How To Assemble The Ultimate Toolbox

A Look Inside The Bottom, Continued

Previously, we talked about fans of the heat sink variety. Fans do fail, and when they fail, they get very loud. When this happens, users complain. Stocking a few replacement fans, of both the 60mm and 80mm varieties, is essential. In addition to being able to use the 80mm fans as replacements, I also carry adapters to convert them from four-pin to three-pin, depending on a system or motherboard's requirements. The 60mm fans also come in handy as potential heat sink replacement fans, as many heat sinks of the modern era now use 60mm fans. In most situations where it is possible, you can swap out the 60mm fan from the defective heat sink and replace it. After all, in most cases, these 60mm fans are held to the heat sink with nothing more than four bolts.

Other important items to have on hand if you work with laptops are IDE 2.5 inch to IDE 3.5 inch hard drive adapters. Such adapters can allow you to connect a stubborn or defective laptop hard drive to a desktop computer. In many situations, these adapters can be used to expedite data recovery from finicky laptop hard drives. A quick data recovery tip is to connect the worrisome laptop hard drive to a desktop computer and recover the data that way. If the laptop hard drive is running using the NTFS file system, you will have to connect the drive to a system that supports NTFS. Another use for these adapters is to use a desktop computer to clone laptop drive to laptop drive. This comes in handy if you do not want to go through the process of handling this hard drive upgrade in another way. These adapters can be difficult to find, but there are a variety of sources on the Internet that do sell them. However, if you do not work on laptops or notebooks that use the IDE 2.5 inch drives, then there is no need for you to have these adapters.

A spare hard drive has saved me a lot of time and effort more than once. Usually, you don't have to carry an elaborate or expensive drive. In my case, I carry a standard 20 GB 7200 RPM Western Digital hard drive. This hard drive can be used as a slave to rescue files from a damaged drive or as a test drive in situations where the user's hard drive is suspect, or just as a temporary holding area for cloning drive to drive. The uses and obvious reasons for carrying a hard drive should not be underestimated. Even an older, small hard drive can come in handy. With the abundance of cheap, small, older hard drives, there is no reason why you shouldn't carry a spare.

No matter how far current technology has come, one item that many technicians overlook is carrying along a box of blank diskettes. I can't even begin to count the number of times I have been faced with a situation where all I needed was a blank diskette to copy the latest BIOS flash for a motherboard, or a small driver file to get a device up and running when I didn't have Internet access. Until something appears that replaces floppy disks, all technicians should be carrying at least several blank floppy disks. (USB Flash Memory devices that can be plugged into the USB port using default Windows Mass Storage Drivers can also be helpful to have on hand as well.) One word of caution: use decent quality diskettes, as often, if the floppy drive is the problem, you will become increasingly frustrated trying to determine whether the floppy drive or your diskette is causing the problem. At times I even carry a replacement floppy drive, but I didn't happen to have one in my toolbox when I took these photos.

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