Everyone wants their computer to last forever. But the reality is the average life span of a computer is 3-5 years. Allot of times you can get a computer to run for over a decade with common sense and regular maintenance. Here's how to keep your computer running longer.
Keep your computer clean
As the saying goes "A clean computer is a happy computer!" and it's true. A system that is dust-free will run cooler and has a less chance of creating a short circuit (dust is a conductor of electricity). Visually inspecting your computer every month or so and cleaning as needed can extend its life. If a fan fails to cool, the extra heat could damage the hardware.
A while back, I wrote an article on how to clean the dust out of your computer that covered basic dust removal from desktops. The same holds true for laptops too. But there are just a couple of areas on a laptop that you have to pay attention to, the air vents. Since the cooling vents are normally on the bottom, they can and will draw in lint, fuzz, pet hair and other debris. If they get clogged up, your laptop could over heat and damage the system.
How to clean a laptop CPU fan
In the article 'How to clean the dust out of your computer', I talk about using non-metallic rods (plastic, wood) to hold the various fans in-place while cleaning then with compressed air. Since the vents on laptops are smaller than desktops, you will need to use a thinner rod to hold the CPU fan in-place. I normally use a tooth pick, but if the holes in the vents are really small, I have to use an un-folded paper clip. Remember to blow compressed air in both the inlet and outlet vents.
Stay away from static electricity
The placement of your computer will also have an effect its life span. I always recommend placing a desktop computer at least 18" off of the floor to prevent issues with static electricity. I personally have had problems with static electricity in my house. The dry climate in Arizona and wool carpet does create allot of static electricity. To resolve the static electricity issue, I have a spray bottle full of tap water. Whenever I feel the static building up on the carpet, I just spray a light mist of water on the high-traffic areas of the carpet and the static just dissipates.
Liquids and computers don't mix
The last item on my list seems like a no-brainer, but it really does bears repeating, liquids and computers don't mix. Your cup of coffee or soda should never be placed on the same surface as your computer. If you need to have your computer on top of your desk, then at least elevate it above the desktop. With a laptop you can use a stand or riser; with a desktop you can use a stand, a couple of 2x4's cut to size or even an 8x16x4 CMU block. That way, even if you do spill some liquid, it won't be able to get into the case of your computer.