5 Ways To Utterly Destroy Your Laptop, Slowly But Surely

killlaptopthumb   5 Ways To Utterly Destroy Your Laptop, Slowly But Surely

A laptop is one of the most fragile consumer electronics devices you will buy. It’s a complex system packed with fast hardware, yet it also finds itself in constant use, which often mean constant danger. Accidents happen. Hardware fails. According to third-party warranty provided Squaretrader, about one in three laptops will bite the dust within three years.

Luck is part of the equation, but there are also specific actions that can send your laptop to an early grave, or at least result in major repair. Let’s become the destroyer. Uh, of laptops.

Turn Your Laptop Into An Oven

laptopkill1   5 Ways To Utterly Destroy Your Laptop, Slowly But Surely

Laptops generate heat. A lot of heat. Processors are more power efficient than ever before, and overall heat has gone down, but a laptop will still become warm to the touch if stressed.

This heat must be expelled by a fan, and that fan vent has to be kept clear. If it’s not, the heat has nowhere to go. So it instead hangs out with your laptop’s critical components, and your laptop overheats. Some laptops don’t like to overheat, and sometimes will shut down automatically. But others are real troopers and won’t complain one bit while they are slowly baked to death, and slowly extract money from your wallet.

Furniture, carpets and blankets are all surfaces that can cause havoc, but a pile of books kept way too close can cause problems as well. Pay attention to your laptop’s fan volume. If it’s going like a hair-dryer, and your computer is not involved in a demanding task (like gaming or video encoding), consider it a cry for help.

Shaken Laptop Syndrome

laptopkill2   5 Ways To Utterly Destroy Your Laptop, Slowly But Surely

Solid state drives are becoming more common in laptops, but most still have a mechanical hard drive – and probably will for at least the next few years.

One problem with a mechanical hard drive is its use of moving parts. There’s a read/write head that must move to interact with the disk, which spins. The problem is that these moving parts have their own inertia, so if a laptop is moved while they are active, they’ll try to move along their original direction. This can cause contact between internal hard disk components. And that makes your data die.

You can reduce the risk by moving your laptop gently and not moving it when running a program that frequently accesses the hard drive. Treat your laptop like a baby. No quick movement. Instead use a gentle, soft touch.

Use Your Display As A Handle

laptopkill3   5 Ways To Utterly Destroy Your Laptop, Slowly But Surely

If you hate your laptop, start picking it up and throwing it in a bag by its display, or by any corner, or by the optical drive. That’s a good way to make it crack like an a egg. Even premium laptops can sometimes succumb to this seemingly innocent abuse.

If a laptop is closed the best way to pick it up is by grabbing the front or rear of the laptop. If a laptop is open, it’s best to just pick it up with both hands, one on each side. Do not pick up a laptop by the display, or by the side of the chassis with the optical drive, or by one corner. You should also keep the laptop on a firm, level surface whenever possible. This will prevent it from getting all bent out of shape.

Some laptops will take abuse in stride, but others will run into issues. Picking up a laptop by the display, for example, puts a lot of stress on the hinges. This can damage the hinges or surrounding materials. I killed a ThinkPad in two years this way – the metal hinges held, but the plastic around one of the hinges did not.

Mangle The Cords

laptopkill4   5 Ways To Utterly Destroy Your Laptop, Slowly But Surely

If you want to make your life harder, just start mangling your cords. Wrap them around weird things, twist them at weird angles, and wait for something to break. It’ll happen sooner than you think. You’d think power cords would be made to handle lots of twisting and bending, but they often aren’t. Laptops are meant to be mobile, after all, so there’s reason to make cords thin, light and easy to move.

The most common issue I’ve seen occurs when a person wraps the cord over some other object to keep it bundled. Sometimes that object has sharp edges which cut in to the cord. We’re not talking about a Bowie knives, here. A hard plastic edge is all it takes. Some power adapters will do the trick if you wrap the power cable around them.

Avoid this problem by bundling a cord over itself. Most cords come packaged this way when you receive them and some come with a little piece of Velcro you can use to keep the cord together. If your laptop did not come with Velcro, well, it’s cheap. Make a visit to your local craft store.

