Laptop Life Tips: Experts Share 10 Tricks To Make Your Computer Last Longer
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Though laptop prices have gone down over time, they are still big investments and can be expensive and frustrating to replace when they die. You want your machine to live as long as it possibly can, and to that end we have asked six of the highest-rated laptop repair shops in New York City for some advice on how to easily and cheaply make your laptop live longer.
Two tips were offered by all: DO NOT drink liquids near your computer, and DO NOT rest your laptop on a pillow or a bed. Otherwise, their advice was varied and quite helpful. Below we've collected 10 of the best rules (including the No Liquids and No Bedtime Use warnings) that could keep your laptop running a little bit longer, and just maybe save you some time and dough.
(Many thanks to the following New York-area laptop repair companies: Dr. Brendan's Mac Repair, The How Lounge, Hi-Tech Electronics, Laptop MD, The Little Laptop Shop and Repair on 6th. Many of their websites have more tips for computer care, so check them out.)
Be Careful Plugging In Your DC Jack
Unless you have an Apple laptop with its MagSafe magnetic connector, you need to be gentle when plugging in your computer. If excessive force is applied to the jack, the solder joints connecting the jack to the motherboard can crack. The points of contact can quickly overheat, further damaging the motherboard and the jack. In some cases the motherboard can even catch fire. So don't apply too much force, don't use a cheap after-market charger (only an original charger), and if you notice that the jack is loose, bring it to a repair place ASAP. The more you use a laptop with a loose jack, the looser it becomes and the more you risk destroying both the charger and the motherboard.
Clean Your Cooling System With Compressed Air
Buy a bottle of compressed air and blow the dust out of your fan and heat sink once a month. Laptop heat sinks are very fine and get cloaked with dust easily. Open the case and get rid of all the dirt, dust, lint, Cheetos remains and whatever else might have accumulated in there. If you can't figure out how to open the case, call the manufacturer. Most help desks will be more than happy to tell you how to open the case for maintenance, even if your warranty or support plan is up. Also make sure to use static-neutral compressed air. The most popular brand is probably <a href="http://www.dust-off.com/" target="_hplink">Dust-Off</a>.
Don't Use Your Laptop In Bed
If you can avoid using a laptop that's lying on a bed or sofa, then please do. When you put your laptop on soft material, you block the ventilation holes in the bottom and the laptop can't suck in air for cooling. Make sure that your laptop sits on a hard surface such as a table or computer mat and that there is space between the bottom of the computer and the surface so that air can travel under the computer. If you must use your laptop in bed, prop it on a big hardcover book or a lapdesk.
Consider a Cooling Pad
Avoid overheating at all times. The lower the temperature of your laptop, the longer it will live. All of the repair shops we spoke with reiterated the importance of keeping the laptop's temperature low and agreed that overheating was a huge cause of laptop failure. Even <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/search/ref=sr_nr_scat_2243862011_ln?rh=n%3A2243862011%2Ck%3Alaptop+cooling&keywords=laptop+cooling&ie=UTF8&qid=1316580080&scn=2243862011&h=c0e469de81e81fe1a07328301960ae52fc27e8fc" target="_hplink">a cheap $20 laptop cooling pad</a> can help extend the life of your device.
Get CCleaner, Use CCleaner
Download CCleaner for Mac and PC. Every second you spend on your computer doing even simple things, the computer is working hard. That means it can get clogged with temporary files, history, cookies, etc. You can clean the computer and the registry with this very useful tool. CCleaner is free and incredibly easy to use, and <a href="http://www.piriform.com/CCLEANER" target="_hplink">you can download it here</a>. We've heard suggestions to use it as often as every day, but you should be fine with every week or two.
Don't Drink And Surf
No liquids near your laptop! It's that simple. Don't drink by your computer, don't eat by your computer, don't keep your goldfish bowl by your computer. Even if you've never spilled anything before in your life, it's just a matter of time, and the spill could seriously fry your electronics.
Clean Your Screen Correctly
When dust dirties your screen, don't grab for chemical cleaners like Windex. The chemicals in those cleaning solutions can destroy the thin protective layer on your screen and damage the display over time. Instead, take two tissues, one with a touch of H2O and one dry. Wipe your screen with the wet one and then the dry one, to clean completely and soak up any water drops on the screen. Even better, <a href="http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=lcd+display+cleaners&x=0&y=0" target="_hplink">use only approved LCD cleaners</a> to keep your screen shiny, new and scratch-free.
Manage Your Battery Life
Drain the laptop's battery all the way occasionally. Most manufacturers recommend using the computer until the battery is drained completely at least once a month. Don't keep the laptop charged all the time, as this can reduce battery life in the long run.
Get Anti-Virus Software
There are millions of viruses, malware, spyware and other really nasty bugs designed solely to harm your system. Fortunately, there are plenty of free anti-virus programs recommended by our New York-area repair shops, including: - <a href="http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/security_essentials/default.aspx" target="_hplink">Microsoft Essentials</a>. ("It's light, free, updated on a regular basis and just works," according to one of our repairmen.) - <a href="http://www.malwarebytes.org/" target="_hplink">Malwarebytes</a>, a program for all the malware that's flying around. - <a href="http://www.safer-networking.org/index2.html" target="_hplink">Spybot</a>, for spyware protection. - <a href="http://www.avast.com/en-us/index" target="_hplink">Avast</a>. - <a href="http://free.avg.com/us-en/homepage" target="_hplink">AVG Free</a>. Even <a href="http://www.reedcorner.net/guides/macvirus/malware_catalog.php" target="_hplink">if your laptop is a Mac</a>, you should have one of these anti-virus programs.
Download Those Windows Updates
Get those Windows Updates! Once a week Microsoft releases updates to its operating system, and often those fixes are critical to your security. In Windows 7, simply click on "Start," type in "Windows Update" and click on the first result to be taken to the Windows Updater. Mac users should also update regularly, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/20/mac-os-x-lion-password_n_971469.html" target="_hplink">especially in light of the recent bugs in Lion OS X</a>.