8 Jan

Sometimes, I wonder why I keep on trying.

You know the feeling, right?  When no matter how hard you work, how hard you try…something always rises its ugly head to set you back three steps when you just finally thought you were moving forward.

It’s happened to me, again.

This time it’s my laptop.  A fan has gone out, which sounds so utterly minor.  It’s a quick and cheap repair on a desk top.  It isn’t so easy on a laptop.

Now keep in mind, I don’t have a fancy laptop–I have a cheap laptop that I beat the daylights out of to manage to do the things I need to do with it.   I don’t have a laptop for the status symbol effect either.  We live in very tight quarters, and there really is  no space for a desk top.  In addition, we’ve often had to cart our laptops off to the library or whatever when we’re working and doing research, either because we didn’t have internet at home or because we need the computer where we’re working.  I would actually prefer to have a desktop, but until we have our proverbial ship come in, we just don’t have the space for it.

Replacing the fan isn’t so easy because nothing on a laptop is easy.  I think the manufacturers are afraid to make accessing the cases too easy, as though consumers are going to start going inside the cases and playing with the components.  I found directions in how to open up the case online.  Believe it or not, you can’t just open a laptop up from the bottom side, the way logic says it should work.  It’s not that easy.

You have to remove the battery, a couple of screws, remove & unplug the screen, then flip it over right side up and remove the keyboard.  After that, you flip it back upside down and take off some more stuff, and back and forth you go…until you can finally access the fan assembly.

It’s a 45 minute job to just get TO the fan assembly.

It’s just as slow to try and find out what kind of fan assembly you need to buy, and then order it and have it shipped.  To make it even worse, it’s a Compaq laptop, and the HP website demands that I give it a specific model number which is supposedly located on the bottom of the laptop on an HP sticker.

There isn’t one.

We have a second laptop too.  It is also a Compaq.  It’s Greg’s laptop and a bit newer than mine, as well as the one I’m using at the moment.  It also lacks the sticker.

This makes no sense.  I could see missing ONE sticker, but we’re lacking this sticker entirely on BOTH laptops.  I have searched that entire laptop over carefully looking for any signs of a model number (the series number is on the lower right hand side of the screen) but there is none.  I know we didn’t remove them, and the Windows sticker is intact.  Where is this missing sticker?

So that means digging in files and trying to locate the original paperwork on the laptop…which should be there…somewhere.

I also suspect that there are TWO fans in a laptop (I really have no clue, as I’ve never had one have a fan go out before.)  The HP website is a nightmare to try and find anything parts wise on.  I honestly don’t think they want to sell parts to do-it-yourself consumers.  They strongly discourage that, instead wanting us to send the laptop off to an approved repair center.

I don’t want to send it off, to be honest.  I have personal information on my harddrive, and I despise the idea of sending it off with that intact.  That means removing at least the harddrive, and most repair shops want that harddrive in place for repair as well.  Add in the cost for repairing an 18 month old laptop, and I am not sure that it would even be a cost effective repair, to be honest.

It seems laptops are nearly disposable.  You use them until a problem appears, sometime after that 12 month warranty expires, and then toss them and buy a new one.

That seems incredibly wasteful.  That laptop really was still completely functional.  Yes, there are newer and faster and bigger and badder models out there, but they really are not going to accomplish the job any faster than the one that is now suffering from heat problems.   I’ve never had one have a fan assembly go bad before, but why are they made so that they are nearly impossible to service yourself anyhow?  Certain things should be easy to replace, like keyboards, screens, dvd/cd burners, hard drives, and fan assemblies.  They aren’t though.  Sort of like our cars, they don’t like the home repairmen.

So, there is a possibility that I am going to be faced with replacing it.  That’s not in the budget right now, and I’m not sure how to strangle it enough to extract it.  Where would I get the money?  It’s not like I can sell Red Dog and get it either.

So, I’m crossing my fingers that Greg manages to disassemble this thing and find the offending fan assembly, and that I am able to find my model number on the paperwork from when I purchased the thing from Walmart, which will allow me to order the correct fan assembly.  In the meantime, I’m cursing HP and Compaq for being so aggravating as to neglect putting the stickers with the model number on the laptops sold at Walmart.  (Both were bought there–the absolutely cheapest laptops they had at the time too.)  I can replace it for about $300, and get a new 12 month extended warranty for about another $75, with the total running about $400, including tax, from Wal-Mart.

For that reason, I cannot see paying over $100 to have it repaired.  It’s out of warranty, other things are already going wrong with it, (dvd/cd burner has died, problems with ethernet port, etc.) and fear of more fan problems internally as well as damage to the motherboard and processor from heat already.  To pay more than 25% of replacement cost for repair is not cost effective for us.

Then again, where will I find the $400 to replace it?

In the meantime, I hold the silent black case in my arms and weep with sorrow.  I had also failed to back up files to my external hard drive since I was in the hospital in September.

That was probably the stupidest thing I have ever done!



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