Centers: Student Technology Collaborative

General Computer Maintenance Tips

Carry your laptop in a protective case or bag, free from any potentially harmful substances.
  • Computers should be carried in a bag with lots of padding and protection.
  • Alternatively, you can purchase a "laptop sleeve" to protect your computer. Models with padding inside and a hard shell are preferred.
  • Don't place food, drink, or other potentially hardful substances nearby or in a bag with your computer, as liquid spills on laptops are all too common and often come with a heavy price tag.
  • Be sure to include accident protection in your warranty, if you are concerned about accidental damage or spills.
Always power down your laptop before moving it around, and at night.
  • The hard drive, where your data is stored is a series of spinning discs with a read/write head (analogous to a record player). Thus, transporting or moving your laptop while powered on can cause corruption to the hard drive (analogous to a record scratch).
  • To avoid long boot-up times, you can also put your computer into Sleep, Standby, or Hibernate modes.
  • Shutting down your computer (or putting it into Sleep or Hibernate) will also extend the life of the hardware.
Take care with the screen and keyboard.
  • The laptop's compact design means sensitive components must be stored directly below the keyboard.
  • Avoid slamming or punching down on keys with excessive force, as this may damage the components underneath.
  • The LCD screen is also sensitive, so avoid poking the screen too hard or placing heavy objects on top of your laptop.
Keep the laptop on a flat surface when in use and avoid blocking air vents.
  • Blocking air vents will cause the computer to operate above the normal operating temperature range, which over time will decrease the lifespan of your computer.
  • Avoid using your computer in a particularly dusty area.
  • Consider purchasing a compressed "air" canister and blowing out the dust from the vents, or request help from your Local Support Provider.
Back up your data regularly and backup important files to multiple locations.
  • Hard drive failure is difficult to predict and may even occur within the first few months of computer ownership
  • Develop a strategy for backing up your data regularly. See, Back Up Storage Options.
Install antivirus software, keep it updated, and perform scans regularly.
  • Be sure to install antivirus software. Your computer may come with a free trial of another antivirus, but Yale ITS strongly encourages uninstalling the trial version provided and installing a title that won't expire.
  • If the computer is Yale-owned, you should install IBM BigFix Protection from the Software Library.
  • If the computer is not owned by Yale, please see our Antivirus service offering page for recommendations of third-party products.
  • If you install third-party software, we recommend that you set it to both scan and update its definitions on a daily basis.
Set strong passwords.
  • Be sure to set a strong password for your username, using numbers, letters, and capitals.
  • In Windows XP, be sure to set a strong password for the Administrator account too.
Delete unwanted programs and files, and avoid installing lots of 'extras'.
  • In Windows, there are many flashy programs that run in the background of your computer (usually showing up as little icons in the task bar, e.g. WeatherBug). Use 'Add/Remove programs' in the Control Panel to remove these programs or any others not in use.
  • In OS X, be sure to remove unwanted programs from your 'Applications' folder.
  • Empty your Recycling Bin or Trash.
  • Delete old files from your desktop or documents folders.
  • Remove any excess user accounts that may be taking up space.
Update Windows/OS X regularly.
Avoid P2P software.
  • P2P programs often come bundled with adware or spyware.
  • P2P downloads can sometime be bogus files and may contain viruses.
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Keep track of your software CD/DVDs and license keys.
  • Never discard the Windows, Office, or other discs that come with your computer; these can be invaluable in getting your computer running fast.
  • Keep all official documents, receipts, and license keys for your software, which are needed if the software must be reinstalled.