Tech tips: Is your computer subject to a hardware recall?

There have been several electronics recalls announced in recent months.

What can you do to find out if your electronics are subject to recalls, and how can you go about having them repaired?

Mac users have been faced with several such recalls. One concerns the batteries on certain MacBook Pro laptops. Another affects Apple’s “butterfly keyboard” design, so called because of the shape of the mechanism that supports the keys.

This flaw causes keys to repeat themselves or fail to function. Then there is the “Flexgate” screen issue, which causes a “spotlight” effect on some MacBook screens due to a failure of the cable that connects the screen to the computer. You can find out more information on Apple’s support site.

But the problem isn’t limited to Apple; they’ve simply been the ones getting the most press about it lately. Any computer - indeed, any electronic device, including tablets, smart phones, monitors, and printers - could be subject to a recall.

Recalls can affect any component of an electronic device. Battery and power cord recalls are among the worst, as they can cause fires and other physical damage. Other problems, like the keyboard and screen issues I mentioned, could cause a loss of productivity.

Whenever possible, it’s a good idea to tend to a recalled computer quickly, as there may be a limited timeframe during which it can be fixed under the terms of the recall.

When it comes to checking your computer for possible recalls, the best place to start is the manufacturer’s web site. Most will allow you to enter your model or serial number to find out if your machine is part of a recall. Your manufacturer can also assist you with determining if your repairs are covered under warranty or as part of the recall process.

Often, your computer will need to be sent in for repairs, meaning you’ll have to do without it days if not weeks. Obviously this can be a major problem, but particularly in the case of battery or power supply recalls, you don’t want to delay because of the major risks involved.

However, you should follow a few precautions before sending your computer or other device in for repair.

First, make at least two backups, in case one backup should fail. Sometimes hardware repair requires resetting the computer to factory default, and that can mean losing your data. That’s especially true, of course, if the hard drive is the component that needs to be replaced.

Removing sensitive data is also a good idea.

Next, come up with a plan to get your work done while your computer is unavailable. Perhaps you have an old one that can be temporarily re-configured.

However, if your old computer can’t run current antivirus, you may be letting yourself in for even bigger problems by using it as a substitute.

Finally, keep track of all information concerning the recall, including any trouble ticket numbers or other details.

I recommend keeping a log of the dates, times, and people to whom you spoke, as a way of tracking the progress of your repair.

• Triona Guidry is a computer specialist and freelance writer. Her Tech Tips blog at offers help and advice for Windows and Mac users.