My system is saying "invalid system disk" or "operating system not found". Is my data gone? Am I dead meat?

Posted by Super User

This error message means your computer is having a hard time reading the boot sector of the hard drive. This may mean the hard drive is failing, but it could be a number of other things as well. One of the more common causes of this error message is that the "map" to the hard drive has become corrupt and the system can no longer find the files. If this is the case, we can usually get your data back along with your fully functioning widows environment, with software and settings intact. If the hard drive has failed, there are degrees of failure, with varying implications for you data. Even then, most of the time we can get your data back by relatively inexpensive means. In a small percentage of cases, the only way to get the data back is via forensic data recovery, which can be fairly pricey. 

My laptop took a drink. What should I do?

Posted by Super User

The first step in these cases is to place the beer can upright so it is no longer poring into your laptop. The next step is to pull the power adapter out of the laptop and remove the battery. I know it is hard to resist the tendency to try to start your laptop up to see if it is still OK, but trust me- this is not a good idea. The next step is up to you, if the unit only a spill of water, you could try to dry the unit in a bag of rice for a week and then try it. If you don't feel comfortable with this or if the unit has had anything besides water spilled in it, you should not wait, but bring it down to the shop ASAP. The reason for this is that other drinks have sugars, salts, acids and other potentially corrosive organic agents in them, which could short circuits or corrode them in a surprisingly short amount of time. Limiting this type of damage is going to be a key in factor determining whether as simple mistake ends up destroying your laptop motherboard or just costs a bit of shop time to clean up. Typically a cleanup will run 2-3 hours of shop time at $60/hr.

My battery is dead. Can I get a new one?

Posted by Super User

You bet. Just give us your laptop make and model and we will order one in for you. Most common batteries run around $60-70, if we get them in with our regular order. If you need it quickly, we can get it next day (if you order early enough in the day) for an additional $10. Some units have an option for a higher capacity battery than what the unit shipped with (usually about 50% higher capacity), which usually protrude slightly from the back or bottom of the laptop. Finally, the standard batteries come with a 1-year warranty, but many units have a higher-end battery available for $10-15 more which comes with a 2-year warranty.