Just like your car, home, or anything else, computers can become run-down over time. With the lighting quick pace at which new technology becomes yesterday’s news, many of us never see the effects of time on our machines before they are relegated to the scrap heap. Unfortunately, this often leads users to neglect the physical needs of their machines, which can lead to hardware failure. With computer owners feeling the squeeze in this economy, it’s good to know that there are simple things we all can do to help increase the lifetime of our machines.
Overheating is one of the biggest problems for hardware, and one of the easier ones for users to reduce or prevent in the first place. Between the tiny moving parts and electrical currents running through everything, the inside of your computer can become very hot, and this can damage every piece of your system. The first thing to do is to monitor your computer’s temperature. If it feels hot to the touch (not just warm) or the temperature goes up significantly after it’s been running for a while, you may need to intervene. All computers have small fans to help disperse the heat generated inside the case; in a computer that’s overheating, these may be broken or just not powerful enough. You can replace these fans (heat sinks) yourself, or hire a professional tech. You can also reduce overheating issues by never pushing your machine past its published capabilities (overclocking) and making sure that the vents are unobstructed.
Another simple problem for users to resolve might come as a surprise: dust bunnies. Just as dust finds its way into the strangest places in your house, it also winds up inside your computer case where it can accumulate. While usually harmless, large piles of dust can damage moving parts or block the vents (leading to overheating). The best solution is to periodically open up the case of your computer and use “canned air” to blow away the dust inside. Remember, make sure that the computer is turned off and unplugged from the wall before you attempt to open it up to prevent damage to the hardware and yourself.
While keyboards and mice are fairly cheap components, it’s still wise not to waste money replacing them when you could just as easily keep them in working order for much longer. Keyboards are commonly damaged when food and other small items get stuck under the keys. To reduce the risk don’t eat at your desk, or put your keyboard out of reach when you do. Standard mice, with a ball built into the bottom to track movement, should be used on a clean surface such as a mouse pad. You should clean this off periodically and keep it away from food just as you would a keyboard. In the event that liquid spills on either item, unplug it immediately and allow it to dry completely before testing to see if it is still functional (this will reduce the risk of a short).
One of the best ways to protect the hardware in your machine is a little bit of an investment, but it literally can mean life or death for your computer. Instead of plugging directly into a wall socket or simple power strip, you can use a surge protector or a universal power supply to protect your components from power outages and spikes. These two issues cause a tremendous amount of hardware failure and data loss every year. It’s important to buy a universal power supply that has enough capacity to run your entire system in order to get the full benefit, so it may be wise to consult with a professional about your power needs if you choose that product. A surge protector will not provide the same protection against data loss in the event of a power outage, but is less expensive and provides needed protection for your hardware.
We know it can be difficult to keep on top of all the little chores associated with computer ownership, which is why Geek Choice offers preventative maintenance service in addition to computer repair. If you’d like to schedule an appointment for preventative maintenance in your home or office, or if you have questions about how to keep your computer in top condition, give us a call at 1-800-GEEK-HELP (433-5435) and talk to one of our techs.