Wednesday, September 22, 2010

4 simple ways to extend your notebook’s life


Most notebook users only think about what their notebooks can do for them, not about what they can do for their notebooks. But if you treat it as you would your pet dog – don’t “overfeed” it but don’t let it go hungry between feedings, don’t leave it in a hot car, keep it clean, and be gentle with it – it will love you back for years to come. 

1. Take care of your battery  
Your notebook battery capacity will decrease with time, wear and tear, but there are things you can do to maximise its lifespan. For example, it is best to recharge batteries when they get to 10–20 percent charge, as regularly letting the battery fully discharge to 0 percent is not good for it. While short discharges and recharges won’t actually damage a battery, they can decrease the accuracy of the battery gauge; this can be remedied by doing a deliberate full discharge every 30 charges. When you’re not using the battery for a prolonged time, you can preserve its life by removing it at 40 percent charge and storing it in a cool, dry place. The worst thing you can do is leave a fully charged battery at high heat – which leads us to our next point … 

2. Avoid excessive heat
Notebooks generate a lot of heat. When they get too hot, they shut themselves down or cause damage to your notebook battery, hardware or electronic components. Because notebook operations are responsible for creating internal heat, you can avoid problems by changing settings and reducing processor speeds and screen brightness. You can also install freeware utilities that monitor the temperature of your notebook and automatically speed up the fan or decrease power usage. Turn off your computer before putting it in a notebook case or any confined space where heat can build up. And remember to avoid high-heat environments, like a hot car. Another way to ensure your notebook doesn’t overheat is to ...

3. Let air vents breathe 
Overheating can quickly result if your notebook’s air vents are blocked. So don’t put it on a soft surface like a bed, where the blankets and pillows can squash up against the air vents, preventing air from circulating. Even on hard surfaces, some notebooks can have a hard time “breathing”. If this is the case with your notebook and you see that it is getting too hot, you can elevate the back of the computer by propping it up using household objects or getting a laptop stand that allows air to flow freely. Notebook coolers or “chill pads” work similarly but include external fans. Another way that air vents and ports can get blocked is with dust. Use a can of compressed air to clear them. Speaking of cleaning … 

4. Be careful with LCD screens, the most expensive part of the notebook
When cleaning your screen, be very careful. Minerals in tap water can leave spots, so only use distilled water, and don’t use any solvents or alcohol, like household glass cleaner, or paper towels, which contain wood fibre and cause scratches. Best of all is to use a lint-free dry microfibre cloth to gently remove dust from your screen. In general, avoid touching the screen, as it can leave fingerprints and cause permanent marks if too much pressure is applied. Fractures in the LCD display, though you might not be able to see them, create lines, patterns, spots or bleeding around the edges of the screen, which may only get worse.   

By following these steps, reading and heeding the manufacturer’s instructions and warnings, and paying attention to your notebook, you can help ensure it has a long and happy life. 

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