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Laptop Use and Care Tips - Notebook Tips PDF Print E-mail

As a thank you for letting us be of service to you, here are some important tips to keep your laptop safe and help it last longer!  These suggestions can save you time and money—keeping your laptop away from our service department and remaining in your hands-- continuing to be a productive tool for you!  



Never force a connector into a port. When connecting a device, make sure the port is free of debris, that the connector matches the port, and that you have positioned the connector correctly in relation to the port.  USB connectors are fragile and can easily be damaged.  When plugging your AC Adapter into an electrical outlet, connect to the outlet first, then the DC pin type connector into the laptop. When unplugging, disconnect the laptop pin connector first, then unplug the AC adapter from the outlet. Always pull the plugs, NOT the cord.  NEVER “wiggle” a pin power connector in a laptop power jack.  These jacks are soldered on the laptop motherboard and those connections can be weakened and broken fairly easily.  Always slowly push the plug STRAIGHT in and pull it STRAIGHT out.  Never force it and never wiggle it.


Position your AC Adapter and cable so that it won’t be tripped over by you or your pets.  A yanked cord can damage the laptop power jack, the adapter or both.




Carry Cases

Use a “purpose built” laptop case - It is advisable to spend $30 or more and  get a sturdy, well padded carry-case for your laptop. While the best cases are hard on the outside and have lots of padding on the inside, they do not have the best storage for papers laptop accessories,  and other business stuff.  There are some well constructed soft sided cases available (Kensington and some luggage companies for example) that have an internal pocket specifically designed to cradle your laptop which have a strap or flap that secures it well inside the rest of the case.  The case should be able to absorb shocks from drops off tables, chairs and airport security belts. 


Also always be in the habit of properly securing the laptop inside the case-don’t leave the flap open or the case unzipped—when cases fall they can lose their valuable contents or not protect all the sides well…


Holding and Carrying the Laptop

Always hold your laptop with TWO HANDS, and try to avoid carrying it open.  The plastic cases of most laptops are not designed to be carried open, and they can flex if not carried with two hands – one on each side.  Closed laptops can still flex if picked up by one side.


Opening and Closing the Lid

When opening or closing the lid (LCD panel) try to always use two hands—one at each corner.  If you only have one hand available, always grasp the lid in the MIDDLE.  Depending on how strong the springs are in the hinges (and how sturdy the lid frame itself is), grabbing it by a corner to open and shut it can flex the LCD panel and crack the glass part of the LCD screen.  This damages the LCD panel beyond repair and requires it to be replaced.  In some laptops that could cost hundreds of dollars.


Turning it On or Off

When not using your laptop even for overnight on your desk, put it to sleep, hibernate it, or shut it down properly, and close the lid.  It keeps dust and dirt off the keyboard and also better protects it.


If you travel frequently and need to be prompt at shut-down (say at an airport gate for example), set Windows Update to advise you of updates but not download or install them automatically.  This eliminates the possibility that when you shut down at a gate when called for a flight you never get the famous “installing update 1 of 28-Do not power off your computer…” message. 


Never do a "hard shutdown" by holding in the power button until it turns off unless your laptop is truly "frozen".  There is considerable risk of program and data corruption.  If you laptop is having a problem shutting down normally, bring it in for us to diagnose and fix.  It could be a sign of looming disaster, or it could be a simple fix.


Location, Location Location…

Even though it is called a “laptop”, it is not good to have your laptop on your lap.  If you must, use a laptop cooler pad, so there continues to be proper ventilation.  Fortunately newer laptops (1 year old or less) have been re-designed so that vents are through the top and sides, not the bottom.  However older laptops have intake or exhaust fan ports in the bottom.  It is critically important for you to know where your vents are and never block them.  A hard flat surface that allows the laptop feet or bumpers to contact the surface and raise the laptop containing vents on the bottom properly is best.  You actually can burn the skin on your legs and not even realize it. 


Never sit your laptop or its AC adapter charger on upholstered furniture even when it is off.  A charging laptop battery can get pretty hot.  Never set your laptop on the floor—it can get kicked, stepped on by someone or even molested by a pet.


