Your Ad Here

Monday, September 1, 2008

How hardware fails

Hardware can fail electronically or physically. Both ways are fairly easy to spot.
Electronic failure of hardware usually happens within one month of purchase.
If the electronics don’t work, were cheap, or were improperly assembled or
installed, or the hardware is just bad, it fails right away. That’s good because
the warranty on just about any computer covers such failures, and whatever
goes kaput is replaced free of charge.

The physical failure of hardware happens only when the hardware moves.
Fortunately, a PC has few moving parts on it: the disk drives and keyboard.
When a disk drive stops spinning, it’s dead! It needs replacement. Fortunately,
the disk drive usually has a period of intermittent errors, stops and starts, and
hits and misses before this happens, which gives you plenty of warning.
Removable disk drives may have problems with their doors or eject mechanisms,
which are obvious to spot.
Finally, the keyboard can fail. Cheap ones can go quickly, usually all at once.
The better-made keyboards may lose a key here and there, but they can be
fixed. Well, better than fixing, any keyboard can be replaced, and it’s inexpensive
to do so.
A cheap keyboard is one that utterly lacks a “clack” or “click” when you
type; the keys feel mushy. That’s because the keyboard is most likely a
touch-membrane model with spring-activated keys. If the membrane,
which is like a flimsy rubber sheet, breaks, the keyboard is finished.
Nearly all hardware is replaceable, which is often cheaper than fixing
things. For example, a CD-ROM drive can be fixed, but often it’s just
cheaper to get a newer, better CD-ROM drive as a replacement.
Avoid repair outfits that attempt to fix electronic components. Yes, even
electronic components (the motherboard, plug-in cards, and so on) can
easily and cheaply be replaced if they’re damaged. I speak from experience
here: I paid a guy close to $1,000 to solder new chips to an old laser
printer’s motherboard.