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Revision 2017-10-24

Thank you for your purchase! We've included this page to address some of the most common issues encountered with laptop and desktop computers. Obviously, some of the information will not apply to Desktops. If you don't find your answer here, please CONTACT US (link at the top of this page).

Before taking any actions that may potentially damage your computer, please read the entire section of relevance. We realize that you may not be technically inclined, or able to disassemble a laptop in your sleep like we can. It is not important that you fully understand all of the terminology here, only that you understand it well enough to follow the instructions. The terms are industry standard, you are encouraged to look them up for a more detailed explanation.

If you are viewing this file from your desktop, Click here to view the latest copy.

You may press CTRL+F to search for keywords on this page.


  1. Activating Windows / Counterfeit Software warnings / Product Keys
  2. Battery / Charging
  3. Bios Update
  4. Diagnostics
  5. Docking Station
  6. DVD Drive
  7. Fingerprint Sensor
  8. Keyboard / Mouse (laptop)
  9. Mouse
  10. Performance (slow computer, etc)
  11. Power, lack of (computer will not turn on)
  12. Screen Brightness
  13. Screen Rotation
  14. Sound, no sound or low volume
  15. System Restore, re-installing Windows
  16. Unable to save to Desktop using Quick Access toolbar
  17. Webcam
  18. WiFi / Wireless
  19. Windows Update

Model Specific Issues

  1. Dell Latitude e6420 / e6520 blank screen
  2. Dell Vostro 360 flashing colors
  3. HP 8460/8470 Scrambled Display
  4. Lenovo x120e / x130e Audio


  1. 32-bit vs 64-bit Windows
  2. Hard Drive Size
  3. Manuals and Drivers
  4. Microsoft Office
  5. Screen Size
  6. Software we install
  7. Team Viewer, Remote Assistance
  8. Windows - Downgrading from 10 to 7
  9. Windows - Upgrading from 7 to 10
  10. Windows 10 Tips and Tricks

32-bit vs 64-bit Windows

32-bit Windows often supports legacy (very old) programs that will not run on 64-bit Windows. Systems with less than 2GB of memory will also perform better with 32-bit Windows. The maximum amount of usable memory (RAM) with 32-bit Windows is 3 GB.

The main differences between the 32-bit versions of Windows and the 64-bit versions of Windows relate to memory accessibility, memory management, and enhanced security features. The security features that are available in the 64-bit versions of Windows include the following:

  • Kernel Patch Protection
  • Support for hardware-backed Data Execution Protection (DEP)
  • Mandatory driver signing
  • Removal of support for 32-bit drivers
  • Removal of the 16-bit subsystem

One of the greatest advantages of using a 64-bit version of Windows is the ability to address memory (ALL memory, not just RAM) that is above the 4-gigabyte range. This physical memory above 4GB is not addressable by 32-bit versions of Windows (which results in a maximum of 3GB usable memory, see this post for a more detailed explanation). Depending on the version of Windows that is installed, a 64-bit version of Windows supports up to 128 GB of RAM. The ability to address more physical memory lets Windows minimize the time that is required to swap processes in and out of physical memory. Therefore, Windows can manage processes more efficiently. This memory management feature helps improve the overall performance of Windows.

Advantages when you install a 64-bit version of Windows:

  • Increased memory support beyond that of the 4-GB addressable memory space that is available in a 32-bit operating system
  • Overcome the 3GB usable memory (RAM) limit of a 32-bit operating system
  • Increased program performance for programs that are written to take advantage of a 64-bit operating system
  • Enhanced security features

If you want to read more in depth, try these links:

Hard Drive Size

The hard drive in my computer is smaller than advertised

In all probability, you did recieve the correct drive. An advertised capacity of 320GB, for example, does not mean you will have 320GB of usable space; this is true with any drive, from any reseller, regardless of drive manufacturer or make of computer, and applies to any drive manufactured in the last 3 decades at least. The "discrepancy" occurs for several reasons:

  • To most people, 1GB = 1024MB; 1MB = 1024KB, and so on. This is also how Windows reports drive sizes. However, manufacturers count 1GB as 1,000,000,000 bytes. The difference is about 2.3%.
  • Formatted capacity. The formatted capacity of any drive is always less than its stated capacity, allowing space for file system overhead and such.
  • The "drive" that windows shows you as drive C is in fact NOT a representation of the physical drive, only the partition that has been named Drive C on that drive. A drive may include many partitions, the sum of which will equal the total capacity of the drive.
  • The drive includes a recovery partition, which also consumes some space.

Manuals and Drivers

Microsoft Office

Wasn't Microsoft Office supposed to be included?

No. Unlike many other sellers, we pride ourselves in including only fully licensed, legitimate copies of software. (If you were to purchase a computer with MS Office, and it doesn't come with it's own product key, it isn't legal.) It is for this reason that we are unable to offer free copies of MS office. Rather than to include it with every order at additional cost, we've opted not to include it. This allows us to offer more competitive pricing and to allow buyers who want MS office to purchase it on their own.

We do not advertise, offer, mention, or otherwise suggest that "Microsoft Office" is included. We do advertise "Free Office Software" or "Open Office", often abbreviated simply as "office [software]" in the title or heading due to very limited space, but always expressly stated in detail in the main body of the description. Open Office is highly compatible with most Microsoft Office documents. When creating a new document, just be sure to save as a .doc/.xls file instead of the default Open Office format. Select File > Save (or Save As), then chose MS Word/Excel 97/2000/XP format like the example on the right. Learn more at OpenOffice.org.

Other popular alternatives include Office 365, a subscription service, or Google Documents. Many other free alternatives are also available, too varied and numerous to list here.

Screen Size

All screen sizes (including laptops, TVs, ipads, and your smart phone) are measured diagonally. Please make sure you are measuring the viewable screen area, as indicated by the diagonal arrow below. The laptop in this image has a 14.1 inch screen.


Your computer ships ready to use with a clean installation of Windows. We have also entered the product key for you, and activated the installation with Microsoft. In order to provide a better experience for you (because who likes spending hours downloading and installing software...), we also install the following:

    You may also be interested in:
  • Adobe Flash Player, almost always required to play internet games or view some animated content. REMEMBER TO UNCHECK THE BOX to install McAfee Security Scan Plus when downloading Flash. See our section on Performance for more information.
  • Spybot Search & Destroy, another popular malware removal program

Teamviewer / Remote Assistance

We include the setup file for TeamViewer on every computer, in order to more easily provide remote assistance when needed. Teamviewer grants us the ability to see and share your screen in order to troubleshoot and repair software issues. The password to connect is randomly generated every session, so if is necessary to restart TeamViewer or reboot your computer, you will need to provide us with the new password every time.

    To run TeamViewer,
  1. Ensure you have a working internet connection
  2. click Start
  3. Click Computer
  4. Open Drive C
  5. Double-click Teamviewer or Teamviewer_QS. If it is not there, you can download it here
  6. Call us. Please have your order number and TeamViewer ID ready.

