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We all wonder how long our computer equipment will last, and the truth is… it’s already starting to fail. All hardware is going to fail at some point in time, whether by factory defects, random failures, or parts wearing out. Sure, I have a laptop that is over 10 years old and is still running, but every time I use it I know it could be the last. Here is a helpful list of what you can do to ensure you get the most life out of your computer hardware.

1. Power – Spikes in electrical current can destroy your computer hardware, so always have good operational surge protection for your equipment. Also, sudden power loss will add additional stress to your systems and cause damage; with the right battery backup you can solve both issues.

2. Hard drives – You can lose any piece of hardware in your system, replace it and save your data – except your hard drives. This is where all your pictures / videos / documents / memories are stored; don’t you think you should take care of the hard drive? Over time, the hard drive spreads data across the drive and files become fragmented, so you should run defragmentation on your drives at regular intervals. This will make sure that your hard drive doesn’t have to work harder than it should, to find data on the system. This will also keep your disk reads running faster, and in turn, the overall system performance will be faster. Similarly, files can become corrupt over time, and you won’t know until something big breaks. You should run a check disk on the system, to keep system files safe, and repair any errors or bad sectors on the drive.

3. Cleaning / Location – As simple as it sounds, it really is… keep your system clean and free from dust inside. Over time, the dust that builds up inside your computer blocks air flow, and helps generate more heat on all the hardware in the computer. Please keep your system clean; I clean my laptops and desktops weekly. Where you keep your computer makes a big difference, as well. The fans on all desktops and laptops are designed to keep the air moving through to cool the hardware, so don’t close the system in cabinets or even in desks designed for a desktop to slide in. It may work for a while, but over time the additional heat will cause failures. For laptops, be careful where you use them; most of the vents are on the bottom, back and sides, and when you set them on carpet or use them on your comforter in bed, you block the air flow and in such a small area, they heat up fast.

4. Malware – This one is a little trickier. Malware probably doesn’t cause hardware failure directly, but it does cause your system to work harder. It adds processes, running on the system, that can put extra stress on the processor and memory, as well as the hard drive.

5. BACKUPS!!! – As we have posted before, make sure you have good backups. We know that over time all hardware is going to fail, so having good backups will save you from additional headaches, when you do have a system failure that is not easily (or inexpensively) fixed.