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  1. #1
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    Notebook Care & Maintenance Guide

    
    Notebook Care and Maintenance Guide


    GENERAL USE
    • Notebooks shouldn't be bumped or moved while they're switched on. Think of the hard drive as being like a vinyl record - movement greatly increases the chance of causing damage. Putting a solid-state drive (SSD) into your notebook avoids this issue.
    • Don't use the notebook on a bed, on your lap, on carpet or any other soft surface. Use a hard, flat surface. Most notebooks have air intake vents on their underside. They also have feet to elevate them off the surface a bit to allow cool air to flow under the notebook. Also be careful not to obstruct exhaust outlets at the back or side of the latop. Periodically check the fans and vents for fluff and dust buildup. It’s also a good idea not to use the notebook too close to heaters.
    • Don’t push the notebook up against the wall. One of the most common things techs repair on notebooks is the power connector, which is often at the back of the notebook. In many cases, it requires a motherboard replacement. Not cheap.
    • Keep the notebook away from magnetic fields. Speakers, TV’s, refridgerators and even alarm clocks can all generate strong magnetic fields. Hard drives are magnetic storage devices, meaning that a strong enough magnet can wipe the drive.
    • Notebooks and liqiuds don’t mix. Coffee, water, wine, beer and vomit have all been known to kill notebooks. If you're having a party, leave the notebook somewhere safe.
    • Notebook screens are fragile and expensive. Close the notebook gently. Avoid touching the screen and don’t put heavy objects on it (eg. books). Use soft cleaning agents and soft cloth. I recommend using a proper computer screen cleaning agent and a cloth for cleaning spectacles with. These should be available at your local electronics shop and optometrists, respectively.
    • Notebook keyboards are less durable than normal keyboards. They're also more expensive to replace. Try to keep it clean and avoid being rough with it. If you have small kids, it might be an idea to get a USB keyboard for them to use.
    • Use a surge protector. Desktop computer power supplies are designed to bear the brunt of dangerous power fluctuations (you should still use a surge protector on them). Notebooks don’t have that luxury. A decent surge can cause costly damage. Surge protectors are cheap. They can also protect against surges through the phone line (if you’re using the dial-up modem).

  2. #2
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    
    BATTERY PRESERVATION
    • Remove the battery if you mainly use the AC power. Lithium Ion (Li-Ion) batteries suffer damage from overcharging, so if the battery is left in for long periods (after it is fully charged) the total charge capacity will significanltly reduce. It’s less hassle to remove the battery than to be dependent on AC power. Some batteries have one of the notebook feet under them – you can usually substitute this by placing something like a piece of folded paper or a pen under the notebook.
    • Never fully discharge the battery. You should always charge it before it gets below 10%. Multi-cell Li-Ion batteries can be particularly susceptible to this if they have one or two cells that are smaller than the others. Unlike other batteries, it is better to charge Li-Ion batteries sooner rather than later.
    • Store the battery with 40-60% charge if you don’t use it for long periods of time. Keep it in a cool, dry place and don’t expose it to extreme temperatures. It will lose around 5% charge each month, so it’s good to get into the habit of checking the battery on a regular basis.
    • Consider buying a spare battery. Apart from distributing the wear and tear between batteries, this is especially handy if you like using your notebook on planes, in airports and other places where you might not always have access to power points. You should also consider carrying spare batteries for your mouse.

  3. #3
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    
    TRAVELLING
    • Turn the notebook off when transporting it. When hard drives are switched off, the heads are locked for safe transport. When the drive is still receiving power, the heads are still unlocked, meaning that the heads can be bumped into the platter, causing physical damage and data loss.
    • Use a notebook bag. These are designed specifically for the purpose of protecting the notebook from impact during transit. A bag made particularly for your size notebook optimises protection by limiting the amount of movement inside the bag. The top of the notebook should face the most heavily padded part of the bag. Shoulder bags usually have one strap and one padded strip for partitioning the bag. The padded strip should be used to stop the notebook moving side to side. Contrary to popular belief, it is not supposed to go over the top of the notebook. Bags that aren’t easily identified as notebook bags help reduce the risk of theft. Caribee and Crumpler both have a range of high quality and inconspicuous notebook bags. I like the Crumpler Backpacks because the zip isn’t accessible unless you take the bag off. Their 17" backpacks can also fit a full-sized keyboard.
    • If you're travelling overseas, check your AC adaptor AND your surge protector. Almost all notebooks use a "Switching Power Supply" that should have an Input Voltage range of between 100V and 240V, meaning that you can use anywhere in the world. You should also confirm that your surge protector has the same Input Voltage range.
    • Watch your weight. A notebook bag with packed with various accessories (AC adaptors, spare batteries, external drives, CD/DVD's, etc) can get quite heavy. If you're on a long trip, lugging it around can be tiresome. If you're flying somewhere, the accessories could tip your bag over the acceptable weight limit for cabin baggage. Any accessories you don't need, leave them at home, otherwise try and store some of it in your suitcase.
    • Caravan and motor home owners. You guys can turn your notebook into a multifunctional entertainment system. TV, DVD's, Internet, etc. Read the Accessory Tips.

