Tips on Extending the Life of your Notebook

Discussion in 'Macintosh Computers' started by calyxman, Nov 27, 2005.

  1. calyxman macrumors 6502a


    Apr 17, 2005
    I thought it would be useful for everybody to share their input on how to prolong the life of their notebook, including what to do to avoid dealing with potential costly repairs. This applies to notebooks only because desktops are in their own class (you have more peripherals involved including displays, keyboards, mice, etc), and notebooks tend to be more expensive to repair when they're broke.

    So without ado, here's some ideas based on my 4 years of iBook experience:

    1. Battery Maintenance: Always remember to drain your notebook battery once a month and recharge if you are the type of user who mainly works off of the AC adapter. Check out Apple's battery page for more info.
    2. Sleep Mode: If you put your notebook to sleep and you're not taking it anywhere--it just remains on your desk, for instance--avoid merely closing the lid. Excessive opening and closing of the notebook wears out the hinge mechanism, but even more importantly, you wear out the fine threads of wire that run through the hinge up to the display. Breakage in those wires cause problems such as the reed switch failure, backlight dropouts, and other displays malfunctioning. Instead, just put your notebook to sleep via the Apple menu.
    3. RAM upgrades: Be generous on the amount of RAM you install in your system. OS X is a resource hog, so generally the more ram the better. Plus, you avoid excessive churning of the heads in your HD, which can wear out the mechanism and cause HD failure.
    4. Don't be stupid: Don't place your notebook on the balcony 4 stories up, and don't run the power cord across an area where someone can trip. There's nothing worse than damaging your notebook because of poor judgment. This is your investment. Try protecting it.

    That's some of my input, but I encourage everyone to share their tips.
  2. YS2003 macrumors 68020


    Dec 24, 2004
    Finally I have arrived.....
    Good suggestions. I am particularly anal about opening & closing the lid of my Macs as I don't want to wear out the lid mechanism. My 2 Al PBs are in the clam shell mode almost all the time (except for OS update, in which case, I open the lid and take off the firwire drivers before updates). I have kept my 4 year old Ti PB mostly open position (I was able to change the HD by just flipping the PB with the lid open). This is important for Ti PB as many people reported broken hinges.

    So far, my iBook is more subject to open and close cycle as I take it out with me on the road a few times a week.

    Regarding #4, for some people (a lot of people where I live in NY metro, in my opinion), they are born with stupidity. So, I doubt they can change it. I think it is genetics.
  3. TodVader macrumors 6502a


    Sep 27, 2005
    Quebec, Canada
    Wash the LCD often. Those screens get stained with fingers. My dell laptop was stained and I'm gonna make sure it doesn't happen with my iBook.
  4. ITASOR macrumors 601


    Mar 20, 2005
    I don't believe in owning a computer and getting a full enjoyment out of it if I have to be careful how many times I open/close the lid. I paid $1200 for my computer, I should be able to open and close the lid however many darned times I would like. To me, this is a sense of poor quality control. I probably open/close mine about 5 times/day. I opened and closed my iBook G3 500Mhz probably about 25 times/day and I never had a problem for the 5+ years I owned it, so I'm not really worried about opening/closing this one.
  5. calyxman thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Apr 17, 2005
    Consider yourself lucky then.
  6. Marky_Mark macrumors 6502a


    Sep 30, 2005
    Not at all! This is ridiculous - you should be able to use your laptop, as the previous poster said, for as long as it has a useful life. It's called being fit for purpose. Don't make excuses for shoddy workmanship, for God's sake, otherwise it'll grow exponentially and become the norm.
  7. Lacero macrumors 604


    Jan 20, 2005
    I'm with you, although I paid $2700 for mine. In the first 3 months, I babied it like you wouldn't believe.

    18 months later, I close and open without thinking twice if it gets dusty or not. Everyday I take risks moving my cup of hot coffee over the keyboards ~ will I spill it today? Hmm... let's find out!

    And I throw it on my bed from several feet away, because I'm too lazy to take the last extra steps to put it down gently enough.

    I am a ruthless person when it comes to taking care of my things.

    Here's to the Crazy Ones [​IMG]
  8. Clix Pix macrumors demi-goddess

    Clix Pix

    Oct 9, 2005
    8 miles from the Apple Store at Tysons (VA)
    I second that recommendation of adding more RAM. It really does pay off, both right now and in the future when it comes to performance.

