Your Jewelry Could Be Causing Your Laptop to Sleep


Your Jewelry Could Be Causing Your Laptop to Sleep


Whatcha got on your wrist today? Is it an activity tracker? A watch? Your grandmother’s bracelet that she left you? Does it have a magnetic closure? If it does, then it just might be the reason why your laptop has been going to sleep while you’re using it.

Last week, a user approached me with the issue that her new company issued laptop was falling asleep unexpectedly as she actively used it. The laptop only entered sleep mode while it was in use and only while it was undocked. That is, while it was not attached to the “dock” which is a device that allows her laptop to function similarly to a desktop PC with an attached keyboard, mouse and monitor. Of course I updated her BIOS and her drivers and checked her power settings, etc. But I couldn’t find anything clearly wrong that would explain the seemingly random sleeps. This user was about to travel internationally for work and I didn’t want her leaving with an unreliable laptop. So I got busy googling and found that many other users with Dell Latitude laptops manufactured in the last few years had experienced the same thing. Read More

Recovering Data From an Erased or Damaged Hard Drive


By following the instructions in this article, you assume all risks including the possibility of the permanent loss of your data. As I’ll explain in detail later in this article, trying to recover data from a hard drive yourself is risky. Data may inadvertently be written over a deleted file or, in the case of a damaged hard drive, the hard drive may become even more damaged as you attempt to read from it. Before teaching you how to attempt data recovery on your own, this article will help you decide whether to do it yourself or pay a professional data recovery company to recover your data for you.

While I tried my best to be thorough in this article, I simply can’t address or foresee every possible obstacle you might encounter. For example, I’m assuming your hard drive is not encrypted because home users rarely have encrypted hard drives without realizing that they have encrypted hard drives. But, if a user did have an encrypted hard drive, they would find this guide unhelpful. That’s just an example. My point is that this guide should work for the vast majority of users but it can’t work for everyone because there is practically an infinite combination of variables at play and I just can’t address all the possibilities of things users might encounter.

I speak only for myself and not on behalf of my employer or sponsor(s). Neither my employer nor my sponsor(s) have approved or even read this article prior to publication.

For Whom Is This Article Written?

This article is written for users who wish to recover data from a hard drive after that data has been erased or the drive no longer functions correctly. This article only applies to regular mechanical hard drives. It does not apply to solid state disks (SSDs). If you’ve lost data on a solid state disk, stop using the disk immediately and go find an educational resource that deals specifically with data recovery from solid state disks. For example, this article. If you don’t know whether your PC has a solid state disk or a mechanical hard drive (HDD), you may be able to figure it out here if your drive is in good enough condition that Windows can recognize it.

The part of this article instructing users on data recovery deals specifically with the Windows operating system. If you use Linux, Mac OS, Unix or something else for an operating system, this article will only be useful to you if you have the technical knowledge to port my Windows based instructions to your OS of choice.

If you have fallen victim to ransomware, this article is not appropriate for you. It won’t help. You need to stop using the infected PC and call a highly qualified IT professional right away. Don’t shut your PC down. Don’t do anything. Just get qualified help as quickly as you can. Avoid the bargain companies for ransomware infections. Inexperienced technicians may not know whether your data can be saved. And even if they personally know whether it’s possible to save your data, many discount computer repair shops have a policy to just wipe peoples’ hard drives and reinstall the operating system in the event of a ransomware infection.

I’ve written this article with novice home users in mind. It is my goal to strike a balance between being detailed and being easy to follow. But, if I err, I will err on the side of providing too many details.
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Space Saving Desktop PCs Can Cost You Big

Piggy Bank -

I have to call a lady tomorrow and give her some bad news. The power supply unit (a.k.a the “PSU” – the thing you plug the power cord in to on the back of your desktop PC) and possibly the motherboard in her PC that she bought a couple years back have failed (a power spike is the suspected culprit). I can’t diagnose whether her motherboard has failed because it’s a proprietary motherboard that connects to a proprietary PSU using a proprietary pin-out. In other words, I can’t just grab another PSU and connect it to the motherboard to see if the motherboard is still good. Why? Because this PC does not conform to any established “form factor.” One purpose of desktop PCs conforming to a form factor (examples include ATX, BTX, extended ATX, micro-ATX and mini-ITX) is to ensure the compatibility of parts between PCs of like form factors. So if I have a PC that conforms to the ATX form factor, and my PSU goes bad, I can walk in to my local PC parts store and ask for a PSU that conforms to the ATX form factor. Then I’ll know that the PSU I’m purchasing can physically be installed in my PC. I’ll need to know a few other things to be certain that I’m purchasing a good PSU for my PC and my needs… but I can rest assured that I can physically install that PSU. When my PC conforms to a certain established form factor, I can easily buy compatible third party parts off the shelf for my PC if I want to.

So I bet you can guess why some manufacturers like to use proprietary parts… if the lady whose PC I just diagnosed with a bad PSU wants to replace that PSU, only the manufacturer sells the part she needs brand new. And guess how much they want for it… $108 plus $18 shipping! And if she winds up needing her motherboard replaced, that’ll be an extra $229+$18. I will advise her not to bother fixing this PC. She could easily buy a new one for what she’d spend on the parts. Of course, one could buy these parts, used, on eBay, much cheaper. But I don’t do that because it’s a real crap shoot as to what you’re going to get. I don’t want to fix someone’s PC only to have it break down again a week later.

The lesson here is that, when you buy a new desktop PC (I’m not talking about all-in-ones… I honestly have no idea if there even are established form factors for all-in-ones), ask what form factor it conforms to. The salesperson may not be able to tell you right off the top of the their head what form factor a given PC conforms to but they should be able to look it up for you or ask someone who knows. Please note that “Small Form Factor” is not a form factor. “Small Form Factor” is a term manufacturers use (with no actual normalized meaning) to describe PCs that have been designed with space-saving in mind. So, some “Small Form Factor” PCs actually comply with an established form factor and some do not. So if a salesperson tells you that the form factor of the PC you’re considering is “Small Form Factor,” you can either try to explain to him or her what I’ve just explained to you, or you can find someone more knowledgeable.

It doesn’t really matter that much which form factor you choose so long as it’s an actual form factor. ATX is the standard for desktop PCs. If you’re looking to enjoy the widest possible selection of replacements when a component breaks down, you can’t beat ATX.

I do have a bit of good news for the lady when I call her tomorrow. Her data is just fine. Her hard drive is undamaged. So at least there’s that.

Copyright Shaun Whelden 2019
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