All computers have a lifespan, and as they get older they’ll keep reminding you of this fact as they start getting noisier, running slow and giving error messages. Many of these problems can be avoided by taking care of your computer to make it run smoother for longer.
Weather your machine is brand new or several years old, it is never too late to get started.
- Poor Ventilation:
Heat is one of the biggest factors that can adversely affect a computer. It can cause a computer to run slower, damage components and shorten battery life.
All computers are designed to efficiently dissipate the heat they generate via fans and air vents. However, these vents are easily obstructed. Placing your PC under a desk and against a wall can restrict airflow. On a laptop, the air vents are normally found on the bottom, so they are often blocked when using your laptop on a soft surface, such as your lap, bed or pillow.
- Dust Build-up:
Dust is another thing that causes head build-up. Position your brand new PC on the floor, for example, and it won’t be long before it has sucked up a whole load of dust, sand, and cat hair. Laptops are even more susceptible to dust.
This buildup can block the air vents and create an insulating layer on top of heat-generating parts, putting them at risk of overheating. It can also obstruct moving parts: a heavily caked fan will have to work harder, and will become noticeably louder in the process.
Computer Troubleshooters can easily service your PC or laptop for you when required.
- Loose Cables:
Along with “turn it off and turn it on again”, checking for loose cables is one of the simplest ways to fix many common PC problems.
External cables can work loose very easily, especially the power cable attached to your PC or laptop power adapter.
- Power Surges:
Power surges are caused by many things, from lightning strikes to large appliances in the home (such as washing machines and refrigerators), and they’re dangerous because they can cause great damage to a computer.
At best, that damage may amount to minor data loss or the need to replace your computer’s power supply unit. At worst, it can be terminal, resulting in a fried motherboard.
Make sure to use surge protected power boards, some of these come with a connected equipment warranty in case your gear doesn’t survive.
Remember that all cables can carry power surges, including phone and Ethernet cables. Some surge protectors include support for these items as well, but not all of them do. It’s your responsibility to make sure all of your important devices are properly protected.
- Power Cuts:
Along with power surges, power cuts also need to be protected against. In most instances, a sudden power outage will cause data loss, but hard drives and solid state drives could also suffer permanent hardware damage.
Hard drives in particular are susceptible to head crashes, where the read and write head physically scratches the disk. SSDs don’t have moving parts so they aren’t affected in this way, yet they remain vulnerable to power failure in another way: they can become corrupted, or even die entirely.
The solution is to use an uninterruptible power supply (UPS). This is an external device that provides a few minutes of emergency backup power, enough for you to shut your computer down safely.
- Battery Drain:
With a number of manufacturers moving increasingly towards sealed batteries, caring for your laptop battery is more important than ever.
First, heat is the quickest way to degrade a battery, so try to keep your laptop within the recommended operating temperatures of your battery. Second, don’t keep your laptop plugged in — and charged to 100% — all the time. Even if it is permanently sat on your desk, it’s worth using it on battery power every now and again.
And third, don’t fully discharge the battery. Contrary to popular belief, this causes stress and actually reduces the battery’s lifespan. More frequent, but shorter, charges are preferred.
- Physical Damage:
It should go without saying that physical damage is bad news. Laptops get tossed around, peripherals get removed before they’ve finished their jobs, and bumps, knocks, and spills are more common than anticipated.
Hard drives are especially prone. Ideally, you shouldn’t move your computer while it is turned on if it has a hard disk inside. Hard knocks can also damage sensitive internal parts or cause cables and connections to come loose.
And even if spilling a drink on your laptop does not kill it instantly, the moisture can cause rusting and have a corrosive effect over time.
- Software Updates:
Software problems aren’t going to physically reduce your PC’s lifespan, but they will make it run slower, throw up errors, and produce other symptoms. Spending some time tidying up your software will get your computer running almost as well as the day you bought it.
Make sure you’re running an up-to-date web browser. Install all necessary security tools, but don’t go overboard on this: you only want to be running one anti-virus package at a time.
Get rid of unused programs, and avoid excessive use of beta applications. Check which programs set themselves to run at boot, and remove the ones you don’t need.
To give new life to your old computer or to check that your new computer is running as best as it can, give Computer Troubleshooters a call! We can complete all these tasks for you.
- Written by Andy Betts