In today’s world, computers have become integrated into nearly every aspect of life, from entertainment and education to finances and even relationships. While we’ve yet to reach a futuristic reality where our devices have literally become appendages, when it comes to characterizing the role computers play in our everyday lives, a term like “sidekick” may be apropos—after all, does a day go by that we don’t spend time on our computers? And how many of us never leave the house without our smartphones, laptops or tablets? You might start to think of your devices as programmable pals, binary buddies, computerized companions…you get the idea.

Considering the pivotal position they inhabit, it seems only fitting that our computers should receive the utmost care; and yet, we tend to forget that they, like ourselves, have needs and vulnerabilities that require ongoing support. To keep your computer happy and healthy, as well as avoid common pitfalls like malware and data loss, consider the following tips:

Even hardware needs a soft touch. When it comes to your computer’s physical components, take Otis Redding’s advice and try a little tenderness. Better yet, take the advice of Oliver Rowen, executive vice president of ClickAway, a Diamond Certified company. “Most computer users are unaware of the delicacy of these moving parts,” he says. “Whether you’re using a laptop or an external hard drive, you should avoid moving or jostling it while in use. Whenever a device’s internal disc is spinning, there’s a potential for damage to occur from something as simple as accidentally bumping it or setting it down too hard.”compressed-air-laptop

Everyone needs to vent once in a while, and your computer is no exception. Dust exists in any home or office, but few people realize it can put their computers at risk. “A computer’s cooling vent is similar to the radiator on a car’s engine, which, when blocked, can cause the engine to overheat,” explains Mr. Rowen. “Likewise, when dust collects in a computer’s cooling vent, it can overheat the processor and other components.” To avoid this, regularly clean your computer’s cooling vent using compressed air or a similar product.

With computers, viruses aren’t just a seasonal concern. When your computer is out of commission, it often puts you out of commission as well, especially if you telecommute for work. To protect your device from viruses and similar high-tech health hazards, you’ll need to take some proactive steps, starting with the installation of a good antivirus program. Remember that antivirus protection isn’t a one-time affair—you’ll need to renew it on an ongoing (usually annual) basis.

Another critical preventative measure is to exercise good judgement while online. One of the most common ways antivirus-flu-shotcomputer security gets compromised is when users click on dubious links (beware of free offers from anonymous sources) or visit file sharing sites to illegally download copyrighted materials. One way to assess the veracity of an emailed link is to hover your cursor over it, which will prompt a pop-up box that shows the link’s URL (aka web address). If the URL doesn’t contain a pertinent domain name, it may not be safe to click. If you feel compelled to open an unfamiliar link, do it on your smartphone, as computer viruses don’t usually work on phones.

If your computer becomes infected by a virus or malware, don’t attempt to fix the problem yourself—you may inadvertently make things worse. Instead, take your device to a computer service specialist.

computer-updatesAlways with the updates… A common complaint from computer users is the constant influx of update notifications they receive. Some users will ignore and even disable these notifications, but, as Mr. Rowen explains, this can lead to diminished performance and even safety risks. “There are some really important updates that, if not completed, can leave your computer vulnerable to viruses and malware,” he says. “If you don’t want to deal with updates, regularly bring your computer to a professional service technician, who will make sure your operating system, antivirus and other programs are current.”

Take the pressure off your device by backing up your data. We use our computers to store everything from music and movies to irreplaceable items like family photos, yet we seldom consider what will happen to these in the event of a system crash or theft. “The number one way consumers negatively affect their lives in terms of their computers is by not backing up their data,” says Mr. Rowen. “Whether dragging and dropping files onto an external drive or using a more sophisticated option like automated cloud storage, backing up your data can help you avoid a lot of potential grief.” It can also help you avoid a high expense, as data recovery can be a costly service. In any case, it’s worthwhile to invest in some means of data backup. If you’re using an external hard drive or similar device, make sure to store it in a safe place like a fireproof box.

To find a Diamond Certified ­­­­computer service or data recovery company in your area, click on one of the links below.

Alameda County: Mobile Device – Sales & Service
Contra Costa County: Computer Service and Repair, Mobile Device – Sales & Service
Marin County: Mobile Device – Sales & Service
San Francisco: Computer – Data Recovery, Mobile Device – Sales & Service
San Mateo County: Mobile Device – Sales & Service
Santa Clara County: Computer – Data Recovery, Computer Service & Repair, Mobile Device – Sales & Service
Santa Cruz County: Computer Service & Repair
Solano County: Computer Service & Repair

Learn more:
Why Did My Computer Get a Virus?
Back up Your Computer – Now! 

Images courtesy of Jay Unplugged.


