Understanding Your Computer’s Internal Hardware

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Here at ComputerCare it’s our job to think about the physical pieces and parts that make up your computer’s hardware. We talk in terms of RAM and cards and drives, but even while we’re spouting that jargon, we do realize that not everyone is quite as well versed in the anatomy of computers. That’s why we’re providing this handy guide to the main components so you can understand what we’re looking at when we diagnose your device. 

Motherboard

A computer is a complex connection of parts which all must communicate with each other in order to accomplish user commands. The component which allows for this crucial communication is the motherboard. Every physical piece of your device connects to the motherboard, which is why damage overheating in this critical component can lead to damage of other parts as well. You may also hear a technician refer to the logic board, which is the equivalent to a motherboard in smaller devices like phones and tablets.

Central Processing Unit (CPU)

Any device that processes information needs a brain, and in computers, this is the central processing unit. Other hardware and software in the computer send their commands and input to the CPU so it can interpret and execute them. Thus a CPU’s speed and number of cores are crucial in allowing your computer to multitask effectively. Due to how central the CPU is, bugs and flaws in its operation can cause system-wide problems that may require CPU-replacement.

Random Access Memory (RAM)

Continuing our brain metaphor, Random Access Memory is the hardware piece in your computer that works like human short-term memory. Any information or data that’s being actively used and created by programs on your device is stored for easy access in the RAM component. This allows for smooth, fast operation of your computer’s tasks. For this reason, if anything goes wrong with your RAM, you may find that your programs no longer work quickly, since they have to access information from the Hard Drive instead. This also causes unnecessary wear-and-tear on the Hard Drive, so we always recommend replacing faulty RAM immediately.

Power Supply

This part of your computer receives AC current from external electrical sources and converts it to DC current (a continuous power supply) so that all the other hardware components can function without interruption. The power supply also regulates heat for your device, preventing overheating. A faulty power supply, therefore, can cause heat-based, mechanical problems for the rest of your computer’s internal parts.

Hard Drive (HDD) or Solid-State Drive (SSD)

The hard drive and solid state drive are two options in computer components which act as long-term memory storage for information and data. Whichever your computer uses, these drives serve as the main and largest storage device for your operating system, software, and files. Since the information is stored in a physical component, your computer can always access it, unlike RAM, which empties itself when not actively functioning. In the case of a hard drive, which is composed of moving parts, since the computer is constantly writing and reading information on it, it can wear out and start causing problems for program function. On the other hand, since a solid-state drive has no moving parts but performs the same function, it can offer greater stability and longevity for your device but costs considerably more.

Video Card

So that you can see what’s happening inside your computer, you need a dedicated card that sends graphical information to your monitor (or other screen). This video card attaches to the motherboard. Use of graphics-heavy programs or software (games, design programs, etc.) can overload the video card, causing problems with overheating or RAM access. 

If you’re seeing any problems with the above hardware components, you may want to talk to a computer service about upgrades, repairs, or other customizations. Contact ComputerCare today for helpful troubleshooting and advice!

Ways to Waterproof Your Devices (and some pros and cons)

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As the weather warms up, and people emerge from their Netflix-bingeing hibernations, it’s time to go outside! That means your devices will be going outside as well, exposing them to a variety of potential hazards, including water. Whether it’s rain, the ocean, your favorite fishing hole, or that cold beer you’re enjoying on a patio, keeping your device from exposure to liquid is a must.

Here are some ways to waterproof your device (and some pros and cons to go along with them).

Waterproof Cases

Waterproof cases are very similar is size, shape, and function of a normal phone case, but provide waterproof capabilities.

Pros: Waterproof cases allow you to use your phone like you normally would: they provide you access to all the functions a normal case does. In addition to protecting your device from water, waterproof cases can also protect from dirt, sand, snow, food – you name it. Most waterproof cases are rated to a certain depth and a certain amount of time. In most cases of accidental submersion, a waterproof case will protect your phone (though it’s always good to check your case’s specific uses and limitations. Some brands don’t guarantee waterproofness, so make sure this is the case before buying).

Cons: While waterproof cases do let you use your phone like you normally would, they do have to fully cover your device. Because of this, they can make some of the finer gestures of a smartphone harder to recognize, and can make your voice harder to hear. Waterproof cases also don’t last forever. As they wear out, the waterproof capabilities of the case may fail over time, so it’s always good to check for cracks and leaks.

Waterproof pouches and dry bags

Waterproof pouches and dry bags are exactly what they sound like. They don’t enclose a device like a case, but are instead a waterproof bag you can keep your phone or device. Think a more sophisticated Ziploc bag.

Pros: If you prefer to go case-free most days, or don’t expose your device to water very often, you can protect your phone in and around water with a waterproof pouch or dry bag. Compared to a waterproof case (which can run you $40 to $100), they are much more affordable. Many pouches and dry bags float, and are rated for depths deeper than many waterproof cases, making them great for people who enjoy watersports.