Downgrading from Windows 10 to 7

If your computer arrived with Windows 10 Professional, you may have Downgrade Rights to install Windows 7 Professional. Your computer has two product keys - the original, from the factory, and the refurbisher key, supplied by Computer Express. In order to install Windows 7, the original product key must be for Windows 7 Professional, or if you are licensed separately through Microsoft Volume Licensing, you may provide your VL media and key to a system builder to facilitate the downgrade on your own systems.

For greater detail on downgrade rights, please see these sites:

If you meet the eligibility requirements to downgrade, your next step is to obtain Windows 7 installation / recovery media. Please refer to the section on this page under System Restore titled "Creating a Backup Disc (Windows 7 only)" for instructions to create a Windows 7 restore disc, which we may provide for eligible systems. Note that using the disc will erase everything on the computer's hard drive.

In some cases, after installing Windows 7, one or more drivers may be missing or fail to install. If you find yourself in this situation, all of the necessary drivers are available for download from the PC's manufacturer. We recommend opening your browser to google.com, and search for (for example) "HP 8460p drivers", or "Lenovo x220 Drivers". Adjust your search as appropriate. If you are unable to access the internet, you will need to use another computer to download the network or wireless driver onto a flash drive or other portable media. Then connect your flash drive to the computer and install the driver from the flash drive. If you are unable to locate any drivers, we are happy to assist. Simply contact us.

In order to activate your installation of Windows 7, you will need to use the original Windows 7 product key already on your computer. Windows 10 product keys will not work for Windows 10. If you have difficulty activating Windows, please refer to Activating Windows. Again, you will be using the original Windows 7 product key, which is usually on a blue sticker, and is often located under the battery.

Upgrading from Windows 7 to 10


You are free to upgrade to Windows 10 if you choose.

  • You may begin the upgrade by visiting this page.
  • If asked for a product key, use your Windows 7 product key. If you need help finding your product key, see above.
  • Windows 10 includes an option to uninstall, reverting Windows back to 7. The option is available for 30 days after the upgrade.
  • The recovery partition that we include will remain intact, allowing for a system restore in the future. According to information available from Microsoft at the time of this writing, there should be no issues performing another upgrade to Windows 10.

Activate Windows document

After upgrading to Windows 10, a Wordpad document with information about Activating Windows may open every time Windows loads. This may affect computers that were built before 12/4/2015. To remove the file, follow these steps.

  1. Highlight the bold text on this line: %appdata%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Startup
  2. RIGHT click on the highlighted text and click COPY
  3. Click Start > File Explorer
  4. Click in the address bar (it may say Quick Access) and clear it
  5. RIGHT click in the now empty address bar and click PASTE
  6. Press Enter
  7. Locate the file called activatewindows
  8. RIGHT click the file activatewindows and click DELETE

Microsoft Account / Local Account

Whether you set up your computer with a Local account, like in Windows 7 and earlier, or a Microsoft account, is up to you. Using a Microsoft account is required to use some of the features available in Windows 10, such as Microsoft Store purchases, OneDrive, and others. HowToGeek has a great write-up on this.

If you are already using a Microsoft account and would like to revert back to a local account, see here.

Windows 10 Tips and Tricks

Disable Built-in Advertising

Windows 10 has a lot of built-in advertising. This isn't just about the free upgrade offer: Even if you purchase a new PC that comes with a Windows 10 license or spend $200 for a copy of Windows 10 Professional, you'll see ads in your operating system. You can, however, disable a lot of it. Read more at howtogeek.com.

Onedrive Advertisements

Users are complaining about Microsoft inserting adverts for its OneDrive cloud service directly into Windows 10's File Explorer. The adverts pop up while a user is trying to manage files in a dedicated pane at the top of the Quick Access view within File Explorer, and are part of what Microsoft calls "sync provider notifications". Read more at theguardian.com.

Quick Access

In Windows 10, Microsoft has replaced the Favorites view in File Explorer with a new Quick Access view that also automatically highlights recently and frequently accessed files and folders. Many users will find this annoying. You can fortunately reverse this behavior and cause Quick Access to work more like Favorites. Read more at thurrott.com.

Telemetry data collection

Microsoft uses telemetry data from Windows 10 to identify security and reliability issues, to analyze and fix software problems, to help improve the quality of Windows and related services, and to make design decisions for future releases. Users concerned about privacy may wish to examine or change this setting. This article on ZDNet provides a robust overview. For a technical overview, see This pageon Microsoft.com. Scroll about half way down the page to the heading "Telemetry levels".

Password Expiration notifications

Windows may notify you that your password has expired and must be changed. If you have not installed any password, simply leave the 'old password' box blank. If you do not wish to install a password now, also leave the 'new password' and 'confirm new password' boxes blank. Then click Next/Continue/etc.

To disable future password expiration notices, open an Elevated Command Prompt (see how), then type wmic path Win32_UserAccount set PasswordExpires=False and press [ENTER].

Additional methods to disable password expiration for Windows 10 Professional are described here.

Dell Latitude e6420 / e6520 blank screen

The screen is on, but only shows a mouse cursor (or nothing)

This is a known issue caused by a setting in the bios called 'Dell Optimus'. The setting must be disabled.

  • Reboot the computer
  • When the Dell logo appears, press F2 to enter the BIOS
  • Locate the Dell Optimus setting, and disable / uncheck it
  • For more information, see here.

Dell Vostro 360 flashing colors

The screen on my Dell Vostro 360 All-in-One cycles Red/Green/Blue/White/Black

There is no problem with the display or the computer. The issue is caused by Microsoft and Windows Update, when Windows Update automatically installs an incorrect video driver. The screen will flash colors as shown to the right.

In most cases, simply uninstalling the incorrect video driver will be enough to resolve the issue (steps 1-11), as Windows will then automatically revert to the previous driver. If you'd like to check and / or take additional steps to prevent this from occurring again in the future, skip to step 12 () and start there. Note that we've already made these changes before your order was shipped, but cannot guarantee that a future update from Microsoft won't undo them.

  1. Connect another monitor (external display) to the Vostro's VGA port (pictured below), on the back of the computer. If your TV has a VGA input, you can also use that. You will need a VGA M/M cable with pins on both ends, this is a standard VGA cable.
  2. The external display will automatically activate.
  3. Download the appropriate video driver from Dell, on this page. Save it on your desktop, but do not run or install it yet. We'll come back to this later.
  4. RIGHT click the start button, and select 'Device Manager'.

  5. Read ahead and familiarize yourself with the next several steps before continuing.
  6. Initiate a timed restart. Press Windows+R, then type shutdown /r /t 180
    • This will reboot the computer in 3 minutes (180 seconds).
    • If you feel you need more time to complete the next few steps, increase the delay.
    • For example, shutdown /r /t 300 (5-minute delay)

  7. A dialog box pops up, notifying you of the impending shutdown. Click 'Close'.
  8. In Device Manager, click the '>' next to Display Adapters, Right click Intel HD Graphics, then click 'Uninstall'.

