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Computer.
« on: August 04, 2017, 10:03:33 AM »

My fairly elderly (5years old) HP Envy died on me yesterday with an alarming message intimating that there was nothing on the hard drive to reboot it with.

I rushed it to the ER and paid 35gbp for diagnostics. Today they tell me that they have cleaned the fan (overheating) and to get it back and running it'll be another 50gbp. Very vague about what's wrong but talking about re-installing windows.

The thing is it's been very slow for ages and has had issues with multiple blue screen crashes that these guys made better in the past but never managed to make go away so I had been thinking about getting a new one anyway.

At the moment I'm leaning towards having them try to fix it but is it worth it?
Should I just get a new one instead and cut my losses?

Also, looking at what's available, there isn't one that exactly meets my wish list. and it seems that HP don't do custom options like they do in the US. And they're expensive!

Borrowing my husband's computer which is even older/slower/more frustrating than mine so have to do something sharpish before I loose my mind!

Please be aware I don't know what a lot of the computer-y words mean so a translation would be helpful!


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Re: Computer.
« Reply #1 on: August 04, 2017, 11:37:52 AM »
What do you use your computer for?  Do you do anything special, or is it just normal surfing and writing emails?  Do you watch TV or movies on it?  Do you play games?  Edit pictures?  Do you some old stuff from the old computer you would like to keep and what it it? Pics?  Word docs?

Do you have good wifi? 

Depending on the answer to those questions, maybe you could consider just getting an iPad.  It will work way faster and be a lot less prone to viruses.  It will also just be a lot more pleasurable to use. 

Otherwise, if it were me, I'd want to replace that dodgy old computer before the hard drive goes.  I'd also make sure stuff I cared about was backed up.


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Re: Computer.
« Reply #2 on: August 04, 2017, 11:59:05 AM »
Thanks jimbocz! :)

I decided just to go ahead and tell them to fix it (which probably amounts to a band aid) , even if it only buys me a month or two, it'll give me time to properly research what I'd like to replace it with.

I had thought about getting an iPad but I'm so used to the laptop and honestly am rarely away from home so I think I'll likely stick with that. 

I do have an external storage thing that they told me to buy the last time I had it in but of course that only works if you use it! They think they'll be able to retrieve everything though, we'll see!

Out of the options I'm considering at the moment I've found the same machine, same price in 2 options. i5 with 256 ssd and i7 with 512ssd. Ideally, I'd like the i7 with 512 but they don't do that! Frustrating.




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Re: Computer.
« Reply #3 on: August 04, 2017, 12:17:18 PM »
I leave the IT support to DH, but if I were in your shoes, he would insist on backing up those files. Asap.

I'd suggest getting the band-aided computer back, immediately making a backup of the files on it and start looking for a new device.

I use a tablet for most personal stuff, but I work from home so I've got a desktop, too. The tablet is good enough for most day-to-day stuff (YouTube, internet surfing, podcasts) and I hardly ever use the desktop. I think outside of work, the desktop is usually used for placing orders online and watching movies.
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Re: Computer.
« Reply #4 on: August 04, 2017, 12:25:37 PM »
Thank you TF.  :) Yes, that's the plan. They are going to do the back up for me as part of the cost of the repair.
I'll see if I can talk them into a lesson in how to do it myself when I go to pick it up! (I think they might, just to get rid of me, I've already called them 3 times today with questions!) :)


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Re: Computer.
« Reply #5 on: August 04, 2017, 12:45:30 PM »
Thanks jimbocz! :)

I decided just to go ahead and tell them to fix it (which probably amounts to a band aid) , even if it only buys me a month or two, it'll give me time to properly research what I'd like to replace it with.

I had thought about getting an iPad but I'm so used to the laptop and honestly am rarely away from home so I think I'll likely stick with that. 

I do have an external storage thing that they told me to buy the last time I had it in but of course that only works if you use it! They think they'll be able to retrieve everything though, we'll see!

