General Laptop/PCMCIA Touch Pad/Pointing Device Battery Disk Drive/Floppy Video Display/LCD Laptops General Notebook Care
Q: My computer is not running correctly!
A: Troubleshooting problems on your computer is generally and a matter of narrowing down, step-by-step what the cause is. In general, some of the most common areas that cause your computer to function abnormally are:
- New software installed
- New memory added
- New hardware device(s) added
- Windows/Programs were not shut down properly
- Spyware & Adware
The best thing to do is backtrack. If you have added something new and then all of a sudden your system starts to misbehave then undo the steps and see if the computer is back to normal. If it is, then you know that the problem occurring is due to whatever was installed. Not sure? Call us. Top
Q. What is a computer virus?
A. A computer virus is a malicious computer program that infects the computer memory or hard disk. Some are comical and will simply change the display on your monitor while most are designed to do damage to the data on the computer. Boot sector viruses are especially damaging since they rewrite the information needed to start up and access your computer’s hard disk. Trojan horses are destructive programs disguised as something harmless like a game. Worms are programs written to replicate themselves until the computer’s memory or hard drive is completely used up at which time the computer crashes and becomes inoperable. A good place to learn more about computer viruses is CERT’s web site www.cert.org Top
Q. How do I keep from getting a computer virus?
A. If you buy no other piece of software for your computer, buy a virus protection program. Some common programs are Norton AntiVirus and McAfee VirusScan. Don’t share files without first checking the files or disks with a virus protection program. This includes downloaded files from the Internet. Know the source of the file before you download and activate the virus protection plug-in for your browser. Two good virus protection programs are from McAfee (VirusScan) and Symantec (Norton AntiVirus).
- Never open e-mails coming from unknown senders or containing suspicious subject headings
- Block all e-mails containing .EXE, .VBS or .SBS attachments
- Make sure all servers are well patched and hardened; latest patches for Microsoft IIS servers can be found at support.Microsoft.com
- Update antivirus software daily Top
Q: What if my system freezes up?
A: If your system freezes, press Ctrl, Alt and Delete simultaneously. In the "Close Program" window, highlight any programs that are "not responding" and click "End Task" or "Shut Down" if this doesn't work. Top
Q. My computer is slow.
A. If you have less than 128 Mb of RAM in your computer, the number one upgrade you can perform to increase speed and efficiency is to install more memory. At the present time, memory is at an all time low! Call us today! You may be surprised at how affordable it is to double the amount of RAM you presently have in your system. Even if you have to completely replace what you currently have in there, it may be worth your while. Top
Q. My computer has locked up and the power switch will not work. What can I do to reset it?
A. If a computer is locked up the power switch will probably not respond and will need to be reset. Completely shut down the system. Most power buttons will force the computer off by holding them in for five to ten seconds. Unplug if necessary. If this does not shut down the computer, remove the battery (laptops), then reinsert the battery and turn the power back on. Sometimes new computers need to be powered off by holding in the power button until the system shuts down. Top
Q. How do I shut down my PC?
A. To properly shut down your computer, click on the Start button and select "Shut Down." This will give you the option to restart or shut down your computer. The computer will close any open programs that you are using and ask you to save any unsaved data before it shuts down. You will want to restart your computer if you get error messages such as "invalid page fault" or "program error in module xyz" to clear the memory and reset the computer. The second time to turn off the power switch is when the computer stops responding to keyboard or mouse commands. You may lose data in open applications if you have to do this so be sure to save your data frequently. Top
Q. What is a Warm Boot? What is a Cold Boot?
A. You perform a cold boot every time you turn on the power switch of your computer. To "boot" the computer means to start it up and reset the memory and BIOS. Pressing the Ctrl-Alt-Delete keys simultaneously while the computer is running performs a warm boot. You may need to do this if the computer stops responding because of memory problems or the "Blue Screen of Death" appears. The computer needs to be reset before you can continue. If the warm boot fails to restart the computer, you will need to resort to a cold boot by shutting off the power switch, waiting ten seconds and then turning it back on. Top
