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An Easy, Cheap Way to Get Going After a PC Fails from a Bad Motherboard
Posted 6 years ago on 8/12/2014 and updated 9/16/2018
Take Away:

This article describes a quick, economical way to get up and running after a PC with a viable hard disk fails due to defective electronic components.


When I am out and about in my local area on computer repair calls, I frequently encounter customers who have had PCs cut out on them. Naturally, computer crashes can vary by circumstance. Sometimes it’s a bad hard disk, while other times the motherboard is toast. It’s usually one or the other, because the odds are long against it being both. When a motherboard cuts out, I have discovered a very economical “shortcut” to get up and running again.

The key is the fact that the hard drive is still a viable and bootable storage media, despite what has happened with the motherboard. The idea is to pull the out the hard drive and transplant it into another working computer. Some of the device drivers such as video, sound and network cards may have to be updated, but that’s a piece of cake as long as you are dealing with a mainstream machine like Dell or HP. Their websites are very good for furnishing needed device drivers for their various models.

I like to buy used CPUs that have been refurbished from reputable sellers. You get a great price on these machines and the security of knowing that you are dealing with a good, honest supplier. There is a computer store nearby me where I have been buying refurbished Dell and HP desktop machines. I recently had an experience when I went there to buy a refurbished HP desktop computer. I transplanted a customer’s disk from another failing desktop computer and it worked well for about 5 weeks. Then the customer started having all kinds of weird problems with it. Fortunately, this fell within the warranty period, so I was able to take it back to the store for an even swap for another refurbished PC. I then returned to the customer and set them up with this second machine and everything has been fine since.

Now, what is one to do if there is no store like this where you live? Another option I have used with great success is ebay. I have bought a number of refurbished name brand computers on their website at nominal prices. There may also be a shipping charge, but there is hardly ever sales tax since I’m typically out of town. After I key in a search phrase along the lines of “dell desktop computer” or “hp desktop computer”, I then sort the resulting list of machines by “Price + shipping: lowest first”. Next, I will usually purchase the lowest priced PC I can find that is designated as a “Top rated seller” that is also a “Buy it now” deal. These ebay merchants didn’t earn this top rated seller designation by accident. They have typically sold to thousands of people and maintain at least a 99% positive rating. So it’s the same thing as my neighborhood computer store – cheap price with good quality!

Another thing to remember when shopping for a refurbished PC is that you may get it for an even lower price if it comes without a hard drive. It doesn’t matter, because you are installing a working, bootable disk anyway from another PC. You just need to make sure the machine you are buying has the same type of hard drive connector (old IDE or newer SATA).

Many of these refurbished computers are not running the maximum memory they are able to run. If you can do this, try to buy a refurbished PC that runs the same type of memory as the failing PC you took the hard drive out of. You can pull the memory sticks from the old PC and snap them into the new one if it has available memory module slots. You will end up with a PC that runs at or close to its maximum memory capacity. This enhances performance, because the machine will have plenty of memory to load software. It creates an illusion of more speed than you would otherwise get even though the processor chip hasn’t changed. Please visit my website to learn more about my application development services.


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Article Contributed By Douglas.M:

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