what to do when your laptop breaks

In 2019, the laptop is equally as essential as the pencil to Penn State students — and with frequent use comes frequent mishaps.

From WiFi issues to water damage, a student’s laptop leads a hard life.

This guide provides suggestions for how Penn State students can fix some of the most common computer issues faced, and provide a starting point for connecting with the various IT support resources available on campus.

However, according to Penn State IT Service Desk coordinator Jack Cosgrove, there are inherent risks to opening or modifying a computer regardless of technical skill level, and he recommends students always check their manufactures warranty before attempting any repair.

Cosgrove said the IT Service Desk staff only works on personal unwarranted computers, and does not do any physical repair on warrantied machines.

He said students should always consult an IT professional at the IT Service Desk located in the West Pattee Knowledge Commons for issues that cannot be resolved with the below listed suggestions.

Wireless connectivity issues

As many new and returning Penn State students realized at the start of the fall semester, WiFi connectivity issues are common this semester. Fortunately, the majority of these issues can be resolved in a straightforward manner.

For computers with windows operating systems, uninstalling and reinstalling Secure W2, which can be done through the settings page takes care of this concern. This works because Penn State requires anyone who uses their WIFI to have a specific data stamp on their certificate, which is then periodically renewed.

This renewal process saw returning students unable to access the network as their date stamp had expired last May.

For computers running Mac operating systems, these issues can be resolved by ensuring that the proper wireless configuration profile is installed. This can also be done in the computer’s settings. Uninstalling and reinstalling this profile can also potentially fix any wireless connectivity issues that students may face.

Free software installation problems

Included in the cost of student tuition is a variety of useful software programs that are free or offered at a sizable discount. However, senior member of the Penn State IT Service Desk staff, Arturo Norico (senior-information sciences and technology) said many unknowing students pay full price for them anyway.

These programs represent a diverse selection of the software students will frequently use during their time at Penn State, such as Microsoft Office and the Adobe Creative Suite.

These programs can be found online at software.psu.edu. To download any of these programs, you will first need to provide your Penn State credentials in order to receive your student discount.

Trackpad issues

As a core part of any laptop, the trackpad is subjected to more wear and tear than almost any other component. Subsequently, trackpad issues — such as sticking or freezing — are very common.

These issues can usually be attributed to software, not hardware issues, so they are simple to fix.

While seemingly counterintuitive, often the most straightforward solution to trackpad problems is to completely shut down and restart the computer. This halts any software processes running in the background that may have been interfering with the trackpad.

Water damage

Students will regularly use their laptops morning, noon and night. This intense routine will often place student laptops in dangerous predicaments — next to an open coffee mug, caught out in a rainstorm or in the crossfire at a house party. These perils can subject computers to liquid damage.

The first thing to do immediately after sustaining liquid damage is to turn your device on its side to ensure that there’s no standing water on any internal components, which would further damage the device.

Another crucial step is to not turn the device on after it receives water damage, as Norico said many students do this unintentionally and it can harm their device beyond the initial incident.

After this, the next step should be to bring the device into an IT Service Desk where their staff can ensure it is drying properly and begin any necessary repairs.

Lost data concerns

Every week, students can be asked to submit numerous papers, PowerPoints and multimedia projects — and the proper storage of all of that data can be a task in itself.

Ideally, Norico said any data with academic or sentimental value should be stored in at least two physical locations, such as a hard drive and a flash drive, or a hard drive and a cloud storage solution.

Norico also recommended students use box.psu.edu, which gives any student who log in with their Penn State credentials 32 gigabytes of storage.

The Media and Technology Support Services, located in the Wagner Building Annex, also rents numerous devices, such as hard drives and replacement laptops, to students who need them.

This service can also provide photography and video equipment, as well as cables and other computer accessories.

Helpful Links to IT Services

For WIFI connection help: www.https//wireless.psu.edu

For student software: www.https//software.psu.edu

For cloud data storage: www.https//box.psu.edu

For student account management: www.https//accounts.psu.edu

For general IT information and support: www.https//It.psu.edu

A third-party resource for repairs: www.https//ifixit.com

To get involved with the IT Service Desk: www.https//joinitsd.psu.edu

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Conner Goetz is a news reporter for The Daily Collegian. He is a sophomore majoring in digital and print journalism and minoring in new media entrepreneurship