Q. Why can't I upgrade my computer?
A. You probably can. But, you may not be able to upgrade to what you want given your current system. Or, the "upgraded system" you end up with may have only the floppy drive and case left over from your old system. For example, the first Pentium processors run on a single voltage, supplied by the motherboard. Newer Pentium processors require different voltages and slots to fit into. If your current motherboard does not have the right size slot for the processor, you cannot upgrade your processor without a new motherboard. Often, it is more cost effective to purchase a new unit which will also include a warranty. Top
A new hard drive is always nice to have plenty of room for those multi-CD games, video and image files. But again, you must be sure both your motherboard and operating system can handle the larger drives. Earlier versions of Windows cannot "see" some of the larger 200 and 300 (GB) drives. So, if you want a 200 GB drive installed on such a system, it will have to be partitioned into several smaller drives or your system may have to be upgraded. Top
Q. How can I protect my computer from power surges?
A. One of the best things that you can do for your computer is to purchase a surge protector with built in battery backup which will protect the system from shutting down when the power blinks. This is different than a power strip. While both may offer a single on-off switch and multiple electrical outlets, only the surge protector will prevent your computer from lightning or fluctuations in the electrical current in your home. A power strip will only shut off if the circuit is overloaded. If you have a modem, purchase a surge protector that includes outlets for phone plugs. If a bolt of lightning hits your phone line and the phone jack is not protected, you could lose your modem or other components in the computer. For a little extra money, you can purchase a UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) which will keep your computer running long enough in case of a power outage so that you can save data and properly shut down the computer. We offer an excellent workstation APC UPS for only $59.00. Top
Q: My system won't boot.
A: First check the obvious possible causes. If you are running on AC power (as when it is plugged into the wall socket) check to make sure the AC connection is good. Plug in another appliance that you know works. There are many reasons why this problem can occur, from a bad power supply to a bad hard drive or corrupt system files. Call us we can help. Also check the floppy drive and make sure there isn’t a floppy in the drive. Top
Q: My notebook does not recognize my PCMCIA devices.
A: Most PCMCIA problems occur from the installation of more than one card manager. Windows has internal support for PCMCIA devices and you do not need any additional card manager. Top
Q: I can't get my laptop to use my PCMCIA card, why?
A: You probably do not have the right drivers installed. Check to see that you have loaded the appropriate software for the card you are trying to use. If you still have problems getting the card to work, contact the PCMCIA Card manufacturer for product support, and find out if the card is a listed compatible product for the model you have and the version of Windows you are running. Top
Q: I reinstalled Windows, now my PCMCIA modem is not working, now what do I need to do to get the modem to work?
A: You probably do not have the right drivers installed. Check to see that you have loaded the appropriate software for the card you are trying to use. If your PCMCIA modem is not working, check System Properties, Device Manager, and check to see if the Controller of the PCMCIA socket is Intel PCIC compatible PCMCIA controller. If it is, then go to Control Panel, Modems, click on Diagnostics, click on the COM Port that is listed for use by your modem. Click More Info. That should tell you whether your modem is installed properly or not. If you cannot find a COM port listed with your modem, then you have not loaded the modem driver. If that is the case, try installing and reinstalling the modem driver. Top
Touch Pad/Pointing Device
Q: My Touch Pad is overly sensitive.
A: The Touch Pad is operated on static energy as your finger glides over the pad. If your Touch Pad is overly sensitive, you may tune down the sensitivity in the control panel. If it is still too sensitive for you, you may wish to use an external mouse. Top
Q: My mouse is sluggish/not responding/not moving in one or more directions.
A: The ball and its contact points need cleaning. Refer to your user's manual for directions on how to go about cleaning it. Also, consider upgrading to an optical mouse that doesn't require cleaning. Top
Q: When I click the left mouse button nothing happens.
A: Over time, trackball-pointing devices can lose their ability to make the connection necessary for the button to work. Contact us for service or to replace your mouse. Top
Q: My touch pad-pointing device is acting up.
A: Some older model touch pads can become extremely sensitive. Even newer ones can sometimes respond erratically. First try adjusting the sensitivity of the touch pad under Control Panel, Mouse. Top
Q: Why don't some notebooks charge the battery while the unit is on?
