Anyone who has spent enough time around computers, especially laptops, knows that feeling in the pit of their stomach when they bump it and it goes flying. Laptops seem to fly through the air at the slightest provocation. However, they don’t often land well. Before you fall to pieces, take a moment to make sure your computer didn’t and you might be surprised.
Do You Drop It Often?
Most people don’t make a habit of letting their computers take too many trips to the floor, or other hard surfaces. The more often your computer has fallen to a hard surface (or even a soft one) the more likely there is to be damage. Believe it or not, even a soft surface can cause damage, because it is the jostling more than the impact that causes damage to the hard drive, although hard surfaces are more likely to cause cracks in the casing or monitor. If your computer is taking an unexpected trip for the first time, you might get lucky and not even have a scratch.
Off or On?
If your computer is completely off when it falls it is less likely to suffer internal damage to the drives. It could still crack outer surfaces, but still run fine. The first thing you need to do is inspect your computer casing for cracks. Pay special attention to the joints where it opens and closes, corners and seams. Next check the monitor for cracks.
Finally, turn on your computer, unless it was on when it fell, and in that case, pray it is still on. If it turns on without making struggling, grinding, whirling noises you are likely in good shape. Any strange noises during rebooting could signal disk damage. If the computer beeps while rebooting, turn off the unit. Turn it back on and listen for the number of beeps it makes. You will need to know the number when telling a service technician what is going on as they are error codes.
Use the battery only when re-powering your laptop for the first time after an accidental drop. This lets you determine if the battery suffered any damage in the fall. If you can’t power on the computer with the battery, use the electrical plug to start up. If the computer starts fine with the AC adapter you can simply replace the battery to solve the damage.
Make sure the drive doors (DVD/CD) open and close smoothly. If it will not open use a pin and insert it into the hole at the front of the door to eject it. If that doesn’t work, or the problem continues after the first time, you will have to replace the drive.
If your laptop suffers from heating problems or slow downs after a fall, don’t be too quick to jump to the conclusion that the hard drive is damaged. It could be the fans. Make sure the fan is running when you turn on the computer. If it isn’t have it replaced by a service technician.
Actual damage to the motherboard can be difficult to detmine, or pinpoint. If your computer is not working after a drop, or sounds bad when it runs it is worth having a technician examine it for possible replacement parts that would be cheaper than an entirely new machine. In some cases, however, the cost of replacing entire motherboards, or the damage may be so invasive as to require a new computer. When you bring your laptop in for servicing make sure the repair company offers an estimate service. Even if the estimate has a minimal charge it could save you a lot of money in the long run to determine the viability of fixing. Before giving the go-ahead for expensive repairs as for a written guarantee so you don’t end up with a costly repair bill and a computer that still doesn’t work.