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Jan 2015

Laptop top tips

This week I thought I’d give some advice on keeping your laptop running spick and span.

Your laptop is an advanced bit of kit, worthy of special care and attention. That doesn’t mean looking after your laptop is difficult though as my top tips below should explain.

Dim It
The LCD display on a laptop sucks battery life like you wouldn’t believe. To make the battery last longer when the laptop is not plugged in, turn down the screen brightness to the lowest level your eyes can bear.

Windows laptops include power plans for maximizing battery life, but you can also customise your laptop’s power-management features. Setting shorter times for when the display turns off and when the laptop goes into sleep will help your battery last longer.

Cool It
Due to their small vents, laptops can easily overheat when kept in small cases and using your laptop on your lap can prevent ventilation and make matters worse. Try using a lap desk or a laptop cooling pad that doesn’t conduct heat or block the laptop's vents.

Back It Up
Lots of movement puts computer components at risk, which means that laptops suffer much more wear and tear than desktops. This increases the risk of hard drive failure, so do ensure you back up the data on your laptop to an external hard drive, USB memory stick, or the cloud on a regular basis. Portable hard drives are good for backing up data when you are out and about.

Bag It
If you often carry your laptop about with you, the most useful accessory you can buy is a laptop bag. For maximum protection, it is advisable to buy a bag with a built-in padded sleeve. If you want something less conspicuous place your laptop in a stand-alone sleeve and stow it in your backpack or briefcase.

Acclimatise It
When your laptop is moved from a cold to a warm environment (and vice versa) don't turn it on until it reaches room temperature. Sudden temperature changes can cause condensation and moisture to build up inside the laptop, which could damage the internal components.

Track It
Thousands of laptops are reported stolen every year. It is worth investing in tracking software, such as prey from, which is able to locate a registered laptop once it connects to the Web, thus increasing your chances of recovering your system.

8 is GREAT!

Windows 8 has received a LOT of flak since its launch 2 years ago, some justified but most was unfair. So I thought I’d spend this week’s blog waxing lyrical about why it’s Microsoft’s best operating system so far.
The first thing Microsoft got right is security. Even though Windows 8 isn’t bullet proof (but let’s face it, nothing is), it is by far and away their safest system. A good start for them was that for the first time they have included an antivirus program with Windows 8 and although it is not the best, it is on your computer from the moment Windows 8 is installed. The latest report I read confirmed that Windows 8.1 is 6 times safer than Windows 7. This is primarily down to Microsoft adding the Smart Screen phishing filter, which checks to see if the program you’ve just downloaded from the internet is safe and goes out of its way to stop you from installing it if it’s not.
Microsoft may have come to the Application Store much later than Apple and Google but they’ve done it right and they’ve done it well. The Store is a market place for obtaining programs, which are split into categories such as games, education and entertainment. They start at free for some and rise in price. But the important thing is that they are first vetted for viruses and malware by Microsoft therefore are much safer than a downloaded program from some random website.
Windows 8.1 is much faster than 7 at most things because Microsoft has changed the way that things run by optimising almost every component of the system. Even low-end laptops can boot up in 15 to 30 seconds - this was something only high-end gaming desktops could achieve with Windows 7. This has also made Netbooks a viable option again as under Windows 7 these little laptops weren’t much good. Now they fly with Windows 8 on them.
One of the objections we hear quite often about Windows 8 is that people can’t find anything. This has always puzzled me as the search functionality in 8 is amazing. From within the Start Menu just start typing - it searches both your computer and the internet for programs and data (pictures or documents). So if you type ‘control’ the Control Panel will appear.
Finally, if you already have Windows 8 installed, you really should update to 8.1 – it’s free.