  9. Check the box to 'Uninstall the driver' and then click OK.
  10. The external display will go blank. Wait for your computer to reboot.
  11. If you're reading ahead, go back to and complete the steps now.

The following registry changes will attempt to block Windows Update from installing an incorrect video driver. If you have recently made these registry changes and still have the fix.reg file, just double-click that file again to verify (and set) the settings. Click 'Yes' to any security prompts, then skip to . Otherwise, continue to create the file.

  1. Disconnect from your WiFi (if connected), and disconnect the network cable from the back of the computer (if connected). Do not re-connect until so instructed.

  2. Open Notepad, copy the text between the lines, and paste it into Notepad.
    Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00


  3. Save the file on your Desktop, name it fix.reg, and change the 'Save as type' to 'all files'. Click Save.

  4. Double-click the file to add to the registry. Click 'Yes' to any security prompts.

  5. Reboot your computer.
  6. Install the Dell video driver that you downloaded in step 3. If there are any warnings that a newer driver is already installed, ignore them and install this driver anyway. Check the 'Winsat' box. This is the appropriate driver. If it asks you to reboot, click NO.

Check Windows' 'Device Installation Settings'.

  1. RIGHT click the start button, and select 'System'

  2. Click 'Advanced system settings'

  3. Click the 'Hardware' tab, and then 'Device Installation Settings'

  4. Select 'No' and (if available) 'Never install', then click 'Save Changes'

Use Powershell to block the bad driver update.

  1. Open Notepad, copy the text between the lines, and paste it into Notepad.
    hide-wuupdate -title "Intel Corporation*"
  2. Save the file on your Desktop, name it hide.ps1, and change the 'Save as type' to 'all files'. Click Save.

  3. You may now connect again to your wired or wireless network.
  4. The next few commands require Powershell, and an additional module that is not included with Windows by default. If your order shipped after 2/1/2017, the Powershell module is already installed. Otherwise, find instructions to download and install the module here.
  5. Open an Elevated command prompt. If you need help to open an Elevated command prompt, click here. After every command, press [ENTER].
  6. The prompt should look similar to the image below. Notice that the user name in this example is 'User'. C:\Users\User>. Yours may be different.
  7. Type cd %userprofile%
  8. Type cd Desktop.
  9. Type Powershell

  10. Type .\hide
  11. Ideally, the driver update should appear in the available updates list, and if it does, you'll see a screen like this. You're looking for the udpate titled Intel Corporation driver update...
  12. You're prompted to block the update. Press 'Y' and then [ENTER]. If there are multiple drivers to block, press 'Y' for all of them, or just use 'A' instead.

  13. All done! The issue should not occur again, but if it does, simply refer again to this help page.
  14. If you'd like to learn more, we compiled these instructions using information from SuperUser.com, MakeUsOf.com, and hmemcpy.com.

HP 8460/8470 Fuzzy Display

The display on my Elitebook 8460p or 8470p is fuzzy or distorted, and looks like the picture below

There is no problem with the display. The issue is caused by an improper software setting. Follow these steps to correct the setting.

  1. Plug in the AC adapter and reboot the computer
  2. When Windows is finished loading, click 'Start'
  3. In the search box, type 'Power Options'
  4. Click 'Power Options'
  5. On the right side, click 'Change plan settings' for the Balanced plan
  6. Click 'Change advanced power settings'
  7. Scroll down to 'Intel Graphics Setting' and click the [+] icon
  8. Click the [+] icon next to Intel Graphics Power Plan
  9. For BOTH On Battery and Plugged in, click 'Balanced'
  10. Change the option to 'Maximum Performance'
  11. Now click the large drop-down menu at the top of this window, that says 'Balanced [Active]'
  12. Click 'Power Saver'
  13. Repeat steps 7-10 for the Power Saver plan
  14. Click 'OK'
  15. You may now close the window, the improper software setting is resolved.

Lenovo X120e / X130e Audio

The audio on my Lenovo X120e isn't working

If you have just received your computer, this may happen as a result of how Windows 10 and Sysprep interact with the audio drivers on this computer. To resolve this issue, simply remove the audio driver and reboot the computer. Windows will automatically re-detect and re-install the appropriate audio driver.

  1. RIGHT click Computer
  2. Click 'Device Manager'
  3. Click the arrow next to 'Sound, video and game controllers'
  4. For every item listed below 'Sound, video and game controllers',
    • RIGHT click the device
    • Click 'Uninstall'
  5. Reboot your computer

Activating Windows / Genuine Windows Notifications

Product Keys

The product key is usually on the COA (Certificate of Authenticity) sticker, on the bottom of your laptop or on one of the sides of a desktop. In a few cases it may be under the battery, or on the inside of the large bottom cover panel. Note that the COAs pictured below on the left and middle already contain the product key. For orders placed mid-2015 and earlier, the product key may have been printed on a separate sheet of paper when you first received the computer, and is not on the COA itself, as in the third image.

If your COA looks like the one on the right, and the number under the barcode begins with 00212, then the product key was included with your computer on a separate sheet of paper. (If it doesn't begin with 00212, it is already printed on the same sticker, and we can't look it up.) If you no longer have your product key, then we can look it up for you. Click the CONTACT US link at the top of this page to send us an email. Tell us you need your product key, that it's not on the COA, and include your COA ID (the number under the barcode that begins with 00212). We will reply with your product key via email, make sure to check in your spam filter if you don't see our reply.

If the product key is rejected immediately, it is because you are typing it incorrectly. Some characters look very similar and are easily confused, such as B/8, K/X, and so on. Characters that cannot be part of the product key cannot be entered.

Windows 10 Activation

Your product key is attached to the computer and has been embedded in Windows. Usually Windows 10 will activate automatically. However, if you receive a message such as "Windows cannot be activated with the product key...", know that your Windows 10 product key *is* valid, and is not in use on any other computer. Try to enter your product key again. See screenshot below.

  1. Click Start
  2. Click 'Settings'
  3. Click 'Update & Security'
  4. Click 'Activation'
  5. Click 'Change Product Key'
  6. Follow the instructions on your screen to re-type your product key

If Windows still fails to activate online (and the computer has a working internet connection), you can activate your installation via phone. This requires approximately 5 minutes to complete.

  1. Click Start
  2. Click 'Settings'
  3. Click 'Update & Security'
  4. Click 'Activation'
  5. Click 'Call Support'
  6. Select 'United States'
  7. Call the number on your screen and follow the instructions
  8. If there are no instructions within 30 seconds of calling...
    1. We have received sporadic reports of Microsoft's activation support number (855-801-0109) not working. It may answer with hold music and never connect to the automated system.
    2. You may use your smart phone's browser (Safari, Chrome, etc) and go to microsoft.gointeract.io/mobileweb.
    3. Follow the instructions on this page. This is the same page the automated support number would send you to.
    4. Note that this link will probably not work in your computer's browsers.

