The Geek Squad Explains How to Fix a Busted Laptop

You've got tech questions, we've found the answers. We've asked the tech experts at the Geek Squad to help you make the most of your technology, answering your thorniest tech questions. So if you're wondering what to buy, how to plug it in, or how to fix it, the Geek Squad can help.

This week, Geek Squad Counter Intelligence Agent Clarence "Eddie" Johnson. answers YOUR questions.

"My wife recently stepped on my laptop, which cracked my screen. What's the best way to get this fixed? Order a screen and put it on myself or just get a new laptop?" -- Kevin

Can a broken laptop screen be replaced? Yes, and in most cases it's pretty easy -- with a smidge of technical know-how. It's possible to find an aftermarket screen for as little as $75 dollars, or as much as $1,200. Labor can range anywhere from $50 to $350 depending on the laptop model, if you're nervous about doing it yourself.

Is it worth replacing it instead? That's the bigger question. Yes, you might be able to find a new computer for the cost of a new screen, but your data will then need to be transferred to the new computer. You will also need to check for compatibility problems if you have older software. And consider the time involved installing all those applications.

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What it ultimately comes down to is researching your options seeing what fits you best.

"Processors, AMD or Intel? What's the difference and what are the pros and cons of each?” -- Chad

Okay, lets start at the top. Both are quality names -- and both have produced winners and losers.

Reality: In most consumer-grade laptops, it isn’t going to make much of a difference who made the processor. Back in the day gamers and power users would lean to AMD's overclockable processors, which could be juiuced to run faster than factory specs, provided you could deal with the extra heat that resulted.

Now both companies offer a full line up of processors from the economical to the “bank-breaking but totally awesome.” This biggest difference in processors today is the number of cores (the more the better) and their speed (the faster the better.) Having repaired computers for the better part of two decades, I've truly seen only a handful of processor failure, so reliability isn't really an issue.

Bottom line, when looking at new computers, look at the overall system more than the processor.

"What’s the best way to network a group of computers? I would like to provide a platform for sharing files, whether it be access to a shared drive from each computer or to access my QuickBooks from any computer." -- Mitch

Simple to say: Run Ethernet cabling to all devices and use a well-made router.

Not so simple to do, though, and it's much simpler to connect multiple computers and devices wirelessly today. If you just want to share files across a network, a router with wireless capabilities will work fine. It's risky, though. Keep your network secured as strongly as possible, of course.

For file sharing, I think a network drive is easiest. It's a device that can be connected to a network and then mapped as a local drive. At this point you can access the files needed as you would on your local C: drive.

Got a question? E-mail us at and we'll relay it to the Geek Squad. Next week, the Squad will answer the most interesting or most frequently asked questions.