Top 9 Laptop Computer Safety Tips

Safely using your laptop will help ensure it works properly and you don’t get hurt. Improper use or not being aware of safety issues can cause your laptop irreparable damage. These safety tips should be added to your weekly laptop maintenance routine and will help you stay productive and safe no matter where you are working.

01.Shut It Down

Unlike a desktop computer a laptop computer needs to be shut down when not in use. Shutting down when not in use prevents the laptop from overheating and it also needs the rest.

02.Adjusting Power Settings

Adjusting your power options will help your laptop from heating up when not in use even if for short periods of time. You can set your hard drive and display to turn off after a set time period. Another option is to set the laptop to go into standby or hibernate mode.

03.Before You Pack It Up

Make sure that before you put your laptop into its carrying bag that it is shut down. A notebook that has been left on can melt. When enclosed in a notebook bag there is no air circulation and the results can be worse than melting. Don’t find out the hard way and just be sure to turn off your laptop.

04.Vent Maintenance

Part of your weekly routine should be to inspect and clean the air vents in your laptop. Forced air dusters can be used to keep the air vents clean and free from debris. It’s important to know that you should never push anything into the air vents.

05.Checking the Fan

Overheating problems can be caused by the laptop fan not working properly. Always check the laptop manufacturer’s online support and your warranty information. It may be possible to download software to test your laptop fan.

06.BIOS Updates

Some laptops control the fans through the BIOS. Check online with the laptop manufacturer for BIOS updates. If you aren’t comfortable updating the BIOS yourself, have someone in your IT dept. or have an outside computer technician do it for you.

07.Avoid Lap Burn

Using a laptop desk or cooler will prevent you from being burned when using your laptop. A good laptop desk will have large enough vents for allowing air circulation between you and the laptop. Some laptop desks have additional fans which use power from the laptop itself to stay cool.

08.Soft Spots

It’s a wise idea not to use any soft material as a buffer between you and your laptop. Always operate your laptop on a hard surface, preferably one that allows ventilation. Soft materials can block the airflow vents and cause it to overheat. If it is not possible to avoid using a soft surface, an optional heat sink base should be used to maintain cooling.

09.Unplug Accessories

Whenever your laptop will not be in use, even for short periods of time remember to unplug any accessories. Not only do they use power but they could cause the laptop to overheat. It’s especially important to unplug any accessories before packing your laptop in its carrying case. While you may believe it will make it quicker to use, it could damage your laptop, the accessory and/or your laptop bag.

How to Extend Your iPad’s Battery Life

With each iPad release, one constant remain.  The iPad is becoming faster and faster and the graphics get better every year, but the device still maintains an amazing 10 hours of battery life. But for those of us that use our iPad throughout the day, it’s still easy for it to run low.  And there’s nothing worse than trying to stream video from Netflix only to have that low battery message pop up and interrupt your show.

Luckily, there are a few tips you can use to save iPad battery life and keep that from happening as often.

Here’s How You Can Get the Most Out of Your iPad’s Battery:

1.Adjust the brightness.

The iPad has an auto-brightness feature which helps tune the iPad based on the light quality in the room, but this feature is not enough.  Adjusting the overall brightness may be the best single thing you can do to eek out a little more from your battery.  You can adjust the brightness by opening the iPad’s settings, choosing Display & Brightness from the left-side menu and moving the brightness slider.  The goal is to get it where it is still comfortable enough to read, but not quite as bright as the default setting.

2.Turn off Bluetooth.

Many of us don’t have any Bluetooth devices connected to the iPad, so all the Bluetooth service is doing for us is waste the iPad’s battery life. If you don’t have any Bluetooth devices, make sure Bluetooth is turned off.  A quick way to flip the switch for Bluetooth is to open the iPad Control Panel by swiping up from the very bottom edge of the display.

3.Turn off Location Services.

While even the Wi-Fi-only model of the iPad does a great job of determining its location, most of us don’t use the location services on our iPad as much as we use them on our iPhone. Turning GPS is a quick and easy way to save a little battery power while not giving up any features. And remember, if you do need GPS, you can always turn it back on.  You can turn off locations services in the iPad’s settings under Privacy.

4.Turn off Push Notification.

While Push Notification is an excellent feature, it does drain a little bit of battery life as the device checks to see if it needs to push a message to the screen. If you are looking to do the most to optimize your battery life, you can turn Push Notification off completely. Alternatively, you can turn it off for individual apps, decreasing the number of push notifications you receive.  You can turn off Push Notification in settings under “Notifications”.

5.Fetch Mail Less Often.

By default, the iPad will check for new mail every 15 minutes. Pushing this back to 30 minutes or an hour can help your battery last longer. Simply go into settings, choose the Mail settings and tap the “Fetch New Data” option. This page will let you set how often your iPad fetches mail. There’s even an option to only check for mail manually.

6.Turn off 4G.

Most of the time, we use the iPad at home, which means using it via our Wi-Fi connection. Some of us use it at home almost exclusively. If you often find yourself low on battery power, a good tip is to turn off your 4G data connection. This will keep it from draining any power when you aren’t using it.

7.Turn off Background App Refresh.

Introduced in iOS 7, background app refresh keeps your apps updated by refreshing them while the iPad is idle or while you are in another app.  This can drain some extra battery life, so if you don’t mind whether or not the iPad refreshes your Facebook newsfeed and has it waiting for you, go into Settings, choose General Settings and scroll down until you find “Background App Refresh”.  You can choose to turn off the service as a whole or simply turn off individual apps you don’t care as much about.

8.Find out what apps are eating up all of your battery life.

Did you know you can check your iPad’s battery usage?  This is a great way to find out what apps you are using a lot and which apps may be eating up more than their fair share of your battery.  You can check usage in the iPad’s settings by selecting Battery from the left-side menu.