I have Windows 10, but my product key says Windows 7

For orders that shipped with Windows 10 before July 29 2016, we installed Windows 7 and then performed an upgrade to Windows 10. The product key is still valid. If you do a System Restore your computer will revert to Windows 7, but (at the time of this writing) you may upgrade to Windows 10 again without additional cost.

My copy of Windows 7 isn't Genuine

Yes it is. The product key was entered for you, and Windows was activated, before the laptop shipped. If you are seeing counterfeit software notifications and / or see the non-genuine notification on the bottom right corner of your screen (pictured right), it is for one of the following reasons:

  • You have re-installed Windows or used the recovery partition, and did not enter the product key when asked
  • The system date is wrong

First check that the date and time displayed in the bottom right hand corner of your screen are correct, and adjust it if necessary. Then (re)enter your product key as described below. You must re-enter the product key AND activate Windows. Until you enter the product key, you will be prompted to enter it every time Windows is started. Until you activate Windows online, you will receive periodic reminders that you are using non-genuine software. You must complete BOTH of these steps:

Enter your product key. Click Start, Type activate, and then click Activate Windows

Click Activate Windows Online now and follow the instructions on your screen.


The Product Key is invalid

If you are having difficulty typing your product key, take a picture of it with your smart phone or camera so you can zoom in on it. Several characters look alike and are easy to confuse, like B/8, D/0, and so on. Characters that cannot be part of a product key cannot be entered. If the product key is invalid, it is because you typed it in wrong. That is the only reason a product key would be invalid. There are NO other possibilities.

Windows won't activate online

Please check:

  • The date, time, and timezone are correct. An incorrect date will cause activation to fail.
  • The computer has a working internet connection. You may find some help in the WiFi section below.

In rare cases, online activation may not work. If this happens to you, choose 'Show me other ways to activate' (see screenshot above), and select the telephone option. Follow the instructions on your screen.


Symptom: The AC adapter isn't working

Turn the computer off. With the AC adapter connected, remove the laptop's battery. Turn the computer on. If the computer turns on, the AC adapter is working fine. Continue to the next sections.

Symptom: The battery doesn't fully charge / Calibration

Sometimes, the battery just needs to be calibrated.

  1. Charge the battery to full (at least 95%), or until Windows reports that the battery is not actively charging. (plugged in, not charging)
  2. Turn on or reboot the laptop, and on the first screen, press the appropriate key to enter the BIOS. HP – F10, IBM – F1, Dell – F2
  3. Disconnect the AC adapter from the laptop. Allow it to run until the battery is depleted and the laptop turns off.
  4. Reconnect the AC adapter. Charge to full. For faster charging, leave the laptop off, but this is optional.
  5. For best results, repeat steps 3 and 4, once.
  6. The battery has been calibrated. Runtime may be improved.

Symptom: The battery doesn't last very long

A Battery is a consumable item with a limited lifespan, and as such we do not warranty them. As the battery ages, its performance will decrease. We test all batteries to ensure normal operation prior to shipment, and replace any that are failing.

Battery performance also depends on usage; that is, watching videos will consume more power and deplete the battery faster than typing a document. For a more reasonable estimate of your battery's health, ensure that Windows Update is neither downloading or installing any updates, and that all programs are closed. After a few minutes the laptop will switch to a lower performance mode, and then you may check it's estimated runtime again.

Symptom: The battery doesn't charge at all

Does your AC adapter have a button, usually with a lightning bolt? If so, you have to press the button to charge the laptop's battery.

If the laptop is equipped with two batteries, remove the secondary (aka auxiliary / external / travel) battery. A laptop with multiple batteries can only charge one battery at a time. Typically the main battery will charge first. Skip to the bottom of this section for more information.

If a battery charges but doesn't reach 100%, please skip to the next section.

If a battery doesn't charge at all (and there is only one battery), check the following:

  1. That the brand of the AC adapter matches the brand of the laptop. With few exceptions, we nearly always send branded adapters with our laptops. If the laptop brand is HP, the AC adapter should be clearly HP branded as well.
  2. That the power cord is plugged firmly into an electrical outlet.
  3. That the power cord is plugged firmly into the AC adapter.
  4. That the AC adapter is fully inserted into the DC jack on the laptop.
  5. That the AC adapter is plugged in to a live electrical outlet. Try an outlet in another room, and avoid using a power strip.
  6. Remove the battery, and use an old toothbrush to brush the contacts on both the battery and the laptop. Brush vigerously. Reinsert the battery and try again.
  7. What does Windows report the battery status is? For example, 'plugged in charging', 'plugged in not charging', '% remaining'
  8. If you unplug the AC adapter from the laptop while the laptop is on, does it immediately lose all power?

If the laptop shipped with a docking station...

  1. Remove the docking station
  2. Brush all of the docking connectors on the laptop and the dock
  3. Connect the adapter directly to the laptop to ensure the adapter is working
  4. Put the laptop back on the dock
  5. Press on the laptop over the docking connector to ensure a firm connection

And finally...

  1. Shut down the laptop and disconnect the ac adpater
  2. Remove the battery and disconnect any connected peripherals
  3. Press and hold the power button for about a minute, without the battery or ac adapter plugged in
  4. After a minute, release the power button and then just plug the AC adapter and turn on the laptop
  5. Once the laptop boots into Windows, insert the battery and check again

Symptom: The secondary (travel) battery doesn't charge

The travel battery will not charge until the main battery reaches 100%, or until Windows reports that the (main) battery is 'plugged in, not charging'. That condition can occur any time the charge on the main battery is 95% or greater. Once the main battery is fully charged, the travel battery will begin charging. The laptop can only charge one battery at a time, and will take longer for the battery to go from 90 to 100% than it will from from 0 to 10%, so you can expect it to take a while.

You can force the travel battery to charge by removing the main battery, but if you just leave the laptop plugged in for a while it will do that on its own.

Bios Update

Sometimes we may ask you to perform a bios update, or to re-flash the BIOS, in order to resolve certain issues. After updating the BIOS, it is necessary to set the following options on HP laptops:

  1. On the screen with the HP logo, press or hold F10 to enter the BIOS
  2. If you are asked "Save changes?", select 'cancel'
  3. On the main page, select 'Restore Defaults' and then click YES
  4. At System Configuration > Device Configurations, UNcheck 'Fan Always on while on AC power'
  5. At System Configuration > Device Configurations, set SATA device mode to AHCI
  6. At System Configuration > Device Configurations, UNcheck all options that mention HP Daystarter (if present)
  7. At System Configuration > Device Configurations, UNcheck all options that mention HP Quicklook (if present)
  8. At System Configuration > Device Configurations, UNcheck all options that mention HP QuickWeb (if present)
  9. Press F10 to save and exit, and then click YES

Diagnostics (Hardware)

Hard Drive

Of all the parts in a computer, the hard drive is probably among the most likely to fail first. Hard Drives have moving parts and will eventually wear out. Some common symptoms that the hard drive has failed (or is failing) include:

  • An error message right after you turn on the computer, "Operating System Not Found", "SMART Failure", or similar
  • Windows starts to boot, but crashes or stalls before it finishes
  • Windows boots and runs for a while, but sometimes locks up or restarts suddenly and unexpectedly
  • It takes a REALLY long time to view your files or start a program

Most of the computers we sell include a built-in diagnostic utility for the hard drive and memory. Both tests are non-destructive and can be ran without risk of damage or data loss.