A: This "feature" was taken out as it can cause memory effect on batteries. The unit has to be off in order for the battery to be charged. Top
Q: When my computer runs from battery it starts beeping after 10-15 min.
A: Condition your battery by following these steps:
1. Plug your AC adapter in, and power on your system. Go to the CMOS setup (usually by hitting the delete key at bootup). Take a look at the % of the battery, and remove the AC adapter and let it discharge here.
2. Your battery icon will start to blink when the % gets low. Try to get the % to the lowest possible it will go. Once this is done then power off your computer.
3. Plug the AC adapter in and let the system charge the battery. The charge should take any where from one to two hours. Once the charge light goes off then remove the AC adapter and power on your unit. Go into the CMOS settings as in step 1 and verify the charge % on the battery is 100% or close to it. If it is not then exit out and power off your system and plug your AC adapter back in and let it charge further taking note how long the charge light remains on.
4. After doing all of this please power on your unit and re-verify your %. Your battery should be charged. Top
Q: How to condition the battery to get a better charge.
A: Please do the followings:
Full charge the battery.
Power on the system.
Go into the CMOS setup by hitting "F2" or "delete" on power up.
Run the battery down while staying in the setup screen until the unit completely dies.
Repeat the process at least 3 times, to get better battery performance. Top
Q: My battery does not seem to be charging. How long does it to take to charge my battery?
A: Normally it takes two hours to charge the battery if you are not operating the system. If the battery does not seem to be charging, cycle the battery. In other words, discharge then recharge it. If the charging function stops, which is indicated by the battery icon on the status panel, and the battery has still not fully charged, unplug the AC-adapter then reconnect it. If it still does not charge, you may need a new battery, as the old one may no longer be functional. Top
Q: Does my notebook accept Lithium Ion or NiMH batteries?
A: It depends on the model. Newer systems will accept Lithium Ion batteries. Earlier models use Nickel Metal Hydride type batteries. Top
Q: How long does the battery last, is there a Lithium Ion battery available? (Any notebook)
A: Battery run time will vary depending on usage. A typical high-drain usage is when the CD-ROM and hard drives are being accessed. Check your User's Manual for tips on improving battery run-times, but common is 2-3 hours. Top
Batteries should be periodically (once or twice a month) deep-cycle discharged. This is one of the most effective means for prolonging battery life. The factor that most affect battery life is: Display brightness/contrast settings Hard drive activity Internal and External options (PCMCIA cards, etc.) Power Conservation settings. There is no magic combination of Power Conservation settings and battery maintenance procedures that work best for all situations. Power Conservation settings are very personalized and the values used depend greatly on the type of work being done. The best way to find out what settings work best for you is to experiment with the available options and regular battery maintenance. Top
Q: Why can't I hot swap my floppy and CD-ROM?
A: Some notebooks are not designed to do a hot swap, meaning you cannot remove and insert the CD-ROM or FDD while the unit is on. You will damage the unit and this is not a warranty issue.
Q: I get a message "not a bootable diskette" or "disk failure drive A."
A: If your floppy disk drive won't work with diskettes that you know are good (you can check them by trying them on another personal computer system) then your floppy disk drive has probably gotten out of alignment or needs cleaning. A malfunctioning floppy disk drive can scratch diskettes on the boot sector, causing the boot failure message. This problem is especially prevalent on older drives. Top
Q: I have tried using brand new floppy diskettes, but my floppy drive still won't read/write.
A: If your notebook floppy disk drive won't work with diskettes you have tried on another system, your floppy disk drive may need service. This problem is especially prevalent on older drives. Contact customer service for repair information. Top
Q: Why is the display quality so much better at 1024 x 768 resolution than 800 x 600?
A: The display system was created to optimize XGA screen resolutions; therefore, 1024 x 768 will provide a much sharper image than 800x 600 . LCD monitors have the exact number of display pixels for the resolution they are designed to run. Therefore, an XGA display is 1024 pixels across. Top
Q: What is wrong with my video display it keeps flickering, distorted or no display at all?
A: Evidently your system is experiencing an intermittent display problem associated with the VGA controller and/or the display unit. Call us for diagnosis and advice. Top
Q: Why should someone buy a notebook?
