We are often asked by clients for recommendations when they are buying a new computer. One of the most common questions is “how long will a new computer last?” The reality is there is not a definitive answer to this question, as there are a lot of variables. One of those variables is how well the machine is maintained.
Basic computer care, especially of a computer that an employee did not pay for, can sometimes be overlooked or down right ignored. You should look at a new computer as an investment and treat it as such. Here are some guidelines to ensure you get the most out of your new machine.
Looking for optimal lifespan?
Tower or desktop computers usually last longer than laptops as it is easier and more viable to replace and upgrade parts.
Do not plug it in directly to an outlet.
A surge protector is a cheap fail safe in case of an extreme power surge.
Make sure your surge protector is working, most have a status light you can check.
Surge protectors do have limits. It is a good idea to unplug your surge protector during a thunderstorm.
Buy a UPS, or uninterruptible power supply. This can give you time to cleanly shut down your machine in case of a power surge or outage.
Don’t click links or attachments without knowing what you are clicking on.
Practicing basic computer security can keep your machine clean of malware and viruses, mitigating the stress these programs can inflict on hardware.
Keep it clean:
Dust and debris builds up over time. Use canned air blow out the vents in the machine.
Debris can keep the machine from getting crucial airflow to keep the machine cool.
If it overheats, components start to fail. This can lead to poor performance or a premature replacement.
Don’t push it against a wall, stack of books or papers.
There are air vents on all machines, make sure they are not blocked.
Don’t put it in an enclosed space or cabinet and don’t put it next to a heating vent.
Hard drive care:
Hard drives can become corrupt with errors due to hard shutdowns, crashes and constant abuse. This can lead to damaged or lost files and the feared Blue Screen of Death.
There are free, built in tools that can be used to maintain your hard drive. Running the check disk tool once a month will scan for your drive for errors. If found, you can run a repair. But be aware, this process can take an hour or more.
You can also purchase a machine with a Solid State Drive. These drives are not only faster but will last longer than mechanical drives.
You should always have some kind of antivirus software on your machine to protect against malware and viruses.
These malicious programs can cause performance issues that could lead to replacing a machine that just needs to be scanned and cleaned. While malware usually doesn’t cause physical damage they can be responsible for costly downtime.
Program and system updates close security holes and improve overall performance. This will help eliminate false flags of age or ware.
Don’t move it:
Obviously, you can move a laptop, but try to limit it to when it is off. The same goes for a tower computer. If you must move it, even if it is just to pick up a rouge pen that rolled off the desk, make sure it is off.
The sweet spot of I/O:
It is recommended to turn your machine off when it is not in use. However, it is not optimal to turn your machine off EVERYTIME you are not using it. Shutting down every night is great. At an absolute minimum, you should shut it down once a week.
Maybe your machine is slow and the boot up process takes forever. This discourages reboots and shutdowns leading to machine being left on for days, weeks, even over a year in a few cases. This is not good for the machine either. We all need to rest, even PCs.
Don’t leave laptops plugged in all the time.
Occasionally let the battery drain completely before charging again. This will extend the life of the battery.