9.Keep Up With iPad Updates.

It is always important to keep iOS updated with the latest patches from Apple. Not only can this help optimize battery life on the iPad, it also makes sure you are getting the latest security fixes and patching any bugs that have popped up, which will help the iPad run smoother.

10.Reduce Motion.

This is a trick that will save a little battery life and make the iPad seem a little more responsive.  The iPad’s interface includes a number of animations like windows zooming in and zooming out and the parallax effect on icons that make them seem to hover over the background image.  You can turn off these interface effects by going to settings, tapping General settings, tapping Accessibility and touching Reduce Motion to find the switch.

11.Buy a Smart Case.

The Smart Case can save battery life by putting the iPad into suspend mode when you close the flap.   It may not seem like much, but if you aren’t in the habit of hitting the Sleep/Wake button every time you are finished using the iPad, it can help give you an extra five, ten or even fifteen minutes at the end of the day.

Does the iPad Have a Low Power Mode?

Apple recently released a neat new feature for iPhones called “Low Power Mode”.  This feature alerts you at 20% and again at 10% power that you are running low on battery life and offers to put the phone in a Low Power Mode.  This mode turns off a number of features, including features that couldn’t ordinarily be turned off such as special graphics used in the user interface.   It’s a great way to get the most juice out of the dregs of the battery, but unfortunately, the feature doesn’t exist on the iPad.

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Top Airline Travel Tips When Traveling With Your Laptop

Laptop tips to help ensure you keep your laptop secure and avoid problems dealing with Security and/or Customs. You are the first line of defense for your laptop when traveling and it’s important to keep these laptop tips in mind to save time and prevent aggravation.

01.Carry your Laptop or Pack It Away?

Keep it with you at all times. It goes with you on the flight as carry-on baggage. Do not store it in the overhead storage area; it could get knocked around by someone else. Absolutely do not put your laptop in with your other baggage. Baggage handlers aren’t expecting expensive electronics to be in the stored baggage areas and you can’t expect it to be treated as a fragile object.

02.Visual Inspection (Hand checking)

You may be required to remove your laptop from its carrying case and turn it on to demonstrate to Security/Customs that the laptop is exactly that – a functioning computer. A good way to save time if you anticipate this happening is to turn on your laptop earlier and leave it in suspend mode. This is a good reason to ensure that your laptop battery is kept charged. When your laptop is examined in this manner it is often called “hand checking”.

03.Should You X-Ray Your Laptop?

Letting your laptop go through the x-ray equipment will not harm your laptop. The magnetic field which is generated is not enough to cause harm to your hard drive or cause damage to your data. Metal detectors, on the other hand, can cause damage and request politely that Security/Customs do not use the metal detector but do a hand check instead.

04.Carry Proper Documents

It’s very important when returning to your country of origin, that you have the correct Customs documentation or original receipts. These show that the laptop and other mobile gear is what you left the country with. The onus is on you to prove that you already own the equipment and did not purchase it while traveling. You will have to pay duty and taxes on items purchased while traveling if you can’t provide proof of ownership.

05.Keep a Low Profile

Don’t draw attention to yourself while waiting for your flight or while in-flight. While waiting for your flight and using your laptop, pick an area where you will have some privacy and don’t have to worry about someone looking over your shoulder. If it’s too crowded, don’t use your laptop, and waiting for a time when it’s less crowded. If someone is curious about your laptop, be brief but polite and pack it in. They could be looking for a laptop to steal.

06.Don’t Let Your Laptop Out of Sight

If you let your laptop get out of sight even for a few minutes, it could be gone. If you have to use the facilities in an airport, take your laptop bag with you. The only exception is if you are traveling with someone you know and trust, but remind them to not leave your laptop unattended. While going through the Security/Customs screening keep a close view of your laptop if you are required to set it down for any reason.

07.Fact or Fiction – The Airport Laptop Scam

While there have been no recorded incidents of this type of theft it’s still wise to keep this scenario in mind. Two people will get in line ahead of you at the security area. You have placed your laptop on the conveyor belt and it has moved ahead. The first person goes through with no problems but the second has many difficulties. While you and Security/Customs are distracted, the first takes off with your laptop. Always wait until the last moment to put your laptop on the conveyor belt.

08.Keep Your Laptop Case Locked

In order to prevent someone from helping themselves to your other mobile gear and documents, keep your laptop bag locked. If you have it sitting on the floor by your feet it is possible for someone to get access to it unless it has been locked. Another reason for keeping your laptop case locked is so that someone is not able to put anything “extra” in your laptop case. An open case could be a tempting location for someone to drop an item into, then later take the case to get the item.

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How to Clean Your Laptop

When was the last time you cleaned your laptop? Yeah, we thought so. This simple computer maintenance task doesn’t just get rid of accumulated dirt and dust–it keeps your laptop running in tip top shape.

Laptop Parts to Clean

The five general parts of the laptop you should keep clean are  the case, the LCD screen, the laptop keyboard (and touchpad), the ports, and the cooling vents.

You can also open up your laptop to expose and clean its cooling system (the fan and heat sink), but only attempt that if you’re comfortable opening up your laptop.

Cleaning the cooling system can help solve laptop overheating problems and related symptoms like your laptop freezing or having issues shutting down.

As always, defer to your laptop manufacturer’s manual for the recommended procedure for laptop cleaning.


You’ll need the following things to clean your laptop (click on the links to compare prices and buy them online):

  • Isopropyl alcohol, available at drugstores and supermarkets. Because it evaporates quickly and doesn’t leave a residue, isopropyl alcohol is safe to use on electronic equipment and LCD displays. Not safe to use: ammonia, tap water, mineral water, and household window cleaners.
  • Distilled or purified water or bottled water. Avoid tap water, which can leave permanent mineral spots.
  • Can of compressed air, also commonly available at many types of stores.
  • Lint-free cloth, like the kind used for cleaning eyeglasses. In a pinch, you can use a soft, 100% cotton cloth. Do not use: paper towels, facial tissues, or scratchy or abrasive cloths.

