Upgrade to the PC, the care to have and rules to follow when you want to upgrade your computer is what we talked about in this article.

We’ve repaired, upgraded , and built hundreds of computers over the years, and we’ve learned many lessons about the hard way to do it. Here we present the rules by which we are guided – some great, some small, but all useful. We admit that we do not always apply these steps when we do a simple upgrade such as swapping a graphics card for example, but we advise you to follow them until you gain experience to know when it is safe to do so.

Back up everything

Twice. Take a verification pass, if necessary, to make sure that what is in the backup matches what is on the hard drive . If you are connected to a network, at least copy your data and configuration files to a network drive.It is easier to retrieve them from there than from a tape. If there is enough space on the network drive, create temporary folders and copy all information from the hard drive of the machine to be upgraded. If you do not have a tape recorder or a network drive but have a CD or DVD burner, back up the most important information and configuration files to CD or DVD . Almost 99 times out of 100 this is unnecessary work. But in the 100th time when everything that is going to go wrong is really bad, this gesture will pay you well for the other 99 times it runs well.

NOTE: If you do not have a tape drive or CD / DVD burner, installing one will be a great first upgrade to make. Floppy drives are no longer used for backups.

Make sure you have everything you need before you start the upgrade.

Have all the hardware, software, and tools you’ll need aligned and waiting. You do not want to stop in the middle of an upgrade to go find a small Philips key or go to the store to go buy a cable. Our first rule about the upgrade says you will not find the key you need or you will find the store closed. If your computer can boot from the CD or DVD, set it up and test before starting the upgrade. Otherwise, make sure you have bootable floppy disks with the CD-ROM drivers installed, and test before shutting down the entire system. Create a new emergency repair disk immediately before starting the upgrade. Make sure you have the operating system installation disks, the softwarebackup, and any special driver you need. If you are working on the only computer you have, download all the drivers you need, and copy the decompressed or executable files to the diskettes or CD before you dismantle the computer for the upgrade. Following this last recommendation will prevent you from having to go to the office several times to download an internet driver to install on the computer being upgraded.

Make sure you have the answers you need

Read the manual first. A quick read answers potential issues, tips, and tips that can make the upgrade much simpler. Check out the manufacturer’s website for each component that will install. You will surely find a FAQ, readme file, driver updates, and other information that can make a difference between installing components without problems or with major problems. In fact, the quality of the site that supports the component is a big factor in the purchase decision, and we suggest that you do too. Before purchasing a component, check the manufacturer’s website for any answers to any questions that may arise.

Make technology work for you

You can make the choice between a slow and manual way or a quick and automatic way of doing things. The latter may require spending some money for some special program to do so, but can save you hours and mistakes, manual labor, and irritation. For example, when upgrading the hard drive, you can copy the contents of the old hard drive to the new hard drive for hours backing up, you can buy a utility for $ 15 that does the same in minutes. In fact, most new hard drives come with software that allows you to migrate all your programs automatically from the old hard drive to the new one after the upgrade. For some reason, few people know or use them.

Write down everything

During an upgrade, it is very important to be able to return to the starting point. If you spent an hour switching cables and changing DIP switches and jumpers , it’s almost impossible to remember how everything was at the beginning. So take note of all the changes you make. There are people who like to have a visual record of what they are doing, and use a digital camera to photograph every change they make during the upgrade. How to organize photos by date or by work can help. There are those who use a voice recorder and describe each task during the upgrade work. If you do not have any of these means the use of traditional pen and paper fits perfectly. The important thing is to take note of everything.

Change one thing at a time

When you are upgrading to multiple components, do it in phases. For example, to install a new graphics card or a new sound card, leave the old graphics card in place while you change the sound card. Restart the computer and make sure the new sound card is working before installing the new graphics card. If you change only one thing at a time, any problem that may arise is a clear result of that change, and is relatively easy to identify and correct. If you change multiple components at the same time, the problems are more difficult to solve because you will not be sure if the problem is caused by a bad configuration if a broken component, a conflict between the new upgrade components, or a conflict between a new component and an old one.

Keep the PC connected to ground (ground) while upgrading

Many PC manuals advise you to unplug the computer while upgrading. They say this not because it is a good practice, but to minimize the risk of being processed in the event of someone being electrocuted. We disagree with these advice. Every PC technician we know leaves the computers plugged in while they work on their upgrade, and for good reason. Doing this keeps the computer connected to the ground, which minimizes the risk of static electricity destroying sensitive chips. The best way is to connect the computer to a power protector that is plugged into the wall outlet, but with the power switch off. This connects the computer to the ground circuit of the building, and ensures that no current reaches the computer while upgrading.

