Computers are big investments. Like any expense, it makes sense to get the most use out of your computer. Keeping your hardware humming for a few more years will mean good things for your finances and your sanity. Here are eight ideas to help your computer stay healthy and last longer.

1. Keep it Covered and Clean

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Dust and dirt are your worst nightmare. One of the best ways to keep your computer running over the long term is to keep it clean. Dust and pet hair can gum up the gears and cause issues in functioning. Remember to clean your computer and keep it covered when not in use to prevent dust and dirt from getting into the inner components. Use canned air to remove debris, especially from fans. If fans get clogged with too much dirt, they can slow down and not remove the heat from the computer, causing a melt down much earlier. Clean your screen with screen cleaner, never window cleaner, as the ammonia will dull the screen. Also, don’t eat food or place drinks next to your computer for the same reasons. One accident can have serious consequences.

2. Keep it Cool

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Heat also causes many issues. Your CPU and graphics card can get so hot, they can cook. The computer generates heat when it’s running. When you combine that with ambient room temperature, your computer works harder and slows down. Try to put your computer in a clean room that stays cool and out of the sun. Provide proper air flow and don’t place anything in front of the fans on your PC. Again, clean your CPU fans to ensure they run smoothly and move heat out of the computer. You can also add extra fans to your PC or use a cooling stand for your laptop.

3. Keep it Current

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While those updates may seem like a pain when you’re trying to get work done, they are necessary maintenance for your system. If you have an Apple computer, the updates will not only update your computer, but also defrag the system. If you have a PC, you will need to do defrag and disk clean up manually (at least once per month). You can set it to run during the night so it doesn’t interfere with your work. Also, if you have a PC, keep your antivirus software updated.

4. Don’t Jostle It

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While the computer is running, it’s a good idea not to move it. If you have a laptop, remember not to jostle or move it more than needed. Be gentle. Too much movement can damage the moving pieces and cause issue later. Also, if you have a laptop, hold it at it’s base, never by the screen, and use both hands. When traveling with a laptop, invest in a padded case.

5. Surge Protector

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Make sure your protect your computer with a surge protector to prevent frying your hard drive. Also, during storms, unplug the computer as an additional precaution. It just takes one hot surge shot, and you’re going computer shopping again.

6. Make Sure You Have Enough RAM and Hard Drive Space

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Your RAM (random access memory used for active programs) and your hard drive (used for things you store like videos, documents, and pictures) should be at the right levels to meet your needs. If you got a good deal on a computer, it’s likely they gave you the bare minimum of memory and hard drive space. You can upgrade memory fairly easily, and your computer will run faster and last longer.

7. Solid State Drives Are an Affordable Upgrade to Increase Longevity

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One of the best ways to refresh a computer and lengthen its life is to replace the hard drive with a solid state drive. The new solid state drives are becoming more affordable now. They have no moving parts and run much cooler than standard disk drives. They also will increase your start-up speed, and you will notice a must faster response in your computer overall.

8. Don’t Treat Your Computer Like a Light Switch

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Unless you have to keep your computer running all the time, you may want to turn your computer off when not in use to save on power costs. Turning it off once per day (like at night) is fine. However, continually powering it on and off multiple times per day stresses the components as you are changing the temperature inside the system, causing the hardware to contract and expand. Try to limit this stress. Your system will last longer.

Just like a car, when you perform routine maintenance and treat your computer with care, you will most likely squeeze a few extra years out of the system. When you consider the cost of computers, it makes sense to invest in a few additional efforts to stretch your money farther and gain additional quality and quantity from your system.

Computers can be fickle things: The Easy Computer Maintenance Kit

Featured photo credit: Quality via Flickr

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