5 Laptop Maintenance Tips To Extend Its Life Expectancy

Laptops are replaced every few years. We crave fancier hardware, novel features, and maybe our old device has become unresponsive and suffered some damage over time. Consequently, most laptops get thrown out prematurely.

Unless you are looking for a silly excuse to buy a new and shiny device, you will love to hear that there are many ways to make your laptop last longer. Apart from delaying the headache of setting up a new computer and moving all your files over, this will also save you money in the long run. So let’s see what you can do to turn your laptop into an electronic Methuselah.

1: Treat Your Laptop With Care

Laptops can be fragile. I should know; not long ago I broke my laptop screen (and fixed it). Besides this unfortunate accident, I have had my fair share of worn out keyboards, broken power supplies, and failed hard drives. Most components can be easily replaced, but something like a broken hard drive, with all your precious files on it, is a whole different story.

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Some wear and tear can be avoided simply by handling your hardware with care. Next to the display, the hard drive is the most fragile part of your laptop. As Matt writes in his article on how to utterly destroy your laptop, move your laptop gently and try not to move it when the hard drive is performing intensive operations. Your hardware will thank you and last longer.

2: Regularly Clean Your Laptop Hardware

Computers are dirt magnets. Laptop fans seem to accumulate dust better than any vacuum cleaner and apparently keyboards are dirtier than toilet seats. So what do you do? You should give your laptop’s hardware a thorough cleaning every once in a while!

Brushing Laptop Fan   5 Laptop Maintenance Tips To Extend Its Life Expectancy

Cleaning your computer hardware is not just a matter of hygiene. Especially when it comes to internal fans and heat sinks, it also prevents your laptop from overheating. Keeping the hardware cool significantly increases its lifespan.

3: Keep The Operating System Snappy

The most common complaint about old computers is that they are slow. This is only mildly related to age and more likely due to bad maintenance or — as Apple fans will attest to — poor operating system and software design. Fortunately, you can speed up an old installation of Windows and with a few tricks, you can prevent a fresh installation from going stale too quickly. Conveniently, we have articles on how to speed up Windows 7 and make Windows 8 work faster.

windows 8 task manager startup programs   5 Laptop Maintenance Tips To Extend Its Life Expectancy

A lean operating system that responds quickly and doesn’t get in the way of you trying to get work done can go a long way. You won’t worry about the age of your laptop at all.

4: Run Regular Software & Operating System Updates

No operating system or program is perfect. But with every upgrade, issues get patched and new features are added. That’s why you need to run Windows updates and also make sure your installed software is up to date. The latter is not so easy because few software updaters support every program available. Aaron recently reviewed OUTDATEfighter, which can handle both Windows and software updates for you.

Installing and updating software   5 Laptop Maintenance Tips To Extend Its Life Expectancy

If your operating system and your software are always up to date, you reduce the chances of security exploits. If you also run anti-virus and anti-malware scanners and checks, you should be able to keep your computer clean. Less junk and malware will ensure a smooth running system. And why would you fix or replace a perfectly operational system?

5: Upgrade Your Laptop Hardware

To most people, upgrading laptop hardware sounds impossible. But it’s not so difficult to install a bigger hard drive — or better yet a solid state drive (SSD) –, add more RAM, or even put in a new display. When you can pinpoint the exact component that’s slowing you down, chances are there is an easier and cheaper fix than buying a new laptop. Here is a little laptop troubleshooting guide to get you started.

Insert RAM   5 Laptop Maintenance Tips To Extend Its Life Expectancy

A hardware upgrade is a sensible way to fix up an aging laptop. You may be able to squeeze some life out of the device, before your laptop is ready for recycling.

Making Your Laptop Last Is Common Sense

Sure, we all want shiny new things, but what for? Will it improve your life? Will you work more efficiently? Will you be happier? Really? Well, then by all means do buy something new and invest into a quality product that will last you for a long time.

But if you just use your laptop for everyday tasks, then instead of buying a new one, your money would be better invested into an experience that will last longer than the latest fashion. Think about it. What do you really want out of life?

How long do you want your laptop to last and what are you doing to make that happen?

Image credit: Old Thinkpad via Gary Chang on FlickrBrushing Laptop Fan via Shutterstock

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35 Comments -

0 votes

Scapeborglist

Good list, with very endorseable suggestions. Usually, just replacing a conventional hard drive with an SSD will lower power and heat use substantially (up-to-80-percent), extending the life of both the motherboard and the battery. I would also add another suggestion: Keep that older unit running with a version of Linux (such as Ubuntu, Mint, LXLE, etc.). For example, my wife’s HP Mini 110 never ran Windows 7 starter well. It was slow, very limited, crippled really. When the Samsung hard drive failed, it was replaced with a lower-end SSD (given the limits of the netbook architecture, this was the most prudent SSD choice) and LinuxMint 14. A different machine, really, after the hardware and software swap. I predict that this HP Mini 110 has several more years of useful life.