Give Your Laptop The Jitters

laptopkill5   5 Ways To Utterly Destroy Your Laptop, Slowly But SurelyLaptops don’t like to be shaken. Or stirred. Or jarred in any way, really. Despite what movies might have you think, you can’t use them on the back of a motorcycle, or while running away from guys with machine guns, or in the back of a car while missiles are fired at you. Unlike Bruce Willis, laptops don’t die hard.

Most users buy a laptop bag to take the edge of sharp bumps. That’s a great first step, but you need to make sure the bag actually provides protection. Cheap laptop bags only include a compartment that is laptop sized but lack protection. Others will pad the sides of the bag but then completely neglect to pad the top or bottom. Guess what hits the floor if you drop a bag you’re holding or have strapped over your shoulder. The bottom!

An alternative is to place your laptop in a padded sleeve. This can protect your laptop from bumps and jolts while also keeping objects in your bag from scratching the laptop’s exterior. Just make sure the sleeve is padded. Cheap sleeves, like cheap bags, may be too thin to offer real protection.

Conclusion

In summary – sweat the small stuff.

I’ve read stories of people dropping their laptop in a pool, or spilling a soda on it, or knocking it off a fourth-story balcony. Such things do happen. But dramatic accidents are not how most damage occurs.

It’s often a combination of small actions, some of which may have no consequences at first. Over time, however, the damage caused by constant overheating and mishandling your laptop will surely send it to an early grave. If you’d like to kill your laptop, you can do it gently.

Image Credit: Sean Dreilinger, Tim Patterson, Jo Jo Monkey, Mike Gifford, Kate T, Patrick M.

The comments were closed because the article is more than 180 days old.

If you have any questions related to what's mentioned in the article or need help with any computer issue, ask it on MakeUseOf Answers—We and our community will be more than happy to help.

62 Comments -

IamAshMcLean

I used to do that, putting my laptop on bed or on my legs. Thank GOD, that my laptop turns off when overheats. Or else, my laptop can be dead in less than a year. My laptop is now, 4 years and a half. An Acer Brand, in which people complains so much. And I think I’m lucky.

Joshua L

i’ve always had good luck with Acer products and consider them to be a fairly reliable brand.

Ibrahim Nadir

you ain’t lucky your laptop is fine, you are lucky you bought acer. Acer has been degraded as a brand but trust me, i tried few and acer is the best in many cases. Battery, shape, weight and many other things! i mean… SeriouslY!

Jidiq Bhai

please continue to share such information in future also :) :)

Tienie de Coning

using your laptop in a sauna or while in the bath will also shorten its lifespan.

mike vandepeer

theres a couple of things not to do with your kettle or toaster

Edgar Meixueiro

This is good info. Many people don’t know how to treat their laptops.

Ron Chiodo

I bought a couple of clip boards from a local office supply. I do work with my laptop in my lap. I’ve felt the heat. So for the protection of my body’s perfect parts I looked for some kind of laptop pad. Too bulky, too expensive. A clipboard works perfectly to insulate me and give the laptop breathing room. Another advantage: when I screw up I bang the clipboard against my forehead, and save my laptop from damage!

Joel Lee

All of these are very important points that most people don’t seem to grasp. The greatest issue, in my opinion, is the first one: putting your laptop on blankets and carpets. I used to do this until I realized it just fills it up with dust and particles. Combined with the problem of a lack of fan output, your laptop is just going to heat up and die.

Use hard, flat surfaces! Laptop coolers are even better! Ventilation is everything. Internal problems are sneakier yet just as dangerous as external scratches!

dohRG

Like alluded to in the post even more expensive or durable ones crack easily. Some manufacturers try to be fancy/hip with case material but slightest pressure on them either cracks or at least makes you scared it is going to.

Walfred Michele

Me too IamashMcLean. Best small investment ever was a inexpensive laptop desk. The ones with the beanbag bottoms are terrific – keeps your legs and laptop cool.

Darren Reynolds

must admit, always using my laptop on my lap… very informative :)

Mike DeGeorge

Great article. It was well written, and full of nice information. I am so sharing this on FB.

Shahzaib Ali Khan

André Kamara

The lady in the bedroom has my laptop :D

Ibrahim Nadir

hmnmn… i somehow knew all of them :) still nice post. good work!