Prepare to Clean

  • Make sure the computer is off and unplugged, and remove the battery.
  • Make a 1:1 cleaning solution using the water and alcohol.
  • Dampen the cloth with the cleaning solution–it should be slightly moistened rather than very wet. Also, never spray anything directly on the computer; the liquid should go on the cloth first.

Clean the Laptop Case

Use the damp cloth to wipe down the exterior of the laptop. This will help you make it look brand-new again. Then open the lid and wipe the areas around your keyboard.

Clean the LCD Screen

Clean the display using the same cloth or a newly moistened one if the original is too grimy (again, don’t spray any solution directly on the screen). Use gentle circular motions or wipe the screen from left to right, top to bottom.

Clean the Keyboard and Touchpad

Use a can of compressed air to loosen and remove dirt, crumbs, and everything else that may be stuck in the keys. Alternately, you can turn the laptop over and gently shake out any loose debris, running your fingers over the keys to aid the process.

If you have stuck keys or a very dirty keyboard (due to spilled drinks, for example), you can also remove the individual keys and wipe beneath them with a cotton swab dipped in the cleaning solution. Be sure you check your laptop manual to make sure the keys can be removed for cleaning, and, of course, put them back the right way.

Some laptops have drains built into the keyboard tray. If yours is like that, you can pour distilled water into the keyboard and let it air-dry. Check your manual to be sure.

Finally, use the damp cloth to wipe the keys and the touchpad.

Clean the Ports and Cooling Vents

Use the can of compressed air to clean the case openings: the ports and cooling vents. Spray from an angle so the debris is blown away from the computer, rather than into it.

Also, be careful when spraying the fans, because if you spray too hard liquid may get in the fan blades. To prevent the fans from over spinning while you’re blowing the air on them (which can damage the fans), place a cotton swab or toothpick between the fan blades to hold them in place.

Last But Not Least

Make sure your laptop is completely dry before turning it on.

A video of how to clean your laptop is also available if you’d like more visual instructions.

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Remove Your Laptop’s Battery When Plugged In

You might only use your laptop when it’s plugged in, or only remove it from the wall in rare occasions. Or, maybe you’re one to usually use it in portable mode, away from the wall. In either circumstance, is it better to remove the battery when it’s plugged in?

It might make sense to remove the battery to increase its overall life. However, it seems a bit odd to remove the battery each time you plug your laptop in.

Should you still do it?

The short answer is yes… and no. For the best battery life, you might consider removing the battery from your laptop, but only in certain scenarios.

When to Remove the Laptop Battery

Deciding when to remove the laptop from your battery is mostly determined by convenience.

One easy way to consider whether or not to remove your battery laptop when it’s being powered through the wall is to estimate how long you’ll have it plugged in. If you plan to use your laptop for six hours on a desk, plugged in, and then quit using it again until tomorrow, you might remove the battery.

However, if you’re mobile and are only planning to stay plugged in for an hour or so before you’ll need the battery again, it would make more sense to keep your laptop charged through the wall even with the battery attached. This is because shutting down the whole laptop, removing the battery, and then booting back up only to power down again, and reattach the battery shortly after (and then turn on the laptop again), is a waste of time.

Another reason to remove the battery from your laptop is if you won’t be using it again for a while, whether attached to the wall or not. Sometimes, a laptop is only necessary for when you work away from home or want to play on your laptop when the weather is nice. If you won’t be using it for the next couple weeks, go ahead and remove the battery.

Something else to think about is whether the power in your building is reliable. If the electricity often disconnects or there’s a storm outside that could switch the power off at any moment, you should keep the laptop battery attached so that an interrupt won’t disrupt your work. That, or invest in a UPS, which is handy even for always-powered-on desktops.

Why Removing the Laptop Battery Can Be Beneficial

Laptop overheating is one of the worst things for all of the laptop’s hardware parts, including the battery, which can age much quicker when fully charged and hot for long periods of time.

Anyone with a laptop has surely experiencing a hot lap or near-burned skin from touching certain areas around the battery in times like these. While putting something like a pillow between you and laptop can help remove the heat from your skin, it’s not going to protect the battery from overheating.

Also, while some high-powered tasks like gaming and multimedia editing can drive up the amount of heat your laptop produces, and therefore abstaining can help reduce that heat, it’s still recommended to remove the battery if you won’t be needing it for extended periods of time.

How to Remove a Laptop Battery

You should always follow these steps in this order when removing the battery from a laptop:

  • Shut down the laptop.
  • Remove the power cable from the wall.
  • Remove the battery.
  • Reattach the power cable to the wall.
  • Power on the laptop.

How to Store Your Laptop Battery

The most common recommendation for laptop battery storage is to have it charged to about 40% (or somewhere between 30% and 50%) and then keep it in a dry place.

Some manufacturers recommend a storage temperature of 68 and 77 degrees Fahrenheit (20 to 25 degrees Celsius), which isn’t too cold or too hot.

Some people actually keep batteries in the fridge, but you have to take care that the battery isn’t exposed to humidity and that you warm it up to room temperature before using it, which could be more hassle than it’s worth.

The Problem With Overheating Laptops

Laptops are unfortunately prone to overheating. Unlike desktop PCs, a laptop’s hardware components are in close proximity to each other with little room for air movement.

Plus, as a computer gets older, the components work less efficiently and can overheat easier. Also with time is the unfortunate fact that the inside of the case collects dust and other debris from the surroundings, which if left uncleaned, can force the fan and other parts to overwork.

