Many of the millions of presents opened today will be electronics: brand-new cell phones, laptops, cameras and other gadgets sitting under Christmas trees across the county. But how can you keep them as new as they are on Christmas Day year-round? Here are five gear-maintenance tips to take care of your electronics and ensure that you won't be asking for the exact same present again next year.
Tip 1: Put an ID Tag in Your Gadget
The first step in gadget maintenance is to make sure you don't lose them.
Many people put tape or tags on the outside of their gadgets with their name, address and contact number in the event they get misplaced. This can be effective, but it's also important to put that information in your gadget. Whether it's a cell phone, laptop or camera, there are ways to ensure that even if a tag falls off, your information is there.
If it's a cell phone, make the contact information your wallpaper. If it's a digital camera, make the first picture a photo of a piece of paper with your contact information written on it. Laptop? Save a document on your desktop: "If Lost: Owner Info." That way, no matter what the circumstances, your contact information will be there and easily accessible for whoever might find it.
Tip 2: Get Tracking Software for Phones and Laptops
In addition to protecting your new electronics in case you lose them, it is also important to protect them in the event they are stolen.
There are more and more programs out there that you can buy that provide just that function. GadgetTrak uses GPS and WiFi signals to locate your lost electronic and lock it down remotely so a thief cannot use it and police can track it. There are also programs that alert you via e-mail if someone signs on without a password so you can locate them. Check online or at your local software store for a program that might suit your gadget needs.
Tip 3: Get Antivirus Software
These days, there is not just the threat of theft to worry about, there's also the threat of online viruses. There's no excuse not to protect yourself: It's free! There are many applications available including AVG and AVAST that are no-cost services.
Viruses are the No. 1 thing that makes laptops unusable and bog down computers in spyware, so using the free software can be key to ensuring a longer life for your computer.
How to Make Your Gadget Gifts Last Longer
Tip 4: Gadget Maintenance
Other easy ways to make sure your gadgets have a long shelflife include preventing scratching and cracking, and making sure your laptop batteries live as long as possible.
As far as the actual hardware goes, cases are still important but screen guards are crucial. These simple and inexpensive transparent film covers can greatly help prevent your gadgets from scratching and cracking, with very little inconvenience to the user.
As far as batteries go, it's actually important when you get a new electronic device to charge the battery fully, and then let it run out fully. That way the device will learn how to recalibrate and will be less likely to lose power as time goes on. After that initial time, this should be done again at least once a month.
It is important to keep in mind that, counterintuitively, leaving your laptop plugged in actually shortens the life of your batteries so you don't always need to charge your laptop even if you are near a plug.
Tip 5: Put Extra Items in a Sealable Plastic Bag and Label It
Finally, how often is it that your electronics come with spare parts but you can't seem to find them when you need them most? The answer is simple: Put them in bags and label them. Only then should you throw them into that junk drawer. But at least you will know what you have.
It'll only take five minutes to do and it will save you hours down the road when you need a specific part and it's right there with label intact.
Whether it's a new camera, laptop, phone or other gadget, simple protections and maintenance can really make a difference in keeping your Christmas gifts shiny and new year-round.