PC users need to be very careful with power cord connections - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Business

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PC users need to be very careful with power cord connections

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Resident Mike Smothers is president of Smothers Computer Services based in Ahwatukee Foothills. Send questions to mike@smotherscomputers.com or call (480) 753-7667.

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Posted: Wednesday, September 7, 2011 3:00 pm

A friend of mine went to his doctor the other day complaining of pain. He told the doctor, "Doc. It hurts when I do this." The sage old doctor looked at the joint in question, rubbed it a bit, scratched his chin and said, "Then don't do that."

This time of year we receive a rash of calls from parents and kids who have power cord connection issues with their laptops and, honestly, there is no good way to repair broken or loose connections short of replacing the entire laptop. So just don't do it!

Over the years, we have seen very unique ways people have of plugging in laptops that have damaged power connections.

One person had a series of three toothpicks inserted at precise angles that enabled the laptop to connect to the power cord and any deviation from this system would result in a bad connection and no charge.

One person chanted as she inserted the cord. It worked but I told her she was treating the symptom and not the cause. Why not prevent this from happening in the first place?

The laptop power connection is one of the weakest parts in the entire computer. If you forget to unplug the laptop when you are moving it or the dog runs by and catches his leg in the cord, that could be the end of that computer.

Pretty harsh, I know, but one would think if we can put a guy on the moon, surely we can figure out a better way to connect a power source to a laptop.

As longtime readers of this column know, I am not a Mac guy but Apple really got this right. They have a unique system of power connection that has a magnetic connection and external lock that prevents damage to the power connection and motherboard that a PC computer manufacturer would do well to adopt.

I have done exhaustive Internet searches for power cord savers or something similar that would protect this delicate connection but as yet, I cannot find anything that will lock the power plug into the laptop and not allow any damage regardless of what happens to the cord.

Thus far, my searches have not been fruitful. There are a ton of places and YouTube videos that give step-by-step instructions for repairing a broken connection but most of them are temporary fixes that remind me of the toothpick cure or complicated processes that are beyond the reach of typical computer users and simply do not work.

So what do you do?

• When plugging in the power cord to the laptop, make sure the laptop is on a flat surface like a table. Gently insert the power cord at the correct angle. Do not force it in!

• Check the power cord and make sure there is no tripping hazard or any cord hanging down that Fluffy the Cat can play with and potentially try to take to another room.

• When using a pillow or some other device that allows you to use the laptop on your lap, make sure the power connection is not being pressured or angled in any way so as to loosen the connection.

• Remember, this connection is directly to the motherboard and is not an add-on device that can be replaced. If it is damaged, it is best to replace the whole computer. Treat it as you would treat an egg. Be VERY careful!

Replacing a motherboard is a very expensive, time-consuming process so if someone tells you they can fix a broken power connection on your laptop, you need to view this claim with great skepticism and have a backup computer just in case.

One final note, if a power connection is broken the data on the hard drive can be retrieved and transferred to your new computer. As the sage doctor told my friend, "Then don't do that!"

• Resident Mike Smothers is president of Smothers Computer Services based in Ahwatukee Foothills. Send questions to mike@smotherscomputers.com or call (480) 753-7667.

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