The current trend towards miniaturization – stuffing faster processors into ever smaller cases – is also increasing the potential for laptops to overheat. In fact, researchers who are trying to solve the problem with nanoelectronics are predicting that if this continues, laptops will be as hot as the sun in a decade or two.

In other words, hot laptops are a real problem!

Dangers of Overheating Laptops

Even if it isn’t running at 6,000 degrees Celsius, if your laptop overheats, it can do some serious damage to both your body and the internal hardware.

A laptop that’s too hot can actually scald you. Sony recalled thousands of VAIO laptops due to possible burn hazards. There’s also some indication that working with a hot laptop in your lap, where they were designed to be, can potentially cause male infertility.

Regarding the device itself, operating a laptop at very high temperatures leads to failed hardware components (video cards, motherboards, memory modules, hard drives and more are susceptible to damage) and decreases the lifespan of your computer.

It can also be a fire hazard; faulty laptops have actually burned down houses.

Signs of Laptop Overheating

So, what’s the difference between an overheating laptop and one that’s just a little hot? What about using laptop when it’s hot outside – is that okay? It’s important in any scenario to keep a watchful eye on what a hot laptop looks and feels like.

If your laptop feels hot and shows any of the problems below, chances are it’s overheating or getting there:

  • Ÿ The fan is constantly running and making loud whirring noises
  • Ÿ The computer is struggling to perform basic tasks like opening a new browser window
  • Ÿ Mysterious error messages are popping up in random programs
  • Ÿ Lines are showing up on your laptop screen (a sign your video card is overheating)
  • Ÿ The system is freezing or you’re getting the dreaded BSOD (Blue Screen of Death)
  • Ÿ The laptop abruptly shuts down on its own
  • Ÿ Certain areas of the bottom of the laptop are hot, like where the fan, RAM, processor, or battery are located

If your laptop is overheating, take steps immediately to cool down your laptop and prevent further overheating damage.

Note: Some of these signs just indicate slow or outdated software. For instance, a computer that has problems running certain applications doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s too hot, especially if it doesn’t even feel hot to the touch.

How to Test the Internal Temperature of Your Laptop

If your laptop is just plain hot, find out if it’s running too hot by using a free program to check the internal laptop temperature and find its optimal temperature.

Some system information tools support temperature readings too.

On that note, having one of those programs on your computer has the added benefit of letting you check up other stats about your computer and not just the temperature of the internal components.

What to Do When a Laptop Gets Too Hot

There are a number of things you can do to address an overheating laptop. Here are some suggestions:

  • Ÿ The simplest solution is to just take a break from using it. If you’ve been on your laptop for six hours non-stop, it’s not uncommon for it to get hot
  • Ÿ Keep the laptop positioned on a flat, hard surface. Sitting it on your lap for an extended period of time can block the fan and make it harder for the internal parts to remain cool
  • Ÿ Replace the battery if it’s unable to hold a charge for very long
  • Ÿ Put your laptop into power save mode (from the Power Options Control Panel applet) to prevent it from using more power, which can make the battery area hotter than it needs to be
  • Ÿ Shut down programs that use lots of system resources. Something that’s using most of your RAM or CPU, or is always writing to the hard drive, forces those components to work, which can make them hot over time
  • Ÿ Buy a laptop cooler to sit your laptop on
  • Ÿ Open the laptop and blow out all the dust that has collected on the hardware


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What Happens If a Laptop Battery Is Overcharged?

It isn’t possible to overcharge a laptop battery. Leaving your computer plugged in after it is fully charged doesn’t overcharge or damage the battery. However, it is possible to take steps to optimize the battery life of your laptop.

Lithium-Ion Batteries

Most modern laptops use Lithium-ion batteries. These batteries can be charged hundreds of times without affecting the battery life. They have an internal circuit that stops the charging process when the battery is fully charged.

The circuit is necessary because without it the Li-ion battery could overheat and possibly burn as it charges. A Lithium-ion battery shouldn’t get warm while it is in the charger. If it does, remove it. The battery may be defective.

Nickel-Cadmium and Nickel Metal Hydride Batteries

Older laptops use Nickel-cadmium and Nickel metal hydride batteries. These batteries require more maintenance than Lithium-ion batteries. NiCad and NiMH batteries must be fully discharged and then fully recharged once a month for optimal battery life. Leaving them plugged in after they are fully charged doesn’t affect the battery life appreciably.

Mac Notebook Batteries

Apple’s MacBook, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro come with non-replaceable lithium polymer batteries to provide maximum battery life in a compact space. To check the health of the battery, hold down the Option key while you click the battery icon in the menu bar.


You’ll see one of the following status messages:

  • Ÿ Normal
  • Ÿ Replace Soon – The battery is functioning normally but holds less charge than it did when it was new.
  • Ÿ Replace Now – The battery is functioning normally but holds significantly less charge than it did when it was new. You can still use your computer, but if its performance is affected, take it to an Apple authorized service technician to replace the battery.
  • Ÿ Service Battery: The battery isn’t functioning normally. You can use the Mac when it’s connected to a power adapter, but you should take it to an Apple Store or Apple-authorized service provider as soon as possible.

