Did you know that in 2019, humans all over the world generated 53.6 million tons of electronic waste? That’s 2.5 million tons more e-waste than the previous year.
Of the many things you can find in those piles of waste, discarded laptops are among the most common.
After all, most laptops fail after about three to five years. However, many others break down earlier due to a lack of proper laptop maintenance.
So, it’s no wonder that about 250 to 300 million new computer units get shipped worldwide each year.
With that said, proper laptop care can help extend the life of your device. These Windows or Mac maintenance practices, in turn, can help you produce less e-waste. So, not only do you get to keep your laptop longer, but you also get to lessen your environmental impact.
To that end, we created this guide covering the best laptop maintenance practices. Read on to discover what you can do so that you can hold on to your gadget for as long as possible.
1. Keep It Free of Debris
Did you know that about two-thirds of indoor dust comprises outdoor dust? The rest consists of things like pollen, cloth fibers, hair, skin cells, insect parts, and dust mites. If you have furry family members, then you likely have a lot of pet dander floating around your home, too.
Over time, many of those tiny, floaty particles can accumulate on and in your laptop. They can get lodged between the keys of the keyboard and also build-up by the air vents. If you eat while you use your laptop, then crumbs can also work their way into your device.
When any of those happens, your laptop keyboard can end up “sticky,” or worse, unresponsive. Dust build-up by or in the air vents can also trigger your device to overheat. Excessive heat exposure can then damage your gear’s internals, such as its motherboard.
All those can cut a laptop’s lifespan short, so you may end up needing to replace yours after just one or two years.
To prevent these from occurring, brush your entire laptop at least once a week. A small air blower can also help get rid of tightly-packed dust or crumbs from the keyboard, ports, and vents. You can then use a clean, moistened, lint-free cloth to wipe the device’s external housing.
2. Don’t Let It Choke
Laptops, especially those without fans, require adequate airflow to prevent overheating.
In fanned laptops, the fan sucks in cold air from outside the device and blows it all over the internal parts. It then pushes the warm air out of the ports, and the entire process repeats.
By contrast, non-fanned devices rely mostly on passive airflow for cooling. As such, these are more prone to overheating, especially if their vents get blocked.
Dust build-up aside, using your laptop on your lap can also insulate and choke it. In fact, this can happen if you use your device on any form-fitting surface, such as the bed. The soft material can envelop your laptop, which can then inhibit proper airflow.
With that said, avoid placing your laptop, fanned or not, on plush or cushioned surfaces. If you want to work stomach-down on the bed or sofa, you should at least elevate your laptop with a thick book. You may also want to consider investing in a laptop stand, many of which come with a USB-connected fan.
3. Restart at Least Once a Week
The wise folks at the University of Wisconsin suggest restarting a computer at least once a week. This helps clear out the random access memory (RAM.) Moreover, restarting helps ensure software updates get completed and installed properly.
That last bit is of extreme importance, as outdated software is vulnerable to malware. This is why updates exist: to patch up holes in the previous software version.
Updates also remove bugs from earlier versions and enhance software performance.
That’s why even Microsoft reminds users to restart their devices for OS updates. Failure to do so will result in the incomplete installation of the updates. This can lead to malware vulnerabilities and buggy software that keeps crashing.
4. Simplify Updates by Automating Them
Speaking of updates, did you know that one in three breaches is due to missing patches? That further proves how crucial these critical programs or supporting datasets are.
Fortunately, you can automate your laptop to download and install updates. Windows laptops also have the “task scheduler” that allows users to set-up reboot times.
Apple Mac notebooks have a similar scheduler in the form of the “Energy Saver” feature.
5. Organize Your Files
Information workers say they waste at least two hours a week trying to locate digital files. That translates to at least one workday going down the drain every month due to “misplaced” files.
Disorganized files and messy desktops are common culprits behind these issues. Having too many individual files on your desktop can also impair laptop performance.
This is especially evident during log-in since your device has to load the icon of each desktop file.
Fortunately, there are apps designed for file and desktop maintenance and optimization. These programs can help you organize data by file type, name, and creation date. You can also use them to create copies and then remove duplicates from your laptop.
6. Regularly Detox Your Laptop
Don’t forget to include data removal in your routine computer maintenance checklist. This pertains to deleting unwanted or unnecessary files and programs from your device. They can range from duplicate files to movies you’ve downloaded and already watched.
It’s also a good idea to transfer data you’d rather keep but don’t have an immediate need for to another location. These other locations can be an external hard drive or a cloud storage account. Either way, moving some of your files to these external locations can free up storage in your laptop.
You should also use an anti-malware scanner to run routine malware checks on your system. If you can, go for the paid version, which automatically deletes malicious objects.
Get the Most Out of Your Notebook With Proper Laptop Maintenance
As you can see, proper laptop maintenance can be as simple as restarting your device once a week. It can also be as easy as brushing and wiping down your gear’s housing and vents. Of course, the more of these practices you adopt and adhere to, the more likely it is for your device to last longer.
Ready for more how-to guides that can help you become tech-savvier? Feel free to check out our other technology-related resources and blog posts then!