Laptop Disassembly Best Practices – CompTIA A+ 220-802: 4.8

| June 2, 2013

Taking apart a laptop is very different than working on a desktop computer. In this video, you’ll learn some of the best practices to consider when working inside a laptop computer.

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Disassembling a laptop computer is a lot different than disassembling a desktop computer. On a desktop system, we take out a few screws, we pull the top off and we have full access to the system. But a laptop has this very, very confined space. Everything is piled right on top of each other.

It’s very customized with many, many different pieces inside of it. Some of the pieces are very, very small, and it’s a very complex environment to work in. You want to be sure that you’re really able to take this whole thing apart and then put it back together again. That sounds like it should be relatively simple, but there’s so many different things to keep in mind.

Plus, these are very small pieces, and we’re usually pulling at different connectors inside of the laptop. It’s very, very easy to break something, so we have to be very delicate when working inside of these laptops.

Something that may not be obvious when you’re taking apart a laptop, is to label and document everything that you’re doing. The reason it doesn’t seem obvious is because it all seems very logically put together.

And when you start taking things apart, you take off four screws here, and then you take off five screws, and then you take off another six screws, after a while, you have many, many screws available, and you’ve now forgotten where the first ones ever went. So by documenting this, you can not only take everything apart properly, but perhaps more importantly, get everything put together properly again.

You also want to document where all of these cables are plugging into. You’re going to be disconnecting those, later on you have to figure out where they connect, and some of them look very similar to each other. Others are pretty well hidden. You have to look around and really find out where those particular connections go. So make sure you know exactly where they go when you decide to put everything back together again.

There’s also a challenge with screws. There are so many screws that you have a disconnect and pull off of that system to get down to these laptop components, and you have to know exactly where they’re going back. And of course, they’re not all the same size screw. There’s different screws and different types that are used in different places inside of a laptop.

Sometimes you can’t even tell that a screw goes into a certain place. They’re hidden because everything is so small inside of that laptop case. So make sure that when you are removing all of these screws, that you’re documenting and keeping track of exactly where they go.

You’re generally disassembling a laptop in sections. You first remove a plastic bezel around the screen, then you remove a keyboard, then you remove a hard drive holder. Each one of these can perhaps go into a separate bin. I have separate bins that I use that I put the different parts and the screws that are associated with those parts, all in the same bin. That way, I can logically separate out the computer and then when it goes back together, I know exactly where all of those parts happen to be.

If you don’t have a service guide that’s stepping you through all of these pieces, it may be worthwhile to pull out your mobile phone and take pictures along the way. If there’s a way to even record this with video, where you could look back and see exactly the process you went through, that might even be a good idea.

But it’s certainly worthwhile to stop occasionally, document what you’re seeing, especially when you’re disconnecting some of these cables, and if you ever need to go back and reference those pictures, you’ll know exactly where that came from.

Sometimes, these projects that you work on are going to be over a number of days. You may have to disassemble a laptop, and then once you get inside of it, you realize you need another part. So make sure that you are protecting all of the things that you already disassembled. You don’t want somebody walking by your workspace and knocking over something, and now the parts are all over. You’ll never be able to figure out all of those went back together again.

So make sure you have some ways, like with resealable bins, that you can put all of your parts and all of your systems away, and keep them protected in the meantime.

Some manufactures give you everything you need to be able to service your laptop. They give you exactly the pictures you need, they take you step-by-step through the process. You have the exact service guides.

But there are some manufacturers that don’t provide this. I recently had to swap out an LCD display and the manufacturer did not make any of the service guides available. But of course, this is the internet, and I could go straight to YouTube, where someone has already done exactly the same thing I needed to do, and they made a video that took me exactly through the process.

So I was able to follow them one step after the other and replace out that LCD display, even though I didn’t have the manufacture’s docs. There are even sites that specialize in doing this. If you go to ifixit.com, you’ll see videos and documentation that can take you through repairing a lot of different types of components, especially when a manufacturer doesn’t make any of that service information available.

And of course, you need exactly the right tools for the job. Sometimes, you just need a screwdriver. And that one screwdriver will take apart an entire computer and put it back together again. But occasionally, you’ll run into laptops and systems that need specialized tools. So make sure you know exactly what you’re going to need before you get started.

Your workspace should also be prepared for these very delicate pieces. I like to put out a very lightly colored towel that allows me to put the parts onto the towel, and I know that I’m not going to damage them because it’s very soft, and it’s also very easy to find screws and other things that might go missing because it’s a very light surface to work on.

You want to be very careful with this, especially with things like LCD screens that are very, very prone to breakage. You want to be sure you have an environment where nothing is going to be damaged while you’re working on the laptop.

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Category: CompTIA A+ 220-802

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