Hardware Tips: Complete PC Preventive Maintenance Guide

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PC Maintenance: Four Tips for Longer PC Life

1. Keep your PC in a smoke-free environment. Tobacco smoke can damage delicate contacts and circuits.

2. Leave your PC running. Powering up from a cold state is one of the most stressful things you can do to your system's components. If you don't want to leave your PC running all the time, use Windows' Power Management settings to put your machine into hibernation rather than completely shutting down. In Windows XP, right-click the desktop and select Properties. Click the Screen Saver tab and select the Power button. Choose the Hibernate tab to ensure that hibernation is enabled, and then select a time beneath 'System hibernates' under the Power Schemes tab. (Note that this option is not available on all PCs.) Computers running older versions of Windows may or may not provide similar power-management features. Look under the Power Management icon (Power Options in Windows 2000) in Control Panel to evaluate your machine's capabilities.

While our "Busting the Biggest PC Myths" feature says that turning your PC off "does more good than harm," I find that my PCs last longer when I keep them in hibernation.

3. Don't leave your monitor running. The best way to extend your display's life is to shut it off when it's not in use.

4. Avoid jostling the PC. Whenever you move your system, even if it's just across the desktop, make sure the machine is shut down and unplugged.

Click here for past Hardware Tips columns. Send your tips and questions to kirk_steers@pcworld.com. We pay $50 for published items. Kirk Steers is a PC World contributing editor.
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