The touchpad of any laptop is always subject to heavy use. Most touchpads are designed for their durability to sustain the daily wear and tear for the lifespan of the laptop. However, there may be instances or accidents that cause the touchpads to malfunction or stop working entirely. There are ways to troubleshoot such problems and there are also remedies to salvage the touchpad's functionality without heavy repair or replacement cost.
Determine What's Wrong
A laptop's touchpad basically provides the functionality of a mouse for a desktop PC, typically with two buttons located just below it acting as the left and right click buttons on a desktop computer. A touchpad may be damaged by excessive use or foreign substances such as water, dirt or food items.
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Hit the "Windows" button on the keyboard and then use the right-left keys (or hit 'C') to open "Control Panel." From there, again use the right-left keys to get to "Mouse" and then hit "Return."
Use the right-left keys to toggle between the tabs and open each to investigate whether any boxes had been improperly clicked by accident that cause the touchpad to become unresponsive. But if any of these steps fail to remedy the problem, then the touchpad may need to be repaired or replaced.
A touchpad assembly cost $100 or more and that's not including replacement installation. Hiring a specialist to replace a damaged touchpad, including parts and labor, may easily cost $200. Unless the laptop in question is worth well over $1,000 and the touchpad is deemed a necessity, such repairs are rarely worth the cost.
Attempting to replace the touchpad without certain expertise in laptop assembly may be dangerous and/or destructive. Also, getting a replacement part that's not compatible with the laptop may have catastrophic results, including irreversible damage to the laptop.
Long-Term and Better Solution
The simplest, and best, solution to a malfunctioning touchpad is to replace its functionalities with an external mouse. Most PCs sold after 2000 come with USB ports and getting a USB mouse--either a corded or a cordless one--will remedy the problem. A cordless USB mouse may be bought for as little as $10 and some of the better-designed ones allow the user to tuck the USB stick inside the mouse's belly when not in use.
Even when a touchpad is working properly, a laptop user should be advised to plug in a mouse anyway--whenever possible--as touchpads are notoriously difficult to use and also leaves the user in an ergonomically incorrect position.