    I also second that recommendation about calibrating the battery each month. I've killed batteries on other laptops in the past by not doing so because I was using them primarily with AC power. Then when I needed/wanted battery power, it just wasn't available any more. I have learned THAT lesson!

    A suggestion I will throw into the pot: if you can afford it, pick up an extra power adapter if you're someone who uses your machine primarily with AC power. Had a dead unusable laptop one time because the battery was defunct thanks to my not being careful about calibrating it regularly and then the power adapter went on the fritz. Ack! Machine was totally useless until I could get ahold of a replacement power adapter, which wasn't easy since by that time the machine was older.

    Keeping the machine clean and dust-free is important. If dust gets on the outside, on the LCD screen or on the keyboard, you KNOW it's got to be getting inside as well, and dust is not your computer's friend. I bought the Radtech Screensavrz for my PB's keyboard and I use that when the laptop is closed. Protects the LCD screen from the keyboard and any oiliness from my fingers that might be on the keys. I don't like things like the iSkin so don't have that on my keyboard. Periodically I wipe down both the LCD screen and the keyboard as well as the entire cover with the Screensaverz cloth -- it's soft and does a great job. I also do the same with my iMac, wipe off the LCD screen and the entire machine.

    I'm careful with my PB and treat it gently, but I don't worry about how many times I open/close the lid. I do open it and close it with care rather than banging it, of course. When going out with it I use a protective sleeve or I use a protective carrying bag.

  9. iEdd macrumors 68000


    Aug 8, 2005
    They're all good suggestions, however, I think that the hinges are designed to be opened and closed a large number of times, so it's fairly safe to do so (gently :p).
  10. Steven1621 macrumors 6502a


    Apr 10, 2003
    I don't know if it was just a stroke of bad luck, but my hard drive failed after I started running my powerbook in clamshell mode. Since then, I have avoided it, though I think the failure is not specifically related.
  11. joepunk macrumors 68030


    Aug 5, 2004
    a profane existence
    Same thinking here. Paid a lot of money for mine and I feel that I should be-able to open and close a "laptop" as many times as I want.

    I try to be careful with my PB but, sometimes the unexpected happens such as having it in my bag, not in a protective sleeve, while waking up some concrete stairs and Oops! banged it against a sharp corner.
  12. stevep macrumors 6502a


    Oct 13, 2004
    I agree. And if iBook hinges were designed and made properly you could. But they're not, especially when they're overtorqued by Apple - the stiffness off the hinge assembly shortens the life of the polycarbonate 'clutch cover' so that it cracks. Apple call this failing 'Customer Abuse' and deny its their problem. Well, its certainly customer abuse, but not in the sense they mean.
  13. generik macrumors 601


    Aug 5, 2005
    There is nothing ruthless about it, it is the same basis behind why owners of new cars will be so obsessive about washing it every now and then... or how owners of new ipods will try to baby it so much... or even how newly married couples just seem more loving compared to a married couple of 20 years with 3 kids.

    It's called the novelty factor, once it has worn off and that new item sunk from "new and exciting" into the background of "ordinary" you just tend not to give two hoots about it anymore.
  14. Megatron macrumors regular

    Nov 19, 2005
    Another vote for "open and close as many times as you want." They are laptops, for crying out loud. If they break when you open or close them then you should send it back to Apple and demand a replacement. That's just silly for an expensive laptop.
  15. Applespider macrumors G4


    Jan 20, 2004
    looking through rose-tinted spectacles...
    The only thing I'll say about opening and closing is to make sure that you don't do it from a single corner which does put undue stress on the hinges.
    If you're opening/closing it one-handed, then do it from the centre.

    Otherwise, since most of the 'OMG, my PB is dead' threads involve liquids spilling into or laptops being dropped, I'd say that general common sense is the prime way to extend the life of your 'Book
  16. calyxman thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Apr 17, 2005
    Everyone, I understand your concerns about the quality of workmanship, but you're taking the thread off track here. The purpose is not to point out Apple's flaws, but to deal with what we already own. I'm didn't post this thread as a petition to Apple corporate on getting its act together on quality control.

    Everyone likes to take care of what they have: that's why people buy cases for their iPods, change the oil on their cars, vacuum their carpets, and so forth.

