Get the Most Out of Your Laptop

Paul Mah
Slide Show

Extend Your Laptop's Longevity

Follow these practices to stay far away from the repair folks.

In a bid to help users who encounter problems with their laptops, I wrote "<strong>Seven Tips to Prolong the Life of Your Laptop</strong>" last year, sharing some suggestions that I hoped would help users keep their laptops running. With laptops gaining a majority of the market share and the trend set to only increase, I wanted to continue from there and write a follow-up piece to help users get the most out of their laptops.

 

I've been using a laptop as my primary productivity machine for more than six years now. Below are some pointers I'd like to share:

 

Use an external mouse

 


While there is certainly nothing wrong with using the trackpad to navigate your computer, I've found that an external mouse suits me better where ergonomics and usability are concerned. Logitech and Microsoft make some good mice, and I recommend investing in a good RF wireless model (I've had better experiences with RF than Bluetooth mice). You can easily use the mouse when traveling, too.

 

Don't get a new laptop battery

 

A common temptation when buying a new laptop is to purchase an additional battery "just in case" you need the extra juice. The truth, however, is that most of us simply don't need the additional battery to lug around. In addition, the chemistry of modern lithium-ion batteries means that they essentially start dying the moment they are created. Old batteries do not hold the same charge as brand new ones, even if they are doing nothing more than lying unused in the drawer.

 

Mind the heat

 

One of the main laptop killers that I've observed over the years is heat. Excessive temperatures cause electronic circuits to fail faster, as well as dramatically shorten the productivity lifespan of a battery. Laptops that were designed to properly dissipate heat generally don't have this problem, though not all brands are equal in this regard. You can purchase a laptop base with a built-in fan if you detect hot-spots that trouble you, but I personally don't use one.

 

Invest in an additional power adapter

 

One item I highly recommend buying is an additional power adapter. Its advantage here is mainly about convenience-the original power adapter can be left in the office for one less item to pack. Of course, getting the original brand of power adapter is usually quite costly, which is why third-party ones are preferable. I use a model from Kensington that offers an additional USB charger for my iPad. I personally leave the slim power adapter in my laptop bag so I never forget to bring it out, and its replaceable power tips mean that it should be able to support my next laptop as well. (Note: Laptop power adapters are generally usable around the world with an appropriate adapter.)

 

Protect from physical damage

 

I find it ironic that folks will spend thousands of dollars on a brand-new laptop, only to cram it into an unprotected bag with power adapters and other knick-knacks. Invest in a proper laptop bag (with some padding at least) to protect it from the occasional knocks.

 

Do you have any suggestions on how to get the most out of your laptop? Feel free to share them here.



Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Feb 11, 2011 1:55 AM David G. Muldoon David G. Muldoon  says:

Aloha Paul,

Good Advise is always appreciated.

One thing that I have all our people do is elevate the laoptop off the

surface of the desk or counter you might have it on regularly.  Heat tends

to build up at the botom of the computer because airflow is restricted on the flat surface.  I use little bean bags the help elevate and place the keypad at a good angle to disipate heat and ease the Carpel Tunnel pressure too.

Hope this is helpful!  DGM

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Feb 22, 2011 3:20 AM John Stewart John Stewart  says:

one of the best ways for protecting your laptop, is using a good case for it, you can find nice bags here, www.briefcasestore.com

Reply
Mar 3, 2011 3:32 AM sharath sharath  says:

Well said.

In my thoughts, I have a point to charge. Most of us leave the laptop charged hours together. My best advice is, when the battery is full, it is better to plug out the charger and plug in later when the battery is low. This will increase the life of the battery and the laptop as well.

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Mar 3, 2011 12:24 PM Paul Mah Paul Mah  says: in response to sharath

Hi Sharath, there is no such thing as "overcharging" for Lithium-Ion batteries (They basically explode when that happens, so you can be sure that plenty of safeguards have already been built in!). As such, allowing a battery to drain down before recharging is just killing your battery that much faster.

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May 18, 2011 8:29 AM Dan Dan  says:

When an electronic gadget such as a digital camera cellphone suddenly dies, it's usually a no-brainer on whether to get it repaired -- don't bother. In this disposable world, repairs can cost almost as much as buying a new gadget, if not more, so recycling it and buying a new one makes sense.

But with laptop computers, a repair can make sense, and small upgrades can extend the life of laptops.

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