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By North Rittner

Welcome back to another Carbon Valley Tech Talks, my friends. This month we’re going to look at some of the worst habits that are killing your device’s life span. With more and more devices designed for our on-the-go lifestyle, we put our devices through rugged abuse that desktops of old never had to endure. Because of this, we are inadvertently shortening the life expectancy of our devices. If you are religious about caring for your devices and not falling into one of the following habits, then good on you, my friend! If you are like me and move at the speed of life and sometimes put your laptop in a less than ideal position, then continue, dear reader, to find out the five most common bad habits causing big problems with devices these days.

Bad Habit #1:    Not taking the time to update your device.

Modern computing changes fast. Seems like almost daily these days. Your devices are being prodded to update more frequently due to the ever-changing world we are living in. Not taking the time to make sure your device is running with the latest updates (also called “patches”) can cause issues with your device. Issues can be as trivial as slow system performance or as serious as security vulnerabilities that leave your device wide open to hackers. Taking the time to update your devices will improve performance and functionality and protect you from prying eyes that may target your device. Taking the time to ensure your device is up to date is worth it in the long run.

Bad Habit #2: Letting your device overheat.

Heat is the sworn enemy of technology. I’m sure some of you have encountered this with your device, be it a phone that sat in the sun or your laptop overheating and shutting down. Allowing your device to overheat can put excessive stress or even destroy the finely tuned components within. Keeping laptops off plush surfaces that can plug vents, clearing dust out of vents with compressed air, and keeping your devices out of direct sunlight are all great ways to protect your devices from overheating. Overheating your device can cause system failure and data loss. Most devices have safety controls that throttle power and shut down if it is overheating. Simple maintenance and awareness can keep your system running at normal temperatures extending the life of your device.

Bad Habit #3: Not properly charging your device.

What is the proper way to charge your device’s battery? Well, the simple fact is this: batteries have a limited lifespan. And there are things that you do that can shorten the lifespan of your battery. Lithium-Ion batteries do not like to be at 100% all the time. In fact, this will have adverse effects and speed aging. Conversely, they do not like to be drained to 0% either. So, the happy medium is this. Don’t keep your phone on the charger all the time. Don’t let them drop to 0% battery. If you charge them to 100% percent and take them off the charger and just let them be, and then remember to charge them when they get below 20%, you will allow your battery to enjoy its best life. Just know that all batteries have a limited number of full drains/recharges that they are capable of before they lose the ability to hold a charge. Keeping your device above 20% charge and taking it off the charger when it’s at 100% is the best habit to get into. Laptop chargers have automatic shut-off capabilities, so no need to worry there.

Bad Habit #4: Not restarting your device.

It has been a long-standing joke in the IT world that the first troubleshooting step when investigating a device’s functionality is “Have you turned it off and back on again?” It is one of the best habits you can get into to help your computer, phone, or even your home network run at peak performance. I had a professor a long time ago refer to restarting your computer like this: “Never let Monday’s problems carry over to your Tuesday workload.” That phrase has stuck with me for decades. What he meant by that was your device has limited capabilities. Once those capabilities reach their limit, your device will stop functioning at peak performance. Every time you open an app, send a tweet, or post on Facebook, you consume system resources. When you have too many “things” running, your system can slow down or stop altogether. The best way to fix this is to restart your device. Restarting your devices once to twice a week will keep them in tip-top shape. Restart your cable modem once a month to ensure you are getting the full speed of your internet service.

Bad Habit #5: Not using antivirus protection.

This bad habit is probably one of the most dangerous to not only your computer but to you as well. Connecting to the internet, which is under constant attack, is the fastest way to damage your computer and the fastest way to a frustrating battle with identity theft recovery. Connecting to the world at large without some form of protection on your computer is very risky at the least and downright dangerous at the most. Invest in reputable antivirus and protect yourself from the fallout of a virus infection or loss of personal data. Identity theft and ransomware are no joke, my friends.       

The list of bad habits I have encountered over a 27-year career in the computer industry is extensive, as you can imagine. The five I’ve listed here are the latest high-profile habits creating the lion’s share of device failures over the past couple of years. As always, if you have questions or would like more information, reach me at Until next month, stay connected and stay well!