Don’t pay someone else to do it for you! If you’re willing to get your hands dirty and learn a thing or two along the way, DIY computer repair is a great little hobby that will save you hundreds on support when you pay 3-4 times more than the cost of a replacement component for technicians.
Read on to learn about 4 easy repairs anyone can do. If you want to get to know the insides of your computer, don’t forget to check out our great guide to PC hardware as well.
So you’ve launched the Memory Checker. memory and find out that bad memory was the cause of your random blue screen of death? Or maybe you just think your computer has been running a bit sluggish lately? Well, fear not — upgrading or replacing the memory on your PC is the easiest of all the repair jobs you can do.
The hardest part of replacing memory is figuring out what kind of memory you need. Luckily, Crucial.com comes to the rescue with a simple memory scan app for Windows and Mac. Just download it, run it, and it will tell you what memory your machine is using (which you can buy from Crucial.com, of course).
When the scan is complete, you can click through to get a very detailed report outlining all of your upgrade options. In fact, I can upgrade my iMac to 16GB of RAM for just £143! Deal!
To physically replace the memory, open the case. The memory slots will be right next to the processor. Each end of the sticks will have white latches that you pull outwards to free up existing memory. Pushing the memory back can sometimes take a little effort, so make sure you get it right and then press either side next to the latches. It should click into place and the latches will snap into place on their own, although you may need to lock them.
If you turn on your computer and it makes a terrible beep, you probably just plugged it in wrong. Watch a YouTube video on how to replace the memory before you try it, and remember to touch the heatsink or always use an anti-static wrist strap when handling memory.
Hard drive replacement
If your hard drive has failed, then replacing it is the easy part — getting your data back and restoring everything from backups is the harder part. Luckily, we wrote a lot of articles last month about physically replacing hard drives and fantastic free backup solutions, so be sure to check them out:
- How to replace a hard drive
- 5 things to consider when installing a SATA hard drive.
All you really need to know is the type of hard drive you have and whether your motherboard can handle SATA. An article I wrote about adding a second hard drive will help you understand if you have the right connections.
Replacing the power supply
The most common failure in any computer is the power supply, but it’s a fairly easy replacement process. Unless you have a very small form factor or general purpose PC, ATX power supplies are pretty much the same. When buying a replacement, there are a few simple things to check:
- That the output power will be sufficient. Unless you’re running a huge gaming rig, 400-500W is more than enough.
- That you have enough connections for all your devices.
- That you have connections for your motherboard and graphics card.
Although, in principle, any modern power supply works with your PC — the only problem I have ever had is trying to retrofit an old power supply that was in my modern PC.
Start by opening the case and identifying all existing locations where the power supply is connected. Each of your physical drives (hard drives, DVDs, etc.) will have connectors connected to them, as well as one large one to the motherboard, and possibly a few more that will provide power to your graphics card. These are the little ones that will be difficult, so you can write down where and where. The PSU itself will also be screwed into the case, usually with 4 screws you can find right around when the big black power cord plugs into the case. Lay the case on a flat surface so it doesn’t fall down and hit your motherboard when it’s cancelled.
Word of warning: NEVER attempt to repair the power supply itself. If it’s broken, throw it away and get a new one. These things store a lot of energy in their capacitors for a long time after being turned off, and they can cause a very serious shock.
As you can see, there are some PC repairs that you can easily do yourself and that is a learning experience. Personally, I’ve been tearing apart computers and upgrading them since I was 10 — my only motivation was to put them back together until dad came home! Sometimes things don’t work and that can be very frustrating. For this time, a spare computer and a quick Google search can be a life saver. Just be careful not to touch other parts and never push anything in.