Out of the options I'm considering at the moment I've found the same machine, same price in 2 options. i5 with 256 ssd and i7 with 512ssd. Ideally, I'd like the i7 with 512 but they don't do that! Frustrating.
I'd bet that you will never be able to tell the difference between i5 and i7.  Without knowing exactly what you use your computer for, Unless you are gaming or editing photos, don't worry about it.  You may worry about the size of the Ssd card as you could easily fill that up.   

The first step in your research is to answer my questions about what you use your computer for, otherwise you will be tricked into thinking what matters is a minuscule difference in the speed of the processor when other things will make a far bigger difference to you.

Do you need a laptop if you never move it?  That's what desktops are for, and they are cheaper and easier to upgrade and don't over heat as often . 


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Re: Computer.
« Reply #6 on: August 04, 2017, 02:07:15 PM »
I'd bet that you will never be able to tell the difference between i5 and i7.  Without knowing exactly what you use your computer for, Unless you are gaming or editing photos, don't worry about it.  You may worry about the size of the Ssd card as you could easily fill that up.   

The first step in your research is to answer my questions about what you use your computer for, otherwise you will be tricked into thinking what matters is a minuscule difference in the speed of the processor when other things will make a far bigger difference to you.

Do you need a laptop if you never move it?  That's what desktops are for, and they are cheaper and easier to upgrade and don't over heat as often .

Definitely don't want a desktop. Although I'm nearly always at home, I do move around the house a fair bit and there are at least 3 rooms that I regularly use the laptop in.
Normal usage. Nothing fancy. Browsing, banking, shopping, email, this place, Netflix, Skype. I use open office for letters and the occasional spreadsheet. I have photos but no videos.

It's good to know that i5 vs i7 is less important than the larger SSD, that's really helpful!
There is an i5 Pavilion with 512 ssd that I'll have another look at!

Thanks!


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Re: Computer.
« Reply #7 on: August 04, 2017, 05:52:29 PM »
If you've had a lot of blue screen problems, that often signals a memory issue. (It depends on the error that comes up with the blue screen) So I'd definitely be backing things up and prepping for replacement.

I am not an HP fan. I'm looking at my next laptop being a lenovo legion y520 gaming laptop - I don't need the massive video card that comes with the next model up, but 2 HD's and 16GB ram, and an i7 are what I do want. I was considering a lenovo yoga as well, but for the specs I want it's just a bit more than I want to spend right now. I have friends who have loved their yogas though, having the touchpad capabilities is excellent for things like note taking and drawing, and then still be a fully fledged laptop. I had a thinkpad that was built like a tank and lasted 10+ years and that sold me on lenovo!


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Re: Computer.
« Reply #8 on: August 04, 2017, 06:04:29 PM »
If you've had a lot of blue screen problems, that often signals a memory issue. (It depends on the error that comes up with the blue screen) So I'd definitely be backing things up and prepping for replacement.

I am not an HP fan. I'm looking at my next laptop being a lenovo legion y520 gaming laptop - I don't need the massive video card that comes with the next model up, but 2 HD's and 16GB ram, and an i7 are what I do want. I was considering a lenovo yoga as well, but for the specs I want it's just a bit more than I want to spend right now. I have friends who have loved their yogas though, having the touchpad capabilities is excellent for things like note taking and drawing, and then still be a fully fledged laptop. I had a thinkpad that was built like a tank and lasted 10+ years and that sold me on lenovo!

I can't remember what the older blue screens used to say but the newer ones have said something about USB. Now my usb also makes that ding dong noise completely at random without me doing anything so I did wonder if that had something to do with the more recent episodes. Regardless, I agree, it's time for a new one.

This is going to sound very odd but I'm not a fan of HP either! I have only had 2 computers and they were both HP and I had problems with both. This one was on paper quite a good machine but it's been problematic from the very beginning.
So I don't know why I can't get past the idea that I want another one. Maybe it's the old better the devil you know scenario?

