Little maintenance, big benefit: With these 5 tips, old laptops will last longer. Loss of performance, long boot times, and ailing batteries will get you under control.
As laptops get older, many users show a similar picture: loading times take longer, the device reacts increasingly sluggishly, gets loud, or gets hot. You don’t have much joy in using it anymore. But there is good news: In many cases, the drop in performance is not due to damaged hardware, but only to a lack of maintenance. And it’s basically very simple. You can often save yourself high costs for a new purchase or an expensive visit to the service center with these 5 simple tips.
Get dust and heat build-up under control
When laptops get old, this is often first noticeable in the fans. With millions of revolutions, they have often collected a lot of dust. Take a close look at all of the device’s fans, including those inside the case. Make sure that the bearings still rotate quietly and evenly and that the desired air flows are created.
You can then carefully remove accumulated dust with a vacuum cleaner, also think of the ventilation slots. Incidentally, users should carry out such simple cleanings regularly, no matter how old the affected laptop is. Important: Be sure to switch off the device before you start cleaning.
Optimize software and free up disk space
In addition to the hardware, it is also worth dusting off the software. If you have the time and know-how, you can often achieve the most with a fresh installation of the operating system. This is a bit more complex but often gives the system the most power back.
But even without using the same heavy artillery, you can effectively help Windows. All sorts of maintenance software are available to tidy up and clean the system.
Even when hard drives are almost full, laptops quickly get out of breath. In Windows Explorer, you can right-click on the respective mass storage device to see how much storage space is currently available there. If more than 90 percent is reported as occupied, then you should empty the recycle bin and generously uninstall unused programs.
Save the battery or (in an emergency) replace it
One of the most important and often most stressed components of mobile devices is the battery. When laptops get old and are used a lot or charged frequently, the core component is inevitably affected. Unfortunately, the solution to such problems is not that simple: You won’t get the lost performance of a battery back with any maintenance in the world. If the battery no longer supplies enough energy for mains-free operation, you really have to think about replacing it.
Until then, you can help your battery easily and effectively:
- If possible, do not let your battery run out completely. Even after the device has been switched off, the battery will slowly continue to discharge on its own. Because a very low charge is associated with a very low voltage in the battery, you should avoid such conditions if possible – or only allow them temporarily.
- 100% charge cannot be kept permanently: Just like a low voltage, too high a voltage is poison for the battery. If the device remains plugged in permanently, the battery will always remain at the capacity limit – and this accelerates its chemical aging. You are doing the battery a special service if you remove it from the laptop when it is permanently connected to the mains. (It is best to charge it to around 70 percent beforehand.)
- Avoid heat and cold: Lithium-ion batteries don’t like either of these things. Performance, service life, and capacity are affected by high and low temperatures.
Updates and upgrades? Yes, please!
You should power up and shut down laptops from time to time so that Windows can install new updates. You should therefore not always “park” the devices in energy-saving mode, otherwise, the system software cannot be updated. 24-hour use isn’t optimal either. Such continuous use is rarely good for the hardware, and older devices in particular are usually not designed for this. Moving parts such as fans also wear out unnecessarily if the laptop is constantly running but not in use. Also, make sure that any software you use regularly is always up to date.
To save on the high cost of buying a new laptop, you can also take the low cost of a few upgrades on the old machine. Noisy and sluggish fans can often be replaced cheaply, and a new hard drive can reduce loading times and provide fresh storage space. An additional RAM module or switching to an SSD can also work small miracles. You can find out which slots are available on the device from the manufacturer’s website or from your user manual. Unfortunately, an upgrade of the CPU on the laptop is not easily possible.
Tip: If you have stored your old laptop in the basement for a long time or if the device has cooled down considerably (e.g. due to transport in winter), you should let it stand for a while before switching it on so that it can reach room temperature. This is because condensation effects can easily occur on cold components inside the device if the device is moved from a cold environment to a warm one. When switched on, there is a risk of short circuits and serious damage. This also applies to all electronic devices.
Accessories protect device peripherals
Laptops come with the most important accessories of a PC, which is also one of their greatest strengths. Touchpad, keyboard, or display – the mobile devices already have the peripherals on board. Unfortunately, this all-in-one principle is also a key weakness of mobile computers. Because if one of the components mentioned breaks, the entire laptop becomes unusable.
Such signs of wear and tear can easily be avoided by connecting external accessories: you can often connect older monitors to your laptop without any problems. If the connections do not fit, inexpensive adapters are available. This protects the mobile display and often creates a better and larger picture. With a USB keyboard or an additional mouse, you can also slow down device wear and tear and at the same time improve operation.