Laptops are used frequently, misused often, and expensive to replace. The following instructions will help ensure your laptop lasts as long as you have a use for it.
Part One: Safety and Care
1. Know where your laptop is at all times and treat it with care. Be cautious about leaving the laptop unattended, and know that dropping, jostling, or bumping may cause damage to the hard drive.
- Do not place drinks next to the computer. One accidental spill onto the keyboard will damage it, probably beyond repair.
- Always hold the laptop by the bottom (keyboard half), never the screen. Use two hands.
- Correctly remove the wireless card (if applicable) before transporting.
- Do not store the laptop where very cold or very hot.
- Do not place the laptop close to any electrical appliance, because it generates a magnetic field.
- Purchase a luggage tag. Attach it to the carrying case and fill it out with your name. Make sure that no flap that covers your name.
- Attach something unique to the carrying case. This will help prevent someone else from mistaking your case for theirs.
- Label all parts of the laptop with your name. Put a sticky address label on the top of the laptop, inside, under the keyboard, both parts of the power cord, CD-ROM/DVD-ROM/Floppy drives, and a USB drive.
- Never twist the screen on its hinges, as this could crack the screen.
- Never close the lid when a pencil or pen is left on the keyboard. This could crack the screen.
- Do not ever scratch or push on the screen.
- Don’t slam the lid down.
- Always transport the laptop in a padded carry case, and never stack items on the lid of the laptop.
- Stickers leave a residue that can cause permanent damage.
- Clean the screen with a lint-free cloth. Do not use window cleaner, such as Windex; the ammonia will dull the screen. Use a screen cleaner from a computer supply store.
- Be careful when removing the power cord. Yanking it out of the laptop from a distance will cause damage.
- Do not wrap the cord tightly around itself. Instead, loosely wrap it in a figure eight pattern.
- Never turn the laptop over when it is plugged in. This could break the adapter plug at the back of the laptop.
- Do not use damaged floppy disks!
- Remove disks from CD-ROM drive or floppy drive before carrying.
Part Two: Software
- Understand your laptop’s up-time. Up-time is a measure of your operating system’s reliability. Unix-like operating systems such as BSD and Linux have the longest up-time. Research and compare up-time records yourself.
- Downloaded software and screensaver often cause conflicts and use valuable memory. Remember that laptops are tools for learning, and keeping them free of unnecessary programs will help it working quicker with less freezing.
- Always back up all files in at least two places.
- Virus protection is very important.
- Beware of Spyware. It is the latest computer security problem. Spyware is software designed to collect computer users’ personal data without their knowledge. Spyware is secretly installed with many downloaded Internet software programs, and transmits information about computer usage and generates pop-up advertisements. Microsoft estimates that spyware is responsible for half of all PC crashes.
Part Three: Routine Laptop Maintenance
- Run “Disk Cleanup” and “Defragment” tools at least monthly. You can find this under “Accessories,” listed with Programs. Start > Programs > Accessories. Be sure to turn off screen saver before performing maintenance.
- Check for disk errors at least monthly. Open “My Computer.” Right click on drive C, then select Properties. Click on the Tools tab. Where you see Error Checking, click on “Check now.” Select “automatically fix file system errors,” and then Start. You may be prompted to restart the machine.
- Set virus protection software to download and install updates automatically and enable virus real-time protection.
- Perform weekly virus scans.
- Set your computer to automatically download any newly released Windows updates. To do this: Open the Control Panel (Start > Settings > Control Panel) and double-click “System.” Click on the Automatic Updates tab and make your selections. Most people prefer the option “Download updates for me, but let me choose when to install them.”
- On your PC, click Start > Settings > Printers.
- All printers that have been installed are shown.
- Click on a printer to select it.
- Right-click, and then choose Properties.
- Click on the Setup tab, and under print quality, select draft.
- Click on the Advanced tab, and put a check in the box by “print in gray-scale.” At school, we request you print in gray-scale for most assignments. For special projects when you need something printed in color, you can remove the check mark.
- Start > Settings > Control Panel.
- Select the Power Management folder by double-clicking on it.
- Select Portable/Laptop from the drop-down menu.
- Click on the Alarms tab, and set the alarm to ring at 5%, and to shutdown at 1%.
- Click on the Alarm Action button, and put a check mark next to Sound Alarm and Display Message.
- Underclock it for the ultimate in longevity.