Saving Battery Life in Windows 10

  • Ÿ The new Windows 10 Battery Saver kicks in automatically when the battery reaches 20 percent of battery life. Depending on your settings, the computer will lower the screen brightness at this time to preserve battery life. To find it, select System from the Settings and then Battery Saver.
  • Ÿ You can make changes to the Power Plan screen to preserve battery life. This is the screen where you set the number of minutes of inactivity that elapse before the laptop dims or powers down. Lower numbers reduce battery use. The Power Plan screen is located at Settings > System > Power & Sleep.
  • Ÿ If you don’t need the internet for a while, you can turn off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections to save battery power. The easiest way to do this is to activate the Airplane Mode, located at Settings > Network & internet > Airplane Mode (or Flight mode).
  • Ÿ


Tips for Maximizing Battery Life

  • Ÿ Charge a new laptop computer for at least 24 hours before using it.
  • Ÿ Lithium-ion batteries last the longest if they stay between 20 and 80 percent charged.
  • Ÿ Remove the battery if you use the laptop plugged into the wall most of the time.
  • Ÿ If you won’t be using the laptop for a month or more, remove the battery. If you don’t have a removable battery, run the charge down to 50 percent before storage.
  • Ÿ The battery will drain in storage. If it sits uncharged for long, it can be damaged. Occasionally charge the battery during lengthy storage times.
  • Ÿ Avoid extremely hot or cold temperatures. Don’t leave your laptop in the car on a summer day or during a winter blizzard.
  • Ÿ Adjust the keyboard lighting, sleep settings, and screen brightness downward for better battery life.


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Top Cold Weather Tips for Laptops

Regular laptops have been designed to work within a safe temperature range – normally 50 to 95 degrees F (10 – 35 degrees C). This range refers both to optimal usage temperature of the outside environment and the temperature the laptop should be warmed to before using. Protecting your laptop from cold weather is important and you should know how to protect your laptop from cold weather. Protect yourself and your laptop from the damage cold weather can cause.

01.Ruggedized Laptops

If your budget allows, purchase or lease a ruggedized laptop if you will be outside in cold temperatures for extended periods of time. Ruggedized laptops have been designed to work under extreme weather conditions. When you rely on your laptop and can’t count on the weather to cooperate – a ruggedized laptop is worth considering. Most ruggedized laptops have been tested according to MIL-STD-810F standards.

02.Careful Storage

Never leave a laptop, even in a well-padded and insulated laptop case in the trunk of vehicle in cold weather. The laptop could freeze and you lose all data contained in it.

03.Let It Warm Up

Once you bring a laptop in from the cold – allow it to warm up to room temperature before booting. The same is true when you go outdoors – allow the laptop to acclimatize to the outside temperature before booting up.

04.Incorrect Warming Methods

Do not use devices such as mug warmers or pocket warmers to heat or keep a laptop warm. They are not designed for this purpose and can create problems as they will not heat or keep a laptop warm in the right way. They could heat the wrong parts of a laptop or cause it to generate too much heat and melt internal components.

05.Laptop Warmers

There are laptop warmers designed specifically for the purpose of keeping a laptop warm and these are what you should use. Laptop warmers have been tested to ensure they will safely protect your laptop and are a wise investment.

06.Excessive Heat Build-Up

Do not use your laptop while it is still inside a laptop bag. There is no room for air to circulate and you will get heat build-up. You can create your own “box” for your laptop which will allow air to circulate and provide an enclosed area for you to use your laptop. Having the laptop on a raised platform for your laptop within the box will aid in airflow. This laptop box will help keep the laptop warmer as cold air is blocked and the heat generated from the laptop is kept in the box.

07.Protecting Your Display

Don’t use heating pads or other external sources of heat to warm up or thaw a laptop display. Allow the display to warm on its own and do not boot up a laptop if you suspect the display is frozen.

08.Stay Out of the Cold

Whenever possible stay out of direct exposure to cold weather conditions by staying in a vehicle, inside a building or other type of shelter. Protecting your laptop from excessive dampness or wet from snow will keep your keyboard from freezing and other problems from developing.

09.Change Power Settings

By changing the power settings from power save mode will help keep the laptop warm as it continues to run. Instead of having the hard drive shut down, keep it spinning. The longer the laptop can be kept left running, the warmer it will stay as it generates its own heat.

10.Don’t Get Creative

Last but by no means least – do not create your own devices to keep your laptop warm! This is especially important if you are using a company owned or leased laptop. You will be responsible for any damage caused and will have to have it repaired or replaced at your own expense.

Home networking: Everything you need to know

When it comes to home networking, there’s a soup of technical terms, LAN, WAN, broadband, Wi-Fi, CAT5e, just to name a few. If you’re having a hard time with these basic terms, you’re reading the right post. Here I’ll (try to) explain them all so that you can have a better understanding of your home network and hopefully a better control of your online life. There’s a lot to explain so this long post is just the first of an evolving series.

Advanced and experienced users likely won’t need this, but for the rest, I’d recommend reading the whole thing. So take your time, but in case you want to jump to a quick answer, feel free to search for what you want to know and chances are you will find it within this post.

  1. Wired networking

A wired local network is basically a group of devices connected to one another using network cables, more often than not with the help of a router, which brings us to the very first thing you should know about your network.

Router: This is the central device of a home network into which you can plug one end of a network cable. The other end of the cable goes into a networking device that has a network port. If you want to add more network devices to a router, you’ll need more cables and more ports on the router. These ports, both on the router and on the end devices, are called Local Area Network (LAN) ports. They are also known as RJ45 ports or Ethernet ports. The moment you plug a device into a router, you have yourself a wired network. Networking devices that come with an RJ45 network port are called Ethernet-ready devices. More on this below.

Note: Technically, you can skip the router and connect two computers directly together using one network cable to form a network of two. However, this requires manually configuring the IP addresses, or using a special crossover cable, for the connection to work. You don’t really want to do that.

LAN ports: A home router usually has four LAN ports, meaning that, straight out of the box, it can host a network of up to four wired networking devices. If you want to have a larger network, you will need to resort to a switch (or a hub), which adds more LAN ports to the router. Generally a home router can connect up to about 250 networking devices, and the majority of homes and even small businesses don’t need more than that.

