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The Tech-pert: Three Cheap Ways to Make Laptop Computers Last Longer

By Guest Blogger(view all posts by Rick.Broida)
at 11:56AM Tuesday September 20, 2011
under Money Saving Tips

The cheapest laptop in the world is the one you already own. So it makes sense to keep it running as long as possible, to get more mileage out of the money you've already paid. By following these simple tips, you can easily and inexpensively extend the life of your laptop.
  1. Blow Out the Dust

    You wouldn't think a laptop could accumulate much dust, what with all those tightly packed components. Where would the dust even go?

    Mostly, dust builds up on your laptop's cooling fan(s). And that makes them work harder, longer, and less efficiently. In fact, if your laptop has seemed especially noisy of late, it's probably because the dust-choked fan is constantly kicked into high gear.

    The cheap and easy fix? Get a can of compressed air, then carefully shoot bursts into every vent the laptop has. Even better, open as many panels as you can on the underside of the machine, then blow out whatever dust you find. (All this should be done with the power off, of course.) When you're done, you should find that your laptop runs quieter and cooler. It'll last longer, too.

  2. Remove the Battery

    The single biggest mistake most laptop users make is leaving the battery in when they're working at their desks all day. Indeed, if your PC spends most of its time in the same place, pull the battery. Leaving it plugged in 24/7 means it rarely (if ever) has a chance to discharge and recharge, and that can shorten its overall longevity. And do you know how much replacement batteries cost? Upwards of $150, no joke.

    So unless you're actually traveling, pull the battery and just run the laptop on AC power.

  3. Replace the Keyboard

    I see a lot of laptops with broken or missing keys, or with the letters worn right off. (You must type a lot!) You might think this cause for a new machine, but it might be possible to get a keyboard replacement--for less than you think.

    For example, about a year ago I helped a friend restore her seriously worn Dell laptop. A little eBay searching for her exact model revealed a new keyboard priced at around $12. The repair itself took about five minutes and involved little more than removing a few screws. Your mileage may vary, of course, depending on your laptop brand and model, but my friend's Dell looked and acted much closer to new after this keyboard-ectomy. Worth a try.

If you have any laptop-longevity tips to share, let's hear 'em in the comments section!

Self-proclaimed cheapskate Rick Broida has been a technology writer for over 20 years. He has authored over a dozen books, including, most recently, "How to Do Everything: Palm Pre." Currently he writes the Cheapskate blog.