Fix Your Laptop: 34 Tips, Apps, and Gear

Recover From and Prevent Crashes

Install security software.

Oftentimes a notebook will become unstable because it has become infected with a virus or other malware, so you need to shield your machine from potential damage. BitDefender Total Security 2011 ($79.95;www.bitdefender.com) combines anti-malware protection with PC tune-up tools—not to mention online backup and parental controls. This lightweight suite also has an intuitive, customizable interface. For Macs, we suggest Intego Internet Security Barrier X6 ($79.95; www.intego.com). Want malware protection on the cheap? Try Ad-Aware Free Internet Security (www.lavasoft.com).

Make sure your drivers are up to date.

Download the latest drivers for your video card, wireless radio, and other components. You can find these drivers on your PC maker’s support website. Usually, there’s a section called “drivers and downloads,” or something to that effect, where you can find drivers by specifying what laptop model you own. The drivers are usually broken down by category (e.g., audio), though you can choose to see all available downloads. Click “Download” and follow any on-screen instructions, just as you would if you were downloading a piece of software. Restart the computer as soon as you’re done to ensure that these drivers take effect.

Download any updates for your operating system.

You’ll also want to update other software that you use most frequently, such as iTunes, browsers, and photo editors. With each update, software should become more stable. To do this, go to Control Panel > Windows Update > Check For Updates. Then click “Install Updates” when your PC is done searching.

Reinstall the operating system.

Note that we only recommend this step if all else fails. To start, insert the disc containing your Mac or Windows operating system and factory settings. This disc should have come with your PC or Mac. Then, follow the on-screen directions. Before you do this, though, make sure that you back up all your programs and files to either an external hard drive or an online backup service. The length of the backup will depend on how many gigabytes you are backing up and how much time has passed since your last backup.

How to Fix Your Laptop

LEAVE A REPLY
Name*
Email* (will not be published)
Website
*Indicates required field
Comments*
Submit Comments

  1. james Says:

    Hi Dana,

    Regarding your laptop key article, I am a tech and we replace laptop keys for customers all the time, I use a company called http://www.replacementlaptopkeys.com they are a great company, we used them so often we have become friends, how about adding them to your list of laptop keys companies you have listed there for the laptop key vendors. I would personally be grateful as they have helped me many times.

    Oscar D

  2. Bill R TechSpec Says:

    Good advice — But I would give more emphasis to the importance of defragmenting your hard drive.

    Unfortunately, most users don’t do these vital actions because they take too long, especially defragmenting. If using the built-in, defrag can take a very long time (and you can’t use the PC while it’s defragmenting)

    I recommend using a good automatic third party program that can defrag transparently while using the PC.

    Here is a Top 10 Reviews side-by-side comparison of the best defrag programs around:

    http://disk-defragmenter-software-review.toptenreviews.com/

    The gold medalist also prevents fragmentation.

    Get a free trial of the gold medalist at http://www.diskeeper.com

  3. John Tucker Says:

    A couple other great options to send your files to the cloud are SpiderOak and SugarSync. Both offer sharing and file sync as well as backup so you don’t need to fuss with two different programs like Dropbox and Mozy etc. SugarSync is a little ahead in the mobile access and backup applications so if you want mobile access to your files SugarSync is a great choice.

  4. John Says:

    I used reginout and it helped a lot in improving performance of my Inspiron 1525 happy with it

  5. Tech hobby Says:

    Another option is change the OS to Ubuntu of Linux Mint. Ya I’m that guy. (just as bad as a Jehovah’s Witness) ;)

  6. Margaretta Tooman Says:

    LAN Sync does not transfer directly without sending to the cloud. If the file hasnt been synced to the cloud yet, it will NOT be transferred directly.

  7. mark Says:

    Let me remind all you folks out there that have upgraded there slow, evergrinding, persistantly needing defragmentmenting harddrives. That, if you have upgraded to the newer, NO moving part flash drives. DO NOT defragment them, there is no need. Actually, defragmenting flash drives can damage them over time, and since they are almost instant access compared to the standard, it is not necessary.

  8. DWKSIMI Says:

    I have a Dell Dimension 8300 PC with Windows XP Pro (SP-3) and I upgraded to 4 GB of ram a couple years ago and to this day it never recognized more than 2.5 GB.

  9. GM Says:

    Speaking of flash – I recommend to use SSD to accelerate the HDD with something like the Corsair Accelerator or Crucial Adrenaline. It’s best PC upgrade for $100 ever. It used to take my PC 2minutes to boot, but now just 36seconds.

FIND A REVIEW
Laptops
All Product Types Accessories Cars Digital Camcorders Digital Cameras eReaders GPS Laptops MP3 & Video Players Projectors Smartphones Software Storage Tablets / MIDs VoIP Wi-Fi
All Subcategories
All Subcategories All-Purpose Budget Business Desktop Replacement Gaming Multimedia Netbook Nettop Rugged Student Tablet PCs Ultraportable
Brand
Acer Alienware Apple Archos ASUS Averatec BenQ CTL Corp. Dell Digital Storm eMachines Emtec Everex Fujitsu GammaTech Gateway General Dynamics Getac Gigabyte Hercules HP HTC iBuyPower Intel Lenovo MSI Nokia Nvidia OCZ OLPC OQO Origin Panasonic Sager Samsung Sony Sylvania Systemax TabletKiosk Toshiba Verizon Viewsonic Viliv VooDoo Workhorse PC ZT Systems
Minimum Rating
Any Rating 4.5 Stars 4.0 Stars 3.5 Stars 3.0 Stars
Screen Size
10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 20 4 5 6 7 8 9
Resolution
1024x576 1024x600 1024x768 1200X800 1280 x 720 1280x1024 1280x768 1280x800 1366x678 1366x768 1440x1050 1440x900 1600x768 1600x900 1680x1050 1680x945 1920x1080 1920x1200 800x400 800x480
Weight Range
10.1 - 12.0 pounds 12.1 - 14.0 pounds 14.1 - 16.0 pounds 2 lbs 2 pounds and under 2+ lbs 2.1 - 4.0 pounds 4.1 - 6.0 pounds 6.1 - 8.0 pounds 8.1 - 10.0 pounds Over 16 pounds Under 2 pounds
more options
SUBSCRIBE