There are currently two main speed standards for LAN ports: Ethernet (also called Fast Ethernet,) which caps at 100 megabits per second (or about 13 megabytes per second), and Gigabit Ethernet, which caps at 1 gigabit per second (or about 150 MBps). In other words, it takes about a minute to transfer a CD’s worth of data (around 700 MB or about 250 digital songs) over an Ethernet connection. With Gigabit Ethernet, the same job takes about five seconds. In real life, the average speed of an Ethernet connection is about 8 MBps, and of a Gigabit Ethernet connection is somewhere between 45 and 100 MBps. The actual speed of a network connection depends on many factors, such as the end devices being used, the quality of the cable and the amount of traffic.

In short, LAN ports on a router allow Ethernet-ready devices to connect to one another and share data.

In order for them to also access the internet, the router needs to have a Wide Area Network (WAN) port. On many routers, this port may also be labeled the internet port.

Switch vs. hub: A hub and a switch both add more LAN ports to an existing network. They help increase the number of Ethernet-ready clients that a network can host. The main difference between hubs and switches is a hub uses one shared channel for all of its ports, while a switch has a dedicated channel for each one. This means the more clients you connect to a hub, the slower the data rate gets for each client, whereas with a switch the speed doesn’t change according to the number of connected clients. For this reason, hubs are much cheaper than switches with the same number of ports.

However, hubs are largely obsolete now, since the cost of switches has come down significantly. The price of a switch generally varies based on its standard (regular Ethernet or Gigabit Ethernet, with the latter being more expensive), and the number of ports (the more ports, the higher the price).

You can find a switch with just four or up to 48 ports (or even more). Note that the total of extra wired clients you can add to a network is equal to the switch’s total number of ports minus one. For example, a four-port switch will add another three clients to the network. This is because you need to use one of the ports to connect the switch itself to the network, which, by the way, also uses another port of the existing network. With this in mind, make sure you buy a switch with significantly more ports than the number of clients you intend to add to the network.

Wide-area network (WAN) port: Also known as the internet port. Generally, a router has just one WAN port. (Some business routers come with dual WAN ports, so one can use two separate internet services at a time.) On any router, the WAN port will be separated from the LAN ports, and is often distinguished by being a different color. A WAN port is used to connect to an internet source, such as a broadband modem. The WAN allows the router to connect to the internet and share that connection with all the Ethernet-ready devices connected to it.

Broadband modem: Often called a DSL modem or cable modem, a broadband modem is a device that bridges the internet connection from a service provider to a computer or to a router, making the internet available to consumers. Generally, a modem has one LAN port (to connect to a router’s WAN port, or to an Ethernet-ready device) and one service-related port, such as a telephone port (DSL modems) or a coaxial port (cable modems), that connects to the service line. If you have just a modem, you’ll be able to connect just one Ethernet-ready device, such as a computer, to the internet. To hook up more than one device to the internet, you will need a router. Providers tend to offer a combo device that’s a combination of a modem and a router or wireless router, all in one.

Network cables: These are the cables used to connect network devices to a router or a switch. They are also known as Category 5 cables, or CAT5 cables. Currently, most CAT5 cables on the market are actually CAT5e, which are capable of delivering Gigabit Ethernet data speeds (1,000 Mbps). The latest network cabling standard currently in use is CAT6, which is designed to be faster and more reliable than CAT5e. The difference between the two is the wiring inside the cable and at both ends of it. CAT5e and CAT6 cables can be used interchangeably, and in my personal experience their performance is essentially the same. For most home usage, what CAT5e has to offer is more than enough. In fact, you probably won’t notice any difference if you switch to CAT6, but it doesn’t hurt to use CAT6 if you can afford it to be future-proof. Also, network cables are the same, no matter how they shape, round or flat.

Now that we’re clear on wired networks, let’s move on to a wireless network.

  1. Wireless networking

A wireless network is very similar to a wired network with one big difference: Devices don’t use cables to connect to the router and one another. Instead, they use radio wireless connections called Wi-Fi (Wireless Fidelity), which is a friendly name for the 802.11 networking standards supported by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). Wireless networking devices don’t need to have ports, just antennas, which are sometimes hidden inside the device itself. In a typical home network, there are generally both wired and wireless devices, and they can all talk to one another. In order to have a Wi-Fi connection, there needs to be an access point and a Wi-Fi client.

Basic terms

Access point: An access point (AP) is a central device that broadcasts a Wi-Fi signal for Wi-Fi clients to connect to. Generally, each wireless network, like those you see popping up on your phone’s screen as you walk around a big city, belongs to one access point. You can buy an AP separately and connect it to a router or a switch to add Wi-Fi support to a wired network, but generally, you want to buy a wireless router, which is a regular router (one WAN port, multiple LAN ports and so on) with a built-in access point. Some routers even come with more than one access point (see discussion of dual-band and tri-band routers below).

Wi-Fi client: A Wi-Fi client or WLAN client is a device that can detect the signal broadcast by an access point, connect to it and maintain the connection. All recent laptops, phones and tablets on the market come with built-in Wi-Fi capability. Older devices and desktop computers that don’t can be upgraded to that via a USB or PCIe Wi-Fi adapter. Think of a Wi-Fi client as a device that has an invisible network port and an invisible network cable. This metaphorical cable is as long as the range of a Wi-Fi signal broadcast by an access point.

Note: The type of Wi-Fi connection mentioned above is established in the Infrastructure mode, which is the most popular mode in real-life usage. Technically, you can skip an access point and make two Wi-Fi clients connect directly to each other, in the Adhoc mode. However, as with using a crossover network cable, this is rather complicated and inefficient.

