Tak­ing care of your com­puter

Not many can do with­out a com­puter in to­day’s busy world, but how many com­puter own­ers are con­scious of the ex­tra ef­fort needed to take care of their com­put­ers, desk­top or a lap­top?

Malta Independent - - ENEWS & TECH - Ryan Mintoff works at Deloitte Malta in In­for­ma­tion Tech­nol­ogy and Se­cu­rity. For more in­for­ma­tion, please visit www.deloitte.com/mt Ryan Mintoff

Since a lap­top is a ‘mo­bile’ de­vice, it is more at risk of be­ing dam­aged than a sta­tionery desk­top. Nev­er­the­less, we still should still make an ex­tra ef­fort to take care of any kind of com­puter we own.

When it comes to desk­top com­put­ers, there are few things that can be done. One of the most im­por­tant things is to in­stall a UPS/Surge pro­tec­tor. A power fail­ure can cause prob­lems to the com­po­nents of a Hard Disk - even though newer gen­er­a­tion of Hard Disks are more re­silient, they still can be­come cor­rupted by sud­den power loss. A UPS will give you some time to be able to switch off your desk­top in case of a power loss. A surge pro­tec­tor will pro­tect against a sud­den surge of cur­rent and pro­tect you against the ef­fects of thun­der, even though it is al­ways ad­vis­able to com­pletely dis­con­nect any de­vice from its elec­tri­cal socket in case of thun­der in the area.

Be sure to place your desk­top in a well ven­ti­lated area and to avoid plac­ing it di­rectly on the floor or in dusty en­vi­ron­ments. A com­puter needs a well ven­ti­lated area to be able to dis­si­pate heat. Heat is one of the worst en­e­mies for any de­vice. If there is no ven­ti­la­tion, a com­puter starts heat­ing up and there will be an im­me­di­ately no­tice­able a sharp drop in per­for­mance apart from dam­ages that can be done to the com­po­nents.

Dust is an­other el­e­ment that causes com­put­ers to over­heat. When dust set­tles on a com­puter’s in­ter­nal com­po­nents, it acts like a blan­ket that keeps heat in­side, lead­ing to over­heat­ing – one can think of it like small scale ver­sion of global warm­ing go­ing on in­side a com­puter. Your com­puter should un­dergo main­te­nance at least once a year, which should in­clude the clean­ing of the com­po­nents in­side the desk­top tower/lap­top. You might be sur­prised by what you find next time you have a look in­side a tower.

Lap­tops, on the other hand, are more sus­cep­ti­ble to dam­age since they are portable. A lap­top should al­ways be placed on a sta­ble sur­face in or­der to pro­tect it from sud­den move­ments or the risk of it drop­ping to the floor. Even abrupt move­ments can dam­age me­chan­i­cal Hard Drives so it is ad­vis­able to avoid mov­ing around with a lap­top that is switched on - a lap­top should be put into hi­ber­nate or sleep mode be­fore mov­ing it from one place to an­other. Al­ways place a lap­top in a lap­top bag as that has a bit of cush­ion­ing which help to pro­tect it when trav­el­ling from one place to an­other. At the same time, one should take care not over­load the lap­top bag with un­nec­es­sary items as do­ing so could still put a lap­top at risk. Ad­di­tion­ally, when trav­el­ling by plane, it is ad­vis­able to Re­mem­ber to place a lap­top in hand lug­gage as it would be risky to place it in a lug­gage that will be heavy han­dled on its way to the lug­gage hold.

Food and drinks should al­ways be kept well away from a lap­top. It is never a good idea to leave a cup of tea, cof­fee or wa­ter close to a lap­top as ac­ci­dents can hap­pen any time. Liq­uid spillage is an all too com­mon oc­cur­rence with lap­tops and few sur­vive this seem­ingly avoid­able predica­ment. When it comes to food, it has been sci­en­tif­i­cally tested that a com­puter/lap­top key­board is one of the three most un­hy­gienic places in­side a house­hold! One should avoid eat­ing in front of a key­board for many rea­sons then, even if it is just for a healthy break.

One of the big­gest prob­lems with lap­tops is over­heat­ing. Since com­po­nents are crammed into a very tight area within the lap­top case, every­thing can over­heat much faster. One should make ef­forts to avoid block­ing any of the vents around the lap­top case and un­der no cir­cum­stance should a lap­top be placed on a bed or soft sur­face as this will def­i­nitely block the air vents, apart from risk­ing dust and fluff get­ting stuck in the fans, which can de­grade fan per­for­mance lead­ing to over­heat­ing!

Plug­ging in con­nec­tors to any port is an­other area for con­sid­er­a­tion. Ca­bles are de­signed to slide in eas­ily into their slot so if the ca­ble can­not be in­serted ef­fort­lessly then one should not be try­ing to force it as that will risk dam­ag­ing the port. A lap­top screen should also be pro­tected by avoid­ing plac­ing any­thing on top of a closed lap­top and al­ways be­ing sure that there are no items on the key­board when clos­ing the lid. Again, it is wise not to force the lid while clos­ing as there might be for­eign ob­jects that can cause the screen to crack.

Not un­ex­pect­edly, a portable de­vice’s weak­ness is al­ways with its bat­tery. Gone are the days where bat­ter­ies had a sort of mem­ory where we would need to dis­charge and recharge a lap­top fully to com­plete a cy­cle. With to­day’s Lithium-Ion bat­ter­ies, we need to en­sure that they are never al­lowed to drain com­pletely as this would dam­age them. One should con­sider charg­ing the bat­tery when it de­creases down to around 30% charge. If a lap­top is al­ways con­nected to the power, it is a good idea to use the bat­tery a cou­ple of times dur­ing the week. One should never leave a lap­top con­nected to a power source overnight.

The above is es­sen­tially very ba­sic but of­ten over­looked guid­ance that most are al­ready aware of and a lit­tle re­minder ev­ery now and then might be nec­es­sary as we are so used to tak­ing every­thing for granted. Some ad­di­tional care will make sure that com­put­ers and lap­tops can last longer.

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