Don’t pay someone else to do it for you! If you’re prepared to get your hands dirty and learn something in the process, DIY computer repair is a great little hobby, and will save you hundreds in support costs when you’re paying 3 or 4 times as much as the cost of the replacement component for the technical staff.
Read on to learn about 4 easy DIY repairs that anyone can do. For a great primer on the insides of your computer, don’t forget to check out our great guide to PC hardware too.
Replacing The Memory
So you ran a memory checker and found out that the cause of your random blue screen of death was bad memory? Or maybe you just think your computer has been running a little sluggish lately? Well, have no fear – upgrading or replacing the memory in your PC is the easiest of all the DIY repairs that you can do.
The hardest part of replacing the memory is figuring out what memory you need. Luckily, Crucial.com comes to the rescue with a simple memory scanner app for both Windows and Mac. Just download it, run it, and it’ll tell you what kind of memory your machine is running (which you can then buy from Crucial.com, of course).
When the scan has finished, you can click through to get an extremely thorough report that outlines all your upgrade options. In fact, I can upgrade my iMac to a whopping 16GB of RAM for just £143! Bargain!
To physically replace the memory, open up the case. The memory slots will be right next to the CPU. On either end of the sticks there will be white latches that you pull outwards to release the existing memory. Slotting memory back in can sometimes take a little force, so make sure you’ve got it the right way round then push down on either side next to the latches. It should slot down into the place and the latches will come up on their own, though you may need to lock them in.
If you turn the computer on and it beeps horribly, you’ve probably just not inserted them right. Check out some YouTube videos on how to replace memory before you try this, and don’t forget to touch a radiator or use an anti-static wrist strap at all times when handling the memory.
Replacing The Hard Disk
If your hard disk has failed then replacing it is the easy part – getting your data back and restoring everything from backups is harder. Luckily, we’ve written loads of articles in the past month or so about physically replacing hard disks and fantastic free backup solutions, so be sure to read through them:
All you really need to know is what type of hard disk you currently have, and if your motherboard can handle SATA. The article I wrote on 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 moderately simply process to replace. Unless you have a very small form factor or all-in-one PC, ATX power supplies are basically all the same. When buying a replacement, you need to check a few simple things:
- That the power output will be sufficient. Unless you’re running a huge gaming rig, 400-500w is more than sufficient.
- That you have enough connections for all your devices.
- That you have connections for your motherboard and video card.
Basically though, any modern power supply with work with your PC – the only time I’ve ever had a problem is when trying to retrofit an old power supply I had lying around into my modern PC.
Begin by opening the case and identifying all the existing places the power supply is plugged into. There will be plugs going to each of your physical drives (hard disks and DVD etc), as well as one large one to the motherboard, and possibly a few more that provide power to your graphics card. It’s these little ones that will be difficult, so you may want to write down which go where. The power supply itself will also be screwed into the case, usually with 4 screws that you can find directly around when the large black power cord plugs into the case. Lay the case flat so it doesn’t fall downwards and hit your motherboard when it comes undone.
A Word Of Warning: NEVER attempt to repair the power supply itself. If it’s broken, trash it and get a new one. These things store masses of power in their capacitors a long time after being switch off, and they can give you a very serious shock.
As you can see, there are some PC repairs that you can easily do yourself, and it’s a learning experience. Personally, I’ve been tearing apart PCs and upgrading them since I was 10 – my only motivation was to get them back together again before dad came home! Sometimes things won’t work, and it can be very frustrating. For these times, a spare computer and a quick Google search can be a lifesaver. Just be careful not to touch other parts, and never force something in.
Have you tried any DIY computer repairs or upgrades yourself? Let us know how it went in the comments! Would you prefer video tutorials on how to do these upgrades?