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Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Treat Your Computer Well for a Lasting Relationship

Your trusty laptop or desk computer is there for you – until it’s not. Are you treating your computer with the care it deserves for maximum performance and a long life?

Let’s face it, most of us get a little complacent about taking care of our computer. Tech nerds aside, it’s a good idea to refresh your memory about how to take care of one of the most expensive pieces of equipment you’ve got, and one that you rely on all the time. Check to make sure you’ve been treating your equipment well.

Sleep, Hibernate, or Shut Down

Sleep is the best choice if you’ll be using your computer again after a few minutes, a few hours, or overnight. Your computer can start up much faster, right where you left off. Hibernation is the better option if you’re concerned you won’t be able to charge it again for a while. All of the open programs and data will be saved to the hard drive, so it takes a little longer for your computer to wake from hibernation than when it is just sleeping. 

Shutting down is the right choice if you use the computer only once in several days or if you or someone else will be performing maintenance. It’s also perfect for plane travel when it will be stored, or when you will be away from it on vacation. When your computer is shut down, all your open programs close and your operating system turns off. Your computer will use the least power, but it will take longer to start up again than from sleep or hibernation. 
  • Use anti-virus software. Good anti-virus programs stop hackers and virus attacks from a variety of sources. This is not a place you want to skimp. A good program will scan regularly in the background and alert you to trouble. Getting hacked puts you in a world of hurt, so bite the bullet and buy a great program, such as one of these recommended by PC Magazine. 
  • Care for the battery. Resist the temptation to plug in your PC when the battery goes down to 50%. You can prolong the life of your battery by letting it run down before charging it back up. After all, the reason you have a PC is to use it wirelessly.
  • Keep it clean. If you’re somebody who eats while hanging over the keyboard, stop. And by now you should know that holding a cup of coffee, or any liquid, over your device is just calling for big trouble. First, turn off your computer and wait for the screen to go black. Use rubbing alcohol to clean your keyboard before gently using a can of compressed air held about an inch away and pointed at an angle to spray away dust, dog hair and dirt. Most screens should be cleaned with a soft cloth bought just for your computer and rubbing alcohol.
  • Use a case or cover. Use a padded laptop cover or sleeve all the time, except when cleaning. This will protect it from nicks and dings. If you’re taking your PC to the library or on a trip, you’ll want to have the additional padding of a messenger bag or backpack to tuck it into.
  • Defragment and declutter. Mac users can skip this step; Apple PCs do it automatically. Click here to find the short steps to defragment in Windows. Clear your browser and downloads on a regular basis, such as monthly. These actions perform housecleaning and help your computer to run faster.
  • Avoid using too many programs or tabs at once. You will overload your computer if you open multiple programs and/or tabs, especially if it doesn’t have a lot of memory. Bookmark tabs you need to keep handy instead of keeping a window open.
  • Update your passwords. It’s pretty much a given that with all the usernames and passwords we need to know, you should either get a password manager or use the Keychains feature on your Mac. And don’t even consider keeping passwords like 12345 or using the same password on multiple sites. It’s way too risky. Instead, use a longer password with uppercase, lowercase, numbers and at least one special character.