Top 5 Ways To Extend Your Computers Life
In todays world computers are an essential part of our lives. We use them to connect with friends, banking, job hunting, shopping and other activities. When our computers stop functioning the way we feel that they should it becomes very nerve racking. We have all heard a story or 2 about someones problems with their computers and I personally hear them on a daily basis as a computer repair tech. I will share the top 5 ways you can extend your computers life.
Make sure that you are plugged into a surge protector. Just to be clear, not all power strips offer surge protection. So make sure you are buying a surge protector and not just a simple power strip that offers multiple outlets. Make sure that you keep the papers that come with your surge protector because they offer warranties that will cover anywhere from $5,000 up to as much as $500,000 in damaged compents.
Surge protectors are a key element in protecting all of your electronics. Surges, spikes and sags happen more often than you think even though they are not noticeable. Modern electronics are more sensitive to fluctuations in current so make sure they are protected. Here is a guide to help you understand how to choose a surge protector. Recommended brands: APC and Belkin.
Uninterruptible Power Supply or UPS, is another great way to add extra protection to your electronics. A UPS is a battery backup that you plug into your electronics into then the UPS plugs into a surge protector. The battery holds a charge that will allow your computer to run for at least 5 or 10 minutes after you lose your power to safely shut everything down. After you have an outage you should wait at least a good 10 or 15 minutes before turning everything back on to be sure that there are no other issues in the power grid that may cause other outages.
2. Keep it clean
About every month or 2 (depending on how dusty the room gets) you should clean out the inside of your computer from dust and other nasty debris that may enter the case. Your fans are pulling the air in from one side then blowing it back out of the other side. This air flow is critical to keeping the components cool inside of your computer so you want to keep the resistance down. Just get you a can of air for about 4 or 5 dollars and unplug your computer then take it outside to spray so the dust does not go back into the room. Get the fans clean, the heat sinks and blow out the inside of the power supply. Often the dust will collect on the heat sinks and fans blocking the air flow which cause the temperature to rise on the processor. Heat will cause your fans to run faster and louder than normal and also cause your computer to lock up or even shut itself down to protect it from possibly frying the CPU or motherboard. If you have video cards with fans and/or heat sinks clean those as well.
Cables also get overlooked a lot of times as a way to improve the air flow inside of the system. You want to make sure that the cables are neatly placed and not scattered and hanging everywhere. Just take some zip ties and group them together and if possible tie them to the mounting cages where the CD/DVD drives and the hard drives are.
3. Give it room to breath
Another thing I see people doing all the time is tucking their computers away in cabinets on the desk. This is something that you have to be careful with so you give it enough space for air to flow. A lot of times people or the desk does not allow enough room on the sides to allow proper ventilation. Make sure that you give at least 4 or 5 inches on the side where the vent or fans are. If the back is completely blocked off or just has a hole for the cords to go through, then get your saw-you have a new project! You may want to consider adding an extra fan inside your computer. Just remember, air flow is a necessity for the longevity of you computer.
4. Use external storage
If your hard drive is starting to become full then you can add one of these external hard drives to your system to save your pictures, music, movies and other files to that may be taking up a significant amount of space. When you free up this space the hard drives read times are faster and it reduces the workload on the hard drive, not to mention you also completed one step of backing up your files. You should always have your important files backed up to 2 different mediums preferably completely away from each other so if your home or business gets robbed or there is a fire, flood or other kind of unfortunate disaster both copies will not be destroyed or stolen. It would be pointless to keep them put away in the same place. Keep one off-site if possible.
If you do not already have an external storage drive such as a external hard drive then it is highly recommended that you do so. They are easy to use, just plug in the USB cable to your computer and your ready to go. You can find them pretty cheap now days online at newegg.com starting around $70. Seagate and Western Digital are 2 of the most popular brands so stick with those.
5. Add memory
Adding RAM (memory or Random Access Memory) will also help the longevity to your computer. Think of it this way; you sit at your desk and everything that you use often is sitting on top of your desk whether its your stapler, pen holder, documents that you are reading over calendar and everything else you keep your desk is all causing clutter which makes it harder to find that thing that you are looking for. But now if that desk had more room it would be easier to spot the item that you are looking for. Memory works similar to this analogy in the way that the less amount of RAM you have the more cluttered it is and the more time it takes to access information from it. The more RAM you have the less work it performs and again it reduces the workload.
Here is a rule of thumb for the average user; if you are running XP have at least 1gb of RAM. Windows Vista and Windows 7 systems will require at least 2gb of RAM preferably 3gb.
If you follow these steps you will have fewer problems to deal with and also extend the life of your computer. These steps are not that difficult to do and you will feel better to know that your computer is taken care of.