    If you don't have input on how to maintain and preserve your notebook and avoid any pitfalls that may cause your notebook harm, then please don't reply. Your input is of no value to this thread.

  17. ITASOR macrumors 601


    Mar 20, 2005
    Yeah, I know what you mean. However, I tend to use my PC for like 2 hours straight on purpose so I can feel the "new and exciting" feeling again when I turn around and wake up my iBook. :eek:. Oh yeah, and when I turn around and wake it up, I open the lid like a true dare devil would do!
  18. Seasought macrumors 65816


    Nov 3, 2005
    Good advice. I hadn't given the 'lid closing' tip much thought. Maybe I'll be more stringent about it now.

    Is there ANY solution for problems with the hinges on a Powerbook? Can they be replaced on one's own or is it an Applecare remedy?

    Furthermore, this would be a great addition to the Guides section (unless one is already present).
  19. calyxman thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Apr 17, 2005
    By the way, the advice regarding opening and closing the lid is just based on my experience. In the beginning I used to open and close my notebook anywhere from 10-15 times a day. I had to replace an invertor cable which was a pain in the neck to do. Is there a connection between the two? Possibly. But we just don't know until the moment something is wrong...

    There's nothing wrong with preserving your mac. After all, it's not a PC! Picture two car owners: one drives a vintage Jaguar convertible that's in pristine condition, the other drives 2004 Hyundai Sonata in decent condition. I'll bet you each owner will have varying opinions on how to maintain their respective vehicles.
  20. tristan macrumors 6502a

    Jul 19, 2003
    high-rise in beautiful bethesda
    I have had hinge problems with my last two notebooks (Inspiron + TiBook). I don't think it's so much a design flaw, as a technical challenge - it's just difficult to make a hinge that works reliably for years. That said, I do expect to be able to open and close my lid as much as I want, and if a hinge fails in the process, I expect Apple to replace it. (Which they did, thanks to Applecare.)

    And yes, definitely upgrade the RAM. I used to have a bad habit of buying $2500 computers and then crippling them because I don't put more RAM in. Then I finally upgrade and I'm kicking myself for not doing it the day I bought it. Listen to me now and hear me later, don't wait ten years to correct yourself of this bad habit like I did.

    Other notebook tips: Don't ever let it touch anything while you're carrying it in a bag. It will likely scuff and scratch. Also, remember that plugs can bend as laptops move. Shove your laptop aside without thinking, and you could end up bending the power connector, headphone jack, printer ports, etc. My power connector is bent because I moved my laptop carelessly a few months ago. It still works, but its annoying, and it could have been a lot worse.
  21. Scarlet Fever macrumors 68040

    Scarlet Fever

    Jul 22, 2005
    my 5 yr old Titanium Powerbook (Onyx) has recently broken its hinges. The hinge part got too stiff and the metal part just decided to snap. The wires still work, so now it's the world's thinnest desktop computer :D

    Another tip, if your doing tasks like GarageBand or Logic, don't be scared to pay more to get a 7200 rpm HD. If that's not an option, plug one up with FireWire. FW800 is much better than 400. This takes away the annoyance of getting HD read errors while recording.
  22. EGT macrumors 68000


    Sep 4, 2003
    I agree with you here as well. When i first bought my laptop, I got those rubber stickers for the corner of the screen, and a keyboard cloth to stop marks getting on it. Both eventually began to annoy me. I just treated it far too delicately. Obviously it's not like you can throw it about but you should be able to use it within normal operation without it falling apart.

    Just make sure it's in a good case when you're travelling.
  23. ITASOR macrumors 601


    Mar 20, 2005
    I still use the screen protection cloth every time I close it. I have the iBook, so it already has the rubber nubs on the corner of the screen. I feel for all the screen protection cloth is saving the screen, it's worth the little effort of sticking it in there.
  24. portent macrumors 6502a

    Feb 17, 2004
    A laptop hinge (like the latch) is a mechanical component, and like any mechanical component it will wear out eventually. Obviously, it should be designed and constructed to survive some minimum amount of time, on average, before it fails.

    If you buy a car, you can extend the life of the car by accelerating gently, not slamming on the brakes every time, and not riding the clutch. No matter how well engineered and reliable a car is, it will last longer if you drive it gently.
  25. calyxman thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Apr 17, 2005
    I'm shaking my head in amazement as a lot of you are missing my main point about opening and closing your notebook too much.


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