7 tips to laptop longevity

Over 60% of all new computer sales today are for laptop computers. Even base model laptops are quite powerful. When paired with wireless equipment they've replaced desktop computers in many households. However laptops are fragile pieces of machinery and can only withstand so much when subject to daily use. Although the average lifespan of a laptop is only about 2 years, with some simple changes in habit you may be able to make your laptop last longer.

1) Tip #1: Get a good case and stop "bowling"

The weakest part of your laptop is the folding point between the screen and the body of the machine. Naturally, this is where most laptops experience damage which subsequently lead to expensive repairs. The best protection you can give your laptop during transport is to properly protect this delicate area with a proper laptop carrying case.

Unfortunately not all carrying cases are created equal. Although there are thousands of styles to choose from, fashionable or expensive models may not provide adequate protection for your machine. When shopping for a carrying case, look for one that gives thick, padded protection around the ridge of the laptop. Otherwise each time you set down the laptop case the edge of the computer will bang directly on the hard surface. Do this enough times and you'll be sure to have the laptop at a repair shop in no time. I call this practice "bowling" and it's often the first thing people do when they get home: drop the computer to the ground. This 2-3 foot drop each day, even with the best carrying case will damage your machine.

2) Tip #2: Be careful of how you close the screen

Most people close their laptop screen, put it away and don't think much of it. However how you open and close your laptop is vital to your machine's survival. Remember your laptop's weakest point? Opening and closing the screen from the right or left corner each time puts strain on the entire display and hinges. Pretty soon your laptop may get a floppy display and the connections between the screen and the motherboard could get broken. The solution to this problem is simpler than you think. Either open and close your laptop using two hands or from the middle of the display. Doing this applies even stress to your screen and hinges and can help avoid an expensive repair bill.

3) Tip #3: Be careful of liquids

A sure way to damage any electronic device is to spill liquid onto it. Even a few drops could short out a laptop's motherboard, a repair that could set you back over $500. If you do frequently keep drinks around your laptop, try to consume bottled liquids and keep the cap on. If that's not possible then keep your cup at least 2 feet from your laptop. That way if there's a spill, it gives you a few seconds to move the laptop to safety.

4) Tip #4: Watch the heat

A sure way to cut down the lifespan of your laptop to one year or less is to use it on an unventilated surface like a bed or carpet. Laptops breathe using fans at the side and bottom of the machine. Cover these up and the components inside overheat and lost their ability to operate.

5) Tip #5: Watch where you step

If you're one of those people who use their laptops on the ground or have kids that do so, then watch where you step. One of the most fragile parts of the laptop is the place where the power connector plugs into the machine. This connector is a part of the motherboard so be careful when walking nearby a laptop on the ground. One wrong step and this connector can be broken off. Often the break is so severe that a new motherboard is needed to repair the machine and could cost you hundreds.

6) Tip #6: Take your time at the airport

Last year Dell commissioned a research company to conduct a survey on laptops lost at airports (article: http://tinyurl.com/5vjpko). What was found is that over 12,000 laptop are lost at airports each week and over 65% are never reclaimed. They are usually left at security checkpoints by people running late for a flight. So here's the tip: If you do plan to travel with a laptop then try and give yourself ample time to pass through security and pay attention to where your laptop is at all times. If you are running late to a flight then be aware that you have a greater chance of leaving your laptop behind, so be aware and keep it close.

7) Tip #7: Purchase accidental damage protection with your laptop

Regardless of how careful a person you are, accidents happen. Laptops fall off counter tops, get beer spilled on them at parties and get full of sand from the beach or the battlefield. Laptop repairs can be surprisingly costly, so a warranty which covers accidental damage is well worth the money. The cost of a warranty varies depending on the price of the laptop itself but the cost is usually far less than replacing a broken display or motherboard. Best Buy even offers accidental damage on Apple laptops, something that is not available even at the Apple store. The general rule of thumb with accidental damage protection is that it's best to purchase it on all portable electronic items with moving parts. This includes laptops, iPods and digital cameras.

Hopefully these tips can help save your laptop from the graveyard. Taking good care of your electronics usually result in years of dependable service. Your laptop is no exception.