13 Ways You're Slowly Killing Your Computer

You rely on your computer for everything—work, gaming, nightly, um, entertainment—but you don't always give it the respect it deserves. Some of the little things you do every day are slowly sucking the life right out of your trusted companion.

But you can stop it. To get the scoop on the tech behavior you need to quit ASAP, we went downstairs to the tech dudes who've rescued us from catastrophic crashes and late-night beer spills alike. Read on, you're in good hands.

1. Eating while you work

It’s an obvious one, sure, but every handful of almonds or crumbly bite of pretzel showers your keyboard with crumbs that get lodged in there, jamming up your keys and pufting typos in yor emals. Even worse: drinking.

2. Removing cables without ejecting properly

So you’ve heard you shouldn’t do this, but why? Pulling out is great advice in some situations, but if you rip a USB out without closing it manually, it can corrupt the drive, meaning you won’t be able to open those files anymore. Seriously, that warning isn't just there to annoy you.

3. Forgetting to update your software

It may be instinct to ignore the ever-present pop-ups prompting you, but you should always update your software. Just not right away. With a major operating system upgrade, for example, it’s prudent to wait a few days to see if any major bugs surface. That way, you’ll be first in line for the next version once they’ve pushed a fix. On mobile, however, it’s a different story. If you’ve got a super old phone, you may want to skip them altogether, because it can’t always handle demands of newer operating systems.

4. Charging 24/7

Take your charger out of your computer immediately. Turns out, for best battery life, you should charge your laptop only until it’s full, then use it until it’s depleted before you charge again. Not only will this improve your computer’s life, but also your charger’s life. And a better charger means faster charging. 

5. Keeping your laptop on your bed

See those little rubber pads on the bottom of your laptop? They’re not just there for balance. On a flat surface, they elevate the computer so air can flow underneath. But if you’re indulging in too much Netflix in bed, that air can’t get underneath and your fan has to work overtime to cool it. This overworks your machine and can shorten its life. Bad news for your Kimmy Schmidt addiction. Also, it can start fires.

6. Never rebooting

Closing your laptop or putting it to sleep is not the same as shutting it down. Make sure to completely turn it off at least once a week, or if you know you won’t be using it for a full 24 hours, shut it down.

7. Spilling water (and then lying about it)

If you commit the cardinal sin of spilling water, beer, or Greek yogurt on your computer, you’re going to need to take it to an expert for repairs. Now, since there are components inside that change color when they’re exposed to water, don't lie—it just slows down the diagnosis and makes you look like an asshole. In the meantime, our guys recommend turning your computer off right away, and praying to the ghost of Steve Jobs. Even if you can, don’t take the battery out, since you might risk voiding your warranty.

8. X-ing out of programs

If you're in OS X, simply clicking the upper left X in your window doesn't actually quit the program—it's still running in the background, sucking up memory juice like a divorcée in a Palm Springs singles resort.

9. Keeping too many tabs open

Too many tabs, like too many cooks, is a precursor for a slow, painful crash. On newer browsers like Chrome, each tab runs a “Chrome Helper” in the background which takes up a lot of RAM. And if you max out that RAM, your computer can’t work as quickly, making it sluggish and prone to freezing. Yes, just a simple Internet browser can suck up all your memory.

10. Ignoring available data

You don’t have to wonder what’s taking up your computer’s RAM and CPU usage. If you open your Activity Monitor (Applications > Utilities), you can see an organized list of exactly how much memory each of your programs is using. For example, Chrome is currently occupying about 83 percent of my Mac’s usable memory. Goddamn tabs.

11. Failing to back up your files

Back that thing up, and not just because Juvenile told you to. You don’t have to save every last file, but if you’re working on a major project, you should back up every day on Dropbox and/or an external hard drive. Our Support Technician urges people to see their computers as a tool to manipulate data, not the data itself. That way, if it’s lost or stolen, you only have to worry about replacing the machine, and not what’s on it.

12. Having too many login and startup items

Running lots of programs = using lots of memory = potentially slow performance. If you’ve got a handful of programs that automatically open whenever you boot up (looking at you, Spotify), pare them down to what you actually use by selecting the app in your dock, clicking “options” and then deselecting “open at log in.” You can also right-click on the item if it's in the doc, select "Options," and uncheck "Open at Login."

13. Hoarding widgets

The same goes for that “Ski Report” and “Tile Game” widget running in the background. If you’re not using those puppies on a weekly basis, cut them loose—they're just dragging your computer's feet.

Ali Drucker is a staff writer for Supercompressor and she definitely never watches Netflix in bed. Nope. No way. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.