  1. Turn on or reboot the laptop
  2. Press and hold F10 on the first screen (with the HP logo) to enter the BIOS.
    • It is common for many HP computers to not recognize that F10 has been pressed during a cold boot, or they may finish POSTing before the screen can come on.
    • If Windows starts to load, quickly press CTRL+ALT+DEL to reboot the computer and try again, or just wait for Windows to load and then restart the computer.
    • When the BIOS screen comes up, it might ask you to Save Changes and Exit because the F10 key was held down. If so, press Cancel
  3. Use the arrow keys or mouse to select the "Diagnostics" menu
  4. Run a hard drive test
  5. You may optionally also run a Memory Test

Lenovo / IBM

  1. Turn on or reboot the laptop
  2. Press ENTER to interrupt normal startup
  3. Press F10 for the diagnostics menu
  4. Select 'Storage Test' (or similar)
  5. You may optionally also run a Memory Test

If a failure occurs within our warranty period, please contact us for a replacement. The hard drive is usually one of the most user-serviceable parts in a computer and can be easily replaced.

Of course, many of these problems can also be caused by software problems, such as malware or corrupt files. If the built in hard drive diagnostic passes a long test, your next step should be to run a System Restore.


If memory problems are suspected, you can access the built-in diagnostics menu as described above in the Hard Drive section to test the memory. Often times, HP laptops will refer to a memory test as a 'Startup Test', which will also include a quick test of the Hard Drive. Unfortunately HP's diagnostic results are not very descriptive, so a failure of any part of the test will only be reported as a test failure (without additional explaination). If the Startup Test fails, make sure you also run a Hard Drive test to make sure that isn't the problem.

Some symptoms of bad memory include:

  • The computer randomly restarts
  • Windows crashes before it finishes loading; you may see a blue screen before it restarts
  • Inconsistent reliability with a variety of error messages across Windows sessions

Your laptop may be equipped with 1 or 2 memory modules (Desktops may have up to 4). If your computer has at least 2 memory modules, and the hard drive test passes without errors, then you can determine whether you have a bad memory module as described below.

  • Remove the panel(s) to access the memory. For model-specific instructions on how to do this, reference your service manual.
  • Remove and then re-install all of the memory modules (watch an example video). This is called re-seating the memory. The surface area where the physical connection is made between the memory module and the slot is incredibly tiny, and it sometimes happens that this connection is, shall we say, disturbed. In such cases, re-seating the memory modules will resolve this issue.
  • Run a memory test as described above. If the test passes, the problem is solved. Otherwise, continue.

Exhaustive Testing

Slot 1 Slot 2
Module 1
Module 2

Following these steps will, in most cases, conclusively determine whether a hardware problem exists with either a memory module, or the memory slot. These instructions presume that two modules are installed. If your computer has only one module, adjust accordingly. At least one module must be installed or else the computer will not POST properly (Power On Self Test). The goal is to determine whether the problem follows one of the modules, or the slot. Use this sample table to track your results, and let us know what you find. Whichever module and slot are numbered 1 and 2 are arbitrary.

  • Test module 1 in slot 1.
  • Test module 1 in slot 2.
  • Test module 2 in slot 1.
  • Test module 2 in slot 2.

Overheating Issues

Computers - particularly laptops - can get hot very quickly, and heat kills. The cooling vents on a laptop are often very small and can clog easily, especially if it is in an environment where there is smoking, pets, or copious amounts of dust.

  • If Windows is installing updates, allow them to finish. The process can take up to several hours, depending on the speed of the computer, your internet connection, and the number of updates to install.
  • Make sure the latop is on a hard flat surface, not on your lap. Squishy surfaces cover the ventilation areas and impede cooling.
  • The computer will run hotter on AC power than on battery. Batteries generate additional heat when charging.
  • If equipped, remove the laptop from the dock and extended battery.
  • Check that the CPU exhaust port is clear. Laptops around pets, cigarette smoke, or dust can clog very quickly. You can find the port by feeling the hot air exhaust while the computer is on and the fan is running, and it will always be located toward the rear on one of the sides, or on the back. If the airflow feels restricted or blocked, it can be cleared with a few short blasts of air. Make sure the laptop is turned OFF. Use compressed air (compressor or canned) and blow into the exhaust port. Do not put the nozzle directly against the port, as it is possible to break the fan blades with too much pressure. If you are using an air compressor, do not exceed 40 PSI. Position the nozzle several inches away. If you do not have a compressed air source available, you can blow with your own breath, but be prepared for the possibility of a face full of dust. If you see dust come out, congratulations. Once the port seems clear, blow into the intake (usually on the bottom) to clear out any remnants.

Docking Stations

Symptom: The USB ports on an HP dock do not work

You are using the wrong AC adapter. The adapter that ships with the laptop (from HP) is usually not powerful enough to power a dock. Please check the label on the bottom of the dock for power requirements (such as 18.5v 4.7a, which is 90w) and ensure your adapter meets or exceeds those requirements. The voltage must match to within 0.5 volts. The amperage rating on the adapter must be equal or greater to the rating on the dock.

Symptom: The laptop intermittently looses it's connection with the dock, or will not dock

Brush the dock connectors on both the dock and the laptop. If you also have an extended battery (HP 2700 series), also brush the top and bottom of the pass-through connection on that battery. You can use an old toothbrush or a clean paintbrush. Sometimes all it takes is a little dust to interfere with the connection.

Also, when you dock the laptop, press firmly in the area between the keyboard the the LCD mount.

DVD Drive

Symptom: The DVD drive doesn't open

  • Make sure you are pressing the drive's eject button firmly. Some of them can be difficult to activate.
  • If that doesn't work, insert a straightened paperclip into the paper-clip sized hole next to the eject button. It will eject the tray from the drive. Re-insert the tray and try the button again.
  • Lastly, remove and re-seat the drive from the computer. The DVD drive is almost always held in by a single screw on the bottom of the computer. Remove the screw and the drive can be removed. Then, insert the drive and try again.

Symptom: The DVD Drive won't read my disc

  • Clean the disc. You can use Windex and a soft, lintless cloth, or in a pinch, a paper towel. Wet the cloth and wipe the un-labeled side of the disc from the center toward the edge. Rotate and repeat until the entire disc has been cleaned.
  • Try another disc, or several discs.
  • Use only factory-stamped discs, rather than a burned disc, at least until the drive is confirmed working again.
  • Turn off the computer and reseat the DVD drive (remove it and re-insert it). It's usually held in by a single screw, but if you need instructions, refer to our manuals section.
  • If the drive is still not working, and you are within your warranty period, please contact us for a replacement.