17 Responses

  1. Chase Wilson says:

    So true. Computers are almost to the point where they are extensions of our bodies in every day life. I use mine every day. It would be a really interesting experiment to go a week without looking at a screen at all, but it would be nearly impossible these days. Do you have any preventative maintenance tips to keep my computer running smoothly? It has slowed down, and I think it is because I never take care of it. Maybe I should just take it to the repair shop and have them take a look at it.

  2. Delores Lyon says:

    Thanks for sharing this advice on taking care of your computer. I really like your advice on being soft with the computer no matter what. You need to be sure that you don’t end up moving parts like you said– that could lead to some serious damage. In fact, I wouldn’t ever try tampering with a computer’s hardware unless you know exactly what you are doing. It just isn’t worth it to try and fix things on your own!

  3. Rhys Rawson says:

    Thanks for the information on how to care for my computer. I don’t think I’ve ever cleaned my computer’s cooling vent, so that probably why it’s been overheating a lot lately. I’ll be sure to get some compressed air so I can clean it out more often, like you mentioned. Great tip!

  4. James Bay says:

    I never knew that moving around my computer while it was on is a bad thing. I also never knew that I needed to dust my computer. I will need to remember these things. Thank you for the information.

  5. jamesrod214 says:

    These are some really good tips for how to take care of your computer. I like your tip about cleaning our your computers cooling vent. Honestly, I have never thought about doing this and I think it would help my computer stay serviced and running. Thanks for the tips!

  6. Raylin Sutter says:

    I use my computer a lot and have needed repair work done on it twice in the last year. I think I might be overusing my computer as I am probably on it for about fifteen hours a day with work, school and studies. Is there anything that I can do to help increase it’s lifetime? It is a Toshiba, by the way.

  7. Eliza Cranston says:

    Thanks for the tips on computer care! I’m always calling IT support for help with my problems but it sounds like I can do a lot to keep my computer running smoothly on my own. I haven’t thought to clean dust from my computer so I’ll be sure to do that!

  8. Breck Lewis says:

    I really like how you said t make sure we stay current with all the updates on our computers. I agree that everyone hates doing the updates because they can become so time consuming. I was just recently updating something during class and I was shocked with how long it took. Is there a way to program all your updates to run themselves in the middle of the night?

  9. Drew says:

    Good reminder to keep updating. I have been guilty of ignoring updates but once the system starts to slow down, it’s probably time to update again. Thanks so much for sharing!

  10. Kyler Brown says:

    I really appreciated these tips, especially since I’m clueless when it comes to computers. I liked your point about how even computers need to vent every once in a while. I never would have known that I should be cleaning my cooling vent had I not read this! Thanks.

  11. Lillian Moore says:

    Thanks for the article! I was surprised to know that you need to clean out the dust on your computer regularly. Knowing that dust can collect on the cooling vent and cause the computer to overheat I will need to pay more attention to when the computer needs to be cleaned. I had a laptop that would constantly be overheating and would just get slower and slower. I am assuming I should have cleaned out the dust and it would have worked better. I will definitely be keeping that in mind the next time my computer starts to heat up.

  12. Drew says:

    Great advice. I love the little cartoons you included. Thanks for the helpful info!

  13. Lauren Woodley says:

    I didn’t realize that the updates had such an effect on the performance of your computer. When I am notified, I always put it off and put it off and put it off. Currently, I’m to the point that my computer is having issues when I even try to go back and do the updates now. Do you have any advice for this situation? Would I need to take it into a professional to get these updates to work properly?

  14. Rachel says:

    One of the biggest computer crimes I am guilty of is not regularly updating my laptop. It’s something I avoid as much as I can, but I’ve realized that it’s an important part of keeping your pc healthy. Thanks for sharing these tips!

  15. Brooke McAvoy says:

    This is one of the best computer help articles I have ever read. Usually they are almost instantly confusing a frustrating for someone who really struggles with technology. Could you recommend any antivirus programs? This seems like the best solution as far as preventing problems goes. Thank you for making sense!

  16. Jade Brunet says:

    I am looking to find ways to better care for my computer. Thanks for informing me that viruses are not just a seasonal concern. I also think that it is wise to pay attention to the flash drives inserted to avoid potential problems.

  17. judy wilson says:

    My old computer didn’t last very long once I bought it, so I’m hoping that my new PC will last longer by taking better care of it. I’m surprised that dust can affect how well my computer runs. I would run an antivirus program on my old computer regularly, but I never dusted the cooling vent. That would explain why it would overheat all of the time. This time, I’ll make sure that my new PC is well ventilated along with updating and running an antivirus program regularly so that it will last longer than one year.

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