Laptop turns off after five minutes

August 2nd, 2012 Paul Wallbank Posted in Buying a computer, Hardware No Comments »

My laptop turns itself off after five minutes when unplugged from the mains. Is the charger broken or is the battery worn out?

It’s probably the battery as the computer is running for five minutes so it’s getting enough charge to start but little else.

You can check this by looking at the battery icon on the computer, if it shows a lightning bolt across it then the battery is charging.

If it’s not, then you may be able to purchase a replacement charger for under thirty dollars.

Should it be the battery that has failed then its unlikely it can be replaced for a reasonable price, so you have to accept this computer will be have to plugged in until you decide to replace it.

Moving data to Windows 7 from XP

June 11th, 2012 Paul Wallbank Posted in Buying a computer, Windows 7, Windows XP No Comments »

I have Windows XP, Outlook for emails and buying a new PC with Windows 7. Have you instructions to save emails address’s in outlook to transfer to new PC with Windows 7 and Outlook…?

Probably the easiest way to do this is to use the Easy Transfer Wizard for Windows 7. This copies all the user setting from Windows XP into Windows 7.

You’ll have to download the Easy Transfer Wizard software from Microsoft and install it on your Windows XP machine. Then connect a USB hard drive – buy a new one if you haven’t already one for backup – and run the wizard. Tell it to save the files to the external USB drive.

Once the Easy Transfer Wizard is complete, connect the external drive to the new Windows 7 computer and run the Transfer Wizard. Microsoft have instructions how to run the Wizard on Windows 7.

Remember you’ll need a copy of Microsoft Office on your new computer so you can run those Outlook files. Make sure you’ve installed Outlook and run all the Windows 7 and Microsoft Office updates before running the file transfer wizard.

Do I need to update my broadband connection?

October 24th, 2011 Paul Wallbank Posted in Buying a computer, Internet No Comments »

I have just had a new computer delivered, to change over from this one, do I just unplug all the leads and replace them, and do I have to do anything about my broadband connection ? I am a 77 year old silver surfer so I apologise if you think this is a simple question.

When it comes to technology there’s no such thing as a simple question.

Most broadband connections use a router – a little box that connects to the Internet through the telephone (ADSL) or cable TV connection. The router deals with all the Internet connection details and the computer connects to the router.

If that’s the set up you have, then all you’ll need to to is take the network cable connecting the old computer and plug it into the new system. If you have a wireless router then you’ll need to find the password you’re using.

Some Internet connections plug straight into the computer though a dongle, a little USB device that handles the connection. If you have one of these, you’ll need an installation disk, password and will probably have to speak to the ISP’s support desk.

One thing to watch when you do connect the new computer is that you may have a lot of updates to do for the system. Allow a few hours for all the important security patches to download and install, particularly on Windows computers.

As far as power and other connections go, you probably can swap them straight away although if you have an older printer you may find there will be no connection for it.

Should my son build a computer?

March 16th, 2011 Paul Wallbank Posted in Buying a computer, Hardware 1 Comment »

My son is interested in building his own computer. I have concerns that if it doesn’t work we will have to spend more money on another computer.

He has checked out various websites and feels confident he can do it.

His requirements are:

  • 1-7 960 CPU
  • Asus Sabertooth X58 Motherboard
  • 12 GB Ram
  • GTX580 Graphiics card
  • 1T Hard Drive DVD Player

Generally I’d recommend just buying one. Like cars, it’s cheaper to buy one rather than build one from scratch.

However, it’s a good experience to build one from scratch so I’d recommend your son giving it a go. Just make sure he includes an anti-static wrist strap (around $15) in his budget and make sure he reads the instructions closely.

Remember that nothing on a computer should be forced and screws only need to be a little past finger tight.

Building your own anything is a good learning tool for kids and adults, even if it does cost a bit more than buying a brand name.

Second hand computer blues

December 21st, 2010 Paul Wallbank Posted in Buying a computer, Consumer rights 1 Comment »

Hi, I recently got a 2nd hand IBM Thinkpad, it sort of works, but if you want to open a program you need to right click and start,if you try any other option the next message appears ” This file does not have a program associated with it for performing this action. Create an association in the folder options control panel”.

I can’t access the individual modules of the control panel even with a right click. same message appears. Have tried to format the hard drive to install a clean version of Windows XP but nothing happens. Almost all CD’s or DVD’s are returned with a message of “corrupted disk, can’t read” message so can’t do an installation from DVD drive.

Help. Can’t access System info but it is a Pentium 3 with Windows XP Professional installed. Unfortunately lot of pirate software as well which I have deleted and was able to get Ad-Aware 6 and Spybot Search and Destroy installed from disk drive (Yaaay). Found loads of bad bits now quarantined or deleted but have not been able to insatll any anti virus. Tried over the internet but would again do nothing. Click on Download and nothing happens.


Hi Nikki, you’ve illustrated why we don’t like second hand computers as there’s always a risk you’ll inherit a whole pile of trouble. Which is exactly what happened to you.

The first thing you need to check is that the hard drive is okay. To do this, follow our instructions checking a hard drive for errors. If a message appears that chkdsk has detected bad blocks then the hard drive is dying and it’s probably going to be best to write the system off.

Next, you’ll need to fix the file association problem, we discuss how to do this on our How to Remove Playitall page. This should fix the problems with opening files and the Control Panel.

