A laptop computer can be a pretty big investment.  Even with prices falling dramatically, replacing a laptop can be quite expensive.  Laptop computer repair isn’t any cheaper unfortunately.  Here is a list of 5 of the most common mistakes that can send your laptop to an early grave.

1) Using your laptop near liquids – This is pretty self explanatory, but is regularly overlooked.  Don’t set anything liquid on the same surface as your computer.  If you must ignore this rule, drink only water and keep the lid on when you aren’t actually drinking.  If a spill does happen, water is a lot easier to recover from than your toddler’s favorite juice.

2) Closing the lid and immediately shoving the laptop into a backpack/briefcase – Most laptop computers are set up from the factory to auto-hibernate when the lid is closed.  Shutting your computer down properly is the best way to go, but if you are in a hurry, at least wait for the computer to turn off before you move it.  The platters in your hard drive spin at around 7200 RPM and the heads hover less than a hair’s width from the surface.  Even the slightest shock or bump can cause the drive heads to crash into the platters destroying the drive along with all of your data.  Even if you don’t cause a head crash immediately, you can significantly shorten the life of the drive.  Be patient, and you will avoid a lot of potential problems.

3) Leaving the AC Adapter (Power Cord) plugged in while storing/carrying your laptop – The power jacks in today’s cheap (ie. low quality) but popular laptops (Yes I mean you HP & Acer) are not soldered very well, and if mistreated, break very easily.  This type of laptop repair is difficult, therefore not cheap.  DC jack repair usually runs about $150 depending on the computer repair shop that you take it to.  The best way to avoid needing this repair is to unplug the power cord while you are not using it in order to avoid any kind of unneeded stress on the jack.

4) Using after-market/generic power cords – If you don’t follow the advice in #3, and are one of the lucky people who happens to break your actual power cord but not your computer, it can be really tempting to buy one of the $3 generic power cords on Ebay.  This is not a good idea because inexpensive AC adapters tend to not run at the exact voltage or amperage that your computer requires.  Over time, this incorrect power source will damage and/or wear out components completely destroying the computer.  Don’t end up replacing a $600 computer early because you tried to save $30 on a power cord.  Stick to genuine OEM ac adapters and you can avoid costly laptop repairs.

5) Using your laptop on your lap (or other soft surfaces) – Heat kills electronics, and your laptop computer needs to be able to “breathe” in order to cool itself.  Most laptops “breathe” through the bottom.  When you use a laptop on your lap, bed, or carpet, you cover up the air vents that your laptop needs to cool itself.  Not to mention you can develop a nasty problem known as Toasted Flesh Syndrome from using a laptop on your lap (this is why all “official” sources now call them notebooks instead of laptops to avoid lawsuits).  Always set a notebook computer on a hard surface that will leave the air vents unobstructed.  Consider buying a cooling pad for your laptop as well.  This is essential for computers that are easily damaged by overheating (anything from HP/Compaq).

Laptop repair can be expensive, but fortunately, most problems can be avoided with a little common sense.  One of the biggest mistakes that people make, but we didn’t cover, is thinking that you can get a quality laptop computer for less than $600.  Buying quality up front will also go a long way towards making your computer last longer.  This is a topic for another article though.

If you have any questions or tips of your own, please send an email to readermailbag@compuclinic.us or leave a comment.

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