Your Apple computer is not just at the centre of your life; it's also a significant financial investment. To avoid downtime, costs and a visit to a repair specialist and/or the inevitable replacement of genuine Apple parts, it's best to be aware of the most common causes of damage.
1. GravityBenjamin Franklin famously said '... in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.' Well, Ben, I'd add gravity to that to. The hazards of gravity are most obvious with laptops. A dropped MacBook Pro or Air may result in anything from a dented case to a broken screen, as well as possible internal component damage. If you're carrying your laptop around on a daily basis, it makes sense to have a protective sleeve at the very least. A hardshell case will give you the maximum protection.
While Mac Pros or Mac Minis will generally be sited out of harm’s way, iMacs can also be casualties of gravity. Beware of any trailing cables, trip hazards or anything adjacent that could tip your machine over. iMacs are well designed machines, but falling (especially forward) can expose the screen to considerable force. It only needs to hit a coffee cup and....you may need a new iMac screen.
At MacKing, some of the most common repairs we carry out are as a result of liquid spills. Hot or sugary drink spills can play havoc with keyboards and gum up contacts. With laptops, liquid can also seep into the machine causing corrosion and short circuits. Or worse. It's always good practice to use spill proof cups or bottles.
Another risk to be aware of is sweaty hands. Sweat can wear away the anodised coating on MacBook Pros and discolour the surface. This is not covered by Apple, so a palm rest area or external keyboard is recommended. At the risk of sounding like your mum - keep your hands clean and dry!
3. Dust, sand, grit, pet hair
Unfortunately, you really do have to sweat the small stuff. Don't use your laptop at the beach! Even if you're really careful, windblown sand can get everywhere, even inside your computer (it has ports, right?).
Keep your machine clean. Dust gets everywhere, and pet owners will know that hair does too. If you have a machine you can open up, do so on a six-monthly basis and invest in a can of compressed air and a mini vacuum. Apple desktops are often sited in cupboards or in corners that don't usually get a dusting. You'll be amazed at the amount of dust that gets sucked into your machine by the cooling system.
All computers reach higher than ambient air temperatures by nature, hence the presence of internal fans and heatsinks. They're not designed to cope with extra heat beyond normal computer operation, so if you have a static machine (i.e. desktop or iMac), don't site it in direct sunlight. The most common oversight is leaving laptops in cars on sunny days. Cars in direct summer sun can reach temperatures well over 35°C, which can lead to serious damage. This kind of heat can swell batteries, warp screens and even melt internal components.
5. Exerting undue pressure
Well-built as Apple laptops are, they're not designed to be in the boot of a car with a suitcase on top or on your kitchen table under a pile of books. The screen really won't like that. Likewise, laptops with screens left open are an accident waiting to happen. Believe it or not, the most common cause of screen/hinge breakage is people falling asleep next to an open laptop.
Apple laptops look gorgeous but scratch very easily. Always check the surface that you're working on and make sure it's not unduly rough and grit-free. Beware of wearing metallic watch straps or bangles - the repeated abrasion will take it's toll.
7. Harsh cleaning
We've seen machines cleaned with everything from bleach to wire wool (yes, wire wool). Power your machine down, then use that bottle of compressed air on the keyboard and give it a very light spray with Isopropyl alcohol. Clean the case with a damp (not wet) cloth and use a good quality screen cleaner.
8. Beware of third party chargers
Not all laptop chargers are equal. There are many third party offerings on the market that are undoubtedly cheaper than Apple chargers, but they may not offer the same safety and security features. In extreme cases, this can lead to risk of electric shock or severe overheating and fire. It's always best to stick with genuine Apple parts.
Yes, it does still happen, as do power surges. Decent surge protectors are so cheap, it makes sense to have one for your iMac or desktop (and unplug your laptop if a storm's coming).
10. Never work with animals or children
My youngest once 'decorated' my laptop. With a sharpie. Bless her, she was only five, and so proud of her work. A friend of mine had a hard drive wiped by a curious toddler.
Similarly, we've seen a laptop with corrosion marks from the droppings of a free flying pet parrot. That's some strong sh•t. And a Mac Pro that was housing an ants nest. OK, nobody expected that one, but you get the point. Treat your Mac with some respect.
Beyond that, get a good malware detection programme, always back up, don't bloat your drive with too many useless files (download folder anyone?) and always remember that a Mac is a highly desirable item so don't leave it lying around!
Thinking of buying an Mac from new? Think different.
Apple are working hard to reduce their carbon footprint, but computer manufacture is notoriously carbon and rare earth heavy - not to mention the sumptuous packaging. Be kind to your planet and your wallet and choose the tech Fair Trade option - buy refurbished.