Pagoda Blog

How to Care for Your Laptop: 6 Bad Habits You Need to Break

October 4, 2018

Bad habits are hard to break but when those habits are shortening the lifespan of your laptop or other electronic devices, it’s time to muster your resolve and change your ways. Fortunately, adopting healthy device-care habits doesn’t require any huge lifestyle shifts. We’ve put together a list of six bad habits that could be harming your laptop, desktop, or smartphone and what to do instead.


Neglecting to install software updates

Keeping your devices up to date with the latest software not only helps prevent cyber attacks, it also optimizes battery life (how long your device runs before it needs to be recharged) and lifespan (the length of time your battery lasts until it needs to be replaced).


Draining your laptop battery to below 20%.

Your laptop’s battery is good for about 500 cycles. This means the battery can run all the way down to zero and power back up to 100%, 500 times at the most, before the battery needs to be replaced. Each time you let the battery completely drain, the closer your laptop is to powering down for good.


To avoid draining your battery, set your laptop to go into hibernation mode before it gets to zero. With Windows 10, we recommend enabling the Battery Saver mode. Once enabled, this mode will come on whenever your battery dips to 20% and automatically block background apps, adjust your screen brightness, and implement other tactics to preserve battery life. If you have a MacBook, the Energy Saver preference should be automatically enabled to allow your laptop to dim screen brightness and optimize other components to preserve battery life. 


Shutting down your laptop multiple times per day

As Lifehack says, don’t treat your laptop like a light switch. Turning your laptop off between uses (as in more than once per day) causes large fluxes in temperature which stresses the components. Powering down once per day before you go to sleep at night is plenty.


Cleaning your screen with Windex

General cleaning products like Windex or a multipurpose surface spray are too harsh for your devices’ screens. Filtered water will usually do the trick without damaging your monitor’s coating. When dealing with stubborn spots, mix in a little vinegar or invest in a cleaning product made specifically for computer monitors. Avoid using abrasive materials like paper towels or rags to wipe down your screen and instead, opt for a clean microfiber cloth.


Letting your laptop get hot to the touch

Always store your laptop, smartphone, and other devices in a cool room out of the sun. Leaving your device in a hot car, for instance, can cause a lot of damage to a phone or laptop in a short amount of time. If your device feels like it’s overheating, shut it down and allow it to cool off before restarting. For Windows, you can actively monitor your computer’s temperature with free apps like CoreTemp and Real Temp.


Carrying your laptop without powering down

Carrying your laptop while it’s still on can cause your device to overheat. For older models with spinning hard drives, it can also affect the orientation of the drive, making it more prone to read/write errors.   


Storing your laptop fully charged or fully drained

When you’re not using your laptop for days at a time, it’s best to shut it down with a 50% charge. Storing it with a fully drained or discharged battery could prevent your laptop from being able to hold a charge in the future. Storing it at a full charge, keeps the battery in a state of constant stress, wearing down the battery and shortening its lifespan. If you plan to store your laptop for longer than six months, plan to charge it every six months up to 50%, and always store in a cool, dry place.      


Bad habits still up for debate

Leaving your laptop plugged in or charging it to 100% 

We’ve already confirmed that allowing your laptop to completely discharge reduces the battery’s lifespan. There’s some debate, however around whether fully charging to 100% could also have negative effects.


There have been a flurry of articles recently focused on over-charging your phone. Just like your laptop, today’s smartphones all use lithium-ion or lithium-polymer batteries. According to these articles which all reference Battery University, it’s best to only charge your phone to about 80% and then unplug it. The argument is that leaving your phone to charge beyond that (like when you leave it plugged in overnight) actually stresses the battery, causing it to wear out faster. This is because it receives ‘trickle’ charges to keep it at 100%. This is the equivalent of working out for hours non-stop without ever giving your muscles a rest. If this is indeed the case, then the best habit to get into is charging your phone over a series of short charging sessions throughout the day.


Not everyone agrees with this assessment, however. Apple’s description of how their lithium-ion batteries work states an opposing view. According to Apple, when your battery reaches 80% the trickle charge kicks in which actually “eases the electrical current to extend battery lifespan.” Their advice is to charge it “whenever you want.” Another argument is that any name-brand charger should have automatic shut-off circuitry built in to prevent overcharging.  


Here’s where we stand on the issue: It’s unrealistic to vigilantly track the charge percentage of your device’s battery but it’s not unrealistic to track its temperature. Sometimes during charging your battery can experience high voltage levels. This can cause the temperature of your device to rise and become hot to the touch. If you ever notice that your laptop feels warm, unplugging it should cool it off.  


For additional information on caring for your laptop and other devices, check out these general performance tips from Apple and battery-saving tips from Microsoft.


Related Posts:

The Right Way to Get Rid of Electronics

Why Your Business Needs a Technology Update

How to Secure Your Wi-Fi Router




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