Hopefully you’re not wondering how to destroy a laptop so you can actively wreck your machine. But it’s a good idea to know the most common sources of laptop damage so you can keep yours running smoothly for as long as possible.
Because we carry around laptops, compared to desktop computers that sit still, they are more prone to accidents and hardware failure. Luck is part of the equation, but let’s see how you can break a laptop over time with a few common mistakes. If you abuse your laptop in this way, it could crash before you realize what you’re doing.
1. How to kill a laptop with excess heat
Processors are more energy efficient than ever, and the average temperature of a PC has decreased over time. However, laptops still generate a lot of heat to the point where many machines get hot to the touch when stressed.
A fan (or other cooling source) must expel this internal heat and it is your responsibility to keep the fan ventilation clear. If it’s clogged, the heat inside your laptop has nowhere to go. Instead, it will get stuck on the critical components of your laptop. Eventually, your machine will reach a dangerous temperature and overheat.
Some laptops react to this and will automatically shut down. But others will suffer from the heat as they slowly bake to death.
Furniture, rugs, and throws are all surfaces that can wreak havoc on a laptop. Wherever you put your laptop, make sure the ventilation has a clear path to do your work. Even a stack of books too close to your laptop can cause problems if the air vent is blocked.
This is not the only source of heat buildup. Over time, dust can build up inside your machine and clog the fan and internal airways. If you’ve had your computer for years, it’s worth cleaning your laptop to remove this debris on the inside.
Be proactive and pay attention to the volume of your laptop’s fan. If it sounds like a jet engine when your computer isn’t engaged in a demanding task (like gaming or video encoding), consider it a cry for help and take steps to fix your overheating laptop.
2. How to ruin your laptop’s disk drive
Most laptops now include a Solid State Drive (SSD) or other flash storage. Since SSDs have no internal moving parts, they are more resistant to movement. However, many older, cheaper laptops still have a mechanical hard disk drive (HDD). These can sustain physical damage if they are shaken too much.
This vulnerability of a spinning hard drive is due to the use of moving parts. Hard drives have a read/write head that must move to interact with the disk, which spins. These parts have their own inertia, so if you move your laptop while they’re active, they’ll try to move in their original direction. This can cause contact between the hard drive’s internal components, which in turn could cost you your data.
You can reduce the risk of hard drive failure by adjusting your notebook carefully and not moving it when running a program that frequently accesses the hard drive. Treat your laptop gently, without any sudden movements. Even if your computer has an SSD, you should be aware of the signs of SSD failure to catch problems early.
3. How to damage your laptop from mishandling
If you are wondering how to quickly spoil a good laptop, try lifting your laptop by the screen. Holding it by any corner, especially without squeezing it with one hand, is a bad idea. Even premium laptops can sometimes succumb to this seemingly innocent abuse.
When a laptop is closed, the best way to lift it is to grab the front or back of the device. It’s smart to lift it with both hands for safety. When your laptop is open, you still need to pick it up with both hands (one on each side).
Do not lift a laptop by the screen. If your laptop still has an optical drive, don’t hold it by just that side either. When possible, you should also keep the laptop on a firm, level surface whenever possible. This will prevent it from warping.
Some laptops will take abuse in stride, but others can run into trouble in no time. In particular, lifting a laptop by the screen puts a lot of stress on the hinges. They are not meant to handle that. Doing so can damage the hinges or surrounding materials, which could cause the hinge to break or the screen to stop working.
4. How to destroy a laptop by destroying the cables
If you want to kill your computer (or at least your ability to use it normally), treat your cables like garbage. Wrap them around everything in sight, twist them at odd angles, and wait for something to break. It will happen sooner than you imagine.
You’d think power cords could handle a lot of twisting and bending, but often they can’t. After all, laptops are primarily mobile devices, so there’s a good reason to make your cables thin, light, and easy to move around.
A common form of this problem occurs when someone wraps the cable around some other object to keep it tied down. Sometimes that object has sharp edges, which cut the cord. And this isn’t just for obvious mistakes like knives; a hard plastic rim is all you need. In some cases, power adapters will even damage the cord if you wrap the cord around the brick.
Avoid this problem by wrapping a cable around itself. Most cables come packaged this way when you receive them, and some include a small piece of Velcro that you can use to hold the cable together. If your cable doesn’t have velcro, you can buy one for cheap or use an adjustable zip tie. Alternatively, know how to wrap a cord in a way that won’t damage it.
You also need to make sure you don’t put too much stress on your computer cables. Avoid letting the AC adapter dangle in the air; this will put pressure on the plug that goes to your laptop. Over time, this will weaken the plug and could even damage the plug, preventing you from charging your computer. Having some slack in the cables is important.
Spending some time cleaning up cable clutter will go a long way in keeping your laptop running for a long time.
5. How to kill a laptop with improper transport
As we’ve seen above, laptops don’t play well with shakes or other mismatches. Despite what the movies might make you think, you can’t properly use them on the back of a motorcycle, or while running from guys with machine guns, or in the back of a car while missiles are being fired at you.
Many people buy a laptop bag to relieve daily bumps and bumps. That’s a great first step, but you have to make sure the bag actually provides protection. Cheap laptop bags may include a laptop-sized compartment, but they generally lack protection.
Others have padding on the sides of the bag, but completely neglect the protection of the top or bottom. Of course, the bottom is what hits the ground when you drop a bag you’re holding.
An alternative is to place your laptop in a padded sleeve. This can protect your laptop from jolts and at the same time prevent items in your bag from scratching the exterior of the machine. Just make sure the sleeve is padded. A cheap case, like a bad bag, is probably too thin to offer any real protection.
Take a look at the best anti-theft laptop backpacks for some great options.
Have you ever destroyed a laptop?
In short, it is important to pay attention to small details. Otherwise, your laptop could die a slow death from damage to the hinges, hard drive, exterior, or other components. Even seemingly minor actions, like food crumbs getting under the keyboard, can cause serious problems over time.
You’ll read stories of people dropping their laptop in a pool, spilling a drink on it, or throwing it off a fourth-story balcony. These kinds of tragedies happen. But dramatic accidents are not the way most damage occurs. Laptops often crash due to a combination of small bugs, some of which may be of no consequence at first.
While we’ve focused on major laptop damage here, don’t forget that it’s also important to care for your laptop battery over time.