Make Your Laptop Last Longer

A few tips to keep your machine ticking.
By , Last updated on: 12/3/2014

A new computer is a big investment, and tons of users ask us for tips to keep their machines up and running for years on end. Here are some easy ways to make that happen.

Treat it Well

Handle your machine with kid gloves. 10 years ago, nobody would’ve dared to leave their portable computer sitting in sleep mode for days on end, perched sideways on a couch. Store it correctly and out of the way. And specifically beware of tripping over the power cord. My beautiful 17-inch PowerBook G4 fell victim to that accident a few years ago. It was resting on a coffee table, probably on top of some books or magazines or some kind of glossy, slippery paper (mistake no. 1), plugged into a wall on the far side of my living room, a little too far away for the cord to lay slack (mistake no. 2). A roommate got up off the couch, headed toward the kitchen, and walked right through the cord, with authority. My PowerBook went skidding across the table and face-planted onto the floor. It seemed fine at first, but then one by one, vertical lines of pixels began to freeze up on the LCD, and within a year, the screen was unusable. Don't let that happen to you.

Dress it Up

You don’t want your laptop catching a corner of a table, or a face-full of concrete. When you move you move it around, pack it up. At the very least, stick in it in a bookbag. Even better, stick it in a sleeve inside your bookbag to avoid getting any dust or debris in your connection ports. You might even want to invest in a specialized laptop backpack with a hard exterior, just in case.

Take Charge

Batteries are usually the first component to go on a laptop. They can only handle so much usage, but they’re usually handled improperly anyhow. A few tips:

  • Run the battery dead at least once per month, then charge to full capacity. Batteries need exercise to stay fit.
  • Remove the battery once every few weeks, then pop it back in. Again with the exercise.
  • Don’t leave the machine charging for days on end while the battery is plugged in. Everybody does this, but there is such a thing as too much power.

Find the Right Workspace

Though it’s a brilliant lap-warming device, your laptop is best used on a flat, dry surface. It’s less likely to overheat and cook its own components this way. It’s the way that laptops were designed to be used. If you’re still running into overheating problems, or if you must use your computer primarily on your lap, couch, or bed, spend a few bucks on an extra fan. They just slip onto the bottom of the machine and very simply suck hot air away from the chassis. Good stuff, and it’ll still make your thighs nice and toasty.

Clean Up Your Mess

Ever looked at how much dead skin and hair is in between the cracks of your keyboard? It’s pretty gross. We won’t even discuss the layers of sweat and skin cells left on the keyboard itself. To get the gunk out from between the keys, shoot puffs of duster into the gaps to send the debris airborne. Also, gently use Q-tips to clean out the ports. (Just be sure not to leave any cotton strips behind.)

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