Extending Life of your Computer – Tips October 15th, 2009

Vinod Kumar

Recently, I have had the opportunity to replace my home laptop and one of my demo Laptops because of different reasons. I have been a bit relaxed on maintaining these laptops and hence the headaches followed and some resolution had to be made. Now that they are behind my back and I take utmost care of the work-laptop from time-to-time, I thought I share some of these with you in this online space. These are my suggestions and felt worth sharing with you. I am going to learn a lot from your personal experiences too, so drop a comment with your ideas as it might be of great help to others reading this blog –

Tip 1 –

Handling of laptop / computers comes on top of the list for me. You must carefully handle your laptop esp in which environments (hot sun) you use them. Dont keep it in hot rooms or accidentally take it out in the rains :). Avoid damaging your laptop by dropping the bag etc. I have seen in the past that these equipments do contain delicate parts and often can get damaged easily. It is always a pain post their damage to get them back to the best conditions.

Tip 2

Have a good power supply option at home / work. Often the surge in power supply can hurt the battery life and can bring components down too. So highly recommend to use an UPS with surge protector. The life of the the batteries is always governed by the usage and charging patterns. DONOT always keep your PC power connected. I have been using this laptop (Lenevo T61p) for close to an year and my battery still lasts for ~2.5 hrs and this is quite useful esp for folks like me who are on the move.

Be practical to what you do when you are on a Battery mode.

2.1 – Tasks such as multi-media (movies, games, listening to music etc) can heavily use power.

2.2 – Move to a lower brightness setting on laptops when under battery mode unless you are in a bright environment where you need to jack-up the brightness.

2.3 – Turn off your wireless and Bluetooth if you are not using them. These are heavy on power usage and can drain your batteries really quick.

2.4 – When in unused state, these days Vista/Win7 allows you to configure what the laptop must do. Highly recommend to move into Hibernate state so that it saves valuable power when you need them.

2.5 – Though I highlighted the charge/discharge mechanism, I have been charging at my office time and I just discharge it to almost draining situation (<10%) in the evenings. This gives the batteries longer life and your usage will make sure you use each part of the battery. I have seen people who have the same model as I do and their battery doesnt even last 1 hr.

Tip 3

Maintaining your HDD is one of the key aspect of extending the life of your Laptop. Defragment your drives atleast once a month to make contiguous free space in your system. I have been using TreeSize for a while now and keep a tap on who is using what space in my system. You are the boss and you better be in control of the same. As we are on this topic, I loved the new addition of defragmentation of ALL volumes in one shot using commandline utility with Windows 7. In your commandprompt type:

defrag /C /H /V

to defragment all your drives. Very handy utility. Also you can always use the Disk Cleanup utility from the drive properties to cleanup unused junk data. It can sometimes free-up tons of space.

imageThe idea here is to do preventive maintenance. Run ScanDisk utility to check and repair file systems and bad clusters on your computer’s hard drive. This is also trying to be ahead of the curve in identifying how the health of the system is and take preventive actions before the failure happens.

Tip 4

Remove unnecessary programs, files and services that are running in your system. I have seen these induce unwanted disk activity that you never asked for. This can also significantly increase the performance of your system. In Vista and Win7, I use the MSCONFIG utility to check what are part of my start-up programs and what services are enabled at startup. This gives me great control to what I want as a service.

Disclaimer: Recommend to be cautious in using this tool as you can bring down your system if you shutdown system services by accident. Please be careful !!!

Tip 5

Have a rock-solid backup strategy. I must thank my dear friend Deepak Gulati for getting me into this practice. I use rudimentary tools (yet powerful) that come out-of-box from Vista / Win 7 to achieve this task. I extensively use ROBOCOPY commandline tool for this. All the machines are mechanical components and with the amount of travel we guys make, we need to have a strategy to have some backup of our data to atleast get back to some consistent point of time … Interestingly ROBOCOPY also has a /MT switch (for multi-threading) and /Z (restartable mode) which are quite handy options I use.

Tip 6 – Be Eco-friendly

This is a tough decision and I have seen a lot of them having a problem because end-of-day as it is personal choice. These are something’s I have done with a lot of success and the ideas here are my personal recommendations :) … To be Eco-friendly or not is individual choice but you will also get converted in the future for sure.

PS: The idea of this background theme for my blog was because of this eco-drive. This dark background does consume lesser power. I would personally want to know what are you doing about these eco-drive !!!

Back to the topic –

6.1 – Try to completely SHUTDOWN your machine after your work. Making them run 24×7 in night does consume power and don’t try to leave your laptop in charging mode through the night also called as Phantom power. One needs to understand an idle / sleeping laptop still is consuming some power so let us get conscious about this.

6.2 – Though I have outline the previous point, for the people who still insist on the Hibernate / Sleep mode – I highly recommend reading this article on TechNet on the very topic. The article also explains how some of our personalization’s like ScreenSavers also had a different history to speak. I don’t quite remember when was the last time I had one of the ScreenSavers on my laptop. BTW, if you are still a fan of them, use a blank black screen. Slideshows or graphics are so old fashioned but are intensive on power utilization too.

6.3 – Add more memory to your laptop as lower the amount of physical memory there is a lot of paging the OS does and it increases your HDD reads-writes and hence performance deterrent.

6.4 – Now that we are on this topic, exercise caution to what you print. If in digital format, print ONLY if you need them. There have been great technology advancements and a new breed of fonts have come called ecofonts, which allow you to save ink by removing parts of words which are hardly visible to our eyes. I have loved this concept and tried them too. I can assure, you will hardly find any difference but it is something we do to extend our print-ink life to the next level.

Tip 7 – Be Latest !!!

Make sure you always keep your machine up-to-date and on latest Service packs, Spyware and Antivirus systems. Recently for my home PC I used the Microsoft Security Essentials and I have had no complains till date. Do automatically check at set the auto-updates so that it happens automatically for you.

Well, I think it is the first step in what I believed was worth sharing. Do drop in your comments so that we all get a chance to learn from what you folks do at your end.

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This entry was posted on Thursday, October 15th, 2009 at 07:28 and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

3 Responses to “Extending Life of your Computer – Tips”

  1. prasad says:

    it is very importent information for who use personal pc and laptop….thanks for good imformation vinod

  2. Unni Vishwanathan says:

    Simple Things… but very very useful

  3. Baljeetsingh says:

    Great … Thanks for Sharing all this.. I liked it a lot.

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