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October 7, 2012

A few tips will help prolong the life of your new laptop computer

NORMAN — Laptop (AKA, “notebook”) computers are great. The small size and portability of laptop computers has turned them into the machine of choice for many people, me included. However, laptops have special needs that must be tended to if they are to remain trouble free. Here's a list of things to do that can extend the life of your laptop computer.

1.) Do not block the cooling ports. Like all computers, laptops need a free flow of air in order to cool their internal components. Clever Apple laptop designers often locate the cooling port as a long slot at the back of the case, under the screen, making it very difficult to block. Most other laptops, however, do not enjoy this design advantage. In some cases, the best location for a laptop may be somewhere other than in your lap.

Look at the bottom of the machine for slots or holes (known as “ports”) that are used by the internal cooling fans to circulate air. Make sure that, when the laptop is turned on, these ports are never blocked by clothing, pillows, etc. I use my laptop computer in my lap, but it is placed on a flat plastic tray, and the back of the machine is elevated on a long, thin strip of wood so that air can circulate freely underneath. An overheating laptop is a real bummer.

2.) Realize that your laptop computer is not indestructible. “Young” people seem to be especially ignorant of this fact. Unless you are using a Panasonic ToughBook or other “hardened” device built to military specifications, your laptop is likely made of cheap, flimsy plastic and extremely thin sheet metal. Don't pick it up by the screen, or in any way that will flex the main case area. Do not slam the lid shut. Close the lid gently from the middle, instead of one corner. Do not push down on the optical drive when inserting or removing CDs or DVDs. Do not pick up your laptop and start walking away with the power supply or any other wire connected. Do not subject the laptop to abnormal vibration or jostling around. Do not stack books, boxes or other items on top of your laptop. Do not toss your laptop onto the couch from three feet away. Finally, this should go without saying, but do not drop your laptop, or, worse, sit on it.

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