It's not uncommon for Chris Convertito to be waiting for a flight in an airport terminal and cringe. That's because someone is doing something unsightly with a laptop computer.
Convertito, a product manager for HP Business Notebooks, the company's line of business laptops, said laptop abuse is all too common. Road warriors buy them, then think they can do as they please.
"I see people just abusing laptops when I'm traveling," Convertito said. "Some of the things people do, they don't realize that not doing it could go a long way toward a longer life span for the machine."
Laptops for business travelers are a serious business — so serious that they have their own line of laptops from many manufacturers. Those models usually are more expensive but tougher both inside and out. HP business laptops, for instance, are built with a metal exterior and "data-protection system" that detects a computer falling and takes immediate internal action to protect the hard drive.
Though Convertito said laptops are "a quantum leap" sturdier and more efficient than even a few years ago, a little care still goes a long way. Here are tips from a pro.
Bag it: Bumps and bruises are in the everyday life of laptops, but protect as much as possible. "You see people at airports all the time pulling laptops from a briefcase or carry-on," Convertito said. "If it's not in a proper laptop bag, it's not fully protected. ... Even a basic case will provide a good level of protection."
Don't stuff it: In the part of the bag designed for the computer, let the machine roam free. "You don't want to have 50 magazines and another notebook and your AC adaptor in there so that it's stuffed full. You're putting pressure on the notebook itself, and all that weight is pushing down on it, which isn't good."
Look but don't touch: The screen, that is. LCD screens are fragile and have liquid inside of them. "If you scratch your screen you'll be looking at that scratch for a long time," Convertito said.
Store carefully: Be sure your laptop is off or asleep before storing. Failing to do so is more common than you might think, and I know firsthand; I recently closed a laptop without realizing it was still on. Not so uncommon, apparently. "A system can get hung up," Convertito said. "You don't want it running and pulling in air from a closed laptop bag."
Unplug before moving: Convertito said he always unplugs all devices from his USB ports before moving a computer, even when just going across a hotel room. "I unplug everything, but that's me," he said. "If a mouse falls to the floor, it could break, or tugging on a USB port could do some damage internally."
No extremes: High and low temperatures are a computer's enemy, so avoid leaving it exposed on a 100-degree day in Houston or a 5-degree day in New England. "Summer days and winter nights are a good time not to leave your notebook in the trunk of your car," Convertito said.
Back it up: Anything from a fall to spilled coffee — more likely to happen in transit than at home — can sink your laptop, so back up your hard drive.