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Extend Your Laptop’s Life

Extend Your Laptop's LifeDon’t give up on your old, slow notebook just yet. With a few of ricks, you may be able to drive it right up until the wheels fall off, In recent years, notebook prices have dropped considerably but they’re still expensive pieces of equipment. For most users, shopping for a new machine every year or two just isn’t an option. It makes sense to wring as much life as possible from your current notebook, to get the best possible return on your investment whether it’s $500 or $2,500. Fortunately, with judicious settings and a few accessories, you can significantly extend the life of your laptop.

Keep It Cool
The hotter your notebook runs, the more likely it is to suffer some kind of component failure. And if you routinely plop down on a bed or couch with a pillow as your table, you may be blocking the machine’s air vents thereby causing it to run even hotter. Although there’s not much you can do to cool a notebook from within, you can definitely tackle the problem from without. Start with a cooling pad, which draws heat away from the system (and your thighs) via two or more USB-powered fans. For around $30, your notebook’s internal fans won’t have to run as long or as often, so you’ll be extending their lifespan.

But don’t neglect to give your fans direct attention, compressed air to blast the dust from your entire notebook’s air Vents once a month or so, to allow the fans to operate at peak efficiency.

Opt for SSD
In any computer, the hard drive is an Achilles’ heel, what with all those tiny platters, read write heads, and other moving parts. A single knock or drop can put a drive out of commission. And of course, standard

Hard drives generate quite a bit of heat. A solid-state drive or SSD, built with non-volatile flash memory, these Drives have no moving parts, meaning they generate significantly less heat. They’re also much less susceptible to shock, vibration, and extreme temperatures. Look for an SSD the next time you’re shopping for a new notebook, or get proactive and swap one into your current machine. Be aware that SSDs currently come at a premium and have lower storage capacity. Cost around $15 per gigabyte and top out at 128GM, by contrast, hard drives sell for about 50 cents per gig and top out at half a terabyte. Those numbers should fall and rise, respectively, as production and demand increase.

Carry it like an Egg
You know the drill, you finally make it to your hotel room after a hellish day of travel, trade shows, or whatever, and the first thing you do is pitch your laptop bag onto the bed where it promptly bounces onto the floor, was that crack? To reduce the risk of klutz-propelled damage, choose a bag that affords maximum protection. Offers a line of cases equipped with its dome protection system, combining padded sidewalls with air protection technology to safeguard the notebook’s screen, sides, and corners.

If you want something a little more stylish, which includes a pull-nut padded pouch that fits notebooks up to 15 inches? Of course, just about any carry-on will do, as long as it has a cushioned compartment.

When carrying your laptop sans bag, avoid stressing the case. Don’t hold it by the corners; use the sides or middle of the laptop. I’ve seen plenty of cases crack after careless handling eventually leading to damaged internal parts

Battery
One of life’s certainties, up there with death and taxes, is that your battery will wear out over time. How much time depends on how well you care for it? According to Russ

Reynolds of Batteries Plus, a typical note hook battery lasts for around 500 charges! Discharge cycles-between 18 months and three years of normal use. To get as close as possible to the latter number, remove the battery whenever your notebook is plugged into an outlet (as when you’re working at the office or the local coffee shop). If you leave it in, the AC power could cause the battery to overheat and overcharge the most common cause of pre mature failure, when running on battery power, use your machine until you get a low-battery warning, then let the battery recharge fully. That’ll keep the total number of recharges (remember, you get only about 500) to a minimum, recommends storing both your notebook and its battery in cool. Dry, well-ventilated locations, as hot environments can also diminish battery longevity.

Standby mode lets us start up and shut down our laptops in a matter of seconds rather than minutes. However, Standby consumes a smidges of power, meaning your battery slowly continues to drain even while the notebook is “off.” Consequently, you burn through its fixed number of charge/discharge cycles that much faster. Avoid this trap by using Hibernate mode instead; it preserves your notebook’s current state by writing it to the hard drive as a file-one that requires no power. When you restart the system, Hibernate simply loads the file, returning you to where you left off just like Standby. It takes a few extra seconds to use Hibernate, but it’s as friendly to your battery as shutting down entirely.

Reformat the Hard Drive
I’ve heard friends and family members ask, should I buy a new computer? My old one’s running really slow. It’s slow because over time, Windows gets bogged down by the digital equivalent of cholesterol; orphaned files, left over Registry entries, and possibly even spyware and viruses. Fortunately, you can unclog the OS arteries by reformatting the hard drive and reinstalling Windows. It’s a bold and time consuming step, hut it will leave you with a zippy, healthy machine-perhaps not quite as quick as the day you unboxed it, but a good deal less sluggish than pre-reformat.

In most cases, you can perform this surgery using the PC manufacturer’s system restore CD-just boot it and follow the step-by-step instructions. Before you do, however, make sure to offload all your documents, e-mail, browser bookmarks, and other critical data to a network drive, external drive or optical discs (CD or DVD), you can’t just clone your hard drive and restore it after the system wipe; it would restore all the problems you had before. Instead, use a backup utility like the Genie Backup Manager Pro 8.0 to archive your files and settings to any o f the aforementioned destinations. Then, after completing the system-restore process, reinstall your apps and restore your data, your old, slow system is like new again, and should last a lot longer as a result.

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