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02 Fixing Old Laptops

posted Jun 15, 2014, 6:55 PM by Bram Moreinis   [ updated Jul 9, 2014, 7:42 PM ]

Two Dells available from Santa Stan if we can drive to Barre, VT!

Dead CMOS Battery?
Tip From Jim Ussailis:

Save money replacing the BIOS battery: I get the cells (Cr2025 or 2032) from Digikey for under $2. The other cost is some small shrink tubing and some solder. The normal cost for these batteries is $15 to 20. Of course you should never solder directly to those cells. Fortunately Digikey has many flavors with welded on leads. The only issue is to find the version that fits your laptop.

Bad Memory?

If you have the right configuration (which you can get from the model's specifications page online), old-style memory is fairly inexpensive and easy to get.  If you are going to be opening up an old machine, max out the RAM while you're there!

Noisy Fan?

Fans get covered in dust (as do Motherboards).  If you open the machine up, use an aerosol dust spray (OUTSIDE AND AWAY FROM PEOPLE) all over particularly on the fan.  You might be able to plug it in and see if it works quietly without putting the entire case back together (but don't touch while it's plugged in!)

Bad Hard Drive?

Depending on the operating system, there are various ways to check a hard disk for corrupt sectors.  If you reformat the drive, check the disk, and the errors are still there, it's a problem....and new hard drives are not worth it for old machines.  Better to cannibalize (move hard drives and RAM and other best parts) two machines.

What other tips do you have?  Email them to and I'll include them below!