Contributions by Matt Huber and Brandon Armstrong
You’ve worked hard to adjust your daily work routines to fit the times, and as COVID-19 looms, you’re likely also continually adjusting your personal and hygienic habits too. You wash your hands with soapy water for 20 seconds, use hand sanitizer when entering and exiting the grocery store, and probably have your own routine for washing your masks by now.
But are you keeping your laptop and other computer hardware as healthy as you’re keeping yourself? Most of us are on our computers for about 8 hours a day. Our phones, which are almost extensions of ourselves at this point, are touched constantly all day and night. Working to keep yourself safe and healthy means making sure your surroundings are safe and healthy as well. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some steps you can take to keep your work environment, and your hardware, clean and in good health.
A Healthy Working Area
Incorporate your keyboard, laptop, and any other frequently used devices into your regular cleaning and disinfecting routine. Using wipes to sanitize your equipment is totally acceptable, but be careful of the wipes you choose. Use electronic cleaning wipes made specifically for this purpose to avoid causing any unintentional damage to your equipment. These specially formulated wipes typically have fewer added solvents and are safer for use on electronic devices and screens. We also recommend using canned air to clear dust and debris from keyboards and ports.
Even the most careful among us are bound, at some point, to find themselves dealing with a liquid spill. Fast action is key here: as soon as the spill happens, immediately turn off your computer and disconnect from power. Then start the work of drying off all excess liquid. It’s important to note that just because you don’t see any liquid left, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s all gone. There may still be liquid inside the device that you can’t see. You’ll want to keep the device in a dry area, maybe with a dehumidifier or air conditioner. Make sure to err on the side of caution — you don’t want to end up with a short or electrical issue caused by hidden liquid still left inside.
If your device is covered by a warranty or a service contract, get a case started as soon as the spill happens to reduce downtime as much as possible. If you’ll be pursuing service, only power on your device to perform backups and limit use. Of course, if your company has TSP as its IT services provider, contact us to get advice on what to do next.
Other Computer Hardware Tips
We know it’s tempting to work from the comfort of your bed or your couch, but we recommend that you avoid using your laptop on soft surfaces, like beds, pillows, etc. Working on hard, well-ventilated surfaces is a better idea. Resting your device on soft surfaces can cause it to overheat, especially during video calls.
Another best practice is to regularly reboot your computer. TSP’s recommendation is to restart your computer at least once a week. This helps your computer clear stored data and reset your memory. And speaking of managing memory, make sure to keep your laptop’s workload manageable. Your machine can get overwhelmed by its workload just as easily as you can. Close your browser tabs as needed, close apps when you’re done using them, and make sure you’re only running what you need to do your work. It’s important to keep things as streamlined as possible to avoid slow performance.
What Happens if You Need a Computer Hardware Repair?
With so many non-essential retail stores closed for the time being, a visit to your local Apple store for a computer hardware repair may be temporarily out of the question. Even if you are in an area that has begun to reopen, perhaps going to the nearest Apple Store isn’t something you’re comfortable with yet.
The good news is that AppleCare, the division of Apple that handles repair and replacement devices, has been ready for this kind of moment for a while now. Over the past few years, AppleCare has been opening and staffing what they call “depot repair facilities.” Think factories, but instead of building new products, they act as a central location to repair broken devices. Often, when you bring a broken computer to an Apple store, they are sending your computer to one of these depot facilities.
Getting a computer or phone sent to the depot facility is, thankfully, pretty easy. The simplest way to get in touch with Apple Support is to download their iOS app, appropriately called Apple Support. Once downloaded, sign in with your Apple ID and pick your device, then tell the app what’s wrong. After a text chat or a phone call, Apple will send you a box, typically within two days, with which you can send your damaged device out for repair.
If you’re a PC user in need of a computer hardware repair, you can work with your device’s manufacturer to set up service. Dell, HP, Lenovo, and most other manufacturers will allow you to set up service through their support websites. Depending on your device’s coverage plan, you’ll have a few different options. Some companies offer onsite services, which require a technician to come out to your location to perform repairs. With social distancing mandates in effect, these services are likely to be limited right now. Another option is mail-in service, which you can set up through the device’s manufacturer. We strongly recommend that you make every effort to back up your computer before setting up service, as the repair could potentially result in some data loss.
If you have any questions at all about cleaning, repairs, or any other hardware issues, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We’re here to help keep your hardware as healthy as you are!