A: Anyone who ever needs to take their work on the road, even if it's just to the library or across town between home and office. Laptops make it easy to hook up wirelessly. Traveling businesspeople-- especially salespeople-- are obviously the most likely notebook buyers, but other candidates include people in education (students too); small-business owners who never take off their various professional hats, even on leisure trips; and other professionals who must always have access to email, faxes, the office server, and other communications. Top
Q: What advantages, if any, do laptops have over desktop models, besides portability?
A: Portability is a great benefit of a notebook but not the only one. In addition notebooks take up less desk space and consume less power. Today's large screen notebooks offer usability gains over desktops too. Drives and ports are accessible, for one thing, and they're often hot swappable. (That is, you can switch connections without powering down first.) What's more, notebooks offer a modular capability few systems can match. For example, many units allow you to remove hard drive with the press of a button-- so you can protect your data from theft or swap in a larger hard drive almost instantly. Also, laptops have built-in battery backup (not surge protection) so if the power flickers you don't lose data. They take up less space and LCD monitors are easier on the eyes (no or low radiation). Top
Q: Laptops, portables, and notebooks: Are the terms interchangeable?
A: Yes, they all mean the same thing. There are quite a few categories of notebooks, we see four main categories emerging: value notebooks, mid-range notebooks, state-of-the-art notebooks-- we sometimes call these "desktop replacements"-- and ultra lights. Top
One last piece of advice: If you really want to get a sense of how a notebook feels-- you'd be surprised how important this is, especially for desktop replacements-- it's a great idea to go to a local computer store to play with a few different models. Even if they don't have the exact machine you want at the exact price, at least you'll learn what you want in a keyboard, weight, screen size, and input device (touch pad or pointing stick). Top
Q: Is there any danger in leaving a laptop on 24 hours a day?
A: As long as it's in a well-ventilated area, there's no real danger. At least, no more danger than there would be if you left your desktop computer on all day. The main danger to laptops is overheating. Because all the hardware is in such cramped quarters, it tends to get very hot. The bottom gets hot, so be careful where you put it. You may even want to put it on something raised so the air can get to the bottom. If you leave a laptop on blankets or a bed, it will often overheat because the insulation of the material is keeping the heat in. A tip that may help you when you're transporting your laptop is to take out the battery to ensure that you don't accidentally leave the laptop on. Top
Q: What's the difference between DSTN displays and TFT displays?
A: The less expensive DSTN (double-layer super twist nematic) is a passive-matrix display. The TFT (thin film transistor) display is active matrix. The cheaper dual-scan screen is not as bright, readable, or fast as the active matrix screen. While the DSTNs are still good screens, if you move your mouse too fast, you'll notice that it disappears. That's because the DSTN has a lower screen refresh rate. Also, you can't read DSTN screens at a wide angle. A TFT active matrix screen can be read at almost 180 degrees. To be able to read a passive matrix DSTN screen, you need to be right in front of the display. A shallow viewing angle isn't always a bad thing. Some people prefer the passive matrix screens for privacy reasons. For example, if you do a lot of traveling on airplanes, you probably don't want your seatmate reading everything on your screen. You can just compare two types of screens and see if you can tolerate the less expensive one. If you're happy with it, that's all that matters. Top
General Care & Maintenance
Q: How much damage is done to a laptop that is left in a hot car?
A: There are many things that can potentially damage your laptop, including heat. But if you leave your laptop in the car, it's probably going to get stolen before it has a chance to overheat! To answer your question: yes, the heat inside a car can get well above the temperature at which a chip can function properly, so be careful.
If you love your laptop, follow these tips:
-- Never leave your laptop unattended.
-- Never expose your laptop to extreme heat or extreme cold.
-- Don't let your laptop out of your sight.
-- Don't expose your laptop to resonating noises, for example loud bass noise from speakers, heavy machinery, and so on.
-- Properly care for your laptop battery.
-- Keep magnetic devices away from your laptop.
-- Minimize exposure to airport x-rays.
-- Avoid eating and drinking near your laptop.
-- Keep your laptop clean and dust free.
-- Never leave your laptop unattended. Top
Q: Will a PCMCIA card modem drain my laptops battery if left in when not in use?
