How-To Geek

Ask How-To Geek: Diagnosing an Overheating Laptop, Upgrading to a Bigger HDD, and Ripping YouTube Ringtones


Once a week we round up some of the emails we’ve answered and share the solutions with the rest of you; this week we’re looking at overheating laptops, upgrading to a bigger HDD, and grabbing ringtones from YouTube videos.

How Can I Cool My Laptop?


Dear How-To Geek,

My year old HP laptop has become scorching hot to the touch. I haven’t had any heat-related shut downs yet but given how much hotter it feels than it did even six months ago it seems like one must be around the corner. What can I do? Help!


Hot Pants in Hanover

Dear Hot Pants,

Although there can be all sorts of less-than-obvious sources of laptop overheating, by far the most common is simply dust and debris in the intake/outtake/fan assembly. We have a step-by-step guide to opening up and cleaning a laptop here—the guide also includes tips on cooling your laptop with accessories like fan pads. Don’t worry if the diagrams in the guide don’t look like your specific laptop model, searching for images of your laptop using the model number as a keyword and “take down” or “service” should yield pictures or even guides focused on taking apart and servicing the particular model you have. Don’t neglect to check out posts on computer forums if they turn up in the search results, many times you find specialized instructions and photosets on computer forums devoted to particular laptop models/brands.

How Can I Upgrade to a Bigger Hard Drive?

Dear How-To Geek,

I’m happy with my computer… I just need a bigger hard drive. How can I swap out the current HDD for a bigger model without interrupting my digital life too severely? I’m running Windows for what it’s worth.


Big Disk Dreaming in Detroit

Dear Big Disk,

There are several ways you can go about cloning your old HDD onto your new one. The easiest way is to boot down your computer, install the new disk in the computer case right along with the old one. You can then approach it one of two ways. You can use an open-source Clonezilla LiveCD (check out our guide here) or you can use the free application EASEUS Partition Master Home Edition—we use it in our SSD cloning guide here. Although Clonezilla is pretty easy to use and our guide is really thorough, if you want a simple Windows-based solution that lets you run an app in Windows, reboot, and enjoy a new disk, EASEUS Partition Master Home Edition would be your first choice.

How Can I Rip Ringtones From YouTube Videos?

Dear How-To Geek,

I find so many neat video clips on YouTube with audio I’d love to turn into a ringtone… everything from old Sci-Fi sound effect loops to new songs. Is there an easy way to snag them and use them as ring tones on my Android phone?


Tone Stealin’ in Texas

Dear Tone Stealin’,

You’re not the first one to want to use the billions of YouTube videos as a source for ringtones; hit up our guide to ripping YouTube audio to Android/iPhone ringtones here. While you’re in a ringtone-creating mood you might also want to check out WolframTones—a neat mathematically based ringtone generator from the creators of Wolfram Alpha. Also, if you’re going to be loading up your Android phone with ringtones you might want to check out Ring Commander to help organize/manage them.

Have a pressing tech question? Shoot us an email at and we’ll do our best to help.

Jason Fitzpatrick is a warranty-voiding DIYer who spends his days cracking opening cases and wrestling with code so you don't have to. If it can be modded, optimized, repurposed, or torn apart for fun he's interested (and probably already at the workbench taking it apart). You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 01/9/12

Comments (9)

  1. Rusty gates

    With cloning a laptop hard drive, can you connect the new drive with an eSata cable and then run one of the apps. that you suggested above?

  2. Michael

    Not all computers of a certain vintage *can* be upgraded to a larger disk drive. I was all excited when my disk went belly up, as i had been fairly diligent in my backups. It was going to be an easy job. 500GB. Yeah, i was going to be really happy, until i found out that the BIOS will only support something like 136GB. Maybe there’s a BIOS upgrade i haven’t found yet, but check out the maximum address-ability of your BIOS *before* you go out and spring for your new 3TB superdisk!

  3. Dan

    How about ones for other phones as well. I just upgraded to a 3gs and even though its still old I like it and would like to have some for it as well.



  4. Spoons

    Do u guys have any tricks or tips on IPad 1s?

  5. aladdinsgenie

    I would like to download a ringtone that I have stored on my computer to my trac-fone, Is there a way?

  6. Dan

    I’m going to guess that there isn’t anyone who knows how to rip them for apple devices / phones.

    Wow… I thought FOR SURE that would have been here.

  7. Dan

    Hello, iPhone’s anyone ?

  8. JMJM

    It’s even easier to add an external hard drive. Or more than one, if desired.

  9. AMalePoet

    Make zine has had articles about “rolling your own ring tones”. Their sight also has a fairly active blog. Specific questions may be answered there. You might also look at their sister sigh Step by step instructions may already exist there.

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