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Good experience with refurb Latitude laptop

Discussion in 'Computers' started by Dennis Nicholls, Dec 11, 2017.

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  1. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer

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    DVD-R's are not practical if you are backing up a lot of data. In my case, I currently have about 1.8TB of data to backup. That would take hundreds of DVD-R discs.

    The cloud is a lot more practical for offsite backups than trying to remember to constantly swap out your backups to another site. I'd never be disciplined enough to do it on a consistent basis, which makes that method worthless in my case. Using a cloud service as just a part of a backup plan works well because it happens in the background automatically.

    Mike, I am paying about $60 per year for unlimited storage via Crashplan, so I would like to keep it at that price if possible. Since I am backing up almost 2TB of data, I need a service that doesn't charge based on the amount of storage backed up. My storage will continue to grow -- my photo files are quite large, and photography is a hobby I plan on continuing.

    I agree with your approach, Dennis. I worked in IT for 35 years, so having a proper backup solution has always been something important to me -- I know what can go wrong.

    In my case, I have most of my primary data stored on an external hard drive (currently a 4TB USB 3.0 drive) with the rest on either an internal SSD drive for performance reasons or the internal system drive. My primary backup is to a second external drive (currently a 3TB USB 3.0 drive) -- data is automatically backed up each night using FBackup (it's freeware). I also have a removable hard drive (currently a 3TB WD Elements USB 3.0 drive), and I will run manual backups to that when I think about it. Finally, I am using Crashplan for the offsite backups -- it runs in the background at all times.

    I will rotate the drives over time. As storage gets cheaper, I will buy a new, larger primary storage drive -- I bought the 4TB external drive last fall when I bought the new PC. The old primary data drive becomes the primary backup drive, and the old backup drive gets retired and destroyed. The removable drive is new, too, as my old 2TB WD Passport was nearing capacity, so I bought a 3TB one and am using the old one on my wife's PC, replacing an old hand me down external drive.
     
  2. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    Carbonite does have a $59.99 plan. But you'll have to check and see it it'll do what you need. I think it is limited to 1 PC and one internal drive. But I'm not certain.
     
  3. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer

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    Thanks, Mike. I am paid through November, so have until then to figure out an alternative. For their existing customers, Crashplan is offering a 50% discount on Carbonite's service as one of their alternatives, so I will definitely be checking them out as an option. Their other option is being converted to Crashplan's small business plan. There will be alternative services from other providers to check out, as well.
     
  4. Stan

    Stan Producer

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    Any advice on settings for a Dell laptop?

    The keyboard literally has a life of its own. Just looking at the keyboard or breathing on it and things will happen. Stuff gets highlighted, deleted (thank goodness for control "z") to recall what just got zapped. Cursor will just move on its own. Some letters just vanish on their own. For example, the word will end up "eample", or the entire message will vanish, or suddenly be highlighted and I can hopefully recover before it disappears. End up with loads of typos to correct.

    Just now, tossed out of the thread and back to the thread list. Thankfully HTF keeps draft versions of entries. I've done e-mails and 15 minutes of typing will just suddenly vanish. Sometimes I can recover, other times it's just gone.

    I'm about ready to toss my laptop up into the sky and watch it smash to the ground. Never used to happen when I first got it, but the past six months or so, things have change.

    This post has taken 15 minutes to type. It's incredible how the cursor just goes wherever it feels like going.
     
  5. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    Are you using a mouse, Stan?

    Any chance that the touchpad has somehow gotten activated?

    That has happened to me with different Win10 updates...and it drives me to distraction as I have to re-figure out how to deactivate the touchpad. I hate them things.
     
  6. 26 Feb 7, 2018
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2018
    Dennis Nicholls

    Dennis Nicholls Lead Actor

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    Stan, have you ever upgraded your BIOS from Dell? How about drivers? I recall there were some "bug fix" updates for the touch pad on my laptop.

    Dell is really good about support. Go to dell.com get into support and enter your service tag number (unique serial number). It will tell you what BIOS updates are available along with new unit-specific driver updates are available. The BIOS updates are available as a download-and-self-install package.

    The first thing I did when I bought my refurb e6420 was to download the current BIOS and update all the drivers. My BIOS went from the as-shipped version A19 up to A24 of 23 May 2017.

    Have you run the very detailed Dell diagnostics? Reboot and hit F12, then select diagnostics. IIRC you have to use the keyboard arrows as the mouse won't work yet.
     
  7. Dennis Nicholls

    Dennis Nicholls Lead Actor

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    I checked for my laptop. Dell issued a Win 10 driver update for the "Dell Multi-touch Touchpad" on 26 June 2016, superseding the previous one of 21 March 2014 that only was billed for XP through Win 8.
     
  8. Dennis Nicholls

    Dennis Nicholls Lead Actor

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    Intel bailed on microcode updates for my old Dell desktop with Wolfdale processors. It was getting tired anyway.