Cons: Waterproof pouches and dry bags don’t come with the same drop or shock protection as a case, and they can be much bulkier. While many allow for you to use the touchscreen while in use, they aren’t as seamless as a case might be. Make sure you check for the submersion depth/time the bag or pouch is rated for – some products don’t disclose this information.

Waterproof and Water-Resistant Devices

Are you accident-prone? Do you drop your device all the time? Have you tried to save your soggy device in a bowl of rice more than once? Maybe it’s a good idea to switch to a waterproof or water-resistant device.

Many new phones and devices are much more water resistant that they used to be. The newest line of iPhones, for example, can survive submersion in 3 to 5 feet of water (depending on the model) for up to 30 minutes. These devices will come with a rating: IP67 or IP68. This rating will tell you how long and how deep the device can survive in the water.

Pros: No case necessary, so devices function like normal. You can apply one of the above methods for extra waterproofing.

Cons: While water-resistant, many devices can’t survive long in the water. Also, keep your water-resistant device away from the ocean. Many of the coatings used to achieve water protection don’t do as well with saltwater. These coatings are meant for accidental water contact, so use under water isn’t recommended (using buttons, for example, expose your device to damage).

And what happens if your device loses the battle with water? That’s why we’re here! If all else fails, we can help you fix that water-logged device. Learn more about our local services.

Take Advantage of Apple’s iPhone Battery Replacement Program

        

Until the end of 2018, Apple has reduced the price of iPhone battery replacements for the iPhone 6 and later models to $29. Even better, if you bought AppleCare+ for your iPhone and it is still within the two-year hardware repair coverage window, then your iPhone battery replacement will be free.

Keep in mind that demand for this service is currently very high, so be sure to call ComputerCare directly before you bring your iPhone in for service. You can reach us at: ComputerCare Santa Clara: (650) 475-5500 and ComputerCare Seattle: (206) 743-8052.

The iPhones models included in the battery replacement program are:

  • iPhone SE, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus

When you bring your iPhone in to have its battery replaced, the first thing we do is run a standard diagnostic test to check the battery life and general health of your iPhone. Even if the results of the test show a healthy battery, Apple is allowing the replacement to go ahead.

MAKING AN APPOINTMENT IS EASY

You have several options. If you live near ComputerCare’s Santa Clara or Seattle locations, you can simply give us a call to see if we have batteries in stock before bringing your iPhone to us. Alternatively, you can start a ticket through our website here. If you don’t live or work near ComputerCare, Apple has made it easy to find a participating service provider through its support page. Remember, even if you successfully make an appointment, the app doesn’t keep track of battery stock information, so it’s best to phone ahead to be on the safe side.

To use the Apple’s appointment tool, go to Contact Apple Support and click on See Your Products. You’ll also need to sign in using your Apple ID.

Then, follow these instructions:

Step 1 – Choose ‘iPhone’

Step 2 – Choose “Battery, Power & Charging”

Step 3 – Choose “Battery Replacement”

Step 4 – Choose “Bring in for Repair”

(or send in for repair if you can wait – usually two weeks)

Step 5 – Confirm your location and carrier details.

The map will show availability and distance.

To schedule an appointment, click on a store and choose a time slot. DON’T FORGET TO CALL TO CONFIRM BATTERY AVAILABILITY. If batteries are in stock, the replacement process takes less than a day.

Last but definitely not least, before you bring your iPhone in for a battery replacement (or any major repair) BACK IT UP via iCloud or iTunes so that you don’t risk losing precious data.

ComputerCare is an Authorized Service Provider for Apple, Lenovo, HP, Toshiba and other brands. We are proud to offer repairs, servicing, upgrades and more on laptops, desktops and mobile devices, whether under warranty or not.

GOT QUESTIONS? Call us at:
ComputerCare Santa Clara, CA: (650) 475-5500
ComputerCare Seattle, WA: (206) 743-8052

My Experience Replacing a 2012 MacBook Air Battery at ComputerCare

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Hi. My name is Mark Chisholm. I work in public relations, and happen to be part of the team that gets to support ComputerCare. This blog post is a little bit different because I wanted to share my first-hand experience of having my laptop’s battery replaced.

I have a MacBook Air. It’s my primary work laptop, and I find it light and really easy to use. It’s a five-year-old mid-2012 model, and (thanks to the case I keep it in) it still looks and works very well. I don’t do anything too taxing on my Air; in fact, I primarily use just six or seven applications, like Outlook for email, Word, Excel and PowerPoint for documents, Google Chrome as my web browser, Slack for internal messaging and Spotify for music. I occasionally joke with my boss that I’d like to upgrade to a newer machine, but all in all this has been an incredibly reliable laptop that more than meets my needs.

replacement battery

Old battery: Only 2 hours on a full charge

 

Like many people, I generally have my laptop’s AC plugged in when I’m at the office, so battery life is never an issue. But at home, where I also frequently use my computer, I noticed a sudden drop in battery life over the past couple of months. It wasn’t terrible, but it was enough that I’d try to extend it by turning off Slack and lowering screen brightness. Even then I was only getting a couple of hours out of it without the power cord.

