Take care of your hardware
The health of your machine relies largely on the condition of its hardware. While you can't completely avoid wear-and-tear, you can keep your hardware as healthy as possible by following 3 simple rules:
• Keep your display and keyboards clean. With proper care and treatment, your computer's display, keyboards, and tracking pad should last for a long time-even longer than the hard drive itself. However, these components can also be easily damaged through careless mishaps.
Keep food and liquids away from your PC or laptop to prevent any inadvertent spills or stains, regularly wipe the screen with a lint-free cloth (dry or lightly sprayed with glass cleaner), and clean out the keyboard using compressed air.
• Don't let your PC or laptop overheat. Perhaps the worst enemy of hardware is heat. Hard drives in laptops can be more tolerant of high temperatures than those in desktop models, but even a laptop is susceptible to damage caused by excessive heat. If the temperature is high, make sure air can flow and circulate around your computer and that the exhaust fan is not blocked. Regularly clean out the fans and inlets with compressed air; these components often get clogged up with dust or pet hair. And consider getting a cooling pad, a laptop accessory that helps reduce operating temperatures.
• Use a case. Laptops are designed for portability, but it's important to remember that they're also sensitive electronic equipment. The everyday hazards that befall laptops-the knocks, the drops, and the spills-can end up taking a toll on overall performance. While most laptop models are quite sturdy, it always helps to keep it in a padded case or sleeve to protect it from the inevitable bumps and jolts.
Take care of your software
The best way to extend the life of your PC is to keep its operating system and other software in peak shape. To ensure that yours operates smoothly and stably for years to come, you should:
• Install and update antivirus software. It's critical to the life of your PC that you keep viruses, spyware, and other malicious programs from infiltrating it. Your first line of defense is good anti-malware software, and because malicious files evolve and change very quickly, it's equally important that you have a program capable of adapting to new threats.
• Clear out system clutter. Eliminating clutter is one of the simplest and yet most effective tasks you can do for your laptop's health: regular de-cluttering prevents unneeded files from building up and needlessly draining your resources.
Maintain battery life
The more life your battery has, the better-particularly when you're on the go and it's almost impossible to find an electrical outlet in a busy airport or coffee shop. To maximize your laptop's battery power, you should:
• Avoid extreme temperatures. Neither extreme cold nor extreme heat is good for the battery-but heat is especially damaging. Leaving your laptop in a car on a hot day or otherwise exposing it to extreme heat can cut the life of your battery in half, if not kill the battery altogether.
• Put your laptop into "sleep" or "hibernate" mode when you're not using it. Configure it so that it powers down after being idle for a set amount of time-this conserves a great deal of battery power. Laptops typically offer a "sleep" (or "standby") mode and a "hibernation" mode.
With a sleep mode, power is suspended from the display and from most, but not all, system operations. When you return, you'll be up and running quickly, but your PC still will be drawing some energy from the battery pack.
With a hibernate mode, your laptop is not using any battery power at all. Of the two modes, hibernate saves the most energy, but the time it takes for everything to power up will be a bit longer; this mode may be ideal for when you're away from it for a long period of time.
• Turn off or limit use of power-draining processes. There are a number of small changes you can make to cut down on the amount of battery power your laptop uses: for example, you can dim the brightness of the screen, turn down the sound, and turn off the WiFi feature when you're not web surfing. The basic rule of thumb is: if you're not using it, turn it off.
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