    So I got a refurb Dell OptiPlex 3010 for $246 shipped. This has i5 Ivy Bridge, 8 GB ram, 320 GB disk, DVD R/W, and Win 10 Pro. Again I think this is the way to go for many users.

    Odd that most users never update the BIOS even when it's a free download from Dell. Mine arrived with the original A08 BIOS from 2013. I quickly flashed it to BIOS A19, dated 21 March 2018, which has the microcode patches against Meltdown/Spectre.
     
  9. Clinton McClure

    Clinton McClure Casual Enthusiast
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    That’s because the average user doesn’t know to update their BIOS. Most of them wouldn’t do monthly Windows updates if Microsoft didn’t make it “automatic” now.

    Then there is the school of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” when it comes to BIOS updates. Sometimes the update can elicit strange behavior via the rule of unintended consequences.
     
  10. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    THAT is exactly why I never did/do BIOS updates.
     
  11. 31 Apr 21, 2018
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2018
    Dennis Nicholls

    Dennis Nicholls Lead Actor

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    You are biased against BIOS?

    It took days to setup and transfer all my stuff from my old desktop to my new desktop.

    I took out the recently-installed 1 TB disc from my old desktop and re-installed the 8 year old original 650 GB disc. When I did this, it took almost 5 hours for Win 10 to update from version 1703 to 1709. That's only for a disc that was up to date in mid-November last year. The old desktop now goes into the closet as a "spare" system.

    The new 1 TB disc is now available for use in the new desktop.
     
  12. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    In case you have a "PC emergency?"
     
  13. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer

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    I always keep my previous PC as a backup, too - - assuming the reason I replaced it wasn't because it died. If something happens to my primary PC, I like having the option of using the old one. It's not as if I could sell the old one for anything. In fact, I hadn't been very diligent in getting rid of old PC's, so a couple of months ago I had a couple I needed to dispose of. The fun part is destroying the hard drive. I usually remove it, drill some holes through it, and then leave it in the laundry tub for a few loads of washes. It freaked my wife out the first time I did that - - she thought she had ruined something important when she did some laundry . :laugh:
     
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  14. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    Not THAT'S funny! :D
     
  15. Dennis Nicholls

    Dennis Nicholls Lead Actor

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    I try to drag the old PC out for major updates. Win 10 1803 just got pushed tonight so maybe I'll hook it up and update it.
     
  16. Clinton McClure

    Clinton McClure Casual Enthusiast
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    I have a 12” long section of steel I-beam in my workshop. I usually lay the old HDD on the I-beam and give it a good pounding with a 10-lb sledgehammer. Two or three good licks is all it takes to completely decimate the drive but I sometimes get carried away and go Office Space on it.
     
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  17. Dennis Nicholls

    Dennis Nicholls Lead Actor

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    I've discovered one potential issue with my two refurbished computers.

    Dell lets you look up the original "as shipped" configuration. Both of my Dell refurbs have a different hard disk than was originally shipped. This makes sense since the lessee probably destroyed their disks for security purposes. But the replacement disks, which may be "new" in the sense of being unused, are not "new" but rather decade old "old stock" units.

    Laptop. Original disk was 250 GB 5400 rpm. What I received was a Seagate Momentus 7200.4 500 GB 7200 rpm disk, date of manufacture July 2009.

    Desktop. Original disk was 250 GB. What I received was a Seagate Barracuda 320 GB 7200 rpm disk, date of manufacture October 2011.

    Reviews of the Seagate Momentus 7200.4 drives on Amazon and Mac sites are uniformly negative - high failure rates. I'd guess there were lots of these units unsold in warehouses. Mine is already making a lot of noise. For this reason I ordered a new stock WD Black 500 GB drive for $36 which should arrive in the next few days. I'll make a fresh DVD backup then install the WD drive and restore from DVDs.

    I'd already planned to install and clone the 1 TB WD Blue drive I'd bought for my old desktop last winter. It has a manufacture date of August 1017.

    SUMMARY. If you buy a refurbished PC, check to see the age and quality of the "new" disk they ship with it.
     
  18. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    It might have been unused...but that's been sitting on a shelf somewhere for a really long time.
     
  19. 39 May 12, 2018
    Last edited: May 12, 2018
    Dennis Nicholls

    Dennis Nicholls Lead Actor

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    It came over with William the Conqueror. I meant last August, in 2017.

    The new laptop disk arrived today and after lots of cursing I was able to get the backups loaded onto it. Much better disk, Faster and twice the cache. DOM 18 September 2017.

    Apparently the Win 7 "Repair disk" is not bootable with Win 10 software on it. I think it's a conflict between Legacy and UEFI boots. I could only load the backup using a USB flash drive loaded as a Win 10 "Recovery drive", then go into Troubleshooting to find where you start loading the DVD system image.
     

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