When I saw a ‘service battery’ message pop up, I was naturally a bit more concerned, so I tried resetting the System Management Controller (SMC) to see if that would help. I’d recommend trying that first if you’re having similar battery problems (link to Apple Support’s SMC reset instructions here), but it didn’t work for me, so I knew it was likely to be a battery hardware issue.

The good folks at ComputerCare in Seattle kindly ran some diagnostics on my laptop and quickly identified the battery problem, which would unfortunately require a replacement. All I needed to provide ComputerCare was the model number and serial number of the laptop, and they ordered the appropriate replacement battery. Keep in mind that these are 100 percent genuine Apple parts, so ComputerCare sources them directly from Apple.

replacement battery

Email confirmation: My replacement battery was on the way.

 

I could have left my laptop there, but I hadn’t done a back-up of the data, so I decided to take it with me and wait a few days while the replacement battery was being shipped. When the day arrived, I was pleasantly surprised to receive a phone call from ComputerCare’s Seattle team, confirming that my battery was in stock and they were ready to repair it as soon as I could drop it off. I proceeded to clean up my files and back everything up to iCloud as well as to a large capacity USB thumb drive. The back-up process took longer than I’d expected, but it was still less than an hour, total, and I could keep working while it did that in the background.

When I arrived at ComputerCare’s Seattle office (on 2nd Ave in Belltown), I filled out some simple paperwork and fully expected to leave my laptop for a few days. To my surprise, I was told that it would only take 30 minutes if I was willing to wait. So, after a quick walk down to Drip City Coffee for a drink, I was back to pick up my laptop. I signed some more paperwork and paid for the repairs, and it was done. Did I mention how quick and painless that was?

replacement battery

New battery: Almost 8 hours on a full charge

 

Needless to say, I’m a very happy camper right now. My battery can last almost an entire work day without being plugged in, and I don’t have to worry about dimming the screen or turning off any apps. And even though I had prepared a spare laptop, I ended up not needing to use one (but I’d still recommend making a back-up of your data, just in case).

Ultimately, I’m really glad that I’ll be able to get at least another year or two out of this laptop. The whole repair process was quick, painless, and cost-effective. That’s music to my (and my boss’) ears.

Finally, a big shout out to the team at ComputerCare in Seattle. Everyone was courteous, helpful, professional, knowledgeable and fast.

If you need a replacement battery, or any other hardware related service, fill out a service ticket here.

New Repair Center Open in Seattle

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ComputerCare is expanding! We’re proud to announce the opening of a brand-new repair center in the heart of downtown Seattle. With views of the iconic Space Needle and just a stone’s throw from the rapidly growing South Lake Union area, ComputerCare’s Belltown location is the only authorized Apple repair center in the entire downtown area.

Home to well-known companies such as Amazon, Microsoft, Expedia, Zillow and a host of highly respected biotech and research organizations, the greater Seattle area is experiencing unprecedented growth and expansion. What it lacked, however, was a world-class technology repair provider catering to the needs of consumers and businesses downtown. Located at 2827 2nd Avenue, the new facility offers ComputerCare’s full range of repair and service offerings for Apple, Lenovo, HP and Toshiba products. For business clients, this includes free pick-up and delivery.

authorized Apple repair

New authorized Apple repair center in Downtown Seattle

Commenting on the new location, ComputerCare President, Georgia Rittenberg said, “Establishing a base in Seattle makes a lot of sense for ComputerCare. It allows us to bring our award-winning repair services closer to existing customers in the Seattle region, while opening new opportunities for future expansion in the Pacific Northwest. The Seattle area is a booming technology center, and yet suffers from a real shortage of quality computer and phone repair options. We’re very excited to offer our exceptional repair services and personal attention to businesses and consumers throughout the Seattle metropolitan area.”

If you live or work in the Seattle area, and are having problems with your laptop or mobile device, feel free to give us a call or drop by our office for a consultation. Our friendly team is there to help.

You can reach our Seattle team at 206-743-8052. Or, to open a help ticket, visit: http://computercare.net/local-services/ and click on “Get Started.”

Now Offering Same-Day iPhone Display Repair

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ComputerCare’s already fast turnaround is now even faster! We can now facilitate same-day display repairs for Apple iPhones for our Bay Area clients. Just stop by our office at 3350 Scott Blvd #51, Santa Clara, during our iPhone repair hours (Monday-Friday 8:30am – 4:30pm) for a free diagnosis while you wait. Items received before 1 p.m. are turned around that same day. If you drop by after 1 p.m., repairs are available for pick-up the following day.

No waiting at the Genius Bar. No appointment necessary! How great is that!?

Don’t forget, we are an Apple Authorized Service Provider for warranty or non-warranty repairs on your iPhone too, so nothing we do will void any warranty and we can handle all the correct paperwork on your behalf, just like going directly to Apple.