Desktop/Laptop PC Care

PCs including desktop and laptop types can cost some money when you consider you first make the PC purchase, then the printer, and possibly a larger computer desk or chair. If you have a laptop, besides the items already mentioned, you will certainly need a quality laptop case for it too, right? It only makes sense to protect the thing that you have spent several hundred dollars on, and providing you don't have a run of bad luck, if you follow the following PC tips, you should get years of good service. 

Desktop Tips

The following are great tips for keeping your desktop PC in good shape as well as prolonging its life:
  • Always keep your PC plugged in to a good quality surge suppressor. One bad voltage transient and it could render your computer inoperable.
  • If you're a smoker, do not smoke around the PC.  Smoking around the PC will leave a residue on the circuit boards that can cause overheating of parts and eventually can cause various parts to fail. Dirt and dust are also primary enemies of a PC's overall health. 
  • If your PC is past its warranty period and you're comfortable opening the case, clean the inside of dirt and dust by using a can of compressed air or an antistatic portable vacuum specifically made for PCs.  Concentrate on cleaning around the fans and the case vents. Make sure you clean off the motherboard of any dirt and dust displaced by the cleaning process of the other areas. You should clean the inside of the PC every few months and if you're a heavy user or live in a dusty area, clean it once a month.
  • If you feel uncomfortable about cleaning the inside of your PC, take it to a computer shop and have them clean it. It may cost you a few dollars but the long-term effect on your PCs longevity will be positive. 
  • Regularly clean or replace your home's air system filter. 
  • When cleaning your monitor screen, never use a standard household cleaner or glass cleaner. You should only use screen wipes or a special screen solution formulated specifically for monitor screens. They are available at a computer store or a home office store.
  • Pull the power cord from the electrical outlet during an electrical storm to avoid high-voltage spikes damaging the PC.

Laptop Tips

The following are great tips for keeping your laptop PC in good shape as well as prolonging its life:

  • Only use approved battery packs
  • Never tightly pack a laptop in a suitcase. The pressure may damage the LCD screen. 
  • Never place heavy objects on top of a laptop.
  • Never pick up a laptop by the LCD screen.
  • Do not put the laptop close to TV, large speakers, refrigerator, or any other appliance that generates a strong magnetic field. 
  • Only use an approved cleaning solution on the LCD screen. Do not use a regular household cleaner or glass cleaner. Generally, it is acceptable to clean the screen with distilled water, which will not leave a mineral deposit residue. Alway power-off the laptop before cleaning.
  • Do not leave the battery inside the laptop for a long period of time unused.
  • Do not expose the laptop to sunlight for an extended period of time.
  • If the laptop ever gets wet on the inside, immediately power it off and give it several days to dry before attempting to use it again. 
  • Use a power plug strip with a good surge suppressor built into it. 

It's pretty clear to see that extending your PC's life isn't just about what to do, but it's also about what not to do as well. Please keep this thought in mind about PC warranties. Except for high end PCs, it is not necessary to buy an extended warranty.  Please check out the article I wrote about Manufacturer and Extended Warranties for more details. Adhere to a few basics I've mentioned here and your PC will last you for years. Then you can save the money you would have spent on an extended warranty for something more important. Good luck with your computing!

How to Shop for a PC Surge Suppressor

Several years ago, my PC's external modem was fried during a storm while I was away. I did not have the modem plugged in to a surge suppressor. Luckily, nothing else was damaged from the storm. Since then, I've always made it a point to have a good surge suppressor for my PC. There are numerous other situations that can be very dangerous to your PC as well. Your local power grid can have fluctuations, or your neighborhood could be going through a power line replacement, causing power transients to occur. Knowing you have a good surge suppressor will tame your fears and give you the confidence that everything will be okay. Consider a surge suppressor as an inexpensive PC life insurance policy. Let's talk about what constitutes a good surge suppressor, hopefully without getting too geeky. To ascertain whether a suppressor is good enough to do the job, here's some good basic guidelines that will ensure you have adequate protection for your system. You should be able to verify these items either on the surge suppressor itself or on the packaging.

Important Shopping Considerations

 

  • Joules rating: A joule is a measure of energy and the joules rating is the amount of joules the suppressor can consume before it's unable to continue protecting your equipment. Suppressors are usually rated from 200 joules to thousands; the higher the rating it has, the better it is. You should look for a rating above 600 joules.
  • Protection reaction time: 1 to 2 nanoseconds is sufficiently quick enough for the surge suppressor to react in time to the surge.
  • Clamping voltage (let-through voltage): This is the voltage at which the suppressor kicks into gear. A clamping voltage of 330 volts or above is acceptable. The PC's power supply handles the numerous lower voltage spikes in the line, allowing the suppressor to deal with only the large spikes and surges.
  • RJ-11 jacks: If you use a phone line, whether it's DSL for your Internet, a Voice Over IP phone, a fax machine, or some other device that is part of your PC system, they connect to the suppressor through a RJ-11 phone jack. 
  • Protection status indicator lights: I'm not referring to the on/off power indicator. Your protection circuitry could be blown and the power light will still illuminate if the fuse is intact. You won't know if the last storm finished off your suppressor's protection circuitry unless it has a separate indicator light showing you the suppressor's protection is still there and functioning properly.
  • Warranty for equipment involved: The manufacturer should have warranty replacement coverage of any equipment of yours that could be damaged through a defective suppressor, which shows their faith in their product. Make sure you understand the terms of the warranty, including the coverage amount.
  • Meets the UL 1449 standard: Many electrical devices today show the standard UL seal on it, signifying it has met the Underwriters Lab criteria for minimum safety standards. However, it's important to verify that this seal on the suppressor state that it's for transient voltages, which means it meets the UL 1449 standard for surge suppression. 

 

You Get What You Pay For

A couple of important closing considerations include remembering that even the best surge suppressor is not perfect at protection. During an electrical storm, you should always unplug your PC from the outlet. And always have the data on your active hard drive backed up onto a separate storage device, such as a CD, DVD, external hard drive, or a thumb drive. When you're shopping for a surge suppressor, this is an area where it's a big temptation to go cheap. And you'll find a lot of cheap stuff out there. You should spend some decent money on a surge suppressor, and $50 is not too much to spend for one. Many popular retail outlets that specialize with in-home electronics offer decent surge suppressors. Remember that some manufacturers call the device a surge protector, rather than a surge suppressor. They are the same item. Follow the above checklist and remember that you get what you pay for. It does not have to be an electrifying experience!

 You can get many more useful tips on caring for your PC by viewing it here.