Hacks to extend the life of your electronics

June 27, 2023

From smartphones and smart home devices to TVs and wearable technology, the average American home contains a staggering 30 separate pieces of consumer technology. For over 80% of Americans, smartphones, tablets, and laptops have become central to our home, school, and work lives. We have become dependent on them, and it is distressing when they quit working. They represent a significant investment of time and money. So, to keep them in use and out of your closet or junk drawer, let’s look at what you can do to extend the lives of your laptops, tablets, and cell phones.

Here’s what to do

It is probably obvious, but the first step is to read the manufacturer’s recommendations or the instruction manual to learn how to best care for your device. All device manufacturers recommend optimal operating temperatures. Apple recommends between 32 and 95 degrees for its iOS devices; other manufacturers have similar recommendations. Heat can be especially damaging. So please don’t leave that device locked in a hot car or direct sun. And, despite the name, laptops should not be placed for very long directly on a lap — or pillow or bedding; this can block the laptop’s cooling vents, causing your device to overheat. Lap desks and tables are better. If you notice your laptop, tablet, or cell phone getting hot, provide adequate ventilation or turn it off.

Make sure your devices don’t get wet, and try not to drop them. Again, this seems obvious. However, moisture can seriously damage the inner components of a phone, laptop, or tablet and lead to costly repairs. And be smart about where you place or carry your electronics. An open laptop on the edge of a bed or couch will likely hit the floor. A smartphone in the bathroom often finds its way into the water. A quality, water-resistant or waterproof protective case allows you to express your personal style and can add protection against the occasional bump or drop.

Know how to charge your electronics properly. Rechargeable batteries provide the power to function, so let’s focus on how to make them last longer. Start by using the right kind of charger for your device. An off-brand charger may seem like a bargain, but you damage your investment if it overheats your device’s battery. Smartphones, tablets, and laptops vary a bit regarding optimal battery charging. While leaving laptops constantly plugged in is fine, this can damage a cell phone or tablet. It is best to avoid charging for more than 12 hours for these devices. Once fully charged, unplug the device from the charger and the charger from the wall. Also, consider updating your operating systems regularly and adjusting settings and software to keep your device running efficiently.

Know the life of the device versus the life of the battery. After years of use, your laptop or smartphone may not hold a charge. The average life of a smartphone or laptop is 4 to 5 years, but proper care can extend these numbers. According to Gazelle, an online buyer and seller of used cell phones, many people sell their smartphones not because they are broken but because they won’t hold a charge. Replacing that battery instead of getting a new smartphone or laptop can save you hundreds! Always consider repairing the device before replacing it.

Protect your data

When it is time for a new device, refer to the manufacturers’ guidelines for removing all data from your old device. This will keep your personal information safe. Once factory settings are restored or all data is removed, donate the cell phone, tablet, or laptop to the charity of your choice, sell it, trade it in, or recycle it. Please do not throw it in the trash or throw it in a junk drawer for later! Your old smartphone, tablet, laptop, or component is worth its maximum value today. Cell phones, tablets, and laptops contain precious and rare earth metals, which are quite difficult to mine. Recycling these metals keeps them out of landfills, is good for the environment, and saves you the hassle of doing it later.

Smartphones, tablets, and laptops have become vital parts of our lives. These simple hacks will give you peace of mind and save time and money by keeping them running longer.

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