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Laptop Care And Troubleshooting

Your notebook is a big investment. Extra steps should be taken to ensure it remains in good working condition. Below are some laptop care tips that will help protect your investment.

Are there any concerns I should have about my laptop and the cold weather?

Yes. The main component that you need to worry about is the LCD screen. The screen is filled with liquid that will freeze if your notebook computer is exposed to cold temperatures long enough.

Basically, whenever you come into a building from outside, your notebook's screen needs to be at room temperature before you power up. The recommended temperature range for use of your notebook is 50 degrees to 95 degrees (10 degrees Celsius to 35 degrees Celsius). Anything lower or higher than the recommended temperatures could result in damage. If you laptop is extremely hot or cold, give it at least 20 to 30 minutes for its temperature to equalize before use. If you leave you notebook in your car over night in freezing conditions, make sure to give it plenty of extra time to warm back up to room temperature. There is also the possibility that if a notebook is left in a car overnight and freezes, the expansion and contraction of the liquid inside the screen could damage it permanently regardless of how long you let it equalize.

What is the best way to clean my laptop screen?

Use a soft dry cotton cloth to remove fingerprints and smudges from the screen. If this does not completely remove the dirt and splotches, use a small amount of isopropyl alcohol on the cleaning cloth that has been dampened with water. (A small amount of vinegar can be substituted for the isopropyl alcohol). Spray the liquid on the cloth and never directly onto the screen. Do not use paper towels on an LCD screen as they can scratch the screen. Never use ammonia, ammonia-based cleaners, or strong cleaners which can cause the surface to yellow and become brittle.

How can I extend the life of my battery?

There are all sorts of power saving features that will help you squeeze every last bit of computing time out of your battery. Some of the power saving features includes:

  • Amount of time until the hard drive suspends
  • Amount of time until the screen suspends
  • Amount of time until the computer hibernate

Proper calibration of the power settings, found in the control panel under Power Options, can lead to longer battery life. Calibrate each individual setting based on the way you most often use the notebook. This will ensure maximum battery life without the risk of your notebook shutting off on you in the middle of an important project or presentation. Reducing the brightness of your LCD screen can also increase battery life. If you are not using your notebook for an extended period of time, remove the battery and store it in a cool, dry place. When you are using it, try to use an electrical outlet to power your notebook as much as possible. By using AC power, wear on the chemicals in the battery is reduced.

What is the best way to store my power supply?

When you are putting your power supply into your laptop bag, don't wrap the cord around the power supply. This will cause it to twist which eventually breaks the wires. The best way to wrap your cord is to just gather it together without wrapping it around the power supply. You can then use the Velcro tie that comes attached to the cord to keep the cord from unraveling.

How do I protect my notebook if I am traveling on an airplane?

At the airport, never check your notebook as luggage. It can be easily stolen and it won't be handled as delicately as it should be by airline employees. Take your laptop as carry-on with you onto the plane. Also, make sure you have some battery power, as security might want you to turn your laptop on.

How do I properly handle my notebook?

When you carry your laptop, never hold it by the front right/left corner. This can cause the entire laptop to flex in the middle which could eventually cause damage to the system board. Also, never carry your laptop by holding onto the top of the screen. This can cause the screen to crack or the screen's hinges to break. The best way to carry your laptop is to close the screen and put it in your laptop bag. If you need to carry your laptop while it’s running, with the screen open, put one hand on the back of the screen and the other hand flat on the bottom middle (think of carrying a pizza.). This keeps stress to a minimum and secures your laptop in case someone bumps into you in the hall.

How can I extend the life of my hard drive and avoid data loss?

To extend the life of your hard drive and help avoid data loss:

  • Avoid jarring the system while the hard drive is operating.
  • Suspend, hibernate, or shut down the computer completely before moving it.
  • Wait 30 seconds after initiating suspend, hibernation, or shutdown before moving the system so the hard drive can spin down.
  • Keep your computer at least 13cm away from any electrical appliances that generate strong magnetic fields. These fields can cause data loss.
  • Take corrective actions immediately when the battery status indicator is blinking orange and your notebook sounds three consecutive beeps. Data loss may occur is your computer suspends or shuts down due to a low-battery condition.
  • Backup your data to an external hard drive or CD/DVDs often. Even if you take excellent care of your laptop, hard drives are delicate devices and can fail without reason.

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