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Laptops and Netbooks- Part2
By Sageetha Sridhar

Laptop Computer System

( Continued from Part 1)

Taking care your laptop


Laptops are now a more common accessory for employees as well as executives alike. Even students prefer the mobility of this personal computer which can connect to school Wi-Fi networks automatically and they enjoy their anytime anywhere access to data, entertainment,  as well as communications through social networking sites.

It is time we learn how to take care of our laptops so that they perform better and last longer. This week let us also consider a most common mistake we make while using a laptop: accidental spilling of liquids and see what best could be done for recovery.

It is also a good practice to back up laptop data on to other media periodically. Being expensive, common and portable, laptops are good targets for theft. So consider taking laptop insurance just in case.

Turning off unused programs, Wi-Fi software or devices reduced power consumptions. Do not retain default display settings and resolutions; adjust them according to your personal requirements and the working environment.

Adjust laptop power settings specifying duration so that when idle, blanks the monitor and then a little later turns off to sleep mode. Set power adjustments so that the display goes off first, then hard the hard drive stay active a bit longer and finally the system that store the content’s to the RAM module.

Defragmenting the hard drive is another step to run the laptop more efficiently. Taking the time to defrag once a month allows programs to run more quickly and make better use of the hard drive space.

Few of us know that a good cleaning can enhance the performance of a laptop. Do clean the dust piling on the external of the laptop and this avoids dust settling on to the internals of the laptop. Blow softly to remove dust from the keyboard and never ever use a vacuum cleaner for this task. Use an old tooth brush to clean the area around the exhaust fan screen and in between the keys.

Clean the screen with a mild cleaning liquid which does not contain ammonia or alcohol. Never spray any solution directly onto your screen instead spray a little onto the cleaning cloth and then wipe the screen gently without applying too much pressure.

Take care to clean the laptop case also which normally gathers more dust over a period of time. The external ports and cables must be wiped with a clean dry cloth once in a while. Cleaning your laptop helps prevent overheating of the laptops. Again never leave your laptop in the car as it can lead to large temperature swings (extreme heat or cold) that could damage a laptop.

High compression on the screen such as someone accidentally sitting on it can crack the crystals inside the LCD panel and make it unusable. In such cases the entire screen can be replaced at quite a price. Similarly failed RAM chips can be replaced or even be upgraded with ease. Always hold and lift the computer by its base, not by its display screen to avoid damaging the hinges attaching it to the base.

Recovery from accidental spills

Laptops are commonly prone to spills and here is a guideline as a first act of remedy in such accidents. The keyboards normally designed with springs and exposed contacts are more vulnerable to liquid spills as they can corrode when wet. It is common advice to keep water, coffee or juice well away from the laptop and avoid sipping while reading from the screen.

In case of a liquid spill on the laptop, turn it off instantly by pushing the power button and remove the battery from his socket. Detach all external devices attached including the mouse and the flash memory disks if any. Also remove media if any from its CD/DVD drive. Even a cards inserted in the PC card must be removed and wiped dry.

With a tissue or lint-free absorbent cloth (ones used in the kitchen), wipe the liquid gently without pushing it further through various grooves around. Any battery or AC adapter soaked in liquid can safely discarded and replaced with new ones.

Dry the keyboard with the cloth and keep in tilted position for any excess to escape through gaps between keys. Keep wiping until all traces of visible water disappear. Read the instruction manual as to how to remove key caps and remove those from the affected area. Before doing so take a picture of your keyboard and draw the key-locations correctly. Clean the thin plastic sheet layer, the key contacts and the key caps, leaving all parts apart to dry thoroughly.

Keep the laptop opened and let it be completely dry. Spills of sugar-based liquids like coffee or soft drinks is more challenging as the liquids when dry become sticky and the sugar might clog in small lines and grooved. This needs thorough cleansing with slightly wet cloth and complete drying. Make sure the laptop is kept in a place where there is good air circulation. Leave it like this for more than 24hrs before attempting to reconnect and boot-up.

Repeat the cleaning process once again after 24 hrs with a dry lint-free cloth. Reconnect the battery and try to restart the laptop. If it works fine, then switch to the AC adapter if found in good condition. In case of suspected parts do not hesitate to replace them with new ones. It is very important to protect the expensive mother-board and so all other damaged components can be replaced. In case of serious spills seek help from the manufacturer’s authorised service centres. 

Taking routine care of laptop computers increases their life time. Avoid using any strong cleaners and use mild ammonia-free glass-cleaners where required. There are also several ways to conserve the use of power such as automated sleep modes, reduced screen brightness, etc.

Apart from these, regular software updates, use of antivirus & anti-spam software held to keep your laptop in top-notch condition. A well maintained laptop enables you to bring out your full potential while computing.

The author is a technology evangelist working as Consultant at the Information Technology Authority of Oman and can be contacted at or through her blog at or on twitter at . 


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