come in different brands and models with individual specifications, so it follows that they will have their own unique features or processes. Go over your laptop manual for instructions that might help you identify and resolve issues, or you can search the manufacturer’s website, in case you don’t have a copy of the manual.
Step 2: Clean and remove grime
Over time, your laptop has accumulated grease and grime, which means your machine could use a lot of cleaning now.
Pay special attention to your laptop’s outer shell, surface, trackpad, and keyboard. Clean them off using either a Magic Eraser sponge that has been wet with water or a DIY solution (combine 1 part of rubbing alcohol and nine parts of water), along with a microfiber cloth for wiping down and drying your laptop. For the screen, use white vinegar as your cleaning solution and a soft cloth as cleaning fabric.
A few things to remember as you clean your laptop:
- Your laptop should be switched off and not just in sleep mode.
- Whether you’re using the Magic Eraser or the microfiber cloth, make sure to wring any excess liquid from them before use.
- The plastic nozzle of a can of compressed air can be helpful in blowing out debris between each key and dust-filled crevices on your machine.
- Allow your laptop to dry fully after cleaning before using it again.
How to Clean the Inside Parts of Your Laptop
- Turn your laptop upside-down and unscrew the covers. Take note which screw goes where when it’s time to put them back on.
- Use either a can of compressed air or some cotton swabs to clean dust from your laptop, starting with the vents, as this will help improve the flow of air into the fan.
- Never use any liquid or chemicals to clean the insides of your laptop.
- Fasten the covers back on your laptop.
Step 3: Replace or upgrade the hardware
Hardware upgrades or replacements can boost your laptop’s speed or performance. You can start with the following items:
- Battery. The older your laptop is, the more likely that its battery is already in a degraded condition. Consider replacing it with a new compatible one, and make sure to buy from reputable brands. If your laptop has a non-removable battery, you might need the help of your service center to do this kind of technical work.
- RAM. RAM (Random Access Memory) refers to your system’s short-term data storage, storing the information that your laptop is currently using for quick access. This is in contrast to the hard drive of your laptop, which is for long-term data storage. This means that the more programs you’re running on your laptop, the more memory you’ll need to help your machine multitask.
The amount of RAM you need will depend on what you normally use your laptop for, so here’s a quick reference on standard laptop uses and the ideal RAM for each use:
- Office Productivity—Minimum of 2 GB for basic document work, or a minimum of 8 GB for work that involves heavy multitasking
- Web Browsing—Minimum of 4 GB for basic multi-tab browsing, or a minimum of 8 GB for heavy browsing involving 30 tabs or more
- Media Streaming—Minimum of 4 GB for either audio- or video-based streaming
- Photo Editing—Minimum of 4 GB for basic editing work, or a minimum of 8 GB for heavy editing work
- Gaming—Minimum of 4 GB, 8 GB, and 16 GB for low-end, mid-range, and high-end gaming activities
- Hard Drive. A hard disk drive (HDD) or simply hard drive (HD) is the hardware device where your laptop permanently stores and retrieves data. As such, getting a new one for your laptop will give it more room for apps, documents, and media files. The one for laptops is sized at 2.5 inches, while desktop hard drives are sized at 3.5 inches.
To give you an idea on how much storage you need for your laptop, a 250 GB hard drive can let you store 30,000 or more photos or songs of average size, while 500 GB to 1 TB is enough for storing movies. Then, there are solid-state drives (SSDs), which is a type that can launch apps and boot up your laptop extremely fast. Just make sure you back up your data, even if it’s just online, before removing your existing hard drive and replacing it with a new one.
Step 4: Reinstall your laptop’s operating system
If getting a new hard disk isn’t an option you’re willing to take, what you can do is to wipe out all data from your hard drive to get rid of unwanted or damaged files which slows down your laptop. Once you’ve done this, you can then reinstall your laptop’s operating system. This should make your refurbished laptop look and run like new again.
Note that you’ll need to have the license or legal copy of the software that came with your laptop to reinstall it back on your machine. If this is not available, you might need to invest in buying one. In the case of Apple products, you can just as easily download most Mac software via the App Store or purchase older versions of the macOS.
Just make sure that your laptop’s system configuration matches the minimum requirements needed to install the software. For non-macOS laptops, there’s also the option of getting open-source software, such as Linux, which is free and can work on laptops with older configurations.
The Final Touch Up
Getting your laptop up and running again is good, but you could also proactively do some final touches for a more polished look. You might want to give it some color and unique personality with some neat tiny stickers.
Then, bring out all the accessories that you use with your laptop like the mouse, cable, earphones, and laptop case. Make sure they’re as clean as the unit itself, so you have a refurbished laptop in one complete package.
Gary Everrett is a Tech Geek who is a writer by passion. Mostly he writes about topics revolving around the latest gadget and technology. On his free time, he likes to read sci-fi novels and play golf. Read more about the best pre-owned/refurbished macs in the industry.