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Thursday, 03 September 2015 10:18

Back to School - Top Five Laptop/Tablet Tips

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The day has finally come – you’ve bit the bullet and purchased your child a shiny new laptop or tablet for school.  In today’s digital age, teaching our youth to properly care for these high-end electronics can be like trying to nail Jell-O to a tree. J Fortunately, we’ve created a list of simple (yet important) tips that can help extend the longevity of your latest purchase, and help protect the investment you’ve made in your kid’s education. 

1.       Beware of Theft. If your child is excited about his/her new gadget, they might be posting pictures on social media, telling their friends about it at school, and comparing techy stats with anyone that shares their tech fashion. According to one national survey, up to 1/3 of all stolen laptops are stolen from school property.  Tip: Instead of using a standard “laptop bag”, consider using a non-specific generic backpack instead.  Invest in a laptop lock (they can be found for as little as $10 on Amazon) to help deter the sticky fingered population.  Most importantly, NEVER leave the item unattended. It only takes a second for that new investment to disappear.

2.       Keep Food/Drink AwayAlthough this is a no-brainer, it is often the first thing kids tend to overlookJ Remember, the tiniest bit of water could short-circuit some sensitive laptop circuits, and render it useless.

3.        Avoid “Hard Booting”: Kids are often in a rush, and might be tempted to turn off their laptops by simply holding down the power button until it powers down. Although quick, this method is harmful to the laptop and could cause data loss.  A hard reboot should only be used as a last resort. Sometimes this is inevitable, for instance, when Windows hangs. But this should not be a regular practice.

4.       Keep it “Clean”: Keeping devices free from viruses and malware can be a tough job for kids. Most new devices come with a year of “complimentary” virus protection.  Malwarebytes.com is also available as a free software download that can help with malware issues too. When in doubt, remember, ATC offers premium, remote online computer support (Etech). Technicians can clean-up, scan, repair and update computers and laptops completely online. For more information, visit our website.

It might sound simple, but learning how to properly clean the exterior of your laptop is also important.   Be careful when cleaning air vents – don’t use liquid cleaners. Try a can of compressed air instead. When cleaning the screen, make sure the cleaning cloth is very soft, and has no imprints or monograms on it, as these may scratch the screen. Be careful with spray cleaners: most household products have chemicals that can damage electronics. Using just water or vinegar is always a safe alternative.  Never spray cleaner directly on the screen. Instead, spray onto a cleaning cloth first.   

5.    Battery Do’s and Don’ts.  Before the first use, charge the batteries for 12 hours or the minimum charge time, as mentioned in the manual. For daily use, charge the battery to capacity, then run the laptop on battery power until it is completely drained or almost drained. (For Ni-Cd or Ni-MH batteries, this prevents the memory effect. For Li-ion batteries, this can help prevent overcharging).

  • Don’t leave the battery unused for long periods of time. Even if you use AC power most of the time, use the battery regularly to keep it in good condition. Switch off your AC adapter when the laptop is not in use. This prevents overcharging.
  • To extend battery life, you can try decreasing the LCD brightness while using your notebook. You can activate the ‘Standby’ and ‘Hibernation’ power-saving modes, too, for better battery life.
  • Avoid excessive heat conditions.  Remind your child not to leave the laptop outside in a hot car all day. During intensive usage (i.e. gaming), the device will produce heat, and may become excessively hot. Try to avoid these situations; if they do occur, remove the battery from the socket to allow for complete cool down to avoid damage.
  • Keep an eye on the accuracy of the battery gauge. The battery gauge has a sensor that measures how much power the battery has stored. This gauge can become inaccurate overtime due to the battery’s charging/discharging cycles. An inaccurate gauge can cause you headaches. For example, the battery may report that it still has 10% of capacity when in fact it has a much lower value, and this causes the computer to shutdown unexpectedly. Re-calibrating the battery gauge after every 30 charges will help your gauge stay accurate. More information about re-calibrating the battery gauge can be found here.

We hope these quick tips will help ease your youth into the world of digital responsibility, and will also aid in extending the life of their product.  Remember, if we can be of any further assistance, just give us a call. We’re always glad to help.