10 Ways to Extend the Life of Your Laptop

Last week, I told you how to make your cell phone last as long as possible. Now, as promised, here's how to extend the lifespan of your laptop:

1. Optimize your settings to save power. For instance, set your screen brightness at a lower level.

2. Use sleep, hibernation, or standby when you won't be actively using your computer.

3. Keep the battery contacts clean so power is delivered as effectively as possible. You can clean them with a cotton swab and a bit of rubbing alcohol. (Be sure the device is powered down before you start swabbing!)

Related: 5 Ways to Cut Clutter in the Computer Room

4. Charge your battery according to the instructions in the manual. Most lithium ion batteries can be partially discharged and recharged without a problem, but avoid fully discharging if you can. Old nickel-based batteries should be fully drained and recharged. (Not sure what type you have? The info will be on the battery itself.)

5. Keep the computer cool to maximize its efficiency and battery life.

6. If you won't be using your computer for a while (say you're going on a trip for a week), store it in a cool place, partially discharged (about 60%).

Related: How to Extend the Life of Your Cell Phone and TV

7. Turn off your wireless Internet connection when you don't need it.

8. Set tasks, like updates and virus scans, to run when the computer is not running on battery power.

9. If you have a PC,
about once a week, clean up your hard drive with Microsoft Disk CleanUp and Disk Defragmenter.

Related: How to Fix a Dropped Laptop

10. Keep your software up-to-date
and make sure you're running antivirus software and have spyware detection and removal tools.

Keep or toss? For starters, if your notebook is pushing four years, consider yourself lucky! But seriously, if you've tried the steps above and you're not happy with the results, try upgrading the memory. If that doesn't work, it's probably time to invest in a new one.

Check out Good Housekeeping's Inside the Institute blog to find out how to extend the life of your printer too!

- By Rachel Rothman

More from Good Housekeeping: Reprinted with Permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.