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There are some basic recommendations that will make repairs run as smoothly as possible and ensure good post-repair performance.
Obviously, the quality of replacement parts is one factor in determining performance after the repair. When it comes to selecting replacement parts, there can be dozens or even hundreds of choices, and naturally, there are wide variations in quality and price. For example, while most computer-literate people can differentiate hard drives solely by their data-storage capacity, overall computer performance is affected by differences in hard drives such as rotation speed and whether the manufacturer uses quality components and quality production methods.
How do you determine which parts are high quality? It's not necessarily a matter of selecting the most expensive components. There are many clues to help guide you in this matter. The most obvious are that the components come with some type of manual or guide, and the company supplies you with a way of contacting them for support or warranty needs. The manual might be in the form of a file on the installation CD, and the contact might be an address, a telephone number, or more likely these days just a Web site or e-mail address. You want to be able to reach customer service and tech support. Some vendors have excellent customer service and tech support, but other vendors are virtually impossible to reach. Often, you can't reach the company unless you can provide the product's serial number.
Additionally, look at the packaging and the actual components themselves. If they look cheap and shoddy, you should be wary. Moreover, if the price is so low that it seems too good to be true, then most times it is. However, that doesn't mean that real bargains aren't available. Let common sense be your guide.
While hardware components are not extremely delicate, they aren't indestructible either, or else you wouldn't need to replace them. They are susceptible to physical and electrical damage due to mishandling and power surges. Follow these guidelines to minimize the risk of damage:
Make sure the power supply is set to the correct voltage: In North America, electric utilities provide 110–120 volts AC to wall outlets. In much of the rest of the world, the standard is 220–240 volts. Check the power supply at the back of the computer. Most have switches labeled 120/240. Make sure the voltage setting matches the actual voltage, or you could face catastrophic results.
Use surge suppressors and UPSs whenever possible: Power surges and undervoltages can damage or even destroy components. See Chapter 2 for more information.
Don't force components: Connectors should be pushed in directly, not at an angle, and most go in only one way. Match up the pins with the holes. If you try to force a connector in the wrong way, you can bend or push in pins, damaging the connector and most likely causing the device to malfunction. In the case of a device with a permanently connected cable, which is common with monitors, damaging the connector requires that a qualified monitor technician repair the monitor.
There are different procedures for inserting expansion cards, memory chips, and CPUs, although the same "no-force" warning applies. See Chapter 3 for more information.
Prevent static damage: Discharge as much static as possible by touching a ground—any large metal object. Avoid carpet. Use anti-static floor mats, surface mats, and wrist ground straps. Make sure all circuits are wired correctly, including grounding.
Wire organizing tip: Do not use rubber bands or metal twist-ties inside a computer. Use plastic wire ties and snip off the ends to avoid scratching your hands and arms.
Document all changes: Keep a record of every change you make; you might have to undo certain changes. Mark all jumper and wire positions, before changing them, with a fine-tipped permanent marker. Make notes and diagrams of wire and jumper positions, and keep a record of all software configuration changes.
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