Drop it off a cliff, hit it with a hammer, jam a incompatible component in the wrong slot, jam a incompatible component in the wrong slot with a hammer, etc. Not what I mean.

I am asking about commonly overlooked things to do to protect your computer when upgrading. Do I need to upgrade the BIOS? Create a backup of the hard drive/prior drivers? Uninstall something? Make sure that my laptop battery is removed and that you give some time for it to "let the power drain out"? Discharge capacitors... you get the point.

So what are all the precautions when I am changing some basic components? (RAM, WiFi, and adding Bluetooth (if there is a slot)?

Edit: Forgot to say that one other thing that would be useful is a resource that can tell if a certain part will fit physically in your computer, if that would be a problem on a laptop. Sorry, I left that out.

closed as too broad by Breakthrough, Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007, Tog, Carl B, a CVn Aug 16 '13 at 11:13

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • This isn't very common, but I once was replacing a bad motherboard and bought one that, despite having four RAM slots (I needed three), was set up so two slots were DDR3 and two were DDR2. I guess the moral of that story is don't ignore the fine print, even when you think it's safe to. – Suchipi Aug 4 '13 at 16:38
  • @Suchipi Wow. That's some motherboard. Didn't think they would do that, but I guess it can happen. – Anonymous Penguin Aug 4 '13 at 16:41
  • Why don't you tell us what kind of upgrade you are wanting to do. Many upgrades you can do on a desktop can't be done on a laptop (for example it is VERY rare to have a laptop that lets you change the video card) – Scott Chamberlain Aug 4 '13 at 18:23
  • 1
    First, take a backup. Second, get a good workspace where you aren't cramped and where you won't have to rush to get out of someone's way. – Daniel R Hicks Aug 4 '13 at 19:30

This is a very broad question and depends entirely on the hardware in question. Some common pitfalls include:

  • The PSU: make sure the PSU has i) enough power to run your components and ii) the right connector cables. The format of computer power cables has changed these last few years from this (source):

    enter image description here

    to this (source)::

    enter image description here

  • Hard drive cables. Depending on the age of your hardware, you may have IDE or SATA (or eSATA) connected hard drives or a combination of the two. Make sure you have the right cables and make sure your new motherboard can deal with whatever combination you have.

    IDE cable (source):

    enter image description here

    SATA and eSATA cables (source):

    enter image description here

  • Graphics card. There have been various types of slots for graphics cards over the years, make sure that your motherboard can deal with your card. See the answer here for a nice list with images and have a look at this article for a brief explanation of the various types.

  • RAM type. There are various types and speeds of RAM sticks. Make sure the ones you get are compatible with your motherboard. You need to check both the type (DDR, DDR2, DDR3 etc) and the speed 133 MHz or 200 MHz or whatever. Also, some types do not play well with one another so I recommend getting only one type of RAM.


For RAM, check if your machine supports DDR3 or DDR2.
I don't think there would be much problem with wifi and bluetooth unless you are running Windows 98 or lower! :P

  • Oh darn!!! I wanted to install my Bluetooth card on a machine running DOS. Do you think that I can still install USB 3.0 and Firewire? :P – Anonymous Penguin Aug 4 '13 at 16:37

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