Fingerprint Sensor

The fingerprint sensor isn't working

First check that the laptop is equipped with a fingerprint sensor.

To enable and use the sensor, you must install and set up the appropriate security software. In order to prevent you from accidentally locking yourself out of your own computer (yes, people have done this... more than once...), we have intentionally omitted it. Most people will never need to install or use this software, so if you do, you should have a very good reason for doing so. Please note, we will not accept laptops for return or refund with a password that has been lost, forgotten, omitted, is not known, or has unknowingly been installed by you or your child. (If the password is known, and you provide it correctly, we can remove it for a small fee).

The HP laptops that we sell are business-grade machines and the bios security cannot be cracked. Classic tricks such as removing the CMOS battery or shorting a jumper on the motherboard will not work. If you run the software, it will ask you to set a BIOS / power-on / pre-boot security password. Additionally, you should enroll in HP SpareKey, which does provide a way for you to recover the password if it is forgotten. WRITE THIS PASSWORD DOWN (on a piece of paper) AND KEEP IT IN A SAFE PLACE! IF YOU LOSE OR FORGET THIS PASSWORD, and cannot gain access to it with HP SpareKey, THERE IS NO WAY TO RECOVER IT AND YOU WILL NEVER BE ABLE TO USE YOUR LAPTOP AGAIN!

Even if you know what the password is, it can be very tricky to completely remove it, and it is still possible to lock yourself out (and render the laptop a brick) if you don't do it exactly right. So once again, if you choose to install the software, you should have a VERY good reason for doing so, as most people will never need it.


Having read and understood these warnings, if you 1) know what you're doing and 2) still want to install the software, here are the links. Click your model to go to the appropriate download page.

Dell Latitude D620

IBM / Lenovo Thinkpad X200

HP Elitebook 2540p
HP Elitebook 2560p
HP Elitebook 2740p
HP Elitebook 2760p
HP Elitebook 6930p
HP Elitebook 8440p
HP Elitebook 8460p
HP Elitebook 8470p
HP Elitebook 8740w
HP Elitebook 8760w
HP Folio 9470m

After re-installing Windows from the recovery partition

First, see the previous heading, 'The fingerprint sensor isn't working'. Second, check that the driver is loaded. Occasionally the fingerprint driver will fail to load after a system restore.

  1. Click Start
  2. Right click 'Computer'
  3. Click 'Manage'
  4. Click 'Device Manager' in the tree on the left side.

The Fingerprint Sensor will usually appear under 'Biometric Devices' as 'Validity Sensors.... '. If the device appears with a yellow explanation point, the driver hasn't properly loaded. (If you see the 'Biometric Devices' heading, and there is no explanation point, there is no driver issue.)

  1. Right click 'Validity Sensors...'
  2. Click 'Uninstall'
  3. Do NOT check the box 'Delete the driver software for this device'
  4. Click OK
  5. Click the top-most element in the Device Manager tree (on the left side of the open window), which should be what you named the computer.
  6. Click 'Scan for Hardware Changes'

After a moment Windows will finish re-installing the driver and you can close the window.

Keyboard (laptop)

One or more of the keys aren't working

If you are trying to enter a Windows product key, see Genuine Windows Notifications.

Open Notepad (Click Start, type Notepad, and click Notepad), and try the keys in Notepad. If the keys in question are working in Notepad, the keyboard is working properly.

Do the keys feel normal, or obstructed? If the key doesn't feel normal when you press it, there may be something lodged beneath it. Try brushing around and under the key with soft brush, such as a clean paint brush or a tooth brush. Make sure you brush from all sides to clear any debris.

In rare cases, we have observed an apparently bad keyboard to be caused by the system BIOS. In such cases, replacing the keyboard will not help, but re-flashing the BIOS will. Download and run the latest bios update for your computer. You may receive a warning that the BIOS you are flashing is not newer than the currently installed BIOS, that's fine, do it anyway. Then, see the section above on Bios Updates to reset certain options cleared by the update process. If you need more detailed instructions, please contact us.

Mouse / Touchpad

Touchpad is not working at all

Later models have a double-tap to enable/disable feature in the top left corner of the touchpad. Look at your touchpad. Is there an orange or white light in the upper left corner? If so, you have disabled the touchpad. Simply double-tap in the upper left corner to enable it. Note that Windows 10 may sometimes reverse the LED indicator (orange for enabled, and off for disabled).

Mouse cursor jumps around

If the mouse cursor is jumping around aporadically, you just need to re-install the touchpad driver. Drivers are available from the manufacturer's support page. We have included links for some of our more popular models with the user manuals



Did you just receive the computer? Windows may be installing updates in the background. Some models are more sensitive to Windows update running in the background than others. If you want, you can check and change the settings. However, it recommended to allow Windows to install updates automatically. Once Windows is finished installing updates, performance will return to normal.

  1. Click Start
  2. Type update
  3. Click Windows Update
  4. If updates are available, they are probably being downloaded and installed automatically.
  5. If you want, you can click “Change Settings” on the left side. It is strongly recommended to choose one of the first two options.

Did you install some anti-virus software? Our laptops ship with Microsoft Security Essentials (MSSE) AntiVirus. It is never a good idea to install more than one anti-virus program at a time, and doing so can cripple any computer, no matter how fast is it. We choose MSSE because of its low overhead and streamlined operation with Windows. If you want to use another anti-virus program, you must uninstall MSSE first.

Have you contracted a virus, spyware, or other malware? Are you getting pop-ups? We've seen some users contract severe malware infections in less than a day after receiving the computer. There are many free and reliable programs available to check for and remove various types of malware. Some of our favorites include:

Some malware programs masquerade themselves as legitimate performance-improving products. Here are a few common ones that we've seen often, though many more exist. Did you install any of these programs?

  • AnyProtect
  • MyPC Backup
  • Optimizer Pro
  • Regclean Pro
  • Search Protect
  • System Cleaner
  • Super Optimizer

What other software have you installed? What programs are loading when the computer boots? If you've installed a lot of programs or it's been a while since you received the computer, it might be a good idea to re-install Windows and start fresh. See 'System Restore', below.

Power; Computer won't turn on

Lets start with the obvious. Don't skip any steps, no matter how certain you are that you've already done that. This type of problem usually turns out to be something simple.


  • Do other electronics in the room have power? How about the lights?
  • You are using a surge protector / power strip. Turn it off and on again.
  • Check the power cord, make certain it is plugged ALL the way in to the computer. Pull it out and re-insert it to be sure.
  • If you can hear the computer turn on when you press the power button, but there is no video...
    • Does the monitor turn on? Most monitors will have a yellow or orange light when they are in standby mode / no video signal detected.
    • Check the video cable at both ends. Make sure it's screwed in tight.
    • If your computer has more than one place to plug in a video cable, try the other connector.
  • Does the computer beep? Most computers will beep one time when they successfully power on. Multiple or long beeps are an indication of a hardware problem, sometimes the absence of any beep can be as well.
  • Try reseating the memory. If you need a video, try this one.
  • What lights on the front of the case turn on or blink?
  • If you're still having no luck, please contact us for additional support.

