9 Easy Tips To Keep Your Laptop Running Beyond Its Shelf Life

Your laptop comes with a shelf life.

Just when you get used to your device, it seems like it time to get a new one. However, things don’t have to be this way.

In fact, most people get a new laptop after approximately three years. It’s uncommon to find people using a laptop older than five years. And yet, replacing laptops so quickly is unnecessary.

With a little bit of TLC, your laptop can be as good as new. Freshen up the inside and outside of the machine.

You’ll be surprised at how long it can last.

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Why Laptops Have a Short Shelf Life

Laptops Old

What’s going on with your laptop that makes you think it’s about to die?

Perhaps you have seen some common signs of degradation, including:

  • All programs are slowing down.
  • The laptop isn’t charging properly.
  • The laptop won’t boot up at all.
  • You are out of memory.
  • Your laptop keeps getting errors.
  • The exterior looks ragged.

You may know that there’s a new model available. Manufacturers want you to buy their newest items.

They encourage this by releasing new models regularly.

Do You Know About Planned Obsolescence?

Companies actually create products with “planned obsolescence” in mind.

This is a design technique that artificially shortens the lifespan of objects. It is, unfortunately, common with laptops.

Planned obsolescence combines with the marketing of a new model to encourage sales. The company might be trying to convince you that you need a new laptop when you really don’t. You can keep your laptop running for longer than they want you to think.

The signs listed above are legitimate reasons to want a new laptop. They are also signs that your laptop just needs refreshing. You don’t have to go shopping right away.

Reasons to Extend Laptop Shelf Life

Money Saving

Of course, it’s tempting to get a new laptop. Yours isn’t as pretty anymore. Plus, it’s developed some quirks.

Besides, there are all of those great new models to try. So why bother extending the life of your laptop?

Here are some key reasons:

  • You want to save money.
  • It’s important not to increase landfill waste.
  • You want to escape the “planned obsolescence” cycle.
  • It has features, like a DVD drive, that new models don’t.
  • New models are thinner; you may not like them.
  • The new model you REALLY want isn’t out until next year.
  • Your current laptop is set up just how you like it, with all your favorite applications.

Sometimes we get stuck in a cycle. The laptop slows down, so we buy a new one. However, we can think more carefully about our purchases.

It’s perfectly fine to buy a new laptop when you are ready. It’s also smart to extend the life of your current laptop.

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9 Easy Ways to Keep Your Laptop Running

You have decided that you want to keep your laptop running.

Where should you start?

These are the nine easiest things that you can do to prolong its shelf life.

1. Declutter the Computer

Malwarebytes Logo

The more stuff there is on the computer, the slower it’s going to run. Technically if you’re using 90 percent of your capacity, you still have 10 percent left. However, the laptop will be slow.

Go through an intensive decluttering process. Try to get down to using 20 to 30 percent of the capacity.

Here are some things that you can do to declutter:

  • Empty your trash.
  • Delete unused programs.
  • Move photos to an external hard drive or the cloud.
  • Likewise, move music and videos of the laptop.
  • Delete duplicate files.
  • Clean up your favorites list.
  • Delete downloads.
  • Clear your cache.

One important part of decluttering is uninstalling old software. Make sure that it’s fully uninstalled. Usually, this involves more than just running the “uninstall” feature. You may want to use a third-party uninstaller, such as IObit.

Additionally, check your computer for malware and viruses, using a tool such as Malwarebytes for Mac or PC. If you have any, then be sure to get rid of them completely. These can really drag your laptop down.

Think of your laptop as a place to hold just what you need. Store what you don’t need in the cloud. Aim for minimalism on your laptop.

Make it a point to declutter your laptop regularly. This makes it easier when it’s time to do it again. Plus, it keeps your laptop running as efficiently as possible.

2. Clean the Inside

The number one culprit of early laptop death is overheating. More often than not, this happens because it’s dirty inside.

Each laptop is different, so how you clean it will vary. Some laptops can be opened. If that’s the kind that you have, then you can vacuum out or dust the interior.

Alternatively, you can use a compressed air can on the vents. Blow it sideways, so the dirty blows out, not into the machine.

Check your owner’s manual to find the proper way to clean your laptop. Alternatively, you may take it into the store for a cleanup.

Cleaning the inside of your laptop should be done regularly. In between sessions, aim to keep it as clean as possible. Use protective covers and dust regularly.

3. Run the Battery to Zero Percent

Indicators Battery

This sounds strange, right?

However, it depletes the battery to keep it topped up. You need to let it run out now and then.

Unplug the charger. Let the battery run out completely. Recharge back to 100 percent.

This is a simple task, but it makes a big difference. Do it once per quarter (every third month or so).

Alternatively, you can do a weekly refresh. In this case, let the battery run down to about 10 percent before recharging. This, too, extends your laptop’s life.

There is a lot of debate about which of the above is the best option. It varies by computer. Choose the method that is right for you.

Additional Tips for Laptop Batteries

A lot can be done with a laptop battery. It’s worth it to learn battery-saving options. For example:

  • Keep your screen’s brightness as low as you can tolerate.
  • Turn off Wi-Fi when not in use.
  • Turn off Bluetooth.
  • Use a browser that is easier on the battery.
  • Unplug everything from the USB drive.
  • Utilize the “sleep” and “hibernate” options.
  • Close apps and windows when not in use.
  • Use built-in features, such as “battery saver mode” on Windows 10 laptops.

