PC won't boot? Dead battery in your iPod? Water in your mobile phone? Don't scrap your broken tech. Fix it yourself with our step-by-step repair guide.
Remove a mini-CD from a slot-loading drive
If you think it would be a good idea to print your business card on a specially cut, rectangular mini-CD, think again. Your contacts might never forget the headache of having the disc jam inside a slot-loading optical drive. If such a jam happens to you, follow these steps to release the disc.
Try to clear a stuck mini-CD or mini-DVD the simple way. Tilt the drive so that its slot points downward. (This is easy if the computer involved is a laptop, as is most often the case.) Then try pressing the eject button and gently shaking the machine. These motions - with an assist from gravity - might release the disc.
If the disc remains stuck, attach a piece of two-sided tape to a thin, sturdy business card or a plastic gift card. Slide it, sticky side down, three quarters of the way into the slot above the disc, and press down to snare the disc.
Lift the card up slightly, and pull both it and the attached disc out of the slot. Work carefully, and don't rummage around with more drastic tools (such as paper clips) that could damage the drive.
Attach double-stick tape to a sturdy card. Insert this card into the CD slot, above the disc, press down, and pull the CD out.
Strange-shaped discs usually work in tray-loading drives, but some slot loaders can also accept them. Check your computer or optical-drive manual to make sure in advance.
Clean a clogged port
Over time, ports on your electronic equipment can become clogged with dust and other debris. And if you're having trouble getting USB or other devices to work with your computer, cleaning any grime from the connecting ports is a good first step.
Turn off the hardware first. If you can see that the port is severely clogged - say, with jam or another thick, child-friendly substance - gently dig the gunk out with toothpicks. But remember: Ethernet, serial, and other jacks rely on fragile pins, so try to move in and out on the same path instead of swirling around the sides.
For less sticky situations, use a can of compressed air to blast out loose bits. Fire at the target in short bursts.
Finish cleaning with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol or electronics cleaner. Leave the device turned off for a couple hours to dry.
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