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5 tricks to make a laptop live longer

SALT LAKE CITY — Laptops have become an almost essential tool for life, with research at work and play at home, but even after spending hours together many don't realize a couple of easy habits could help their electronic friend live a little longer.

Most people know it is always a good idea to avoid nearby liquids and keep a laptop in a case while traveling to avoid a momentary slip-up that ends in tragedy. With a little bit of extra love a laptop can live a longer, loyal life.

Don't put it on a bed or pillow

Unfortunately, one of the things that makes a bed the ideal place to snuggle in for a YouTube marathon also makes it one of the worst places for a laptop to rest. The plush bedding feels great, but it also melds to computers, blocking off ventilation holes and potentially causing overheating.

Luckily, a simple solution makes it possible to continue using a laptop in comfort: just put the laptop on top of something hard. A large book or lapdesk will do the job, and an old shoe box puts the laptop up at the perfect level for viewing pleasure while keeping it clear of threatening blankets. There are also numerous cooling platforms which can be purchased to take overheating prevention to the next level.

Don't leave it plugged in all of the time

Laptops were designed to be portable, but since they have become a fixture in office situations it's more than likely a laptop will spend the majority of its time in one location. While it might seem safer, as well as more convenient, to just leave a laptop plugged in, the life of a battery is actually prolonged if you let it do its job.

A battery's life can be extended by as much as four times by only charging to 80 percent and then letting it drain to about 40 percent, Cadex Electronics CEO Isidor Buchmann told WIRED. Always watching battery life may be inconvenient, but regularly letting it run down is a healthy habit. When a battery is holding a high charge there is actually a higher voltage level, putting the cell under more stress and leading to fewer discharge cycles, Buchmann said.

Don't leave it on standby

It may be convenient to always leave a laptop in hibernation mode for quick restart times, but a lot of a computer system's self-maintenance is connected to its shut down process, according to Nerds on Call. Simply turning off a computer every couple of days to give it a little rest will let it do things like clear short term history and find new software updates.

Don't let files become cluttered

While you're busy surfing the internet, your computer is busy collecting cookies, creating a browsing history and gathering other goodies. All of this information has its use, but after a while it can start to bog down a computer and make it run slower. An easy way to avoid this is to regularly clear up your files.

Popular CCleaner is available for free to PCs and Macs alike and offers a clean sweep of web-related history. Running CCleaner or a similar program every week or two can keep a laptop cruising the web at a fast clip. Piriform, the provider of the software, claims CCleaner's professional version can prolong a PC's life by as much as two years.

It is also a good idea to regularly run a disk defragmenter as your computer gets older. As a laptop ages the files become more fragmented, making it gradually run slower and slower. Not coincidentally, a fragmented computer can also make its owner increasingly frustrated.

Don't use household cleaning products

This one might seem like common sense, but it is important to avoid using common household cleaning supplies like Windex on your computer screen. Products with ammonia will dull a laptop's beautiful picture. Other agents to avoid include ehyl alcohol, acentone, ethyl acid and methly chloride, according to CNet. In order to safely clean a computer, they recommend wiping the screen's surface with a dry, lint-free cloth. Even if you have a cleaner made for the screen, they said to avoid directly spraying it on the computer.