At some point, we all have an old PC or laptop waiting to be disposed at the next opportunity. Most of these old machines have minor glitches or maybe not powerful enough to run the latest software. Now, I have a desktop and old laptop ready to be disposed of. Either I can sell it or exchange at whatever price the buyer may offer. Or, I can refurbish my machines, make it look prettier, improve its performance by removing bottlenecks and sell it off at a higher price. Maybe I can donate it to some charity and let my Karma pay me.
Here is how you refurbish old PC or laptop
Check the damage to your old PC or laptop
First of all, check what damage is done to your PC or laptop. The basic requirement for any PC or laptop is the ability to boot to desktop. It doesn’t matter if the operating system inside is corrupted or illegal, as long as it can boot to the desktop the machine can be refurbished.
The basic component for running a PC or laptop are a PSU (Power Supply Unit), motherboard, CPU, RAM and hard disk. If PSU, RAM and the hard disk is damaged, it is worth replacing with a working one. If the price is too high, you can go for second-hand ones. In case, motherboard and CPU are damaged, it may not be worth refurbishing as it may end up a costly repair.
Check for other damages like fried cables, broken plastic parts, and look for rattling moving parts like fans. For the cables, replace the damaged ones. If those cables are not necessary, you may even remove it by cutting off the damaged part without any damage to the other circuits. The rattling sound is more likely from a component which is loosely connected to the motherboard. Just tighten these parts and you will find the computer getting quieter. The entire process is going to cost you only a few bucks.
Dissemble your machine
This is one of the most important steps in the refurbishing process. You need to clean the system thoroughly.
Cleaning the machine makes the machine looks much better. Also, the accumulated dust can create a lot of problems. The dust interferes with smooth movement of hardware components and also interfere with electronic circuitry. It also acts as an insulator preventing the escape of generated heat. The dust may prevent the fans from working properly. They also interfere with smooth airflow inside the system.
To clean your system thoroughly, you need to dismantle the entire system. First, Power down your PC or laptop. Make sure, you are discharged by touching a metal part to prevent static electricity from you damaging the electronic circuit. You can also use anti-static wristband.
Take the individual components apart and clean them individually. If you are not sure which components go where then take a snap of all the connected components for reference before dismantling hardware components. Start with removing cables, then dismantle expansion slots, remove external drives and the motherboard itself. Give good attention to cleaning the insides of slot and fans.
Clean the system
The main components for cleaning is a lightly damp cloth, a clean soft dry cloth, a small brush and a can of compressed air.
Wipe of dust using damp cloth and then use a dry cloth to mop up any water. Be gentle while cleaning as the cloth might snag on jagged wires and remove soldering. If you cannot use the cloth on insides of narrow slots and corners, use the hand brush to remove dirt. For areas where the brush may not work out, you use compressed air from a can to blow off the dust. But be careful, use it only on components where the dust doesn’t go deep inside the internal parts.
Be careful when you clean a PSU. It is the most dangerous part in a PC. Do not use can blower to blow the dust off. The dirt will go deep inside and create more problems which are not worth taking the risk. If the PSU is too dirty, think of replacing it with a new one. It is not going to cost much.
Re-assemble your PC
Once the individual components are cleaned, put it back together. Start with connecting motherboard, CPU, RAM and then PSU. If you have additional add-on cards, connect it.
Turn on your PC and check if it boots up normally. If not, follow the beep codes to figure out which component is causing the problem and correct it. If the error is coming from Windows, we need to take care of that later. For the time being, our priority is to make sure all the hardware components are working properly.
The used operating system inside the hard disk might be damaged or have accumulated unwanted files which slow down the entire system. The solution is to wipe out everything and do a clean installation. This will certainly make it look like a brand new computer.
Check if you have the legal copy of Windows which came with that PC. If you don’t have a legal copy, it may not be worth buying a new one. But if you are adamant to wipe out everything and make it look new, you can buy a new copy. But make sure, the system configuration of your machine passes the minimum configuration needed to install the software. If you don’t want to invest in OS, you may also go for open source free software like Linux. Linux OS is also good to run on computers with older configuration. Ubuntu and Mint Linux are some of the popular Linux distros.
Final touch up
Now that the computer is up and running, do these final touches to make it look polished. The monitor, mouse, and keyboard are the first things a person will notice on seeing your PC. Replace them if they are damaged or clean it thoroughly to give a polished look. In the case of monitors, buying a new one is not advised. But you may go for a second hand one for a lesser price. Old LCD screens are available everywhere for very less price.
Final: Now everything is finished, take a beautiful snap of it and post it online. Be truthful when mentioning the system details. Do not expect a lot for an old PC as recently the computer prices have come down drastically. If the price offered is too less and if it seems you won’t get more from it, consider donating your PC or Laptop to charity and earn good Karma.