Tag Archives: laptop

Fix USB devices not charging on laptops/netbooks (Windows 7)

Last night, I came across a minor issue on my netbook. I want to be able to charge some of my many USB devices (such as my phone, iPod, mifi) while on the go, but I couldn’t get them to charge properly.

For example, I tried to plug in my mifi to charge it up on my long trip home – the computer recognised it fine and it charged for a few seconds – but after a little while the device reported it wasn’t charging.

I’ve discovered the problem is caused by a little power saving feature in Windows 7. It has a feature built-in that automatically reduces the power supplied to a USB device if it is not in use. Whilst this is a handy idea, it’s pretty annoying when I want to charge gadgets.

If you’re having the same issue, here’s the fix.

Go to Control Panel (make sure you’re viewing all options – by selecting Large/Small Icons in the “View by” menu), click Power Options and then choose the power plan that you’re using most (in time you might want to go through all of them). For the power plan you’ve selected click “Change Plan Settings” and then “Change advanced power settings”.

Now you’ll need to navigate to the “USB settings” plus button. Click it, then the plus button of “USB selective suspend setting” and you should see the following.


They’re probably set to Enabled. If they are, here’s your problem. Set it to Disabled for both On Battery and Plugged In, click Apply, and that should solve your problem.

If you can’t modify the settings because the options are all greyed out, it’s because your computer’s manufacturer is using some form of power management software that doesn’t want you to change the settings. In the case of my Samsung netbook, it was “Fast Start”. Disable whatever crud it is that’s greying out the options and you’ll be able to modify the settings. 

Rumour: Windows 7 Free Upgrade Program starting 26th June?

There’s a little rumour going around the internet at the moment.

If you remember, when the launch of Windows Vista was approaching, Microsoft did a ‘Free Upgrade’ program, meaning that users who bought a PC with Windows XP Media Center 2005 from a certain date (I think that was the case – maybe it was all versions of XP… I can’t remember) would get a free express upgrade to Windows Vista when it was launched.

Well, it would appear that Microsoft are taking this approach again, but for Windows 7. So, if the rumour is true, if you buy a Windows Vista PC (Home Premium, Business or Ultimate I think) anywhere from June 26th and October 22nd (Windows 7 launch date), you’ll get a free upgrade to Windows 7.

So if you are thinking of buying a new PC or laptop, hold off a couple of weeks and wait for the campaign to start.

Here’s another little rumour going round too: As well as Windows Vista preinstalled machines having a free upgrade to Windows 7, it would appear that Microsoft is planning to start the Upgrade Program on boxed versions of Windows Vista too. So if you buy a separate copy of Windows Vista Home Premium, Business or Ultimate, the chances are you’ll get a free upgrade to Windows 7 too.

Bare in mind this is all rumours – Microsoft still hasn’t confirmed what is happening with the Upgrade Program this time round as yet, so we’ll have to wait and see if the rumours are true.

Why bother on a high capacity laptop battery when you can get a car inverter?

My laptop is fantastic – it’s dual core with 2GB of RAM and is powerful enough for most of the tasks I need it for. There’s only one downside – the battery. It won’t last more than about 1.5 hours even on a good day. Hopeless – even for watching a short film.

So I was thinking whether I should buy a higher capacity battery. They aren’t exactly cheap. And then there’s the thought that in a worryingly short amount of time, it will be worn out and will need replacing again. But then I thought where is the place I use the battery the most? After a good brainstorm, I discovered that the place I use my laptop most is in the car.

I’d heard about car inverters before, but had been told they were quite expensive and weren’t capable of producing very much power. Well when I was wondering around the Maplin electronics store, I suddenly bumped into one. It claimed it was capable of producing 150 watts constant and a 450 watt surge. In addition, it was just £20 to include the inverter, plus a spare fuse just incase it blew. So I thought it’s always worth a try and bought it. Then I went straight back to the car and plugged in the laptop. Worked straight out of the box.

I’ve discovered that laptop chargers generally only need between 35 and 75 watts of electricity to run, so a 150 watt inverter was easily enough to get it going. Plus there are a number of things you can run with that amount of electricity – phone chargers, camera chargers, fans, even small TVs. You can even attach a double socket and power your phone and laptop charger at the same time. So it could be perfect if you are on a camping trip and you need a bit of juice for your gadgets and gizmos. My inverter even came with a low battery warning to make sure you don’t run your car battery flat, plus it has an overheat/overload monitor.

I think it’s a great idea. It saves having to get car chargers and high capacity batteries. And it just plugs into any car cigarette lighter socket. For only £20, it’s hardly worth missing. Mine came with a year’s warranty, so you can’t go wrong. It’s ideal to keep the kids happy in the back as it can charge games consoles and the likes, or charge up your essentials on the way to work.

I’d really recommend one. They are available online and I just got mine from a Maplin store in town. You just plug it into the cigarette lighter and away you go.

OLED will bring even thinner TVs!

Sony are now demoing the new kid on the block in the TV department – OLED. OLED stands for Organic Light Emitting Diode, and is a new technology that might open up a brand new era in television.

This new technology means that the TV picture is naturally much brighter, so you don’t need a backlight on the TV. This not only saves a large amount of electricity, but means that TV’s can be so much thinner!

They aren’t cheap though – and the majority of people won’t be able to afford them for a little while yet (especially in the financial crisis at the moment), but maybe in a year or so they’ll be a bit cheaper and affordable.

For me though, I’m looking forward to OLED TV’s in laptops – I mean imagine how much it would improve battery life! We’ve got a lot to look forward to!

Overheating in Dell laptops

I was helping a friend fix a laptop that was constantly overheating. To be a little more specific, it was a Dell Inspiron 1300 laptop that is about 4 years old now. It would constantly shut down on random occasions, and we couldn’t work out why.

In the end we guessed that it was probably just a problem with a fan either not working or a blocked fan.

We took apart the back of the laptop, and had a look at the main fan.

And you would not believe what we saw – several millimeters of pure dust and fluff! It was horrifying. There was probably 3 or 4 years of dust and dirt bunged into a small gap in the fan space.

So we got some pressurised spray designed to blow out dust and took it all out. Worked perfectly afterwards.

But if you are experiencing problems with overheating, Dell may tell you that its just a case of sending the laptop to them and having a new motherboard fitted. Rubbish. All you need is a small screwdriver, some dust remover, and about 10 minutes of time. You should find the laptop works much better afterwards.