  4. #4
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    Australia
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    
    PERFORMANCE TIPS
    • Performance options can usually be found either in BIOS or in Control Panel (Power Options). Usually there are options to optimise performance for best battery life or for most power. The default option is usually somewhere in between. A good one in Windows Vista or Windows 7 is to set the "Plugged In" options for the "Power Saver" and "Balanced" modes the same as the "Plugged In" options for the High Performance Mode. So basically any time you have the power pack plugged in, you're getting maximum performance.
    • Battery use can be prolonged by turning off or toning town unused hardware features. Wireless LAN, Bluetooth, Speakers, Infrared, FireWire, Screen brightness, etc. You can always enable them when you want to use them.
    • Add more RAM. One of the biggest causes of poor performance on notebooks is lack of RAM. Many manufacturers and retailers skimp on RAM to reduce the price tag on the notebook. These days RAM is cheap, so if you've got less than 1GB RAM on a Windows XP notebook or less than 2GB RAM on a Windows Vista notebook, take it to a shop and get them to slap some more RAM in. It should take less than five minutes. Taking it into the shop rather than fitting it yourself is a good option. Notebooks can be fussy with RAM and there are also a couple of different types of RAM. In most cases if the notebook rejects the RAM, the shop can remove or swap it on the spot.
    • Minimise the number of programs running. If you have less programs running, the notebook will do less work, and therefore consume less power. This guide might help you achieve better performance.
    • Protect against parasites. Just like your own health, keeping clean and free from the likes of viruses and other intrusions is a big part of having a healthy computer. This can be particularly important if you use your notebook at various wireless hotspots. They're out of the comfort zone of your own home and you can never be sure about how well the network is set up or if there are hackers nearby keen to download those rude pictures of your loved one. This guide provides some great information on how you can improve security on your computer.
    • Put in a bigger hard drive. If you're running out of storage space or are dependent on external hard drives, you might like to consider putting in a larger hard drive. Most notebooks can handle large capacity hard drives. The only major consideration is whether your notebook's hard drive interface is IDE or SATA. Like with RAM upgrades, taking your notebook to a shop is also a good option. The shop should not only be able to supply the correct sort of drive, but should also be able to properly transfer the contents of your existing hard drive to the new one without having to reinstall Windows
    Last edited by Mjölnir; 10-17-2009 at 02:49 AM.

  5. #5
    Joined
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    Location
    Australia
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    
    ACCESSORIES
    • Portable mice make things easy. Touchpads and trackpoints (nipples) on notebooks can be cumbersome to use and USB mice are a great way to avoid. I recommend cordless optical mice that have a power switch on them. If they're left on while you're travelling, the battery will drain very quickly. By switching them off, battery life can be quite impressive. Cordless mice also make a handy remote if you want to sit back and watch a DVD. I strongly recommend the Logitech VX Nano. The USB dongle is tiny, allowing you to leave it permanently plugged into the notebook.
    • Cordless Keyboard and Mouse Combos are handy. Gamers and people who often use their notebook at the same desk will benefit from having this sort of setup.
    • Want to watch TV? There are plenty of good USB TV tuners out there. High definition DVB-T tuners usually provide a fantastic picture on notebooks. If you're keen on using Media Center, make sure that MCE or BDA drivers are available for that device. If you're buying a notebook and TV is a high priority, keep your eyes out for notebooks with inbuilt TV tuners.
    • Internet anywhere. Some countries have broad wireless broadband coverage (via 3G mobile networks) and most providers have global roaming internet options. You can sign up for an internet plan where they send you a 3G USB or PC Card modem so you can use the internet on your notebook pretty much anywhere you like. Beware though. Not all providers have good coverage and good bandwidth. Don't let them fool you with coverage statistics. Find the provider's coverage maps for the areas you wish to travel to. If you plan to do global roaming, find out which providers they use in your destination country and check that provider's coverage maps too. The coverage maps usually also indicate what sort of bandwidth you can expect in different areas. Educate yourself before committing to a particular provider.
    • Sound advice. Motor home owners, gamers and audiophiles might enjoy having surround sound or better quality sound from their notebook. Creative and Turtle Beach both offer some good solutions for notebooks. If you prefer using large headphones, you probably should invest in a pocket amplifier to power the headphones. Chu-Moy amplifiers work well, they're affordable (on eBay) or you can make one yourself.
    • Bluetooth bliss. If you have a phone or other devices capable of communicating with a PC, and your notebook doesn't have inbuilt bluetooth functionality, you might like to invest in the next best thing - the ASUS USB-BT21 Mini Bluetooth Dongle. Being so small, you can leave it plugged in without fear of wrecking it. With any bluetooth device, be sure to either disable it when you're not using it or secure it so that others can't gain access to it easily. As an example, make sure it's not set to "Discoverable" and give it a strong password/PIN if you can.


    ____________________________________
    Mjölnir © 2008
    PC Perspective / AMDMB Forums
    Last edited by Mjölnir; 10-01-2008 at 04:13 AM.

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