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Top 5 Tips to Extend Your Laptop's Life

Because laptops are so portable, they're also subject to shorter life expectancies. They're vulnerable to being dropped, spilled on, or even left in a hot car. This week, Tech Talker gives his top tips for extending the life expectancy of your laptop so you can make the most of your computing investment.

By
Eric Escobar
4-minute read
Episode #131
The Quick And Dirty

Here are your 5 quick and dirty tips for getting more use out of your laptop:

  1. Keep your laptop as cool as possible. This will reduce strain on its components and battery.
  2. Keep your laptop clean and free of gunk. This will keep all of the moving pieces and openings from getting jammed or becoming worn out.
  3. Buy a case for your laptop, This will prevent minor scrapes and bruises from leaving a lasting mark on your device!
  4. Think about updating to a solid state hard drive. It will improve your performance and will also make your laptop more resilient to data loss.
  5. If your laptop is too old for your primary use, think about repurposing it to be a game computer, media center, or even a Linux machine!

More and more often, computer users are opting to use laptops over desktops. Laptops are portable, full computers (as opposed to mobile operating systems like the ones you'll find on tablets), and they are becoming almost as powerful as their desktop counterparts.

However, a laptop's strength is also one of its greatest weaknesses. Its portability also tends to bring along some risk. For example, they are more vulnerable to being dropped, spilled on, or left in a hot car. This generally leads to very short life expectancies for laptops. So. let's jump right into it and I'll give you my top tips for making sure you get the most out of your investment! 

Tip #1. Keep things cool

Here's my number-one tip – keep it cool! Whether it's a phone, tablet, or laptop, excessive heat is the enemy here. It's horrible for electronics. For example, extreme heat can lead to screen damage, short battery lives, and even certain glues melting into the device.

There's more! When metals heat up, they also expand, and then contract when cooled. This means that all of the wire and metals in your device are being stretched and compressed, which could lead to the failure of any number of key components.

So, what will it mean if you inadvertently skip this tip and heat up your laptop once or twice? Is it the end of its life? Most likely not. However, repeated exposure to heat, whether it's from being left in a hot car or in direct sunlight, could easily lead to a much shorter life. Take it from me, keep your devices cool and they will perform much better for you – and last much longer. 

Tip #2. Buy a case

The human skin is a wonderful thing, and when you get a bruise or scrape, your skin will heal itself within a couple of days. Laptops, on the other hand, are not so lucky. They show every scrape, bump, and accident like a badge of honor. So, do yourself a big favor and buy a case for your laptop. 

A good case can do a lot to pad your laptop from a life of minor scratches and bumps. I have a nice slim case that my laptop fits into like a glove. I put my laptop in this sleeve and then, from there, into my bag. This provides some padding and also keeps it super clean – added bonus.

There are also cases that are attached directly to the laptop that protect it like a shell. That's yet another layer of great protection.

For more tips on the equipment I'd recommend, check out Inside Tech Talker's Backpack: Hardware Roundup

Tip #3. Keep it clean

This a good segway into my next tip. Keeping your laptop clean is a must if you want it to have a long life. This process doesn't have to be super intense by any means. Just running a can of compressed air through each of the ports, and keeping dust and junk out of the nooks and crannies should do wonders.

This isn't just to make your laptop look clean. Keeping grime out of hinges and moving parts reduces wear and also the chance for failure.

Tip #4. Upgrade to a solid state drive (SSD)

Next up is one of my personal favorites. If you have a decent laptop but are looking to really up its performance, I suggest getting a solid state drive. Laptops are very hard to upgrade as they age.

For example, on a desktop, it's often pretty easy to swap out a processor, RAM, or any other piece of its hardware with some steps you could easily find on the manufacturer's website or even on YouTube. 

Laptops, on the other hand, have very small pieces designed to fit perfectly in a small space. This means upgrading a processor or RAM is often times very difficult. Laptop hard drives are standard sizes, and are generally pretty accessible.

This tip is one of the best that I can recommend. Putting a SSD into your laptop will make it run much faster, and it will reduce the heat that's often generated within the machine.

Solid state hard drives also give you an added layer of safety and security. If you drop your laptop, a SSD will almost always survive the fall because there are no moving parts to break. This is not the case with traditional spinning hard drives, which have moving platters that can be very easily be scratched or damaged while in transit.

Need more info? Check out What’s the Difference Between a SSD and a HDD?

Tip #5. Reuse and refresh hardware

Lastly, here are some tips to speed up a sluggish laptop.

Often times, when laptops reach the end of their lifespan, you'll notice a significant downgrade in speed and performance. In my family, that's the time we relegate that machine to the kids for game playing. Or, you can take an old laptop and just use it as a media player; make it your own personal TV!  Use an old laptop for simple, singular tasks like these and you'll be changing its primary use but also extending its life and your investment.

For the more techie among us, you could even load a light version of the Linux operating system on your laptop. Linux generally takes far fewer resources than Windows or Mac and can make an older laptop downright speedy. This could also be a great opportunity to learn Linux, or just get a feel for a new operating system.

See also: How to Use a Virtual Machine

Well, that’s it for today! Be sure to check out all my earlier episodes at techtalker.quickanddirtytips.com

About the Author

Eric Escobar

Tech Talker demystifies technology and cutting edge devices so that even the most tech illiterate can understand what's going on with their computer or gadget — and what to do when something goes wrong.