Buying a new laptop or desktop is a significant expenditure and not one to take lightly. With your new device in hand, you want to do everything you can to ensure it runs for years to come. By following the best practices for computer care and maintenance, you can extend your device’s lifespan, ensuring you get your money’s worth and avoid the hassle of transferring files to a new device.
Stop Eating and Drinking Around Your Computer
How many times have you spilled your morning cup of coffee near—or on—your computer and sighed in relief when all you needed to do was wipe it down with a paper towel? Though minor spills and near misses may not seem like a big deal, one day, you may not be so lucky.
Spilling drinks like coffee or soft drinks and dropping food crumbs can damage or reduce the performance of peripheral devices like mice and keyboards. Or, the liquid could make its way deeper into the computer in a major spill, causing irreversible damage to the internal circuitry. If you find yourself in this situation, don’t panic—you’ll need to act quickly to save your device, following these steps.
However, the best practice is prevention. Try your best to break the habit of eating and drinking around your laptop, or, at the very least, invest in protective gear.
Buy Protective Gear
Due to their large and complicated setup, desktop computers are easily affected by environmental elements like dust, heat, and humidity. Protecting your desktop from these elements ensures optimal performance, so buying helpful protective gear is highly advisable.
You can buy cloth or plastic covers for your monitor, peripheral devices, and casing to protect them from dust or liquids. To ensure that your PC hardware doesn’t fry due to power surges or fluctuations, hook them up with an uninterruptible power supply (UPS), ensuring time to shut down the PC during shortages.
For laptops, you’ll want to invest in a travel case, shell, and keyboard cover to protect from drops, travel damage, and spills.
Clean, Clean, Clean
Regular internal and external computer cleaning is essential in maintaining your device performance and longevity. Internal cleaning refers to cleaning the inside of the casing, while external cleaning addresses the outer surface and other peripheral devices such as the monitor, keyboard, mouse, casing, and more.
For internal cleaning, a can of compressed air is the best solution as it cleans dust from hard-to-reach corners like the cooling fan and the crevices between the graphics card (GPU) and RAM safely without damaging the components. For external cleaning, use a soft cloth (preferably microfiber) dampened with a little bit of water to gently rub the peripheral device’s surface.
Physical cleaning isn’t the only clean-up you need to do; clearing computer trash or organizing and eliminating old files is essential as well. Hard drives should always have at least 20 percent free capacity to ensure maximum performance. It also helps to perform disk checks to identify faulty drives or errors that can negatively impact your computer.
Know When to Power Off and When to Let it Sleep
Some people keep their computers turned on all the time while others shut them down after daily use. Both habits have their distinct advantages and disadvantages due to the mechanical effect continual power flow has on specific hardware components.
If you use your desktop or laptop for heavy tasks like gaming or video editing, turning it off after each session makes sense since individual hardware components utilized during these tasks experience wear and tear if powered continuously.
On the other hand, if you don’t use your device for hardware-intensive tasks, keeping it in sleep mode when not in use is a great way to ensure that your computer is ready quickly the next time you need it. Sleep mode turns off most hardware components and keeps the important ones on standby by using low power.
Although it’s tempting to keep putting it off and ignore those pesky popups reminding you to update your computer, they do have performance advantages. Updates can stabilize software, remove outdated features, fix security weaknesses, and more. If you find yourself overlooking updates because of the time they take to install, consider automating them so you have no choice but to let them download.
Invest in Anti-virus Software
With cyberattacks on the rise, you can’t afford to leave your device defenseless. Investing in anti-virus software will help protect your computer from harmful malware or spyware attacks, which can leak your data and slow down your device.
Even if you have anti-virus software, your computer isn’t impenetrable. If you suspect your device has been infected, call in a laptop and desktop repair service provider to safely remove the virus. While you may be able to resolve it yourself, a simple mistake could cost you precious data, so it may be best to leave it to a professional.
Maximizing Your Investment
With the average person spending $700 on a laptop, your device is a financial investment. Ideally, this investment should fulfill your computing needs for about five years. By maintaining your computer with the tips described above, you can ensure that you get the maximum value and utility out of your device.