I'll look again at Lenovo. Thank you!  :)


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Re: Computer.
« Reply #9 on: August 05, 2017, 03:45:13 PM »
I have a Lenovo Ideapad Y500 and it's pretty much indestructible (which is why I went for it over an HP, Dell, Acer, etc.). It got pulled off my old laptop roller-desk-thing a few times and has only a few dings in the lid to show for it.

Agree with jimbo that an i5 would be totally fine for your needs. It sounds like you don't really need the bells and whistles, so don't feel the need to pay through the nose for top-of-the-line hardware!


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Re: Computer.
« Reply #10 on: August 05, 2017, 08:27:45 PM »
I have a Lenovo Ideapad Y500 and it's pretty much indestructible (which is why I went for it over an HP, Dell, Acer, etc.). It got pulled off my old laptop roller-desk-thing a few times and has only a few dings in the lid to show for it.

Agree with jimbo that an i5 would be totally fine for your needs. It sounds like you don't really need the bells and whistles, so don't feel the need to pay through the nose for top-of-the-line hardware!

I picked it up this afternoon. They said it's good for a year or two. Turns out, not so much. Lasted about 45 mins before crashing again.  :-X

Thanks for the advice. Good to know that it would be a waste to get too much and will look at the i5 instead of i7 but I am just really keen for anything I buy to be fast because I get so frustrated when this one goes slowly!  ;D


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Re: Computer.
« Reply #11 on: August 05, 2017, 11:02:33 PM »
Hi,

Some good advice so far!

It sounds as though you're a typical 'home user' with a spread of 'home use' for your computing needs.

You don't need to worry about Processor speeds etc as such, an i3 processor could/would suffice for you in this regard. A lot of laptops nowadays do come with an 'SSD' type hard drive and those are much 'faster' than mechanical drives, so that 'bottleneck' is all but gone now. A good amount of RAM, 4/8GB is the norm nowadays too. I'd go as far as to say a 'modest' i3, 128/256 GB hard drive, 4/8GB RAM' laptop is more than enough for most home users for 'home type' computing usage.

The 'trick' to keeping a Windows PC/Laptop working smoothly, reliably and well is to maintain the operating system. By this I mean using various free and moderately prices software tools to check and maintain, fix and repair where necessary on a regular basis. By doing this, you'll not have problems like you've mentioned. I know it's a 'little' extra effort in terms of use and also a 'modest' amount extra financially, but long term, it means you don't start thinking the way you currently are and spending £400-1500 on a new machine every 2-5 years!

Another good practice aspect is more drastic, and that is indeed to perform a clean re-installation of Windows. You'll need to backup all your important files and data (you do this already, right?!! ) and then do the re-install. Your computer then is back to how it was when new.

When it comes to hardware, then computers can and do go wrong and it is frustrating for sure. There's a league table of the worlds biggest computer/laptop manufacturers and who are the more reliable overall. I think HP are in the middle to lower range of the top 10 I think (I'm a bit vague).

I've been a Dell customer since 1998 and I'm now on my 4th laptop in all these years. I changed to a XPS 15 in late 2015 and it's running brilliantly still (haven't had to reinstall Windows yet but I'm thinking to in the next few months). I do some spreadsheet number crunching, some photo and (soon) video editing along with (soon) some CAD software. These types of programs do need good processing power under the hood as it were, so my machine is an i7 with 16GB of RAM and a 512GB hard drive. Another 'spec' to look for when it comes to more intense use is the capabilities of the Graphics card, many machines nowadays 'share' the processing power between the main processor and the graphics one and again, this setup is fine for 'most' users out there. You'll want to split this if you were big into 'Gaming' which can require some serious processing power.

In short, if you look at a decent spec i3/i5 based machine, with as much RAM as possible and a decent 2/4 GB graphics card spec, then don't worry 'too much' about storage as external hard disks/USB sticks/Secure Digital storage is easily added.

Nip into PC World and have a look and quick feel of various laptops to see how the keyboard feels, how the display looks like for you and the overall size you'll need. There'll be a short list of machines for you from various brands. Just keep in mind to install good Internet Security software and utilities like 'Crap Cleaner' (you'll see it as CCleaner), Malwarebytes and update those and run them often to keep your machine as clean as possible and you should see much less issues/problems with how your machine runs long term.  I know there's a few other utilities as well not just the ones I mention above.

