Laptop refresh & reload in under 2 hours

Those of you paying attention to my computer lifespan recommendations will know that the average lifespan of a laptop is 2 to 3 years.

I am regularly informed that "my last laptop lasted longer than that...".

I know some last longer. That's why the number is an "average".

My own laptop, on which I am creating this post, is 6 years old!

NOTE: In those 6 years I have treated it very well and replaced the 2 hard drives that were in it with SSDs (Solid State Drives). I also don't have to pay labour for maintenance and repairs, so the cost/benefit analysis for me is a bit different.

My Laptop is/was a very high spec' machine when I bought it. It is a gaming laptop and I don't game on it. I just wanted a very fast and fun looking laptop. It was stupidly expensive. I was bored with my old computer so I spent extra money on something extra fun. You know, shiny, flashing lights and all. Sheldon Cooper has one but I had mine first.

Anyway, as my parents used to annoyingly repeat at frequently; "Don't do as I do, do as I say" ;-)

But of late it had been exhibiting some worrying behaviour.

I was concerned that soon I would have to swallow my own bitter pill and get a new PC.

But I thought, in that case, I could take some risks and have a crack at refurbishing it in a way I had not yet bothered to.

  1. I backed everything up thrice; Backblaze, and 2 external hard disks.

  2. I opened it up and gave it a vigorous and thorough dust removal.

  3. I removed the processor (CPU) and graphics (GPU) heat sinks.

  4. I cleaned the thermal paste away from CPU and GPU.

  5. I applied new thermal paste and put everything back together.

  6. I blew away my installation of Windows 10 and did a full, clean install from scratch.

  7. I re-installed only/all the necessary programs.

  8. I restored all my backed up data.

Points 1 and 8 aside, this whole process took less than 2 hours. Probably closer to 1.5 hours.

Points 1 and 8 were set and check back later tasks that did take many hours to complete. But the computer was doing almost all the work. I just had to keep an eye on it.

I did find, during the reload, that the Firefox web browser was causing major (MAJOR) problems so I had to remove it almost as soon as I installed it (a post on that has recently been made here too).

The process was not without hiccups; a case screw could not be removed without force so now its socket is damaged (buts that's underneath and invisible). The heatsink screws didn't go back as easily and nicely as I had hoped...but they went back. At first try the machine beeped and did nothing but that was because I tried to start it with the cover off, which it won't let you do for its own good.

With better/restored heat disipation properties and a clean operating system the machine is now going like a rocket again.

I still can't recommend you pay a computer person to do this for you on a machine of this age, but if you can do it yourself it is definitely worth a go.

Just remember the golden rule; backup everything first!

Have fun. David

P.S. It probably also helps to have a plan B if those risks I mentioned don't pan out in your favour e.g. Access to another/spare machine or other contingency measures.

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