For small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), computers are a big investment, which is why many of them keep using the same machines for years on end. However, like all technologies, computers are not designed to last forever. For instance, the average PC life span is about three to five years. Even if computers are properly used and maintained, there will come a time when they will just stop working.
Fortunately, there are plenty of measures that SMBs like yours can take to prolong the life of your computers — and kicking the following bad habits is just one of them.
Letting computers overheat
Overheating is one of the common reasons for the early demise of both desktops and laptops. It slows down the processor and damages other internal components. Desktop and laptop computers come with internal fans to keep air moving through the components inside, but the fans need enough airflow to be effective.
To ensure adequate airflow, keep your machines out of tight spaces where heat can get trapped. If possible, use an external fan to draw hot air away from computers and increase air circulation.
Another way to prevent overheating is by placing computers on a flat surface. Of course, this is a no-brainer if you’re using a desktop. But if you have a laptop, you have to mind where you set it up, especially if you’re working from home. Don’t put your laptop on soft, plush surfaces or objects, like a couch cushion or even your lap, as these can block the air vents and cause your laptop to overheat. When possible, work at your desk or at a table, or get a lap desk so you can work in bed or even on the floor.
Neglecting to clean computers
The accumulation of dust, dirt, and debris also contributes to overheating in computers. As such, you should make it a habit to clean your device inside and out regularly. At least once a week, wipe down the outside surfaces of your desktop or laptop. A soft, dry piece of cloth (preferably a microfiber one) will suffice, but you could also dampen it with a few drops of distilled water.
To remove tough prints and smudges from the screen, use a cleaning fluid specifically for computer monitors, which you can easily purchase from a computer supplies store. Skip regular household cleaning agents, as these may contain chemicals that can harm the screen and other parts of your computer.
You should also clean your keyboard once a week. Start by turning it over (being extra careful with a laptop) and gently patting it to dislodge dust and any debris. Run a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol around the keys to remove dust; this will also help keep the keys from sticking or falling out.
Finally, deep clean your computer every three to six months. This task involves opening your PC case so you can really get into every dust-covered nook and cranny. Use a can of compressed air and a piece of lint-free/microfiber cloth to blow and wipe away the dust, paying special attention to crevices and corners where dust tends to accumulate. Clean the blades of the internal fans individually. When you’re done, put everything back together.
After all the trouble you went through to get your computer spotlessly clean, do what you can to keep it that way. This includes keeping stuff from getting into your computer in the first place. You can do this by not eating and drinking in front of your device, and keeping your workspace dust-free. You can also opt to use keyboard covers such as those many laptop users have.
Disregarding electrical safety
A power outage will not usually damage computers. But if it’s followed by a power surge — a small, temporary increase in voltage when the power comes back on — your computer’s motherboard and hard drive can be damaged. Worse, if the spike in voltage fries your power supply, your computer might not turn back on.
Invest in a high-quality surge protector to ensure that your desktop or laptop will not be damaged by sudden spikes in voltage. You should also consider getting an uninterruptible power supply (UPS). A UPS has a battery backup that gives your computer enough power to keep running for a few minutes after an outage. This gives you the chance to shut down your computer properly and thus prevent electrical damage and data loss in case a power surge occurs.
Using a damaged power cable can also ruin your desktop or laptop. A spike in power causes the wires in the damaged cable and the metal components in your computer to heat up. As heat builds up in the device, the chance of combustion increases. This could result in a fire that may destroy not just your PC but also your home or office.
Not practicing basic cybersecurity measures
Viruses and malware don’t cause physical damage to computers, but they can cause issues that take a toll on computers’ systems. To avoid such problems, install antivirus and anti-malware software on each of your business’s computers, and make sure to keep them updated. Also, make it a point to update your operating system (OS); Microsoft regularly deploys updates and patches to fix Windows 10 vulnerabilities that hackers could exploit to attack your computers and network. If you’re still using an older OS like Windows 7, it’s recommended that you upgrade or replace it with Windows 10 immediately.
Regular cybersecurity awareness training for you and your staff will also help safeguard your business against known and emerging cyberthreats. Learning about the various threats out there can help your team make better decisions that will ensure your organization’s safety from even the most insidious attacks.
Using third-party registry cleaning apps
If you’re experiencing a dip in your PC’s performance, you may be tempted to use one of the many registry cleaning apps available online to tidy up your hard drive. However, most of these apps don’t work; instead of cleaning up your hard drive, they just use up a large chunk of your device’s memory, causing your desktop or laptop to slow down further. They may also delete a registry entry that you actually need, which can lead to problems with your system.
A safer, better way to fix a laggy computer is to clean up your hard drive using Windows’ built-in Disk Cleanup feature. Use it to delete temporary, cache, and log files created by your device’s OS and other programs, as well as any files you no longer need (e.g., old documents, images, videos). Not only will this help speed up your computer’s performance a little, but it will also make free up space for other, more important files.
Quicktech can help your Vancouver SMB build good habits that will not only prolong your computers’ lifespan, but also improve their performance. To learn more about our top-notch managed IT services, give us a call at 604-709-8324.