Today’s computers come in many different shapes and sizes, and each keeps us connected to our digital world at any given time. Whether you depend on your collection of devices for work or play, keeping them in an impeccable and unblemished condition is of the utmost importance. From their cosmetic appeal to their operational functionality, a well-maintained computer looks good, lasts longer, and performs reliably.
Keeping your PC in tip-top condition lengthens the life of your PC, both internally and externally. A glitchy operating system, overheating CPU, or fast-draining battery are avoidable computer woes that a bit of regular computer care and maintenance could defend against. Let’s take a look at these 10 essential PC and laptop maintenance tips, so your device will see many more years of powerful performance and sleek appeal.
Everyone has been there; drops, bumps, and slips result in unsightly cosmetic dings that leave your computer looking less-than-loved. If you’re like most people who travel with their PC, safeguarding against accidents can feel next to impossible when packing your PC away into a carry-on. An exposed laptop is vulnerable to all of the elements of travel you likely want to protect it from.
Whether you’re travelling business class or to a classroom across campus, shielding your PC against the elements starts with a protective case. There are a few different styles of protection that offer differing levels of armour and functionality. These include:
Functioning as a full-body laptop sticker, laptop skins are best for protecting the chassis from light damage and scratches.
Polycarbonate, plastic, or rubberised hard shell laptop covers protect your PC while still granting easy access to ports, buttons, lights, and fans.
A simple, soft, envelope-style pouch typically made of gentle materials like nylon, polyester, suede, or microfiber, laptop sleeves are lightweight protection.
A shoulder bag specifically designed to accommodate your laptop and necessary peripherals, the dedicated laptop messenger bag offers the most padded protection.
The only thing more frustrating than dealing with long, confusing cables is getting them all mixed up and tangled in the process. Keeping your digital world connected is a must, so nixing the cables isn’t a feasible option. Taking the time to declutter and organise the snake-like mass of wires spawning from your power strip and PC ports is a great first step for both desktop and laptop users. Try these wire organisation tips:
Traditional power strips offer a single line or panel of surge inputs. A rotating power strip gives you the freedom to modify the positioning of your many chargers, monitors, and docks.
Computer cables tend to be in two colours; black and white. Organising your mess of wires may be as simple as colour coding them with reds, blues, yellows, greens, and or using labels indistinguishable hues.
Wire management is made simple when you attach cable clips to your desk, wall, or floor. These small clips are designed to hold cables of all different sizes.
Functioning as a panel of cable clips, a wire organiser panel accommodates multiple wires. Stick it in place with an adhesive or keep it desk-side when you use a weighted panel.
Pro tip: Be sure to keep your wires away from any footpaths. Tripping over wires could result in the toppling of your devices, doing more damage in an instant than years of use could ever do.
If you’re looking for basic computer maintenance, keeping your operating system up to date is one of the easiest solutions. Regardless of whether you’re a Windows, Mac, or Linux loyalist, updating your PC when new patches are available ensures your PC stays at the cutting-edge of performance power.
Windows 10 is known for keeping users in tune with once-a-day update checks. This automated scan occurs in the background and always notifies you if there are any important software or operating system patches that need to be made. The end goal is to optimise your PC performance, so when Windows suggests you update, you should do it.
Pro-tip: Some updates take longer than others. Set aside time before bedtime or during a daytime break to let Windows do its thing without interrupting your workflow.
Computer care and maintenance start with good charging habits. With heightened dependence on wireless devices, optimizing battery power is a top priority for many. There are few things more dreadful than a draining battery when you’ve got hours of work and play left on your day’s schedule. However, it’s better to resist the temptation of plugging at the moment your PC falls under 50% battery life.
Unnecessary charging can lead to overcharging, which then leads to regenerative capability deterioration. This often looks like a laptop that can’t hold a charge as well as it could in its earlier days.
Being shackled to the weight of a charger defeats the purpose of a laptop’s wireless portability. To avoid a bad battery fate, unplug your device after it reaches 100% charge, and don’t plug in until power is low.
Computers tend to show their age best in the number of unused files living on their hard drives. Useless programs and old junk files likely take up more space than you realise. From old versions of software to retired versions of your resume, your PC is sure to have its fair share of digital debris festering on your desktop or in your start menu. These programs and files can quickly turn into performance hogs if they continue to accumulate.
Before your computer gets to a point where it’s begging for more storage space, use these PC purge tips to relieve your system.
Malware attacks can sneak up on you at any given moment, and in the event, one does, having a savvy antivirus living on your PC will protect you against the damage viruses bring. Weekly antivirus scans ensure your computer is always clear of malicious software infections. A basic scan will examine your computer for any glaring dangers or outstanding activity.
