Whilst the cost for computers has come down in the past decade, it still doesn’t mean they’re cheap enough for you to want to replace old for new all the time, especially since processor technology reached the point of ‘good enough’ for many people already quite a while ago. Most modern programs can run perfectly on PCs that are five or six years old (or even older). Then there’s the push to move many services to the cloud which contributes to making older PCs less of a drag on productivity.
Whilst upgrades like installing extra RAM or increasing hard drive capacity are great ways to improve performance right away, there are a few simpler ways that help you extend the useful life of your PC. Keeping your system physically free of dirt, following some basic preventive measures, and exercising common sense in daily use can add years to the life of your computer.
Keep it Clean
Unless you’re working in a sterile environment, pretty much every PC will get filthy with dust, dirt, hairballs, and other nasty grime given enough time. If you leave it long enough, the dirt will eventually suffocate the hardware inside your computer, increasing heat generation and thus putting stress on the components. This is a leading cause of reduced performance and can even contribute to the premature death of an element.
Depending on the environment you keep it in, you should take the time to clean your computer system thoroughly every 6 – 12 months.
Give Your Computer Room to Breathe
When it comes to heat, ventilation is another important issue. Whilst the heatsinks and fans in your case are there to help, they will struggle to keep the computer cool if the machine’s surroundings aren’t well ventilated.
It’s best to ensure that your PC has plenty of access to cool air. One way to do that is to avoid enclosing the tower inside a cabinet. Also, don’t keep your PC near a heater vent or a space heater.
Protect Against Power Surges
Your computer consists of a massive collection of sensitive circuits and components. Any fluctuation in power can really upset them. Surges or spikes of any magnitude will putt stress on your PC. In extreme cases, they will outright damage the power supply and other parts.
Whilst the solution is relatively simple, it’s not quite as easy as just plugging your computer into any old surge protector.
Surge protectors can lose their protection mechanism with just one good power surge or spike. They will continue, however, to power the devices, giving you a false sense of security. It’s important that you regularly check your surge protector’s status. Your PC’s life could depend on it. Some surge protectors have a status light, but on some models it may simply mean it’s getting power.
Also, don’t forget about your laptops and other mobile devices. They, too, are sensitive to power fluctuations. Try to plug them into a properly working surge protector when charging them.
In case you’re not on the NBN yet and still have a conventional phone line, it’s good to be aware that in rare cases, power surges can also flow into your computer system via telephone and cable lines. When you’re shopping for a surge protector, consider one that can protect these lines as well.
If your business is in the Coffs Harbour area, our techs at Advanced Technology can advise you on and supply you with high quality and reliable surge protectors. Keeping your PC safe this way will help you avoid costly computer repairs later on.
Keep in mind that surge protectors are rated to protect up to a certain amount of surge. Anything beyond that may still damage your equipment. In the end, it’s still a good idea to completely unplug computers and electronics during potentially high-surge times, such as lightning storms.
Protect Against Loss of Power
We’ve all been there with a sudden loss of power sending your computer crashing in a forced and sudden shut-down. This can cause problems such as losing unsaved documents or causing drive or file corruption. To protect against this you will need to install an Uninterruptable Power Supply (UPS). A UPS is essentially a surge protector with a built-in battery that will automatically engage if your premises lose power. It will kick in regardless of whether it’s just a flicker or a full outage. Whilst this isn’t an issue with laptops and mobile devices due to their built in batteries, it’s definitely a valid point for your traditional desktop.
The amount of time a UPS will power your PC depends on the battery capacity of the UPS and on how much power you need to run your particular equipment. Even a smaller UPS should give you a few minutes at least to allow you to save documents and shut down your computer. Many of them also come with software you can install that will monitor the UPS and automatically initiate a shutdown if you’re not around to respond.
Confused about which UPS is the right one for you? Our techs can help.
Keep Malware Out
While viruses and malware don’t typically cause physical damage, it can cost you a lot of time, hassle and money to repair the destruction they can cause to your business or system files. We’ve had a few posts on this blog in the past about some viruses that even encrypt your entire system and refuse to let go unless you have paid a hefty ransom. Others nuke your hard drive, and you’ll have to start over from scratch. Whatever way you look at it, the loss of data can cause a lot of damage to your business. In other words, it pays to make sure you are running a good security suite to combat viruses, malware, and intrusions.
For clients who are subscribed to one of our Pro-Active IT Support Service Agreements, this isn’t as big an issue as Advanced Technology will supply and install a very solid protection suite along with the software that allows us to monitor the health of your systems. If you’re not ready to commit to a service agreement, you can still give us a call, and we can advise you and supply you with the best software to protect your system from any unwanted intrusions.