Modern laptops are lightweight, convenient, multitasking masters. These days they are made to last quite some time — that is until you break it. If you treat your laptop well and protect it from things that can harm it, you should be fine in the long run.
Still, you might find that your devices are breaking down quicker than it should. “What’s wrong with my laptop?”, you might ask. Sometimes, maybe it’s you. Bad computing habits can lead to computer failures that could harm your computing experience. This includes your productivity, data security, or even your wallet.
Guilty of bad computer habits? Here are 10 of the worst computer habits that can cause all sorts of computer issues and hardware damages. You might not realise that these things can do harm to your computer, or you might not even be aware that you’re doing it. Let’s begin.
1. Not restarting your computer enough
These days most people just shut the lid on their laptop when they’re done with it. This simply puts the device to sleep and is still ready for use at any moment when you open it up again. When we don’t fully turn off the laptop, stored cache in its memory still remains there.
Your laptop’s RAM works to get you a smooth multitasking experience. Cached data is stored readily available there, so when you open the app again it fires up faster. With this sort of non-volatile memory, the cached data only goes away when you shut down or restart the computer. So shutting down or restarting your laptop can be a pretty handy thing to do.
Restarting your computer from time to time can refresh the system and solve bugs if possible. So you might not want to roll your eyes when a technician asks you “have you tried turning it on and off again?”
2. Opening too many apps and background processes and never closing them
As we’ve learnt from above, apps take up CPU and RAM usage. When your laptop can only handle so much work, overloading it with too many jobs can slow down its performance. If you are not using the app, you might want to close it to free up the RAM for other apps that you are actually using.
Leaving the apps opened in the background not only slows down performance, but can also potentially cause software glitches. Take care of your system, and try not to push it to its limits. You can check what’s taking up CPU and RAM usage from the Task Manager (Windows) or Activity Monitor (Apple Macs) and free up usage from there. Sometimes just clicking the “X” on a window doesn’t close it completely and it keeps running in the background. You might want to make sure you quit the app completely.
3. No regular backups
You might not think that backing up your data is essential for you, but anything could happen to your storage drive and you could lose everything. All hard drives do have a limited life span, so hard drives including traditional hard disk drives, solid-state drives, or fusion drives will eventually fail. They all have varied life spans, but will start to show some signs of failure once you’ve used them for a while. They will fail sooner or later, and you might lose files or they might get corrupted. As it gets more serious over time, a total hard drive crash may also happen.
Now we can’t always detect hard drive failures that easily, so it might be a good idea to be prepared before it happens. That’s where having regular backups can come in handy. You can choose from either online cloud storage, or backing up to an external hard drive. It’s also important to note that it’s better to have more than one backup, in the event that you have no internet or the external hard drive is inaccessible.
Be prepared and equip yourself with hard drive repair knowledge! A reliable and easy fix for hard drive failures is replacing the faulty hard drive entirely. There’s not really a way to just repair the drive itself, as it has already accumulated too many bad sectors. The drive is permanently damaged, even though we can’t see it on the drive. To learn more about hard drive replacements, read our guide here.
4. Leaving things on the keyboard
This is a common mistake that users make that could lead to laptop screen damage. Forgetting about things like pens or other stationery left on the keyboard and then shutting the lid like usual can damage the screen or the touch panel of the laptop.
While the gaps on the keyboard can be a pretty good fit for a pen or stylus, slipping your mind and shutting the lid can leave you with a pretty pricey bill. LED laptop screens are quite difficult to repair. They usually involve taking apart the whole screen and its back cover for a replacement. These days laptop screens are made thinner and thinner, to adapt to sleek modern designs. So glass-paneled screens are then easier to break even while repairing it.
5. Grabbing the screen to pick up the laptop
This is again another common cause of screen damage. Laptops are travel-friendly and quite light to carry these days, so some might just grab and pick up their laptop from the screen. This can hurt the glass screen and pixels inside from the pressure exerted on it.
Always pick up your laptop from the base. The laptop chassis protects the components inside, as an outer shell. It can withstand pressure much better than the glass-paneled screen.
Learn more about how to fix damaged laptop screens here. We cover the different kinds of screen damage, including how it differs from a video card failure.
6. Using the laptop on unventilated surfaces
Every computer has a cooling system that keeps it at an optimal temperature for normal functioning. This comes in the form of a fan and a heat sink. It disperses the heat generated by the CPU so everything works smoothly. Dispersed heat then goes out the vents of your laptop. These vents are usually on the sides, bottom, or where the screen connects to the bottom frame for Macbook laptops.
