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The fastest way to kill your laptop

(MoneyWatch) COMMENTARY Tech budgets are shrinking; some companies which once allowed employees to maintain both a desktop PC and a laptop are now making them choose between the two. And recycle times are getting longer; you often have to wait 3, 4, or even 5 years to upgrade to a new computer. In such a climate, anything you can do to extend the life of your laptop helps.

That said, we all tend to treat our laptops like they're indestructible, not like the somewhat fragile gadgets that they are. Recently, MakeUseOf rounded up five ways that we tend to routinely abuse our laptops. I could relate to almost all of them, and indeed -- they all reduce the life of your computer precipitously. Here are the highlights:

Letting your laptop overheat. Whenever you work with your laptop on your lap, on the bed, or laying on any sort of soft fabric, you are insulating the laptop -- trapping the heat in the chassis -- and preventing the fans from blowing the heat out of the machine. That's a recipe for disaster, and the fastest way to the Laptop Graveyard.

Using the display as a handle. Not only do I see this happen all the time, I'm guilty of it myself from time to time: Putting way too much stress on the laptop's display. It's easy to forget how delicate this part of the laptop is and actually pick it up by the top edge of the screen. Other no-no's: Flipping the laptop around on a tabletop by grabbing the display, and poking the LCD screen to point out information to someone sharing the screen with you. It's easy to crack the plastic case housing the screen or to damage pixels in the screen. Treat it like it's the most delicate part of the laptop (because it is).

Stressing the power cord. Recently, my wife's laptop stopped responding to AC power. At first, we thought there was something wrong with the power cord itself, and swapped it for an identical one (we had a second laptop around that used the same AC adapter). What we found was that a few years of rough use broke the power port on the laptop itself, where it plugs into the power cord. I attribute it to the way she roughly yanked the power cord out of the laptop all the time. And that's not all: It's easy to break the cord itself by winding it too tightly or wrapping it around objects with hard edges.

Photo courtesy Flickr user S Baker

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