Good article, sound advice.

0 votes

dragonmouth

If you think Linux works wonders for “older” laptops, you should see it on a modern laptop.

0 votes
1 votes

Zhong J

The most intimidating of these tasks are cleaning your laptop’s internally because everyone need to know how to open it especially a laptop and what bothers me the most was how difficult for you to open the keyboards; screws, tiny bolts can be easily lost and may be difficult to remember which goes where.

1 votes

Waldo

I have a pill box, one with 7 compartments, that I use for keeping up with the screws that come out of a laptop. Just label each compartment with a small piece of tape noting where those screws go, and if there are more screws than compartments, small disposable bowls work well. Think Ziploc.

0 votes

Ladybug

Another clever way to overcome that problem of forgetting where the screws and bolts belong – is to take a couple of digital pictures before you disassembly the laptop. It works well for me – having done that many a times on laptops and printers.

0 votes

Zhong J

This morning I opened my HP Pavilion laptop and the first few parts were easy but when you tried to open the keyboard cover, things gets more tricky; the wires and tangles lines restrict your movement and you need to be be careful when pulling any strings that’ll detach if use too much force which isn’t good at all.

The heatsink and the fan was down on top of the circuit board that are attached together. This took me three hours to disassembly and reassembly all the parts, cords, screws, cover. It’s exhausting work and worrisome because my doubts were if some of the hardware was damaged during my process or something won’t work after I unplug it.

There were improvements in cooling after I open up my terminal to see that it’s now 53C instead of 60′s C.

0 votes

El

I use a plastic bottom case for chocolates to put parts and screws in. And I’m trying to put them in the same order as in the comp, things from the right side to the right side etc.

0 votes

Heather S

How can I get the keyboard off? I can’t see a screw anywhere. It looks like I would have to pry it off…where do I start and how hard do I pry?

0 votes

Tina S

Please try to find instructions for your laptop model, Heather. If you cannot find anything online (Google or YouTube), you might get the information through the manufacturer’s website or by contacting them directly.

Typically, there is a screw on the underside of the laptop. You might have to remove the cover on the underside if there are no latches or screws visible at all. But before you apply force, try to find out how this works for your particular model!

0 votes

bob

Dependant on the model of laptop im afraid.
Some are held on by 2-3 small clips at the top which you can pry off 1 by 1 with a small screwdriver and some are held by screws underneath the laptop or under the battery.

If you are unsure then the easiest way is to search it online. i.e. ‘remove keyboard from acer aspire 5742′ and there is usually a guide or even more helpful a video on youtube to help you out.

1 votes

Hari

One important suggestion is to not handle the laptop by its screen. This will almost always result in wearing out the hinge sooner and may cause it to break. I learned this the hard way, so guessing many do the same.

1 votes

ken

There are some fan bases for laptops tha you can put your laptop on.?. I have a 18.4 inch asus laptop thats a desktop replacment. I use an external keyboard and mouse so that i dont wear the laptop itself. I needed this monster because of the type of work i do while i need to be able to travek.

0 votes

Victor H

Great tips, Thank you!

1 votes

Kev Q

I’m a huge advocate of keeping on top of your operating system. When users call me up and say “my computer is slow” it’s usually because they have a tonne of rubbish sat on their machine from the neolithic era!

What I personally do on my machines when I get them is first of all install Linux (of course) then I get all the apps and settings how I like them, before importing all my data. At this point I use Clonezilla to make a full image of the machine just how I like it. Then all I need to do is import all of my data (it’s all in one folder on Google Drive) and I’m good to go.

If the OS then breaks, or if I need to re-install for any reason, I simply have to restore my image, run a system update (takes like 10 minutes in Linux – max) then re-import my Google Drive folder, and it’s job done. I’m usually back in business in under an hour.

Fans on laptop’s clogging up is another common one, so cleaning the innards of your laptop regularly is a must. Great article Tina. :-)

0 votes

Daniel J

Well said! Thanks for the tips

0 votes

Vipul J

Just a question.
I do clean my desktop time to time with a blower, but for the laptop, if I look up and learn how to open the keyboard, would that void my warranty?
If needed, my model is ASUS K53SM-SX010D

1 votes

Tina S

It might void your warranty if you have any left. Check with the manufacturer. Sometimes, screws that cannot be removed without voiding the warranty are sealed. Breaking the seal voids the warranty, so watch out for that.