To prevent overheating, these vents should be kept clear. Using the laptop on cloth surfaces like on a bed or on top of blankets blocks the vents and the heat could build up inside the laptop. It can get very hot within 30 minutes of use. Overheating can damage internal components like the motherboard and the hard drive. Improper ventilation can also overwork the fan, as it has to keep going to disperse the heat trapped inside. The fan may also break in this case. So remember to keep your laptop cool on a flat and clear surface like a desk or a laptop stand.
7. Exposing to dust and extreme temperatures
Dust and rust is also a known cause of motherboard and keyboard damages. Manufacturers keep computers sealed in air-tight packs to ship out to retailers or customers, protecting the computer during shipping. Regular computer users don’t have the resources to pack their laptops in the same way, so it’s up to them to keep the laptop safe.
With that said, we don’t recommend keeping the laptop near an open window under direct sunlight or in a car on a hot day. A laptop exposed to heat or dust can create problems with dust buildup or overheating. Dust can get in the keyboard and jam or rust up keys. It can also get inside the laptop and rust up the motherboard or clog up the fan. To combat this, you can open up your laptop and clean it from time to time. Just use a lint-free cloth and an alcohol-based solution if you need to.
We’ve received a case of heat exposure where the laptop was left in a car on a hot day: The fan started to make rattling noises and the laptop could not successfully boot to Windows. Turns out the fan and hard drive was damaged by the heat. So make sure your laptop is always kept safe from heat and dust damage.
8. Exposing to liquids
Other than heat and dust, liquid spills can also do a lot of damage to a laptop. This kind of avoidable accident is one of the most common causes of keyboard and motherboard damage. Different kinds of liquid can also cause rust or corrosion of internal components. So you might want to keep your laptop clear of anything that could harm your laptop.
An open window during a storm can flood the laptop, as well as spilt drinks and soups. Leaving the laptop inside a bathroom or in humid areas would also generally be something to avoid. Even steam can cause liquid damages, as steam is a form of water after all.
Don’t know what to do with a soaked laptop? First of all, don’t panic. We can show you what to do to minimise the damage as much as you can. We also cover how liquid spill damage is repaired. Read our guide to laptop liquid spill damages here.
9. Eating over keyboard
Admit it, we’ve all done this before. These days our devices have become an essential part of our lives, for both work and entertainment uses. Eating over your laptop keyboard while you work or watch TV shows can be very convenient, but could also harm your keyboard.
Crumbs or liquid could get into your keyboard, which could either jam keys and corrode the connecting points between keys. Jammed keys could stop working or cause wrong outputs.
We’ve often found crumbs or liquid residue when repairing a reported keyboard failure, even when the user “had no idea how it happened”. That being so, you might want to think twice before putting down your meal before your laptop. Again, cleaning your keyboard with a lint-free cloth can be helpful in preventing keyboard damages.
This item comes with a little bit of a debate online, among computer enthusiasts. But for regular laptop users who use their device for personal use, we don’t recommend overclocking.
Overclocking is more suitable for advanced computer users or gamers. The process pushes the CPU to work harder than it is intended to, by modifying the laptop’s BIOS. It involves some pretty advanced technical knowledge to do so.
Moreover, pushing the CPU to its limit could also overexert it. This reduces the lifespan of the CPU. The CPU of a laptop is embedded on the motherboard, so when it does fail, the whole board will have to be replaced. This replacement is usually quite expensive, and might not be covered by the warranty. If you are a regular laptop user who is looking for a performance boost, you might want to look at the possibility of SSD upgrades or adding more RAM to your laptop.
Got a question for us?
From our experience in computer damages and repairs, we have learnt the different ways that end-users can damage their own devices. These are definitely things to avoid, if you’re looking to maintain your laptop’s lifespan.
Think your laptop’s acting up but don’t know what’s causing it? Look through our blog to see if any of our guides can help you. Or give us a call! Our experienced technicians at Safemode Computer Service can help you with any computer-related issue. Take your faulty laptop or desktop computer and come by our Inner West Sydney store for our highly-rated services. As one of the top computer repair services in Sydney, we offer computer diagnostic and repair services that are trusted and reliable. We are also a proud supporter of the Inner West community and do our best to do so.