Laptop will not power on

  • Press the power button. No, seriously. Still not working? Press it harder. On some models, even if you feel the button 'pop' under your finger, you may not have pressed it hard enough.
  • Disconnect the AC adapter (from the wall and the laptop) and remove the battery. Then...
    • Ensure the power cord is fully inserted into an electrical outlet
    • Ensure the other end of the power cord is fully inserted into the AC adapter. Some adapters have a green power indicator light; if yours does, make sure it's on.
    • Ensure the AC adapter is fully plugged into the laptop. You shouldn't see any metal on the plug.
    • Try to turn on the laptop again. If the laptop turns on, you can re-insert the battery.
    • Why? If a laptop goes to sleep while on battery, and the battery goes completely dead, the discharged battery may prevent the laptop from turning on again - even after the battery has been recharged. We call this a 'comatos' state (It's not quite all the way off). This is very common with HP laptops, but may also affect others. Momentarily removing all power from the laptop will allow it to reset.
  • Try an outlet in another room (not a power strip)

Do any lights come on? i.e. the LED indicators and screen come on but there is no image. Also, the fan may run at high speed. The memory probably just needs to be re-seated. Instructions to remove and re-reseat the memory can be found in the Manuals section.

Laptop will not wake from standby

  • Check in the BIOS to ensure that Virtualization Technology is enabled, usually found at System Configuration > Virtualization Technology
  • If your laptop is equipped with an SSD, read and follow the steps in this article on Tom's Hardware.
  • Follow the instructions on this page to perform a hard reset, and take note of the blink codes (if applicable), which may be useful in diagnosing the issue.

Screen Brightness

Adjusting the brightness

Screen brightness can be adjusted with a FN+F-key combination. HP commonly uses FN-F9/F10 and Dells use FN+UP/Down arrow keys, though it may vary by model. Many HP laptops are also equipped with an ambient light sensor, which automatically adjusts brightness based on ambient lighting. Turning it off (FN+F11) will usually increase the brightness further. The FN+key is usually located right next to the brightness keys.

Checking for a bad backlight

The most common symptom is the computer is on, but the screen appears off or unexpectedly turns off. Do not confuse this problem with the computer simply turning the screen off per your power settings, or going to sleep after being idle for some time. The easiest way to check for a bad backlight is to hold a flashlight at a high angle near the screen (The computer must be on and is most helpful to already be booted into Windows). If the backlight is bad, you will see a faint "ghost" image on the screen, as the LCD is still working. Check in the corners where icons usually reside. You can also connect an external monitor to verify that the computer is still working.

Screen Rotation

If you find that your screen is rotating unexpectedly, then you've come to the right place. An update to the Intel video driver pushed by Windows update is causing this issue for some laptops equipped with an orientation hardware sensor. It most commonly affects Folio 9470m, but we have also seen this issue with the Elitebook 8470p and 8460p. To correct and prevent this issue:

  1. Place the laptop on a flat, hard surface and make sure the computer is on and Windows is finished loading
  2. Press CTRL+ALT+UP_arrow to re-orient the screen
    • If the screen rotation doesn't change, press CTRL+ALT+[LEFT or RIGHT]_arrow, then try CTRL+ALT+UP_arrow again
    • You might have to repeat this several times until the display rotation is locked (below), so just bear with
  3. RIGHT click the desktop
  4. Click Display Settings
  5. Click the toggle-box Auto-Lock Rotation
    • If you don't see the toggle box, scroll down a little
    • Yes, it's there, Under the 'Display' heading on the left side'
  6. That's it! Just 3 clicks and you're done. You can close the window.

Unable to Save to Desktop using Quick Access Toolbar

This is an issue known to Microsoft. You just have to delete the file mentioned below, and the desktop link on the quick access toolbar will regenerate automatically and work as intended. We have implemented a fix effective for all orders that ship after 4/1/2017.

  1. Copy and paste the following line into the address bar of File Explorer and press [Enter].
  2. delete the file "f01b4d95cf55d32a.automaticDestinations-ms"
  3. Close any open File Explorer windows
  4. Done.

Sound & Volume

Volume is controlled in several places. Please check that the volume is turned up in each of them. Also keep in mind that a laptop's speakers are not meant to fill a room or necessarily be audible in a noisy environment.

  • The volume control buttons on your laptop (if you have them)
  • The mute button on your laptop, and will generally be back-lit blue when enabled, orange when muted, though some are always orange.
  • The volume controls in the system tray, next to the clock.
  • The application you are using. I.e. a movie player has it's own volume controls. Try other applications to rule out an application-specific issue.
  • Did you connect any Bluetooth audio device? If it's in range and powered (i.e. headphones), your sound may be getting routed there.

Are you using a laptop with a docking station? Check that the correct default audio device is specified. Go to Control Panel > Hardware and Sound > Sound > Manage Audio Devices. Select and set the desired Default audio device.

Also try connecting headphones or external speakers. Make sure you use the audio-out port and not the microphone jack, which is usually located right next to it. If the audio-out port is working, cycle the connection several times and try the speakers again. If the speakers are still not working, the next step is to do a System Restore to rule out software as the cause.

System Restore (Re-Install Windows using Recovery Partition)

System Restore is a method to re-install a fresh copy of Windows. This is not the same as a Restore Point. Refer to this page for other backup and recovery options.

Resetting Windows 10

To Reset Windows 10, follow the instructions on this page. Depending on a number of factors, resetting Windows 10 may complete in under an hour or take several hours. DO NOT interrupt the recovery process, even if it appears to be stuck, otherwise you will destroy your Windows 10 installation.

If you see the error message on the right, cancel the restore and reboot into Windows. Follow the instructions below.

  • Open a File Explorer Window (previously called Windows Explorer)
  • Navigate to c:\windows\system32\recovery
  • Delete the file Reagentc.xml
  • Try to reset Windows 10 again

Reinstalling Windows 10 from USB

You may also download Windows 10 from Microsoft on this page to create a bootable USB drive or DVD. You will need a USB flash drive or a blank DVD. This will provide an alternate way to use Windows 10 built in recovery tools and allow you to run a system restore in the event that a system restore cannot be initiated from within Windows. As a last resort, you may also use the USB/DVD to re-install a clean copy of Windows. We recommend re-installing a clean copy of Windows only after all other options have failed.

Restoring Windows 7 from the recovery partition (Windows 7 only)

If you're experiencing problems with your computer, re-installing Windows from the recovery partition can be a quick and easy way to eliminate them. Before you begin, be sure back up any of documents, pictures, or other data that you want to keep. Use an external storage medium, such as an external hard drive or flash drive, or even an online backup service, as the system restore will permanently remove anything still on the computer.