These are all small tricks. They’re often used to get more life out of laptop batteries when on the go. However, every little bit adds up to extending laptop life.

Finally, when it comes to batteries, think about accessories. If your laptop won’t charge, it might be the charger itself. Check all components to determine the problem before tossing out the laptop.

4. Be Smart with Updates

Windows Updates Runnings

An update is available. Should you download it?

It depends.

A good rule of thumb to follow is to update programs. Additionally, you might update hardware. However, you shouldn’t always update your OS.

The programs that you’ve downloaded get frequent updates. These typically improve with time. Staying up to date with them keeps laptops running smoothly.

There are a few exceptions. For example, as a gamer, you might get a new version of the game. If the new version is particularly draining, you might opt not to download the update.

In some instances, you may need to update hardware. For example, let’s say that you use your laptop with a printer. You may need to update the printer driver.

However, you should think twice before updating the OS. Many OS updates slow down older computers. This can happen even if your laptop technically meets minimum system requirements.

Before updating the OS, do the following:

  • Let others try it first.
  • Research compatibility issues.
  • Double-check minimum requirements.
  • Update hard drive and memory first.
  • Ask yourself if you really need the new OS.

Remember that the older your laptop, the more likely a new OS will create problems. If your laptop starts running slowly after an OS update, then you can revert to the old OS.

Remember to turn off automatic updates.

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5. Upgrade the Hard Drive

New SSDs

Eventually, you may have to replace your hardware. Upgrade the hard drive for extended laptop life. Do this if your laptop has already died or seems like it’s about to die.

One smart investment is to upgrade to a Solid State Drive (SSD).

These last longer than traditional hard drives. Plus, you’ll get a lot of speed for your laptop.

An SSD drive is much cooler than most hard drives. Remember that keeping your machine cool also extends its life span. Therefore, this is a two-for-one upgrade.

On older computers, check the compatibility of an SSD with your OS. Despite the advice above, you may need to upgrade the OS if adding a Solid State Drive.

You can purchase the SSD separately. Replace your existing hard drive with the SSD.

Note that an SSD costs more than than a standard hard drive. However, you can take it out and reuse it when you do decide to upgrade to a new laptop. It’s one of the best investments you can make.

6. Upgrade the RAM

RAM is memory.

More RAM leads to a better working laptop.

This is more affordable than a new laptop.

Unfortunately, you can’t add RAM to all laptops. Most Mac laptops don’t allow RAM upgrades. That said, if you have a PC laptop, this can be a smart option.

First, check if you can add RAM. Then, find out how much RAM you can add. Add as much RAM as possible for a better laptop experience.

7. Replace the Laptop Battery

Replacing a Laptop Battery

If the battery is the problem, then you can replace it. Well, hopefully. Unfortunately, sometimes that’s not as easy as it sounds.

Many modern laptops fuse the hard drive, RAM, and battery. You may not be able to replace them separately. You may not be able to replace them at all.

However, this depends on what laptop you have. It is worth a shot to see what can be updated. If buying a new battery is an option, then it’s well worth it.

Remember to be careful when working with hardware. Whether it’s the hard drive, RAM, or battery, you don’t want to get hurt. Use precautions, and seek professional help if you need to.

8. Refresh With a New OS Install

You’ve tried everything else. Your laptop is still slow. Try this.

Back up everything on the computer.

Wipe your hard drive completely clean.

Reinstall your OS.

This isn’t the same thing as upgrading your OS. Instead, you are reinstalling the OS back to its original installation. This will be like starting over with a “like new” laptop.

The exact steps for an OS install vary by laptop. Be sure to do what’s right for your device.

9. Remember to Clean the Outside

Laptops Cleaning

You’ll focus on cleaning up the inside of the computer. After all, that’s where the damage gets done. Nevertheless, you don’t want to neglect the exterior.

Sometimes you want a new laptop because yours looks ugly. The nicer it looks, the more likely you are to want to keep it. Updating the exterior will help you achieve this mind state.

Here are some things you can do to freshen up the outside of the laptop:

  • Clean the keyboard.
  • Replace broken keyboard keys.
  • Replace a broken screen.
  • Clean the external mouse if you have one.
  • Personalize it with decals and stickers.
  • Invest in a laptop case to prevent future damage.

If your laptop is ugly, you might not want to keep it. Remind yourself that it’s worth it. Make it pretty and enjoy it!

Points to Remember

Laptop Battery Packs

You don’t have to replace your laptop after just a couple of years.

There are many good reasons to refresh your existing laptop. You can do this easily with a few key steps.

First, you want to think “clean”. Make sure to clean the inside and outside of the machine. Do this regularly.

Second, you should be smart with your battery. Don’t leave your laptop plugged in all of the time. Let it run down, then fully recharge it, to extend life.

Third, be smart about updates. You should update applications. On the other hand, you should be wary of OS updates.

Finally, there are a lot of parts to a laptop. You may be able to replace some of them. Do this when possible to improve your laptop.

You can easily keep your laptop running. It’s a big help to your budget, even if you only get one more year out of it.

Try these tips today.

About the Author Marcus

Marcus has a graduate degree in computer engineering and has many years of experience in cutting-edge technology research and development in both startups and Fortune 500 corporations. In his free time, he enjoys RTS gaming.

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