Save Money! Extend The Life of Older Devices
Your 3-year old tablet still has a lot to give.
That means not giving in to holiday and after-holiday deals!
Ahh, the delicious lure to buy the newest phone, tablet, or computer that’s on sale. You’re in love with the idea of owning the newest design.
The longer you stay in this bliss, the more likely you are to buy. But, if you’re trying to save money to pay off debt and struggling to save a money, the holiday sales can be a wicked curse. Like Hansel and Gretel attracted to that sugar-laden siding.
Let go of the holiday sales, you could stand to spend a few more months or even years with your old devices. Read on to see what you can to do to extend the life of your phone, tablet, or computer.
Here’s the backstory: The Microsoft Surface Pro 4 with i5 processor is running at a deep discount at Best Buy. I’ve been obsessing for two weeks over putting it on a credit card since I don’t have the savings to get it. My current computer is 4 years old, and there’s nothing wrong with it. In fact, as long as I keep it clean, it could last me another 4 years. There’s no reason for me to buy a new computer, especially since I’m in the throes of slaying the debt monster. This got me thinking how many other people are going through this? I’ve managed to keep my devices running at optimum speeds by doing some storage and battery management. This saves me money so why not share it with others.
Keep reading to find out how to prolong the life of your devices. That way you can save up for next year’s deep discounts on computers and electronics.
Proper Care and Feeding Of Your Li-Ion Batteries
Despite popular notion, the best way to take care of your lithium Ion batteries is not to discharge them all the way, then fully charge them all the way up.
This technique was used for the old NiCad batteries in which you needed to prevent the battery from establishing a “memory.” To do this, you would constantly discharge and fully recharge the device to prolong battery life.
Most electronics today are using a Lithium Ion Battery. To get the best performance and lifespan from your battery, it’s best to keep your devices between 30%-90% (try not to let it go below 20%). And don’t forget to unplug them as soon as they reach 100%.
Just remember, once your device is charged up, don't keep it plugged in.
A Quick word about older laptops.
If your laptop is a permanent occupant of your desk, take the battery out and use wall power – as opposed to having the battery plugged in all the time. Once a month put the battery back in and use it up, recharge it, then remove it again. That it can extend the life of your laptop battery.
Spring Cleaning For Your Cache
Keep your electronic speeds up to par by clearing out your cache regularly.
In computer speak, a cache is information that is saved in the memory of your phone, tablet, or computer to make it easier for you to access apps and programs. Think of the apps that sit on your smartphone home screen. Those are cached, so they are ready when you need them.
Your favorite browser also caches things for easy reference and retrieval (unless you’re using an incognito window).
The longer you go without clearing out your cache, the slower your devices will be. It gets bogged down.
Don’t worry, you don’t have to be a tech genius to find your cache to clean it up. There’s an app for that!
CCleaner by Piriform, and downloaded from File Hippo is my favorite tool to keep computer and tablets running smoothly. I even use it on my phone, and it can do wonders to ramp up speed.
Another mobile cleaner tool that I really liked was AVG Cleaner. This one will even help you clean out duplicate photos and videos. Something CCleaner doesn’t do.
Use a cache cleaner once a week and your devices will run noticeably faster.
As a last resort, do a factory reset on your devices. With the advent of cloud storage, your favorite apps will be safely kept in your Google, Android, or iTunes account.
You just need to make sure to move any photos, videos, and downloads that were saved on your device, and that you want to keep.
Turn It Off
Once a week, turn off your phone to reset cellular access.
Turn off your (older) computer when you are done using it. Leaving it on for days wear down components and keep adding to your cache.
Tablets seem to be the exception, as they were meant to be left in sleep mode. Still a good idea to do a full shutdown once and a while.
Spring Cleaning Your Storage
This one is easy. Get rid of apps and programs that you no longer need or use. You can always go back and download them if you need to.
Know Your Storage Capacity
Know what your storage capacity is for each device. The best way to find out is to go to your Settings area and look for “Storage.” Using up all your storage slows devices down.
Keep only your most-used apps on the device.
And understand the size and permissions of the apps you download. Be wary of downloading apps that are too large for what they will be used for. Why the heck would a flashlight app need as much space as a banking app? Be wary.
Also be suspicious of apps that are asking for more-than-reasonably-needed permissions to access your information (like that nefarious flashlight app). Why would the flashlight app need access to your camera and GPS? Be cautious.
Before downloading, check the “size” and “permissions” section of the app (both iTunes and Google Play offer this information).
Manage your storage capacity by choosing apps that won’t bog down your devices.
Utilize the Cloud
Get onto the cloud bandwagon!
The biggest advantage of using cloud storage is that your important information is not locked into one device. If you lose that device, all your valuable information goes bye-bye with it.
Yes, there are security risks in using the cloud, but the chances of losing your device is a lot higher than losing your information stored in the cloud. Google and Apple wouldn’t bet the company on poor security practices.
Factory resets and remote wipes (in case your phone is stolen or misplaced) are much easier to do when all your important stuff is on the cloud.
Use an Antivirus and Malware Checker
Everyone knows a good antivirus is needed for all PC computers. But not everybody knows that they should be using a malware tool. Viruses and Malware are different monsters.
You need an antivirus and malware check on your phone and tablets.
Most people don’t realize they carry much more sensitive information on their phone (which is unprotected from viruses and malware) than on their home computer
Think about how easy it is to access your bank information on your phone rather than a computer. How about your medical information? Or all your family and friends contact information including emails and phone numbers? Why would you leave that kind of information available for anyone to snoop through (including some nefarious apps)?
Good news, though, there are free options you can use to protect your devices.
AVG, Avast, and Kaspersky are top rated in Google Play and iTunes. They, along with Microsoft Defender, are also top of the line protection for computers.
In addition to protection from malware and viruses, most of these apps let you do a remote wipe (from another device, normally a computer) of all your personal information if your phone is stolen or misplaced.
I like Kaspersky antivirus. Especially now that they have protection for all devices. For malware, Malwarebytes is my favorite for all my devices.
With all the crazy cyber-attacks, paying about $40-60 a year for antivirus and mobile protection is worth it, and it will prolong the use of your devices.
When It’s Time to Finally Give In
The day will come to where you’ll need to buy a new device. But use this lesson to get yourself ready for that purchase by starting a sinking fund.
The typical life span of a newer device is about 2-6 years – despite what people say that devices become obsolete within 6 months. That’s just another way to make you spend more for the latest and greatest. Remember, the Joneses are broke.
Older computers are still running perfectly. A friend of mine has been using a Sony Vaio purchased in 2005. She uses some of the techniques in this article to keep it running smoothly.
But if you’ve already tried these things (including the factory reset), use this list to help you decide if it’s time for a new device:
- It takes a long time for your computer to power up, shutdown, or access files.
- Your need for storage capacity has outgrown your current storage abilities.
- Your need for RAM capacity has outgrown your current device’s capabilities.
- You’ve saved enough money to purchase new equipment.
If you do need to go into debt to buy, make sure you can pay it off within 6 months.
Before you let yourself fall for the new-on-sale marketing tactics, take some time to care for your old devices. It will save you money and “buy” you time to save for a better device later.
Have you been torn between getting on the holiday deals and saving money? Tell me about it.
If you’ve tried all the techniques in this article (including a factory reset) and you’re still having trouble, go and get a new device. Let me know how that goes and what you bought.