How To Make Your Laptop Last Longer: The 10 Cs of Computer Care

Updated for September 2017 (originally posted May 2015): Would you buy a new car and never put oil in it? Or not add air to your tires if they’re running low? Or never get a tune-up? Only if you didn’t want it to last long!

It’s the same with your computer. It needs some attention so it doesn’t leave you in the lurch. With some basic computer care, you can extend the life of your computer by years and enjoy more efficient performance, too. Just remember keep doing these 10 Cs of computer care:

1. Keep it CURRENT. Keep your operating systems, apps and virus protection all up to date. Think of these updates as ongoing tune-ups rather than inconveniences. Set your computer to update everything automatically so you don’t even have to think about it.

2. Keep it CLEAN ON THE OUTSIDE. Gunk can get in your computer — dust, dirt, hair, crumbs, coffee. None of these are helpful and they can be pretty harmful, especially when they prevent the fan from doing it’s job. Of course, it’s best to not let gunk inside to begin with so close your laptop when you’re not using it and keep food and drink away. Some gunk is inevitable so clean it regularly with the proper tools. Or take it to a pro.

3. Keep it CLEAN ON THE INSIDE. If your Windows laptop has a hard drive and not a solid state drive (SSD), keep it performing at its most efficient by defragmenting it about once a month using the disk optimization tool. By default Windows 10 defragments weekly but you can do it yourself if you notice your machine is running slowly. (Macs no longer need manual defragging). Also, delete any unwanted files and folders and uninstall apps you’re not using. Adding RAM helps, too. When your computer has fewer items to search through and more RAM to work with, there’s less strain on its parts and it will last longer.

4. Keep it COOL. Don’t let your baby burn up! There’s a reason data centers are kept uncomfortably chilly (for humans, anyway). Your computer does not like sunlight or things blocking its vents either — overheating reduces component life spans. A cool computer is a longer-lasting computer.

5. Keep it CONSISTENT. Do you like to be picked up and moved when you’re in the middle of doing something? Neither does your computer. This is less of an issue with solid state drives because they don’t spin like hard drives but it’s best for all computers to be put to sleep (or turned off) before transporting them.

6. Keep it CUSHIONED. Transport it in a padded case. Don’t bang it or drop it or set things on top of it — even if you have a “tough” laptop, those tiny parts underneath the case aren’t super rugged. And don’t carry your open laptop by its screen. Those hinges weren’t built to withstand much weight.

7. Keep the CORD in good shape. It’s easy to forget to treat your power cord kindly. We’re always rolling them up and shoving them in side pockets. But the joints and connectors can be easily damaged. So don’t yank at them, knock them around or bend them in ways they weren’t meant to bend. Also, use a surge protector whenever possible. It only takes one nasty power surge to understand why.

8. Keep it on CONTINUOUSLY when you’re using it. Each time you turn your computer on you stress it a little bit. To reduce wear and tear on your hardware, leave it on all day if you’re using it throughout the day or even just now and then — don’t keep turning it on and off. Once a day is good. If you won’t be using it for a while, definitely turn it off, close it and put it someplace cool.

9. Keep CORRECTING problems that come up along the way. Does something seem different about your computer? Is it behaving oddly? Slowly? Just plain squirrely? Then talk to tech support or get it repaired. Problems rarely get better by themselves and ignoring small problems can lead to bigger ones. Maybe even at the worst possible time.

10. CONNECT your laptop to a high-quality surge protector whenever possible. Choose a portable version for when you need to power up away from your usual surge protector. A surge really can fry your laptop — or your modem and router, too.

How much time is required to stick to these 10 Cs? Hardly any! They’re just good habits that can pay off with a computer that lasts years longer.

Leapfrog has seen first-hand how good habits extend the life of technology equipment and bad habits do just the opposite. Our procurement department is responsible for managing and procuring thousands of IT assets for our managed services clients, which includes making sure each new device works seamlessly with the network and wiping all data off of old devices before recycling them. Our Help Desk team is always available to help with any client IT issue or question, including device and app troubleshooting. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions about how we work with clients to keep their technology hopping along.

If you liked this post, don’t forget to subscribe to FrogTalk, our monthly newsletter.