Repairing the associations may also fix the problem with reading the optical drive, if it doesn’t then the device is probably damaged. You can pick up a cheap USB external DVD reader/burner if you really need one, however many people are finding they download software or use cloud services so an optical drive really isn’t essential.

Once you have everything running, it’s essential you give the system a good scan for malware. We show how to do this in our removing a trojan page. Make sure you do this before using the computer for any password protected sites or online transactions.

All of this sounds like it’s hard work and it is. If you need to get in a computer tech to do all of this you’ll probably spend more than a cheap netbook would cost which is why we recommend avoiding second hard Windows systems.

“You may be a victim of software counterfeiting” message

October 10th, 2010 Paul Wallbank Posted in Buying a computer, Consumer rights, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP No Comments »

Purchased brand new desktop with Windows7 pre-installed, and I am unable to activate the product key the technician and I wrote down, as one  message says it it not genuine. A message in the bottom right hand corner reads “Windows7  Build 7600  This copy of Windows is not genuine”

The system cost was over $2000 from a reputable national chain. No back-up disc included.

To make matters worse, when turned off, next morning I find the console is on again – seems to have a mind of its own.

What can I do as I work full time and have never had such problems with a new computer?

Normally there is a sticker on the side of the computer with the authorisation number. That number should verify the system when it first runs.

In this case, either the wrong number has been put it or the number supplied wasn’t correct.

You’ll have to check with the store you bought it from as this is their problem.

Be careful though, the store’s first reaction will be to refer you either to Microsoft or to the manufacturer of the computer. Given the system has been like this since you’ve bought it, this is the retailer’s problem.

You don’t say if you bought this on a discount as floor or returned stock and it may be that somebody has tampered with the computer before you bought it.

Unfortunately in this case, you’re going to have to stand up against the store. You might want to follow our sister site’s checklist for dealing with disputes. Good luck.

Does Windows 7 need special software to surf the net?

July 18th, 2010 Paul Wallbank Posted in Buying a computer, Internet, Windows 7 No Comments »

When I buy a laptop with Windows 7 do I need to buy more software to connect to the internet?

Usually you’ll be able to plug straight into your Internet router and go. One of the great improvements with Windows 7 is the system will automatically detect and configure your connection for you.

If it doesn’t then you should contact your ISP.

Once you are connected, the first thing you should do is let Windows detect any security upgrades through the Windows Update website, allow your antivirus program to update itself and download Firefox, Opera or Google Chrome as a browser to replace Internet Explorer 8.

You should do these before surfing the net or checking email just to make sure your computer is secure.

Internet streaming specifications

January 9th, 2010 Paul Wallbank Posted in Buying a computer, Hardware, Internet No Comments »

We would like to dispense with our satellite TV service and stream video from the internet to our 32 inch LCD TV, but our computer (Pentium 4, 3 GHz, 1.5 gig memory, video card GeForce FX5200 with 128 meg) can’t stream images at full screen without breaking up. We have a DSL connection (100 Mbps)and a wireless network running at 36 Mbps.

If we upgrade to a computer with a dual core pentium and a video card with 256 meg RAM, could we stream smooth full screen video at 100 mbps and/or 36 Mbps? I don’t know where the bottleneck is, help!

You will have to upgrade your system as the 128Mb video card and Pentium IV CPU are going to struggle with the resolution required for a 32″ screen and you’ll need the faster CPU, chipset and hard drive to deal with the amount of data you want to move around.

The new system should have at least a 1Gb video card and compatible outputs to the TV, preferably an HDMI connection if your TV supports it. The fact you’ve been able to connect a Pentium IV to the TV indicates the display has a VGA or DVI input.

Keep in mind that it’s not just your PC or screen that matters. If you are streaming off the net, you need to check your ADSL connection is reliable. You may want to visit to check you are getting the speeds advertised by your ISP as sometimes problems with your phone line or equipment can stop you getting the best performance.

Should I get the Windows 64 bit version

December 21st, 2009 Paul Wallbank Posted in Buying a computer, Windows 7, Windows Vista No Comments »

Win7_HomePremium_webI’m buying a new computer and have a choice between the 32 and 64-bit version of Windows 7. Which one should I choose?

The 64 bit version is the better of the two but it comes with some traps, mainly that older software and hardware may not work on it.

Because you are getting a new computer, you should be right on the hardware front. Although if you do have an older printer, scanner or other hardware you’ll have to check they will work on a 64-bit system.

For software, you’ll need to make sure all your programs will run on 64 bit Windows. While 32-bit programs will work they may be slower so keep that in mind too.

Generally our advice is to go with 64 bit systems if all your equipment is up to date, if you want to run older software and hardware go for the 32-bit option.

should I buy a netbook

December 15th, 2009 Paul Wallbank Posted in Buying a computer No Comments »

I was thinking about buying my daughter a netbook. She wants to go on facebook so would a netbook be good enough for that. Thanking you in advance for your advice, Bev.

It’s a good question, Bev. The idea of a netbook is simply to get onto the Internet so it’s perfect if your daughter simply wants to be on Facebook.

The trap with netbooks is going on the net is all they are designed for. To keep the costs down, they have smaller hard drives, few USB ports and usually no DVD drive.

So if your daughter decides she wants to do something more than go onto Facebook, write blogs or Twitter she’ll find the netbook will struggle.

All of that said, netbooks are cheap and the best choice if you want a starter computer for a teenager. We have a little more on netbooks at our PC Rescue website.