5Ws+1H: How It's Done: Proper care of computers can ensure longer lifespans

Jul. 15—Computers are essential to many jobs, making it important that users take good care of their systems to ensure they don't bite the dust.

Robert Priddy, with Tahlequah Technology Services, said the first step is to clean out the buildup of dust inside the computer.

"You want to start out by keeping your computer dusted out on the inside," he said. "It could cause overheating or any kind of hardware malfunction. So just blow them out with an air duster to start out with."

Overheating can cause a computer to have a shorter lifespan, because it will damage the processors and hard drives. It's also important to keep computers in a cool environment. With temperatures in Tahlequah reaching close to 90 degrees, a locked vehicle could hit well over 100 degrees in the summer, so users should take their laptops with them when exiting their cars.

"You never want to leave your laptop or anything like that lying around in the direct heat," Priddy said. "The cold, though, won't mess up your computer. There's always people overclocking their processors with water coolers and stuff."

Cotton swabs dipped in rubbing alcohol are good for cleaning between the keys of a keyboard. This can prevent keys from sticking or failing altogether.

The dust and gunk buildup on a screen is hard to miss. But only certain products should be used to wipe them down.

"You can buy products meant to keep the screen clean," Priddy said. "You can also use microfiber — something real soft — with rubbing alcohol. Myself, I just keep a little spray bottle of rubbing alcohol and a soft rag. I've seen people spray their screens down with Windex, but don't do that. That will mess your screen up."

It's as crucial to have clean software as it is to have clean hardware, to keep a computer functioning properly. Antivirus will help protect against malicious programs, viruses or attacks that can damage a computer. Priddy recommends AVG AntiVirus, Avast Antivirus, or Kaspersky Anti-Virus.

"You also want a good software cleaner program," Priddy said. "To keep it cleaned up, I use a couple of programs. One is CCleaner, and another is PrivaZer, which it does a much more deeper scan. There's also one called BleachBit, which Edward Snowden suggests. That's the No. 1 cleaner out there."

People rely on their computers to do hours and hours of work, but it's not uncommon for a system to fail and the user lose all of his or her progress. So in the interest of not having to completely redo hours of work, backing up files is essential.

"You can use an external hard drive, and then of course, there is the cloud, like Google Drive is what I use mostly. Then there's One Drive and a number of cloud services out there," Priddy said. "But I don't trust all of my stuff on the cloud. I keep most of my stuff backed up and encrypted, because I'm more security cautious when it comes to documents or anything you don't want out there."