Magnetic fields are not good for laptops either.  It would not be wise to set your laptop on a floor stereo speaker or subwoofer or on top of a counter top microwave oven for example.  Never leave your laptop in the trunk of a car in extreme cold, heat or dampness.  If you do, do not subject it to quick, extreme changes in temperature, as moisture could form in the hard drive or other components—change its temperature gradually.


Never eat or drink near your laptop—this is pretty self explanatory…




Vents and Overheating
Consider not running graphics intensive video games on laptops not specifically designed for gaming.  Many laptop designs do not adequately ventilate the graphics processor and are subject to overheating with graphics intensive applications.  Be sure your fan is running properly as well.  If it is not, serious damage can occur to your laptop’s motherboard CPU or GPU chips.  If your computer shuts down without warning and there is not a power or battery problem, it is a sure sign of overheating.  Some laptop designs were less than adequate and sometimes a BIOS or graphics driver update can help with overheating.  If you suspect overheating (and you use a lot of graphics intensive software such as games or video) bring in your laptop and we can check it out.

Laptops are much more susceptible to overheating than desktops with restricted ventilation and smaller fans and heat sinks.  If you work in a dusty environment or have pets check all your vents regularly for dust and hair collections.  Do not push anything into the air vents; the safest way to clean these vents typically is using a simple can of compressed air that can be purchased at most computer supply stores.  Do not hold the nozzle too close, however as you could transfer moisture from the cold air.  Read the label and practice on your hand to get the correct distance.  If you wish, we can clean your laptop professionally at a very reasonable cost.

Cleaning and Caring for the LCD Panel 

Use a clean soft cotton cloth or soft paper towel slightly dampened with clean water.  Do not regularly use Windex or other ammonia based cleaners as they can eventually damage the plastic covering of the LCD.  Never spray any liquid directly on the LCD panel or any part of the laptop.


Unless it is a “touch screen” laptop, never poke or touch the screen with fingers, pens or other objects.  If it is a touch screen, use the finger or other included stylus only.



The bane of most laptop users is the lack of a really long battery life. There are three main types of laptop batteries:  Nickel-Cadmium (Ni-Cd), Nickel Metal Hydride (Ni-MH), Lithium Ion (Li-ion).




This type of battery must be fully discharged and then fully recharged every few weeks. If you don’t do this, it will quickly lose battery life due to what is known as the ‘memory effect’. The memory effect means if you don’t follow the above procedure, your battery will only charge up to the percentage of the last charge.


For instance, if you discharge it to 30 per cent, it will only charge up the remaining 70 per cent. Do this repeatedly, and the 30 per cent will become unusable, giving you an effective 70 per cent charge even though the indicator will still show a 100 per cent charge each time you charge it.


Nickel Metal Hydride

Ni-MH batteries are similar to Ni-Cd batteries, although they are less susceptible to the memory effect. They also have a higher capacity.


Lithium Ion

These are the latest type of batteries, and have no real problems as far as the memory effect is concerned. The problem with these is that they lose their effectiveness if overcharged or left for a long time with a full charge. Always discharge these batteries if you’re going to be storing them away.


Keep Your Battery Healthy
Before the first use, charge the batteries for 12 hours or the minimum charge time, as mentioned in the manual. For daily use, charge the battery to capacity, then run the laptop on battery power until it is completely drained (for Ni-Cd or Ni-MH batteries, this prevents the memory effect) or almost drained. (For Li-ion batteries, this can help prevent overcharging).


Don’t leave your battery unused for long periods of time. Even if you use AC power most of the time, use the battery regularly to keep it in good condition. Switch off your AC adapter when the laptop is not in use. This prevents overcharging.


To extend battery life, you can try decreasing the LCD brightness while using your notebook. You can activate the ‘Standby’ and ‘Hibernation’ power-saving modes, too, for better battery life.


FOR SAFETY REASONS—NEVER use an AC adapter that has visible damage to plugs, wires or plastic cases.  NEVER charge a battery with a known problem like overheating or not holding a charge for a normal period.  REPLACE THEM with the proper unit for your specific model only.




Again thanks for your business.  Let us know if you have any questions about these tips and enjoy your laptop!

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