These days the portable laptop seems to outnumber hefty, unwieldy desktop rigs. It’s a good indicator of the modern, workaday life and the day-to-day mobility the average person requires. The average laptop should last about four or five years, but many fall far below that life expectancy. Here are a few tips to help your laptop last as long as possible.
1. Watch where you use it.
Despite the name and the intent, laptops shouldn’t be used on your lap nor should they be used on a couch or bed. Most laptops feature ventilation holes in their bottoms, so placing one on your skin or on the soft material of your sofa, you’re essentially blocking those ventilation ports, preventing your computer from blowing hot air out and sucking cool air in. Your laptop’s insides will literally melt, and leaving it on your lap can actually lead to some painful burns. Even the most rugged notebooks can succumb to internal overheating.
Ideally, your laptop should sit on a hard, flat surface, like a table or computer mat. There should be enough space for air to travel under the computer. You might want to prop up the back of your laptop for even better airflow. If you must use your laptop in bed, prop it on a large hardcover or invest in a lapdesk.
2. Keep away food and drink.
As laptops have quickly become full entertainment centers, you’ll probably find yourself watching movies, streaming TV shows, and even reading books on your laptop, and nothing goes better with all that than some refreshments, like some beer and potato chips.
Hold your horses! As great as it might sound, eating and drinking in front of your laptop is a quick ticket to a broken computer. Crumbs stuck in your keyboard can easily find themselves deeper in the system, and unless you have a completely waterproof, tough laptop, it probably won’t survive a soda or beer bath.
3. Clean with compressed air.
Even the most durable laptops are susceptible to dust, and although it may not seem like a huge problem, large collections of dust will gunk up your system, especially the heat sink. Heat sinks are fine and easily covered in dust, which keeps the heat sink from doing its job: keeping your laptop cool.
Open your case once a month and use compressed air to get rid of the dust, lint, crumbs, and offal that has collected within.
4. Cycle your battery.
Cycling your battery simply means charging it and allowing it to drain completely. This should be done occasionally, about once a month. Although many of us can’t seem to help it, you shouldn’t keep your laptop charged all the time as it will reduce battery life down the line.
5. Use antivirus/malware software.
There are millions of viruses, Trojans, and forms of malware on the web. It’s as simple as accidentally clicking a link in an email or banner ad. There are numerous free antivirus programs out there, including Microsoft Security Essentials, Spy bot Search and Destroy, Malware bytes, and Avast. Remember that your computer is only as good as the software in it.
Laptops are modern tools of the trade. Take care of it and it will last as long as you need.