NOTE: Disconnecting the power button on older systems – those using the AT standard and its derivatives – removes voltage from all components except the power supply, leaving the system in a safe state to upgrade without risk of damaging components. Many of the new systems – those using the ATX standard and its derivatives – maintain low-voltage, low-amperage power on the motherboard even when the power button is off unless it is unplugged.

Most of these systems have a small LED on the motherboard that remains lit to indicate that there is still power. Installing or removing an expansion card in these systems without first completely unplugging the power cord may damage the motherboard or the component. Although some ATX power supplies have a power button in the power supply, the safest method with these systems is to unplug the computer from the wall outlet, or turn off the power protector.

Keep the screws and small parts

Disassembling a computer involves an incredible number of screws and other small pieces. While disassembling the computer, arrange these pieces using a carton of carton eggs, or a tray of ice cubes. From experience, a screw lost in the floor can ruin a vacuum cleaner. The goal is to have all the pieces organized for when you reassemble the computer during the upgrade. Some people store the screws until they are needed by putting them back into the original component after removing it. This takes a little longer, but make sure you use the right screw on the component itself.

NOTE: Some computers use a variety of screws that look very similar but in reality are quite different. For example, the screws used for some of the carton covers and those used to mount the disc drives may look the same, but changing them may result in ground threads. If in doubt, keep the screws separate in separate compartments.

Use force when necessary, but do not abuse

Many books say not to force anything, this is a good county to some extent. If you do something that requires too much force, there is a chance that a part will be misaligned, or it will not remove a screw, or anything like that during the upgrade work. But sometimes there is no other alternative if you do not apply force if you want to be able to upgrade. For example, the drive’s power cords sometimes get so tight that the only way to get them out is to grab them with pliers to pull them out. Some combinations of expansion cards with slotthey are so tight they have to put a lot of pressure to fit them. When you are upgrading if you find this situation, make sure that everything is aligned or how it should be (or there is no wire locking the slot). So use the force needed to do the upgrade work, which can be a lot.

Confirm and reconfirm before calling

An experienced technician upgrading to a system makes a thorough and quick examination of the computer before testing it by turning it on. Do not skip this part, and do not underestimate its importance. Many of the computers that fail the power-up test after the upgrade are because this part is ignored. Until you gain experience, it takes a few minutes to check if everything is as it should be – the components are secure, the cables connected correctly, no tool forgotten in the computer, etc. Once you’re confident in the upgrade task, this step will only take 15 seconds, but may be the 15 most important seconds of the entire upgrade.

Call for a short time the first time

The time of great danger arises when you turn on the computer the first time after the upgrade. Do what it takes to minimize damage if the first test fails. If the system catastrophically fails – what sometimes happens does not matter how careful we are – do not take longer than necessary. For example, we recently upgraded to a server for which we purchased four 512MB memory DIMMs and two SCSI drives. The new motherboard sometimes shut down the first time it was turned on, so instead of installing the new DIMMs and SCSI disks before testing, we used 128 MB DIMMs used and an old Barracuda hard drive to check that the motherboard was good and the connections too. Once we get past this obstacle, we install the new DIMMs and the new hard drive. If the system had failed it would be from the motherboard, and the new DIMMs and hard drive would be fine. We mentioned before another advantage of doing things like that. Limiting concurrent changes makes it easier to get hardware to work properly when upgrading. Starting slowly and gradually adding the hardware helps Plug-and-Play set up more easily, particularly when you install difficult peripherals such as sound cards that want to grab all the features that come with it.

Do not throw away old components from another upgrade

Do not get rid of the components you remove when you upgrade. With new hard drives costing an average of $ 1 per gigabyte, it may not make sense to save an old 1GB disk. But of course you’ll be glad to have him around when you have to test a computer problem. Apart from advertising that shows a technician testing a computer using an oscilloscope, in fact no one does it that way. In the real world, faults in computers are detected by switching components. Saving the old components you remove from the computers you upgrade is a convenient (and free) way of having replacement parts that you may need later to troubleshoot your PC.

Leave the cover open until the upgrade is complete.

An easy way to see if the technician has experience or not is to see when he mounts the cover of the computer to which he is to upgrade. Experienced technicians wait until everything is assembled and functioning properly before you attach the cables and cover the computer. An inexperienced technician installs the upgrade components, assembles the box, attaches all the cables, and only at the end does it test to see if the upgrade went well.