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Laptop care tips


accidental_philologist
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Hey all! I'm trying to source some advice from other grad students who know the wear and tear that grad student life specifically can have on your laptop, and tips for how to mitigate damage and preserve the lifespan of one of your pricier investments on a grad student dime. What do you do to keep your tech in shape? Never drain the battery below 10 per cent? Favorite transport sleeves? Do you put an extra plastic case on it? Cover it in stickers? Pay for antivirus programs or just take whatever your university gives you to download? Etc. 

I personally just invested in a new laptop and am anxious to keep it going well. I hope it'll be The One that gets me through grad school, so I appreciate all your tips and hope others find them useful too! 

 

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I am particularly wondering about getting a plastic shell case for it. But I've heard conflicting reports on whether or not one actually helps protect the screen or corners from Disaster, and I don't want to buy plastic things if I don't really need them, you know? 

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I spent about $10 on a neoprene pouch for my laptop, and then it goes into my big purse. It's protected in transit, which is the only thing I'm really worried about. I use Avast's free antivirus software (I have for years). As far as charging, I just bring the charger with me and charge it when it gets around 20-30% cuz I don't want it to die on me if I'm in the middle of something and don't have access to an outlet. 

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  • 4 weeks later...

The best advice I can give you is treat is gently and don't open/close it more than necessary. I had the plastic brackets holding one of the screen hinges together break on mine, so now the screen is only connected on one side! It may very well be something mechanical that breaks down before you run into internal issues, and I think a lot of people overlook that. So again, just be gentle.

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I uninstall apps I never use (have a mac, so that'd be garage band, etc), use the CleanMyMac app regularly (it's not free but I'd say it more than makes up for it in the performance improvement I receive when I run it, they have a pc version too), and I do battery cycle it (although I don't let it get down below 20/25% because I'm paranoid about it dying on me). Also, BACK YOUR STUFF UP. Use a service, do it yourself, but take it as seriously as you take your taxes or whatever you take seriously. No, maybe you won't lose all your work or whatever, but the hassle of having to spend time trying to recover your work from random digital places/redownload all your articles from Jstor on a new or factory-reset computer is something that will be overwhelming in the extreme. 

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I did something different and opted to use a desktop as my main computer. I had it made by a friend, who can then upgrade parts if/when necessary. 

I have a smaller less pricey laptop that I use for school work. Generally, that's the only information stored on that laptop. 

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I'd strongly recommend getting some type of plastic hard casing to transport it. You don't want to spend half a gran+ on a laptop only to realize you now need to spend a couple hundred bucks on repairs for a monitor or a keyboard. 

I don't use any antivirus on my computer, I find those things heavily slow down my computer, and I only use my computer for lab work (i.e. reading papers, journals,  powerpoints etc.). So there should be no way I get a virus (although I back up all my data on a weekly basis). 

Treat it gently, and try to minimize transport. I have 2 computers, one at work (an expensive one used exclusively for research), and another at home (a piece of shit used for everything else). I usually just leave my laptop in the lab so I don't have to take it back and forth with me and risk damaging it in the process (it's cheaper to buy 2 laptops and keep them for 5 years than buy a laptop and have to repair or replace it every other year due to damage). 

Open/close screens slowly. If you bring it home never leave it on the ground (you might step on it), don't grab it and carry it by the screen, avoid food/water near it (again, I use my computer in lab, so no food/water), etc. 

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