For those who are frequent web users and download programs and files regularly, consider running a virus scan twice a week. It’s always better to err on the side of safety, especially when your data could be at risk.
Malware infections can compromise the performance of your computer and expose your confidential information to third-party cybercriminals. Depending on the type of malware installed on your system, a virus could also:
By running regular antivirus scans, you can rest assured that nothing slips by. Be sure to choose an antivirus scan servicer that also scans all of your downloads, too.
You’d be surprised to see just how much dust and debris lives underneath your keyboard’s keys. From food crumbs and dog hairs to dust and dirt, and everything else that can fit in between the keys, a number of dirty particles can clog your keyboard. This usually results in sticky or difficult-to-press buttons.
Clearing out these hard-to-reach parts of your laptop or desktop setup is most easily done with a compressed air canister, available from office supply stores, computer stores, and hardware stores.
Unplug the keyboard from the USB port or power it off if it’s wireless. Tilt the keyboard upside down and shake any loose debris out first. Spray compressed air at an angle and approximately 1-inch away from the keys. Use a damp microfiber cloth to finish the job, removing any excess dust or grime.
If you are looking for some easy laptop maintenance tips, start here: Power your laptop off and unplug any USB or power supply inputs. Tilt the laptop upside down and gently tap it to encourage any loose debris to come out. Set the laptop down in its natural position and spray between keys from about 1-inch away. Spray in short bursts moving from one side of the keyboard to the other.
If you find certain spots tougher to clean than others, use a cotton ball dipped in isopropyl alcohol as a great alternative. Alcohol evaporates more quickly than water which makes it the perfect solution for hardened debris.
Pro-tip: When cleaning your laptop or desktop, absolutely avoid pouring any type of liquid onto the body. Water and electronic devices do not mix well and could result in extreme damage to your computer.
Believe it or not, updating your passwords is a task as crucial as backing up your data if you want to keep on top of your pc or laptop maintenance. Verizon’s 2017 Data Breach Investigations Report found that an alarming 81% of hacking-related breaches leveraged either stolen and/or weak passwords. Poor password behaviour encompasses everything from using the same password for every account to using simple, guessable passwords like “password” or “123456.”
When it comes to basic computer maintenance, protecting your digital world against cybercriminals should always be at the forefront of your task list. No security system is perfect, and more today than ever before, consumers are realizing this on a large scale.
If you’re overdue for a password update, consider using these strong password generation tips:
A strong password safeguards all of your data against potential third-party hackers, which is precisely why it’s such an essential part of computer maintenance.
Desktop maintenance is important and starts with simple steps. It’s easy to let your computer’s data organisation run awry when your work and play lifestyle doesn’t leave much time for calculated file management. Whether it’s old music files from your garage band days or downloaded add-ons for your favourite simulation game, your PC’s many folders can grow crowded.
If you can’t remember the last time you took a look through your downloads folder, you’re likely overdue for a visit. The same applies to the rest of your default folders (documents, photos, etc.).
Dealing with a cluttered desktop or crowded computer folders may be a daunting task, but with these tips and tricks, you’ll be well on your way to a functioning system of files and folders.
Everyone uses their computers for different primary purposes. A freelance writer will likely have completely different main folder assignments than a professional gamer or a business owner. It’s important to narrow down your digital world into easy folder divisions to make your first round of organisation a breeze and your future rounds even easier.
Within your larger primary folders, smaller sub-folders make your organisation's operation even smoother. Being able to categorise files by their functionality or content will help you access them whenever you need them. No search button is necessary.
Your downloads folder should function as a temporary cache for recently downloaded files. Get into the habit of placing recent downloads in their proper folders or deleting them once they’ve served their purpose.
When you power on your computer and saddle up for your day’s work or some light social media browsing, you want to be able to do so without the stress of clutter. Clear your desktop of any files, folders, or programs you don’t need readily available at every power-on.
If you’re frequently saving images, PDFs, and other common files, you know how easy it is to type in gibberish for a successful “Save As” operation. Instead of rushing through, take the time to come up with intentional file names, so you always know what’s living on your hard drive and where it’s located.
Part of owning a modern computer is to prepare for the unexpected. Sudden crashes, untimely glitches, and random hardware failures all have the potential to damage the data living on your PC. Backing up files is one of the most vital computer maintenance procedures PC users can do for themselves. That’s why we’ve ranked it at our final spot. Your computer is replaceable, but without a backup, your information is not.
Full backups are usually done on storage-heavy external hard drives and the cloud. By making duplicate copies of everything on your PC (actually having your data in 3 places is safest), all of your valuable data lives both on your computer and inside of the external drive or cloud.
Check out our Knowledge Base guide for a comprehensive walkthrough on how to perform a full backup on your Windows 10 or Windows 8 PC.
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