Computer Health Tips – Hardware Edition

I love my laptop. I take it with me everywhere — school, work, home, coffee shops; basically anywhere with a wifi signal. We all depend so much on our computers, especially for school, and it’s devastating when it breaks! If you want to help keep your computer in great condition and extend its life just a bit longer, check out some of these tips for keeping your computer hardware in tip-top shape!

1. Keep food & drinks away from your computer.

It’s a tale as old as personal computers – a perfectly happy day ruined by your diet coke spilling all over your keyboard. We all know not to do it, yet for some reason we can’t help eating and drinking while surfing the web or typing up that paper. Liquids will quickly fry your computer, and trust us when we say you’ll enjoy eating that sandwich much more than your laptop would.  Obviously you’re going to follow this advice to the letter and not eat or drink anything anywhere near your computer, but if you happen to get a few crumbs in your keyboard…

2. Clean your keyboard/fan/heatsink with compressed air.

Your computer loves collecting dust, hair, crumbs, and who knows what else. All these little particles gunk up your machine and can make keys stick or not even work, and clogged cooling fans leave computers vulnerable to overheating. You can use a can of compressed air to clean out all the yuck, leaving your laptop clean and functional again.

3. Don’t keep your laptop on its charger.

It’s so easy to keep your laptop on the charger all night, but that could be harming your battery life. Instead, only leave your laptop plugged in until it is charged, then unplug and shut down. This will save your battery and your electricity bill!

4. Let the battery run down sometimes.

Most people plug their laptops right in when the little warning flashes that you have low battery. This is fine, but it’s good every now and again to let your laptop completely die, then completely charge up again. Batteries are finicky creatures, and need special care!

5. Don’t move your laptop too much while it’s on.

You know when you start doing something intense on your computer like generating images or streaming a big video, and you hear the whirring sound coming from inside? That’s a combination of your cooling fan and hard disk drive. The hard drive is where all the information in your computer is stored, and the fan is, of course, there to keep it cool.

The way the hard drive is set up makes it not good for it to shift around while running. This can make your computer run slower and even damage your information. So next time, instead of balancing your laptop on one knee while doing yoga, find a nice flat stable surface for the poor thing.

6. Don’t put your laptop on your floor/bed.

Wow. These things are finicky – the surface can’t just be flat, it has to be something other than my two favorite places to lounge?!? That all-important cooling fan we talked about in the last section needs to be able to breath, which it can’t do if it’s buried in your soft comforter or carpet. Even if you’re getting good air circulation to the fan, it can still suck up dust and hair from your bed and floor, so consider getting a nice lap table – it’ll keep the heat off your legs too!

7. Use a laptop sleeve.

iPhones aren’t the only thing that break when they hit the ground. Are you constantly dropping your laptop or even dropping things on top of it? Buy a laptop sleeve or case to store it in! The padding helps cushion impacts, and gives your machine a better chance of surviving that plunge into the parking lot.

8. Plug into a surge protector.

Especially true for desktop computers that don’t always have surge protectors built in! Laptop chargers sometimes have a small one, which is very useful, but when possible, all computers should be plugged into a surge protector rather than directly into the wall. This is to protect the electronics from big surges in power due to storms that can fry your computer’s insides!

 

There you have it. Some basic tips everyone should know to help keep your computer hardware working longer. Got more tips? Leave them in the comments!

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