Just like your automobile, 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 converns for hardware, and one of the simpler ones for users to minimize or prevent in the first place. Between the small moving parts and electrical currents running through everything, the inside of your computer can heat up quite a bit, causing damage to every piece of your system. The first thing to do is to monitor your desktop’s temperature. If it feels hot to the touch (not just warm) or the temperature increases significantly over time, you may need to do something about it. All computers have small fans to help get rid of the heat that builds up inside the case; in a computer that’s overheating, these may be broken or just not powerful enough. You can replace these fans (called heat sinks) yourself, or hire a professional to do it for you. You can also cut down on overheating issues by not pushing your desktop past its capabilities (overclocking) and checking periodically that the vents are unobstructed.
Another straightforward 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 build up. While typically harmless, large piles of dust can damage moving parts or block the vents for the heat sinks. The best solution is to periodically open up the case of your computer and use â€œcanned airâ€ 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 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 most frequently damaged when food and other bits of debris get stuck in the spaces between and beneath the keys. To reduce the risk don’t eat at the computer, or put your keyboard away 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 out fully before checking if it is still working (this will cut down on the risk of damage).
One great way to protect your computer involves 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 normal power strip, you can use a surge protector or a universal power supply to protect your computer from power outages and power spikes. These two issues cause a enormous amount of hardware destruction and data loss every year. It’s vital to get a universal power supply that has enough voltage to run your entire system in order to get the full benefit. It may be wise to consult with a professional about your power needs if you choose that product. A surge protector doesn’t provide the same protection for your data in the event of a power outage, but is less expensive and provides needed protection for your hardware.
Gregg Housh holds the position of Technician Manager at Geek Choice. At Geek Choice we fix computer problems such as: Slow Computer, Virus Removal, Spyware Removal, Computer startup problems, Printer not printing, Not connecting to the Internet, Scanner not working, or the “blue screen of death.”