Mila Kun

Is there a way I can still use it on my lap and avoid the overheat? Some type of special surface underneath??

lamuse

I found an inexpensive solution for dealing with laptop heat.

I keep my laptop on top of one of these powder coated wire cupboard stacking shelves that you can get at Target or other similar stores.

It elevates the laptop about six inches and allows air to flow freely underneath. It also raises the screen up to eye level (if it’s on your desk or a dining table). And can elevate it up off of soft surfaces such as bedding.

It works for smaller laptops (up to 16″) but probably not for a 17″ or larger. Similar solutions can be found for larger laptops that don’t have the stacking handle things on the side such as mine does.

The one I have makes accessing the DVD/CD drive difficult — you have to lift up the laptop if your drive is on the side. But small inconvenience for extending the life of my laptop.

I use the laptop on my desk so I also put a small desk fan under it and angle it so it blows air slightly up on the bottom where it ‘s warmest (probably the GPU in my case) to further disperse the heat and move cooler air into the vents.

Alan Sjöström

You’d all cry if you saw what i have to do with laptops, i’m a field service technician and there is some interesting places i have had to set up my laptops, dust, heat, moisture, vibrations – all very conclusive to short life spans, but to me a laptop is no different to a spanner, screw driver or a hammer…its a work tool.

Truefire_

It is a work tool. A delicate work tool. I imagine you’re using a Panasonic Toughbook though, which really doesn’t apply because they’re rock-solid.

I had one, and I would drop it in the snow as a joke. People where shocked when it worked.

Shakirah Faleh Lai

Always clean the firm place I want to put laptop before using it, won’t let dust spoil it.

Victor Ong

Which is why I love thinkpad. It’s built like a rock. It take quite a bit to destroy it.

mike vandepeer

there are way more sensitive devices than your laptop. they actually are quite hardy..very hardy in fact considering their highly complex nature. Your toaster or electric kettle are more delicate by comparison.. particularly if you take complexity into account.. just try doing any of the things shown to be detrimental to your laptop to your electric kettle or toaster. LOL

Mani Ahmed

very good indeed and a self experience about the first issue … i once updated my IBM T42 laptop firmware … now what i think happened was that the firmware was built for some cold country whereas in Pakistan its pretty hot and the firm ware ran the fan of the laptop as per its pre determined speed (i doubt in the days of t42 there were any temperature gadgets inside); anyways my mother board fried within 2 days … ! i still didnt learn my lesson until i did the same with my X31 :p months later … only to learn NOT TO UPDATE FIRMWARE :p

mike25

What about eating over the keyboard or anything else that will drop crumbs that get stuck under the keys?

gmonly one

i put my old HP on a cooling pad and a laptop table, it keeps cool with no problems in over 6 years.
i always tell my friends not to tap on theirs or shake them, one friend found out the hard way, when he needed a new hard drive, his problem started because it was freezing a lot. not that a restore couldn’t fix it, or maybe some cleaning, what he was doing was, taping on it above the hard drive, to get it going again, that never worked :D

Hamza

thats what vending machines taught us!

gmonly one

i guess some treat their laptop like a pinball machine, hit it, it wont tilt :)

GrrGrrr

nice article Matt.

I need to buy a cooler to prevent my laptop turning in to a Burner

GrrGrrr

nice article Matt.

I need to buy a cooler to prevent my laptop turning in to a Burner

Ellen Odza

I had problems with my laptop overheating a couple years ago – I hurt my back and was stuck in bed for several months, so I was working at home in bed. I did two things – I got a laptop cooler pad that plugs into a USB port and that helped. Then later, when I discovered how long I was going to be working in bed (not as much fun as it sounds!), I got a laptop table – sort of like the tables they use in hospitals but these tilt so you can get your laptop at whatever angle works best for you. The table also keeps the laptop off your lap and seriously cuts down on heat.

Hamza

thats exactly how i use my lappy! am i doing it wrong?! -.-

Barbara Salvini

Wow,,, had no idea, thanks.