1 votes

Nahum L

very honest Tina S. “if any left” you put a smile on my face :)

1 votes

pac

and great final gloss, tina

0 votes

TobiH8

I have a three year old Sony VAIO VPCF13E4E and I may need a new one because my fan is VERY loud without doing anything. I have installed a SSD but now it is even louder (but really!! quick).
Is there anything I can do to make it more quiet. I’ve thought about undervolting but there’s no solution for Arch Linux. :-(

0 votes

Tina S

This looks like a question for MakeUseOf Answers. Maybe someone can help you find out what exactly is wrong with the laptop.

Is it loud because the fan is always running at maximum speed? Cleaning the fan and applying fresh thermal paste to improve the CPU’s and GPU’s passive cooling might help. The latter, however, is tricky and should be done by an expert.

0 votes

James F P

If your fan was loud before and louder now that it’s faster as you say, that sounds to me like the fan is shot. I had a HP desktop that had the same problem. I replaced the fan with a new one for a few dollars and no more noise – actually quieter than the original!

1 votes

Scott B

Thanks for this. I just had a friend who has an old Windows laptop with XP on it and was looking to upgrade his hardware by buying another laptop. I’ll show him this and see if this is a better (and cheaper) option for him.

0 votes

Terri C

i have an old dell netbook bought it 4 years ago,refurbished. had it in the desert sand,the tent,and my desk at home,these are great tips some of which i do and some that i don’t -but will. thanks for a great article!

0 votes

Marueru S

Might seem very basic, but I have saved a lot of money in buying new batteries by having my really aged laptop, while close to a power outlet, without the battery and just using the power adaptor. Guess it is helpful for anyone :)

0 votes

Pooky J

That seems to be the same as my 9-year-old ThinkPad, even with Japanese keyboard!

0 votes

Rick

I was wondering if there’s a way to change the fans?

Hey, I found something funny, two posts are from ‘Hari’ & ‘ken’ -> Hariken ha ha!

No offence buddies! It just looks funny. :)

0 votes

Santosh K

i neeed more than this

0 votes

A. Lawrence

Someone beat me to it but don’t keep your battery pluged in if you use AC most of the time. This is a real problem for older Macbooks. Some Linux distros are easier on system resources then Windows. If you don’t have too use Windows try them out. Linux Lite, Debian, Lubuntu and others work fine with a gb or less RAM. A SSD is a great investment for a aging laptop. The laptop fan stands are a cheap way too keep things cool. Even using plastic bottle caps under the computer can help.

It may be tempting to buy budget computers but try to get mid level to better computers or buy last years models. Try and use OEM AC adaptor for your make and model laptop. I mentioned SSD. They have come down in price and great for people on the go. If you are still on XP but your system will work with Windows 7 or 8 consider upgrading. Right now Microsoft has a Windows 8.1 preview for FREE download. There are several FREE programs that monitor the health and tempature of your hard drive. What some makers don’t want you to know is that with proper care a laptop can last for many years. You don’t need more then 2gb of RAM for most programs. Some like Photo Shop require more RAM but most programs do not.

If your budget is limited and you your Windows version was bricked. Consider using Linux.

0 votes

Gary

I read the article as well as comments. Great Idea and some savy thought from lots of folks. Cleaning your lap ie; taking it apart.. A mention of vacuum cleaner dust, ever so true, truly is a magnet somewhere. I just retired from the Over The Road. you think vacuum cleaner dust is bad, trust me, the check is in the mail. NO dust is like Big Truck dust. Even with A/C running all the time. It’s everywhere into anything. So cleaning your laptop is a key thing to life of your equipment
Thanks to all you techies that bring this together.. for us, wish we were as good as you.

0 votes

elaine clarke

Great information we all want the longest life possible for our equipment?

0 votes

Jagdeep Singh Kang

Gathered alot…Thanks…!!!:)

0 votes

James H

I love this article! I plan on keeping my brand-new five year-old ThinkPad W500 and also its Windows 7 OS indefinitely because I believe that they both represent the greatest Machines mankind has ever created. I freak out if my CPU Meter rises above 5%. Also, I only allow three songs to be played on my Machine: the Bob Acri Jazz song, the Ninja Tuna Electronic song, and the Richard Stoltzman Classical song, because these are the only official Microsoft songs that came on my ThinkPad.

0 votes

Nash J

The biggest problem that I have experienced is people not treating their laptop with care. I have seen broken screen, dead hard drives, dead keys and a dead laptop all from people sitting on them, food, spills, tossing them about and dropping them.

But I like this list, will definitely share it.