Wi-Fi range: This is the radius an access point’s Wi-Fi signal can reach. Typically, a good Wi-Fi network is most viable within about 150 feet from the access point. This distance, however, changes based on the power of the devices involved, the environment and (most importantly) the Wi-Fi standard. The Wi-Fi standard also determines how fast a wireless connection can be and is the reason Wi-Fi gets complicated and confusing, especially when considering the fact there are multiple Wi-Fi frequency bands.

Frequency bands: These bands are the radio frequencies used by the Wi-Fi standards: 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. The 2.4 GHz and 5 Ghz bands are currently the most popular, collectively being used in all existing network devices. Generally, the 5 Ghz band delivers faster data rates but a little less range than the 2.4 Ghz band. Note that a 60 GHz band is also used but only by the 802.11ad standard, which is not yet commercially available.

Depending on the standard, some Wi-Fi devices use either the 2.4 GHz or the 5 GHz band, while others that use both of these are called dual-band devices.

Wi-Fi standards

Wi-Fi standards decide the speed and range of a Wi-Fi network. Generally later standards are backward compatible with earlier ones.

802.11b: This was the first commercialized wireless standard. It offers a top speed of 11 Mbps and operates only on the 2.4 GHz frequency band. The standard was first available in 1999 and is now totally obsolete; 802.11b clients, however, are still supported by access points of later Wi-Fi standards.

802.11a: Similar to 802.11b in terms of age, 802.11a offers a speed cap of 54 Mbps at the expense of much shorter range, and uses the 5 GHz band. It’s also now obsolete, though it’s still supported by new access points for backward compatibility.

802.11g: Introduced in 2003, the 802.11g standard marked the first time wireless networking was called Wi-Fi. The standard offers the top speed of 54 Mbps but operates on the 2.4 GHz band, hence permitting better range than the 802.11a standard. It’s used by many older mobile devices, such as the iPhone 3G and the iPhone 3Gs. This standard is supported by access points of later standards. 802.11g is also becoming obsolete.

802.11n or Wireless-N: Available since 2009, 802.11n has been the most popular Wi-Fi standard, with lots of improvements over the previous ones, such as making the range of the 5 GHz band more comparable to that of the 2.4 GHz band. The standard operates on both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands and started a new era of dual-band routers, which accommodate two access points, one for each band. There are two types of dual-band routers: selectable dual-band routers (now defunct) that can operate in one band at a time and true dual-band routers that simultaneously transmit Wi-Fi signals on both bands.

On each band, the Wireless-N standard is available in three setups, depending on the number of spatial streams being used: single-stream (1×1), dual-stream (2×2) and three-stream (3×3), offering cap speeds of 150 Mbps, 300 Mbps and 450 Mbps, respectively. This in turns creates three types of true dual-band routers: N600 (each of the two bands offers a 300 Mbps speed cap), N750 (one band has a 300 Mbps speed cap while the other caps at 450 Mbps) and N900 (each of the two bands allows up to 450 Mbps cap speed).

Note: In order to create a Wi-Fi connection, both the access point (router) and the client need to operate on the same frequency band. For example, a 2.4 GHz client, such as an iPhone 4, won’t be able to connect to a 5 GHz access point. Also, a Wi-Fi connection takes place on just one band at a time. If you have a dual-band capable client (such as the iPhone 6) with a dual-band router, the two will connect on just one band, likely the 5 Ghz.

802.11ac: Sometimes referred to as 5G Wi-Fi, this latest Wi-Fi standard operates only on the 5 GHz frequency band and currently offers Wi-Fi speeds of up to 2,167 Mbps (or even faster with latest chip) when used in the quad-stream (4×4) setup. The standard also comes with the 3×3, 2×2, 1×1 setups that cap at 1,300 Mbps, 900 Mbps and 450 Mbps, respectively.

Technically, each spatial stream of the 802.11ac standard is about four times faster than that of the 802.11n (or Wireless-N) standard, and therefore is much better for battery life (since it has to work less to deliver the same amount of data). In real-world testing so far, with the same amount of streams, I’ve found that 802.11ac is about three times the speed of Wireless-N, which is still very good. (Note that the real-world sustained speeds of wireless standards are always much lower than the theoretical speed cap. This is partly because the cap speed is determined in controlled, interference-free environments.) The fastest peak real-world speed of an 802.11ac connection I’ve seen so far is around 90 MBps (or 720 Mbps), which is close to that of a Gigabit Ethernet wired connection.

On the same 5 GHz band, 802.11ac devices are backward-compatible with Wireless-N and 802.11a devices. While 802.11ac is not available on the 2.4 GHz band, for compatibility purposes, an 802.11ac router can also serve as a Wireless-N access point. That said, all 802.11ac chips on the market support both 802.11ac and 802.11n Wi-Fi standards.

802.11ad or WiGig: First introduced in 2009, the 802.11ad wireless networking standard became part of the Wi-Fi ecosystem at CES 2013. Prior to that, it was considered a different type of wireless networking. 2016 marked the year when the first 802.11ad router, the TP-Link Talon AD7200, became available.

Operating in the 60 Ghz frequency band, the 802.11ad Wi-Fi standard has an extremely high speed — up to 7 Gbps — but a disappointingly short range (about one-tenth of 802.11ac.) It can’t penetrate walls very well, either. For this reason, the new standard is a supplement to the existing 802.11ac standard and is intended for devices that sit within a close proximity of the router.

It’s an ideal wireless solution for devices at a close range, with a clear line of sight (no obstacles in between) such as between a laptop and its base-station, or a set-top box and a big screen TV. All 802.11ad routers will also work as 802.11ac routers and support all existing Wi-Fi clients, but only 802.11ad devices can connect to the router at high speed over the 60 Ghz band.