For a more 'Plain English' view of home computing, take a look at the 'Computer Active' magazine that comes out every 2 weeks as they have many excellent features and advice for users who aren't so 'technical' and they explain things very well. The website has lots of advice, a forum and a searchable section for reviews and what and how to maintain your PC well etc, it's worth bookmarking and for use in looking at in case some issues to pop up etc.

Cheers, DtM! West London & Slough UK!


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Re: Computer.
« Reply #12 on: August 06, 2017, 08:43:07 AM »
Great post Dennis, many thanks for your time.

After 3 more crashes yesterday evening, it started making a really bad noise so I didn't try to get it up again. I'm really bummed at the moment because I've sent 85gbp now and it's more broken than it was before I took it in.  :-X

They told me that they had backed things up and re-installed windows 7. I was just looking around to try to find a couple of my most important files and they were open when it crashed so gone again but at least they're in the back up thing. No idea how to get them out though!

I really appreciate the additional advice on maintenance, I'll definitely look into crap cleaner. Love that idea and I wound use it, I'm sure.
Which antivirus do you recommend? I used to use Norton but the last time the computer went wrong, these guys uninstalled it and told me to get Avast.  In Currys they are really pushing mcafee hard.

Really appreciate everyones input, you are all helping me narrow down my choices!


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Re: Computer.
« Reply #13 on: August 07, 2017, 09:08:05 AM »
Where does everyone buy their computers?

Currys/PCworld seem to have a bit of a monopoly.


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Re: Computer.
« Reply #14 on: August 07, 2017, 11:53:23 AM »
I've been a Dell customer since 1998 and I'm now on my 4th laptop in all these years. I changed to a XPS 15 in late 2015 and it's running brilliantly still (haven't had to reinstall Windows yet but I'm thinking to in the next few months). I do some spreadsheet number crunching, some photo and (soon) video editing along with (soon) some CAD software. These types of programs do need good processing power under the hood as it were, so my machine is an i7 with 16GB of RAM and a 512GB hard drive. Another 'spec' to look for when it comes to more intense use is the capabilities of the Graphics card, many machines nowadays 'share' the processing power between the main processor and the graphics one and again, this setup is fine for 'most' users out there. You'll want to split this if you were big into 'Gaming' which can require some serious processing power.

I was skeptical of Dell laptops after a bad desktop experience in the late 90s/early 2000s.  However, my husband convinced me to try a Dell laptop after my second Toshiba in 4 years started having overheating issues (they just aren't adequately cooled).  I have had my Dell P26E  (click that link for specs) for about 2 years, now.  I use it for online gaming (mostly Minecraft, including PvP on our not-superfast internet!), photo editing, CAD, I send stuff to my CNC machine from it, Netflix and YouTube viewing, and the usual Internet browsing and email.

I've been pretty happy with it... much happier than with my previous Toshiba laptops!  My only complaints with my laptop are: the touchpad is really sensitive, but inconsistently so; I have never managed to calibrate my monitor's display colour/tone to look normal (my monitor's tone is just slightly cool, which I have to try not to overcompensate for when editing photos by making them too warm); and if you're not sitting centered directly in front of the laptop, the speaker capabilities are not quite sufficient (I am partly deaf in one ear, so the speakers are probably not as bad as I think they are).  I rectified these issues by: generally using a mouse with my computer, and telling my computer to disable the touchpad when the mouse is plugged in; ignoring the monitor display issue and just acknowledging that when I edit photos, they won't look quite the same to others as they do to me ( :P ); and if my husband and I are going to watch something together, we either use his computer or we plug in auxiliary speakers to my laptop so we can hear better... the built-in speakers are good enough for just me when I'm watching alone.

We ordered mine online.  I think we ordered direct from Dell, but I don't remember.
« Last Edit: August 07, 2017, 12:00:35 PM by jfkimberly »
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