A: Often, yes. In fact, modem cards are notorious for draining batteries dry. Some modem cards drain the battery even when you're not online. To stop up the power leak, just make sure you shut off power to the modem card when it's not in use. .
Here are some general tips to help keep your notebook humming:
-- Use a lithium (Li) ion battery if your system supports them.
-- Shut off power to peripherals when you're not using them.
-- Take advantage of Windows 98's Advanced Configuration and Power Interface (ACPI) specification, along with Advanced Power Management (APM) 1.2 extensions.
ACPI lets you use various Power Schemes built into the Power Management control panel. Power Schemes are designed to save power in various ways optimized for your computer's hardware setup. If you have a laptop, that might be a reason to update to Win98. Top
Q. How do I decrease the size of the border around the display on my notebook computer?
A. This border is normal on a notebook computer with an SVGA display when it is set to a resolution of 640 by 480. The border will be smaller if you set the resolution to 800 by 600. Under Windows, right click anywhere on the desktop, choose properties from the menu and select the settings tab. Top
Q: Can I install Windows XP or Vista on my notebook, which originally shipped with an earlier Windows OS or Windows Home Edition?
A: While it is a user's option to install any software, our support is limited to the operating system that shipped on the unit. If you would like to install an operating system other than the one that shipped on the unit, we recommend you purchase the proper licenses and check with our technical support analysts prior to making any changes. Top
Q: Where do I get DirectX drivers for my notebook?
A: DirectX is a Microsoft product. Get it here www.microsoft.com\directx Top
Q: If I install a BETA version of an operating system or third party application, where should I go for assistance?
A: For assistance with these please contact the vendor of the software/operating system. Top
Q: Why is my 56K modem not connecting at 56K speeds?
A: Several factors can affect connection speed, such as line noise, number of people connecting or connected to your ISP, and the age and condition of the telephone lines. A 56K modem does not guarantee all connections at 56K; rather it offers the ability to connect at up to 56K baud. Presently FCC regulations limit speeds to 53K maximum and this is with absolutely perfect conditions. Top
Q: My unit shipped with a built in wireless adapter. Will I be able to get Internet on the road?
A: Yes, if you are near a hotspot that offers free Internet access for wireless users. Airports, coffee shops and some libraries are among the establishments where wireless internet is available. However, if you require wireless high speed Internet with more accessibility, Verizon offers a high speed wireless Internet service which requires a PCMCIA broadband modem and their monthly fee-based wireless service. Top
Q: How do I condition my battery?
A: There are different ways to condition your battery depending on which type battery you have. There are battery conditioning instructions located in the Users Guide for your notebook that pertain to your notebook / battery combination. You can find a link to your Users Guide on the Technical Support page. Top
Q: Which PC-Card can I use in my notebook?
A: The PC Card industry is a fast growing and ever-changing industry. Every day new cards are being manufactured. Please check with the manufacturer of the PC Card for information on their products and the PC Card's performance in your notebook. Top
Q: I'm not going to be using my notebook for a month or longer. How should I care for my battery?
A: If your notebook is to be stored for a month or longer, turn the machine off, and remove all Lithium ION batteries. Store your notebook and batteries separately in a cool, dry location. If you store your notebook with a battery installed, the battery will discharge, and battery life will be reduced.
Caution: If your battery is installed with your notebook while in storage, and the battery is faulty, this could cause damage to your notebook. Top
Q: My notebook "locks up" during boot (start-up) or only starts in the Windows Safe Mode. What should I check?
A: Has any new software or hardware been added to the machine just prior to the problem? If so, boot in safe mode and uninstall that item. Then boot normally to see if the problem is resolved.
Q: My battery seems to discharge overnight on my notebook. Is this normal?
A: Are you shutting down the system properly by turning off the unit with the power switch on the side of your computer? The Windows 95 shutdown procedure will shutdown the unit and leave the notebook in a suspend mode state (still using some battery power). From that point on, the unit will run on the Primary Lithium battery. This Windows 95 shutdown feature is part of Microsoft's Advanced Power Management requirement. To completely shutdown your unit and not lose your battery charge through drainage, please switch off the power manually, using the main power on/off switch.