Neal

I have a laptop sitting on a support with twin fans and rarely turn it off and it works just fine 3 years later. My daughter used her bed even though I built a stand for her and explained the heat problem and 6 months later it didn’t work. Duh! Even a book underneath it will help air circulation if you don’t have a fan but a fan is much cheaper than a replacement laptop.

Akash Kotak

ohh i c

Adjei Kofi

Nice tips :)

Bonnie

I wish I had read this article a few months ago. My Asus, that I love sooo much, that is less than 6 months old, with a great processor, lots of memory, HD, and a thin display now has a broken hinge. Just like you said, more than the hinge being bad, the side plastic is cracked. At this moment, I have one of those little sturdy black metal paper clips holding it together. Wondering if it can be fixed and if I can get away with getting it fixed under warranty. Any ideas?

Matt Smith

Call ASUS, see what they can do for you. They don’t have the best customer service but it’s not the worst, either. It’s worth 30 minutes of your time if it gets your laptop fixed.

Ahmed Khalil

can i ask how the battary be saved for long time? i mean in MBP as it is not removable
is this mean i have to use it all the time and i can not depend on the power source directly

Matt Smith

Try to keep the laptop cool, don’t store the laptop in hot places, don’t let the battery fully discharge unless you absolutely have to (i.e. if you’re near a plug, use it).

Richard Borkovec

These are all great tips, thanks!

Emmanuel Choge

I wasnt aware of the “bed one” thanks alot

Nabil A Swileh

Loved Shaken Laptop Syndrome.

Great Tips

Eu

i used Dell laptops and they resist

Eu

I use a Dell and resist to this treatments

Leland Whitlock

Besides the mangled cords I notice a lot of times the AC line will pull out of the laptop adapters. I always use a tie wrap to lock the AC line to the DC line that goes into the laptop. This makes it much less likely to pull out.

BTW, nice article for those who don’t think about how to care for their laptops. Hopefully as more read this they will take better care of the.

syed asghar

Hi,
Like the post but my opinion is that everything should be used in limits,so that its warranty life will be average.There are more crazy ideas out there on the internet.But it should be only for educative purpose not to go and try them.Sometimes they may work but other times we blame that so and so did/said but it didn’t work for me.

Stanley

Great information and can save lots of unnecessary costs, when my laptop over heated I would used my desk top pc ..but then I fried it and my technician
told me I had too many gadgets on the same power source eg: deep freeze, frig,microwave,TV,phone,printer,laptop,and some times a toaster and electric jug, they caused the fans to slow down and fry pc. I’ve installed a direct power supply and no more problems.

Gabriel Barron

Carpets murdered my PS2. I was young then…I didn’t know. As for covering the vent… people just have to realize what its like breathing with somebody’s hand over their mouth.

Vanamalidev Srinivasan

This was very nice. Thanks!

ShokuBox

Ha! Guilty of the overheating my old laptop and not taking care of the cords!

Kamal Ji

i tried to dissassemble my laptop and broke the ram.. in the slot.. and its pins are still in the slots what should i do…

Matt Smith

That’s a new one ;) Maybe take the RAM out gently using some pliers? Then buy new RAM.

Alex Perkins

I currently have a Compaq by HP, the fan is okay but not great. I built a cooling stand with a USB fan pushing nice cool air into the fan in the laptop now my laptop at max load gets to 45C CPU and 53C system.

Shmuel Mendelsohn

Hackers are busy people doing a difficult job. The least we can do is ruin our own computers and save them the trouble!

Lets Explain

HP laptops just love to overheat.

I service those day-in and day-out.

Surprisingly, older dells seem to hold up best. Go figure.

James Baydal

yeah, right. even laptop must be damage gently if wanted. but not so harsh. thanks for the articles..

Nikhil Pandey

My laptop used to generate lot of heat. I use laptop Cooler :D

Dwayne Nicholson

I’m constantly griping at my kids about 3 and 4.

Todd Troutt

Great Article. This is being forwarded to my niece, who I’ve seen leave her laptop running on her BED all day!

Yang Yang Li

Great advice. I’ll be sure to try out some of those suggestions ;-)

James West

my sisters laptop was overheating and guessed that the fan needed cleaning. So i pop of the back of her Dell and found a large dust bunny in between the fans and the copper heat sink. She was right, it did need cleaning :)