Whether you’re a freelance writer used to holing up in coffee shops to earn a living or a remote employee working on a job site or satellite office, there are many occupations in which your laptop is your lifeline. Even if you don’t rely on your machine for work, it is still a valuable source of entertainment and social connection. That said, buying one can be a serious investment. Depending on the model, size and functionality you require, you can expect to spend between $700 and $3000 on a new laptop.
That said, you want to protect your purchase as much as possible. While you might not be able to fully safeguard it from every incident, there are proactive measures you can take, starting on Day One, to keep it as high-performing, quick and clean as possible. Today, we’re sharing seven tips to help your machine run its best. Ready to learn more? Let’s get started!
1. Update it when required.
Sure, it gets on our nerves when those pop-ups appear at every startup, reminding us to upgrade our operating system to the most recent version or download the latest update for our anti-virus software. Yet, what might be a minor inconvenience and a few minutes of our time can save our machines in the end.
These notifications are there for a reason. You can press “ignore” or “remind me later” all day long, but eventually, your laptop will be running in an outdated, archaic mode that is unable to support the functions of its newer, flashier peers. It’s also far more likely to break down, run slowly and give you other issues. The bottom line? Update as soon as you’re notified. Go pour a cup of coffee, check the mail or call it a night. When it’s time to log back in, you’ll be glad you took that step.
2. Don’t let it overheat.
Have you ever been working fervently at your laptop, only to notice that it sounds like an airplane is taking off inside of it and it’s actually emitting heat? It’s not your imagination. Your machine can easily overheat and when it does, it can permanently damage its internal mechanisms. So, give it a rest if it appears to be under distress.
Moreover, try to not leave your computer in direct sunlight or near anything that could accidently cover its vents. It needs plenty of ventilation to work properly and ensure its components aren’t compromised.
3. Embrace defragmenting.
In the days of dial-up internet and oversized floppy disks, defragmenting your computer meant taking off an entire afternoon while the dinosaur worked through the files at the pace of an inchworm. Today, the process is much quicker and still essential to the longevity of your computer.
Especially if you own a Windows laptop that comes equipped with a hard drive rather than a solid state drive (SSD), you’ll want to perform this step on a monthly basis. Your machine should perform this function on a routine basis without any extra interference from you. Yet, if you can tell that your laptop needs a little more juice and isn’t running as quickly as it could be, you can also manually perform the step yourself.
4. Protect it on the outside.
We’re rough with our laptops. We eat around them, drink hot beverages near them, toss them into our tote bags and expect that they will be resistant to any signs of wear and tear. If you want yours to last for as long as possible, try to avoid letting things like dust, dirt, food particles and hair strands accumulate in it. While there are specific tools you can use to clean out your keyboard and the surrounding ports, you may also consider taking into a professional computer cleaning specialist. This way, you can rest assured that any cleaning measures taken won’t harm your machine.
Of course, one simple way to protect your laptop is to outfit it with a heavy-duty case that can keep it safe from dings, dents and scratches as you move it around. From a Macbook Air Case to one designed specifically for your make and model, you can research some of the top-performing ones online to help you make a selection. This is one computer accessory that’s well worth the extra money.
5. Don’t neglect the cord.
Power cords tend to get the short end of the stick when it comes to computer care. We wrap the cord around the base, toss it into our bag and never think twice about it. It’s easy to forget that they are comprised of delicate connectors, wires and joints that can break or fray in a snap.
Keeping that in mind, resist the urge to pull too tightly on your cord or bend it into awkward spirals just to get it into your tote. You may also consider investing in a surge protector to ensure that if a random power spike occurs, your data isn’t lost.
6. Don’t turn it on and off all day.
Yes, when you know you’re done using your computer, you can and should turn it off for the day. Yet, if you’re going to need access to it throughout the day, leave it on. Why? Every time you shut it down and fire it back up again, you put a little bit of stress on the machine. If this happens every now and then, it may not cause any damage. Yet, if you’re performing this function on a daily basis, you could shorten the lifespan of your laptop.
7. Remember to perform routine maintenance.
If something seems off about your laptop, don’t put off taking action until it’s more convenient. Rather, address all concerns as soon as they appear to make sure they don’t snowball into bigger issues. Take inventory of how well your machine is running. How are response times? Do files take longer than usual to load? Is it taking longer to start up than usual?
Often, the signs that something is wrong are more subtle in nature. Thus, it’s helpful to be tuned into your machine so you can notice as quickly as possible if something looks or feels amiss. While you might be able to perform some basic repairs yourself, you may be more comfortable (and better off) taking the machine to an experienced repair specialist.
Getting the Most From Your Laptop Investment
Buying a new laptop is a major step that can benefit both your professional career and your personal life. Yet, as soon as you unbox it, it’s important to begin taking care of it, looking for signs of stress, and responding to those circumstances wherever possible. If you treat your machine well, it can last you for years down the road, making every checkpoint, update and yes, defragmentation, well worth the effort.