802.11ax: This is the next generation of Wi-Fi, set to supersede 802.11ac. Like 802.11ac, the new 802.11ax is backward compatible with previous Wi-Fi generations. However, it’s the first standard that focuses not only on faster speed but also on Wi-Fi efficiency, especially in crowded air space. In other words, 802.11ax aims to maintain network capacity even during less than ideal conditions. Ultimately, this means it allows for higher ratio of real-world speed versus theoretical ceiling speed. It’s also said to reduce energy consumption by two thirds compared to 802.11ac, which is great news for mobile users.

On paper, 802.11ax can be four times faster than 802.11ac, up to some 5 Gbps. Also, an 802.11ax router can boost existing pre-802.11ax Wi-Fi devices’ real-world speeds thanks to its ability to manage traffic diversity in dense, overlapping networks. 2017 is the year that networking chip makers, such as Qualcomm, introduced their first 802.11ax chips. That said, consumer devices that support 802.11ax are predicted to be available by the end of 2017 or early 2018.

8 quick ways to clear up drive space in Windows 10

Bumping up against your PC’s physical storage limit? Here’s how to grab a couple gigs’ worth of space.

Face it: No matter how large your hard drive is — how many empty terabytes you had when you first bought your PC — you always seem to fill it right to the brink.

If you’re bumping up against your PC’s physical storage limit, there are some quick tricks you can use to reclaim a couple of gigs. But these options will only take you so far — if you need a lot of space, you may need to upgrade your hardware or consider deleting a few of those raw image files.

Empty the Recycle Bin

When you delete items, like files and photos, from your PC, they don’t immediately get deleted. Instead, they sit in the Recycle Bin and continue to take up valuable hard-drive space. To empty the Recycle Bin, go to your desktop, right-click on the Recycle Bin and click Empty Recycle Bin. You will see a warning pop-up asking if you are sure you want to permanently delete your Recycle Bin items. Click Yes to proceed.

Disk Cleanup

Windows has a built-in disk cleanup utility (aptly named Disk Cleanup) that can help you clear up space by removing various files — including temporary internet files, system error memory dump files, and even previous Windows installations that may still be hanging out from your recent move to Windows 10.

You can find Disk Cleanup in the Start menu, under All apps > Windows Administrative Tools > Disk Cleanup. Select the drive you want to clean up and hit OK, then wait while Disk Cleanup calculates how much space you can free up. If you want to delete system files, such as the Windows.old folder (which holds your previous installations of Windows, and can be several GB in size), click Cleanup system files.

Delete temporary and downloaded files

You can delete temporary files without running Disk Cleanup, along with files you downloaded that you may no longer need. Go to Settings > System and click on Storage on the left panel. Next, click This PC at the top and then click Temporary files from the list. Check the boxes for Temporary files and Downloads folder (and Empty recycle bin while you’re at it) and then click the Remove files button.

Turn on Storage Sense

If you have updated to Windows 10 Creators Update, then let Windows help out with freeing up disk space. Head back to the Storage page in Settings and toggle on Storage sense. Now, Windows will automatically delete unused temporary files, as well as files that have been in the Recycle Bin for more than 30 days. I’m pretty good with emptying the Recycle Bin on something approaching a regular schedule, but I’m also very happy to have Windows track down and eradicate needless temp files.

Save files to a different drive

If your computer has multiple hard drives or a partitioned hard drive, you may find yourself running out of space on one drive (or partition). Luckily, you can fix this by changing your default save locations for apps, documents, music, pictures, and videos. To do this, open the Settings menu and go to System > Storage. Under Save locations, select a different drive for each of the categories. You can select any drive — even a removable drive, like a USB flash drive or a memory card — that is connected to your PC.

Disable hibernate

Instead of shutting down your computer completely, you can put it in hibernate — a quasi-shutdown state that allows you to startup faster. When your computer goes into hibernate, it saves a snapshot of your files and drivers before shutting down, and this takes up space. If starting up quickly isn’t your priority, you can reclaim some valuable hard drive space by disabling hibernate altogether, because the hiberfil.sys file takes up 75 percent of your PC’s installed RAM. This means that if you have 8GB of RAM, you can clear up 6GB instantly by disabling hibernate.

Here’s our complete guide on disabling (or re-enabling) hibernate in Windows 10. One caveat: If you disable hibernate, you will not be able to use Windows 10’s fast startup feature.

Uninstall apps

You probably have some apps and programs on your PC that you don’t use — either apps you’ve installed and forgotten about, or bloatware that came preinstalled on your computer from the manufacturer. To find out which apps are taking up space, open the Settings menu and go to System > Apps & features and choose Sort by size. To uninstall an app from this menu, click the app and then click Uninstall.

If you’re running legacy programs on Windows 10, you may not see them in this list (some appear, but some do not). To find these programs, right-click the Start button and click Control Panel. Go to Programs and Features to see a list of the legacy programs on your computer (you can also sort this list by program size). To uninstall a program from this list, left-click it to select it and click Uninstall.

Windows 10’s default apps — like the Maps app, OneNote app, and Photos app — don’t take up a lot of space, but they do take up some space.

Store files in the cloud — and only in the cloud

If you take advantage of cloud storage via OneDrive or another service, you’re probably double-storing files and photos. Well, you don’t have to do this — all cloud storage services allow you to select which folders are actually downloaded and saved to your PC (as well as in the cloud).

Right-click on the OneDrive icon in your system tray and choose Settings. In the Account tab, next to Choose folders to sync to this device, click Choose folders. Select the folders you want to sync (read: save directly) to your device, and deselect any folders you do not want to sync to your device. When you’re finished selecting or deselecting folders, click OK. The folders you did not select to sync to your device will be removed from your hard drive, freeing up space. You will still be able to access the files in these folders from the OneDrive site in any Web browser; they just won’t be saved on your hard drive.