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Thursday, June 25, 2009

15 Awesome Tips for a Long Lasting Laptop

15 Awesome Tips for a Long Lasting Laptop

Times are tough, and even with falling prices, the purchase of a laptop computer constitutes a serious investment for the average consumer. Give your laptop a couple more years with these simple tips. There are a lot of ways to extend the life of your notebook, most of which are very simple and which just about anyone can do. If you take care of your laptop from year one, you’ll be thanking yourself heartily during years four, five, six and beyond. And even if you’re already in the latter years, it’s never too late to start.

Source: Laptop Logic

This guideline is divided up into three categories, each with five easy to apply tips. General Maintenance applies to computers in general and not just laptops, Battery Maintenance will help you get the longest life out of your laptop’s battery, and Laptop Common Sense will have you kicking yourself for not already following the tips when all along you knew you should.Oh, and almost nothing on this list will cost you anything.

General Maintenance

1) Use Anti-Virus/Anti-Spyware SoftwareMost laptops ship with at least some sort of anti-virus software like Norton or McAfee, but these frequently expire after a short time. Viruses and spyware can be crippling to a computer, and have a tendency to build up over time and get worse. Running weekly scans can nip these problems in the bud. If you don’t feel like ponying up for a paid subscription service, there are plenty of free ones, such as AVG.

2) Keep Your Laptop Up To DateYour computer was up to date when you bought it, but unless you’ve set up regular updates that was the last time. Beyond your anti-virus software, which should be kept up strictly, both Microsoft and Apple offer regular updates for their operating systems to correct bugs and plug up vulnerabilities. Updating your software regularly will help keep your laptop in working order and stop many problems before they can threaten the usability or potentially the life of your computer.

3) Defragment Your Hard DriveWhen you save something on your computer, it gets physically written on a portion of your hard drive. As time goes on and your hard drive fills, this storage becomes somewhat disorganized, and your hardware must work harder and spend longer to find data. Defragmenting your hard drive rearranges the data into an organized structure. Defragmenting regularly will extend the life of your hard drive as well as make everything on your computer run just that much smoother.

4) Keep 5-10% of Your Hard Drive EmptyBy the time you’ve had your laptop for a few years, your hard drive will seem impossibly small. It’s important, however, to keep at least a small percentage of your hard drive empty at all times. Operating systems use a portion of your hard drive space for Virtual Memory, and if you don’t leave them any room your computer will slow down tremendously, potentially overheating or crashing under the stress. Key life-extending features like System Restore require empty space to function as well.

5) Use a Surge Protector When ChargingThis probably belongs in the common sense section below, and the reason for it should be obvious. Surge protectors help protect your computer from an electrical surge in your socket, such as might come from a bolt of lightning or a large appliance turning on. Without this, your laptop is vulnerable to being short-circuited and could fry after any surge. Surge protectors are extremely cheap and can be useful too, as most have multiple outlets.Bonus- personal preference 5+) Use Older SoftwareOften software will come out with a new version that is just the same thing with more graphics, which can be a drain on an older computer. For non-essential items like chat programs and the like, sometimes using an older version can help your computer run smoothly and error free. If you want to try this, check out, a great free resource for this.

Battery Maintenance

1) Charge Fully, Your First Time And Every TimeWhen you open your new laptop for the first time, it’s always a temptation to turn it on and begin playing with it. Resist this temptation! Proper conditioning of your battery by charging it fully before its first use and then discharging it completely and repeating once or twice ensures that your battery’s capacity starts at its highest. Your battery also has a preset number of charges/discharges, so it’s important to charge/discharge fully to extend the life of your battery too.

2) Avoid Battery Memory EffectBattery memory is what causes your laptop to stop charging before the battery reaches 100%, or to turn off before it reaches 0%. This is caused by not charging your battery fully or not discharging it fully – the battery “remembers” where it stopped charging/discharging and doesn’t go any further. Modern Li-Ion batteries are thankfully not subject to this, but if you’ve got an older battery avoid this effect at all costs. It can render a battery frustratingly useless.

