Computer Care: Tips for Better PC Performance and Longer Laptop Life

Maybe you got a shiny new laptop under the Christmas tree this year. Or perhaps you’re simply looking to get as much mileage as possible out of your current machine. Why not? Money doesn’t grow on trees. Whatever the case, by following some basic computer care/computer maintenance tips, we can all benefit from better PC performance and longer laptop life.

Drink to Being More Careful.
When it comes to your pricey computer, you can cry over spilled milk. It’s not so bad if the big spill is on your desktop keyboard (which you can replace for less than $20), but if we’re talking about your laptop keyboard, you could easily short out your motherboard with one, unfortunate move.

Keep Your Keyboard Clean.
Step 1: After you shut down your computer, turn your laptop or keyboard upside down and gently tap on the back to kick out crumbs and debris. Step 2: Keeping the keyboard upside down, use a can of compressed air (sold for a few bucks at office supply stores) to blow out anything left stuck between/under the keys. Gently tap the keyboard a few more times. Step 3: If you have a raised-key keyboard, attack those germs by swiping a Q-tip dipped in isopropyl alcohol around the rims of each key.

Keep the Screen Clean.
Spots and smudges on the computer screen are distracting, no doubt. To clean your laptop screen or computer monitor, first power off your laptop/monitor. Grab a dry, microfiber cloth (paper towels are too abrasive). Spritz some screen cleaner (sold at office supply stores) onto the cloth (not the screen) and wipe in a gentle, circular motion. Penny pinchers: You can make your own cleaning solution by pouring equal parts distilled water and white vinegar into a spray bottle.

To Dust Is a Must.
Dust build-up is problematic for laptops, given their compact design and small components. If your computer fan is running constantly, or your laptop feels hotter than it should, that might be a sign of dust build-up. What to do: First make sure your laptop is completely turned off. Turn your laptop over and remove the battery pack. Examine the bottom of the laptop for vents, grills or fans. You can use a can of compressed air to blow out dust in these areas. Better yet, say the PC repair guys, use a Shop-Vac set in reserve (with an attachment to concentrate air flow). Blow out these areas, including the battery compartment, to remove dusk particles. Even a small amount of dusk is a big deal for laptops.

Dump the Junk.
For optimal performance it’s just as important to keep the computer clean on the inside. An overload of files and outdated software can waste valuable hard drive space and slow your speed.

Windows users can get rid of old software as follows:

Click the Start button > then Control Panel > then choose Programs > followed by Programs and Features, where you’ll see a complete list of your software programs. Select what want to delete and click uninstall.

You can also shed unnecessary files on your hard disk and free up disk space by using Disk Cleanup on a regular basis. It removes temporary files, empties the Recycle Bin, and clears a variety of system files you no longer need. If you’re a Windows user:

Click the Start button. In the search box, type Disk Cleanup.
In the results list, click Disk Cleanup.
In the drives list, select the hard disk drive you want to clean up, and then click OK.
In the disk cleanup dialog box, select the check boxes for the file types you want to delete, and then click OK.
In the confirmation message that appears, click delete files.

Play it Safe with Antivirus Protection.
To keep your PC in tip-top shape, having a quality antivirus software installed is absolutely essential. Among the choices that consistently rank at the top: AVG Antivirus. Blocking viruses, spyware and other malware, AVG Antivirus can be downloaded free. For more extensive protection (including firewall and encryption protection), purchasing the full version of the software affords you greater peace of mind.

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