  1. Connect the computer to AC power.
  2. Turn on or reboot the computer.
  3. The manufacturer's logo appears (HP, Dell, etc.) As soon as it disappears from the screen, press and hold the DOWN arrow key.
  4. The OS Selection menu appears. You have two options, "Windows 7" and "System Restore". Select "System Restore" and press ENTER.
  5. After a few moments, the recovery interface will appear on screen. Read and understand the warning.
  6. Click the green check box to begin.
  7. DO NOT INTERRUPT THE PROCESS. Interrupting a system restore before it finishes will render the computer inoperable.

Creating a backup disc (Windows 7 only)

If you have not previously ran a system restore and Windows is still operational, you may also have the option to create a backup disc. You will need a standard 4.7GB DVD-R disc and a DVD burner if your computer is not already equipped.

  1. Click 'Start'
  2. Click 'Computer'
  3. If you are running Windows 10, click 'This PC'
  4. Double click on 'Local Disk C:' (or similarly named drive C)
  5. Locate the file there named, for example, HP_xxxx_Pro_DVD
  6. Right click the file
  7. Click 'Burn disc image'

To use the disc,

  1. Reboot the computer
  2. When the HP/Dell/Lenovo logo appears, press ESC for a boot menu
  3. Press the indicated key to boot from the DVD drive. HP calls it an Upgrade Bay, and the key is F9.
  4. Do not interrupt the computer
  5. When the process is completed, you must use the Windows 7 prodct key to activate Windows. Refer to Activating Windows for more information.


Is the laptop equipped with a camera? Not all of them are. If present, the camera is centrally located above the screen. If you aren't sure, check the ad to see whether or not the laptop is supposed to have a camera.

Try re-installing the webcam software. You can download the software from the 'drivers and downloads' page for your model. For example, if your laptop's model is an HP 6930p, then you would search the internet for 'hp 6930p drivers'. The appropriate link should be at or near the top of the list.

If that fails to resolve the problem, also uninstall the webcam from device manager. It will be listed under 'imaging devices'. Then right click the top entry, which should be the name of your computer, and click 'scan for hardware changes'. When device manager finishes, close it and try the camera again.

Networking, Wireless


All of our laptops are equipped with internal wireless cards. Desktops are not equipped, but you may add an internal or USB wireless adapter if desired.

We use the wireless extensively during testing and final setup, so we know when you receive the laptop that are positively no problems with the wireless hardware in the laptop. Unfortunately wifi is more complicated than most people realize, and a lot of things can cause it to 'not work'.

Enable Wireless

First ensure that the wireless is turned on. Depending on the model, there may be a hard switch on the front or side of the laptop, a soft switch between the screen and keyboard, or a FN+ F key combination. Soft switches are usually back-lit and will be blue or white when on, orange or dark when off. Once wireless is turned on, you should see the SSID (name) of your router or access point in the list of available connections. All of our laptops ship with wireless already enabled.

Security Software

Did you install any software with “Internet Security” in the name, such as “Norton Internet Security”, “AVG Internet Security”, or similar?

Users who can't access any webpage, despite being connected to wifi, have often just installed an “Internet Security” package, such as Norton or AVG. If you find yourself in this situation, then you have configured your Internet Security software incorrectly, and it is blocking your internet access. You should re-configure the settings in the program to allow internet access, or remove the program.

Driver issues

Driver issues may sometimes occur after re-installing Windows, either from the recovery partition or the install DVD, or in rare cases after completing Windows' Out of Box Experience (initial Windows account setup). The driver may be missing or corrupt.

To check for driver issues,

  1. Click Start
  2. Right-click Computer
  3. Click Manage
  4. Click Device Manager (on the left side)
  5. Click the arrow next to 'Network adapters' (center pane) to expand the tree (if not already expanded)

If there is a yellow exclamation mark or question mark next to one of the items under the 'Network adapters' tree, or if the network adapter appears to not be functioning correctly,

  1. Right click that item
  2. Click 'Uninstall' and then click 'OK' (Do not check the box to Delete the driver)
  3. Repeat as necessary for other network adapters
  4. Reboot the computer
  5. Try to connect to your access point or router again

If there is no yellow exclamation mark or question mark next to any item under 'Network adapters', then there is no driver issue.

Ensure that the wireless card is compatible with your router

Wireless-G is almost always supported by any laptop we sell, and is almost always supported by your router. The wireless bands supported by the laptop can be found on the listing detail and may be denoted as a/b/g or b/g or similar. Using b/g as an example, your router must then support wireless-B or -G in order to connect.

Also verify that the encryption settings on your router are supported by the wireless card, (WPA and WPA2 are widely supported) and try other settings if necessary. Refer to your router's documentation if you need to check or change any of its settings.

Link speed

Home routers are typically compatible with b, g, n, or a network bands. Which band are you using? B is an older / slower band, performance in the B band will not compete with what you would expect in the N or A bands. Slower link speeds are more stable. Click the image to the right to help you discover your connection speed. The number we're interested in is, in this example, is 54.0 Mbps. What's yours? You may find some additional helpful information on this page.

What are you doing that the performance seems slow? i.e. surfing basic web pages, surfing media-rich pages with lots of contents / videos, etc, streaming videos (youtube, netflix), etc. If you turn off wifi and use a wired connection, do the same pages perform the same as before or is there a marked improvement?

A good test of your signal strength is to be in the same room with the router and for the computer to have a direct line-of-sight to the router. In such a condition, you should have maximum signal strength. In some routers there is a setting in the router's configuration to control the transmit strength. Check your router's documentation to find out if you have this setting available, and ensure that it is set to maximum.

Signal interference

Walls and other objects between the laptop and the router degrade the signal. Move the laptop to the same room as your wireless router and try connecting again. Ensure that the router is broadcasting the SSID, and that the laptop can 'see' the router.

For optimum coverage, the wireless router should be centrally located in your residence. Ensure that it is off of the floor, preferably on a desk or higher, and at least several feet away from other high-powered electronics (including desktop computers, monitors, televisions, etc), dense concentrations of wires, and metal objects. If the wireless router has an external antenna, it should be pointing straight up at the ceiling (signals propagate perpendicularly from the antenna). Wifi signals weaken every time they pass through a wall or other obstacle, and may be susceptible to interference from other wireless devices (including your neighbor's). Selecting an alternate wireless channel (on your router) may sometimes improve signal quality. Again, refer to your router's documentation.

Windows Update

Symptoms: Windows reboots several times while installing or configuring updates, or uninstalls updates, or restarts unexpectely and installs updates

This is normal, especially if you have just received the computer. We fully install the first round of updates during setup. Several more rounds of udpates will follow before Windows is fully up to date. Windows updates are set to automatically install and can sometimes reboot the computer while you are using it, but will always show a pop-up with a 10-minute warning and an option to delay before doing so. There are two things you can do to alter this behavior. 1 - Respond to the popup, and save your work and restart or delay a restart. 2 - Change the update behavior for automatic updates. We recommend to allow Windows to install updates automatically, but the second best option is to 'download update but let me choose to install', which will wait until you shut down the computer before starting to install updates.