How users accidentally break IT equipment

Do the users in your organization know they shouldn’t actually use their company-issued laptops on their laps? Don’t bet on it.

Any time IT managers allow users to take company computing equipment out of the office, there’s a risk of the user causing expensive damage as a result of carelessness or ignorance.

That’s why a little training can go a long way toward freeing up some IT time that would have been spent repairing avoidable problems — and room in the budget that would have gone to buying replacements.

One of users’ biggest missteps, according to a recent New York Times story: when people use a laptop while it’s resting in their laps.

It’s hard to blame folks for that — after all, the name “laptop” more or less recommends they use it that way. But what many users don’t realize is that laptops need to rest on hard surfaces in order to get proper air circulation. They run the risk of overheating otherwise.

To prevent damage caused by that and other bad habits, it may be a good idea to offer users some basic care tips when they’re issued laptops and other devices for work.

For example, in addition to notes about allowing proper air flow, IT can tell users:

  1. Don’t walk around with the laptop while its hard drive is spinning — that could shake the actuator arm and cause it to damage the drive. Always shut the lid, wait a moment and listen for the drive to stop.
  2. Don’t put the laptop into a carrying case before shutting it down — trapping a computer in a closed bag while it’s still working is another way the machine can overheat.
  3. Don’t leave the laptop plugged in all the time. Rechargeable batteries are like muscles — they need to exercise to stay fit.
  4. Never leave a laptop inside a car when it’s hot outside — high heat can cause serious damage to the battery, hard drive and just about everything else.
  5. Laptops should be cleaned every once in a while. If a laptop begins to heat up faster than normal, it’s time to clean the fan and vents with compressed air (or bring it to IT for them to do so).

For more advice IT can pass on to users with company laptops, check out these tips on how to extend battery life and avoid overheating.

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