If your computer ever achieves the level of self-awareness we see in popular science fiction-from HAL 9000 to Wall-E- the first thing it's likely to do with that artificial intelligence is complain about being taken for granted. Here are a few things you can do to show your hardware some love:
Keep it clean. In addition to wiping down the case and monitor (a LITTLE bit of plain water or a water/vinegar solution on a barely damp cloth is best for computer screens) be sure to keep dust and other obstructions out of the vents and various nooks and crannies.
- Check your surge protection. Everyone knows what an electrical spike can do to a computer. Always make sure your computer is plugged into a surge protector (one that's UL 1449-certified).
- Wipe off your discs before use. Dirt or dust on a disc is the equivalent of getting a speck of sand in your eye. Wipe that media clean from time to time (from the center out; never in a circular motion).
- No smoking, please. Second-hand smoke is no better for your computer than for people. All that tar and assorted junk can damage delicate relays and circuits.
- Avoid cold startups. Letting your computer 'sleep' or 'hibernate' is fine, but actually turning it off is quite stressful to the machine's components.
- Turn off the monitor. Turning off the monitor when not in use will extend its service life ... and save on your power bill!
As always, treat your technology gently. Computers, especially laptops, are not the delicate flowers that they once were, but still avoid jostling your hardware, and always set laptops up in a stable location where it will be safe from harm. Finally, while you may love your coffee, your keyboard does not. Perhaps opt for a mug with a lid so that an ill-timed elbow results in a small spill rather than a caffeinated flood.