3) Store the Battery Partially ChargedIf you’re not going to be using your laptop for an extended period of time, it’s a good idea to remove the battery and store it. Batteries discharge slowly over time, but storing a battery fully charged/discharged can permanently damage the battery by causing it to lose capacity or worse, go entirely dead. Charging the battery to 40% minimizes the negative long term effects of storing.

4) Use the Battery At Least MonthlyIt’s important to keep your battery in good condition through occasional use. If you typically use your laptop plugged in, you are not using your battery, and this can cause the capacity to shrink. At least once a month, your battery will benefit from a full charge/discharge cycle. This keeps the battery stronger, the capacity fuller, and helps its overall longevity.

5) Avoid Extreme TemperaturesYour battery was designed to work at a certain temperature, and it’s completely normal for it to heat up a little during use. Subjecting your battery to extreme temperatures it’s not prepared for can damage its life. Cold temperatures are not good for it, but excessive heat is the real battery killer. Simply making sure not to leave your laptop in your car during the summer could save you from buying a new battery the next day.Bonus tip 5+) Daily Use TipsThe above tips will help keep your battery in good shape, but there are tons of things you can do to cause your computer to consume less energy. Dim the LCD, mute the speakers, turn off features like WiFi if you’re not using them, make use of the power settings and be sure to use both hibernate and standby where appropriate. This is only a start, but using as little power as possible while operating on batteries can help you squeeze some extra time out of your battery’s capacity.

Laptop Common Sense

1) Take Care of the LCDLCDs on laptops are designed to outlast the usefulness of the laptop they’re connected to, but can be easily damaged by a simple careless mistake. Don’t lift the laptop up by the display (it will bend) and be easy on the hinges. Only clean the display with something soft and never store anything under the LCD when its closed. These precautions seem obvious but you basically need only treat the LCD with care and it will last for as long as you need it to.

2) Take Care of the KeyboardLike the displays, with proper care a keyboard should easily outlast the life of the laptop, but a silly accident can render it useless. Many laptops today are “spill resistant”, but I wouldn’t recommend testing it – don’t drink around your laptop. Don’t eat around it either, as crumbs or grease can fall between the keys and cause malfunctions. Hit the keys gently and dust them once in a while and your keyboard should last year after year.

3) Be Aware of TemperatureExtremes in temperature can be extremely dangerous for a laptop. I mentioned that heat is a battery killer, but the display can be damaged by extreme conditions as well. Using the laptop when the environment is too hot can cause failures from overheating, and using it in an environment that is too wet and humid can cause similar malfunctions. Modern rugged laptops excluded, your laptop is meant to be used on a desk in your home or office. Keep it somewhere temperature controlled and this will never be a problem.

4) Watch Your FanYour fan is responsible for cooling your CPU so that it doesn’t overheat in normal conditions. A large number of problems related to overheating are solved simply by moving the laptop to a new position where the fan’s exhaust is not blocked. Even if there is nothing large obstructing it, it’s important to make sure dust doesn’t build up in the fan as that can cause overheating too. Make sure your fan is clear to fan away excess heat and your laptop will live longer, guaranteed.

5) Protect Your Laptop From Jolts With a CaseLaptops are sensitive instruments, and they are never more vulnerable than when they are traveling. Constant bumping and shaking can cause parts to shift and can permanently damage the laptop. Using a cushioned laptop bag will preserve it from the shocks of travel, and storing it in a laptop bag when not in use can help prevent any number of accidents. This is virtually the only item in the list that isn’t free, but it’s a small price to protect your computer and the bag can last for a lifetime of laptops.Bonus – personal preference 5+) Use External PartsUsing external hardware, such as a monitor, hard drive, keyboard, mouse, speakers, etc., can help extend the life of your internal hardware by preventing wear and tear. At the same time, it can provide a more comfortable experience at home. While this can be expensive, if you regularly use your laptop you may find the investment worth your while.

(Of course, if we’re spending money, buying new RAM and occasionally replacing the battery can also do wonders for your performance and overall enjoyment of the laptop as well. But that’s another article.) Follow these simple tips and you easily will extend the life of your laptop.

1 comment:

  1. there are other reason why your laptop overheats. Crashes and freezes are two major symptoms that you’re Laptop is overheating. This kind of problem is very common before especially with old model of laptops.

    Computer Problem: Computer Overheating