Laptops are great. They allow computing anywhere, so you can take those long days at the office with you and just keep plugging on right through the night, or into your vacation. Well, wait a minute, you say. Ok. They are very convenient, you must admit. However, because they do travel so much, care must be taken to maximize their life. The following are some important guidelines:
- Get a good laptop carrying case/bag – They have proper padding and straps to keep it in place and protected while being transported.
- Work safe – Whenever possible, place the laptop in a stable surface. One of the most common failures are from cracked screens due to laptops that fall onto the floor.
- Sunscreen – Never leave a laptop inside a locked car in the summer where it gets sunlight. Laptops left in a car seat that survive theft, will warp and self-destruct. A trunk or cargo bay are a better option.
- Too hot, too cold – When taking a laptop that has been out in a vehicle, either in hot or cold weather, be sure to let it warm up to room temperature before use. If bring it in from the cold, it should be left inside of the carrying case or put into a sealed plastic bag while it warms up. This prevents condensation from forming on the electronic parts and causing serious damage.
- Dust in the air – Do not clean your work area while your laptop is on, and avoid working in a dusty environment. The dust will get sucked into the inside of the laptop, leading to overheating.
- Cleaning – Keep your machine clean. Periodic cleaning of the screen, keyboard, and touchpad should be performed using a cotton cloth slightly moistened with rubbing alcohol. Never use soaps, detergents, or solvents. Avoid acetone (nail polish remover) at all costs, because it melts plastics. All cleaning should be done with the power off and some time allowed for the alcohol to evaporate before powering the system back on.
- Spare the keyboard – If you use your laptop daily for office work, consider using an external keyboard and mouse. This will save a tremendous amount of wear and tear of the laptop and give it considerably longer life. Some manufacturers make docking stations to make this easier into a single connection so you need not connect all cables individually, including network and external monitor cables.
- No food – This is actually a “generally accepted principle” that applies to all computing. Avoid eating while working at your laptop. You are guaranteed to get food particles into the keyboard area. Laptop keyboards are made of extremely small parts that become stuck. The only realistic way to fix them is to replace the keyboard, which can become expensive. Liquid beverages should also be handled with care near laptops. If spilled onto the keyboard area, complete system failure is almost guaranteed.
- Can’t b-r-e-a-t-h-e – Yes, laptops were supposedly made to useable on a lap. However, many manufacturers have forgotten that in their design. Ideally, laptops should have intake and exhaust areas on either side. Instead, manufacturers have all-too-often put them at the bottom, front, and rear. Overheating is the death of laptops. While on a lap, these areas often become blocked, so keep this in mind when using a portable device on your lap and allow it to breathe.
- Put your head on your pillow, not your laptop – For the similar reason as above, never, never use or leave a laptop on a pillow, bed, or other surface without adequate ventilation under and around the unit. It will lead to serious overheating and system failure.
- Clean lungs – Laptops need fans to cool down the CPU. These fans pull in air from the bottom or sides and draw that air across the video chip and the cpu and chipset heat sinks. With time, these fans can become full of attached dust particles and the spaces between the heat sink ribs become clogged, preventing the machine from “breathing.” If left that way, the machine will overheat quickly, leading to system shutdown and to permanent premature failure. To clean these, first make sure the system is shut down. Then remove the power cord and remove the battery. While the battery is out, inspect the terminals on the battery and the laptop and clean them with a cotton swap moistened with alcohol. Next, use a can of compressed air with the straw attached, and carefully blow the compressed air through the fins and through all fan openings. Blow from both sides if possible so as to force air through the fins in both directions. Low out any particles in the keyboard while at it. Never, never do this procedure with the power cord or battery connected. The reason is that the compressed air is a chemical that is stored inside the can in liquid form. When the activator is pressed, this liquid vaporizes very quickly can comes out as air. Sometimes, however, it does not have time to vaporize and comes out partially as liquid. Any components inside the machine that are energized can be irreparably damaged by the liquid. After blowing out the system, allow it to stand for a couple of minutes to allow any potentially wet areas to dry out before powering on the system again.
- Software cleanup – Finally, clean out temporary junk files and apply security updates.
If you follow these tips, you’ll keep your laptop in good working condition and with many years of useful life. Be sure to read also our article on how to maximize your laptop battery runtime, how to maximize your laptop’s battery life, and share your tips below.
Per Ingenium is an IT company located in Toronto offering onsite services to small businesses in the GTA area. We provide comprehensive it services, it support, networking services, server repairs, network security, and internet solutions.