Taking Care of Your Electronics: Planned Obsolescence Be Damned

Oldschool mac buttons

“If you take care of your stuff, it will last a long time,” my dad has always said.

He’s right, because he still has his mac, just like the iconic one in the picture there, and he does a little part of his work on it. He also has a big iMac, too, but that little guy is still going strong.

There are some technical software things that you can do to lengthen the life of your technical gadgetry, but what about cleaning, handling, and protecting them so they physically last a long time? Having those things last for years is good for the bottom line and good for the environment.

Here are a couple of tips I’ve scrounged up and I’ve learned from experience. I hope you find them helpful!

1. Phone cases aren’t just jive turkey accessories.

Protect your investment with something that keeps gunk out of the crevices, buttons, microphone, and charging port. I suggest something that’s also, at least somewhat, waterproof and that would cushion a drop. It protects from much more than just accidents, but everyday that device is in your linty pocket, your dusty handbag, or your trusty-but-rarely-cleaned backpack. On that front, I’d suggest a lifeproof case. Treat that phone or tablet like what it is: an expensive little computer, deserving of your respect.

2. Cases for computers work pretty darn well.

I’ve had my incase┬ásleeve for my macbook (13″, celebrating our 7th anniversary together) and it’s helped protect it from my linty backpack and even played a role, I’m sure, in protecting it from a near-catastrophic fall early on in my ownership.

3. Cords need love too.

Cords have all sorts of crevices that can get crap stuck in them, and then subsequently, get crap stuck in your computer ports. Also, bending or crushing them will land you in a spot where you need a new $30 cord. Now there aren’t any particular things you need for this, maybe just a little, clean, drawstring bag with all your charging cords in it, which is what I’ve done. I did that mostly to keep my little usb bricks and phone charger, headphones, and handsfree all in one place, neatly in my handbag. As it turns out, mine is just a re-purposed, soft bag meant for a pair of sunglasses, to give you an idea of size. You can make your own, too. Here are a bunch of tutorials.

4. Develop a cleaning regimen.

Depending on the device*, there are good resources all over the web that can help you develop a good practice of cleaning your devices. No need to buy weird little towelettes, either. There are many tutorials and simple materials that make it possible for you to affordably keep up with this sort of mundane task that will make a big difference to your little glowing rectangles. Don’t forget that little can of air to shoot dust out of ports and keyboards! And set a little monthly reminder on your computer to take a moment to tidy up your devices.

I hope you find this helpful. Did I forget something, do you have a good idea? Pay it forward! Pass this on to a coworker or client who you think it would help.

*Refer to the user manuals or do a search about your particular device and what the best materials are to clean it with.