You get regular oil changes, and you remember — even if it’s late — to swap out your AC filters from time to time. Life is full of maintenance, and our tech shouldn’t be any different.
When you invest hundreds or, more likely thousands, of dollars into a gadget, you want it to last. That means some easy upkeep for your phone to keep your ports clear, your screen protected, and your phone’s hardware running strong. Tap or click here for my guide to making your smartphone run like new, inside and out.
The sad truth is all your tech is probably a little gross. It’s not hard to clean it up; you simply need to know the best ways to do it, so you don’t scratch your screens or much worse. Tap or click for steps to make your keyboard, screens, mouse, earbuds, and more sparkle.
Finding and fixing problems early is critical if you want to make your gadgets last. It’s easier than you think.
1. Know the signs of malware and viruses
Sorry to break it to you, iPhone users. Your phone is not immune to viruses. Sure, the App Store is generally a little more strict than Google’s Play Store, but you’re not entirely safe from tricky malware and smart cybercriminals. This is especially true if your phone is jailbroken.
If your iPhone or Android smartphone is feeling a little off, malware could be to blame. Here are some signs to watch for:
- An unexplained surge in data use
- Apps crashing repeatedly
- Battery draining quicker than normal
- Excessive pop-ups
- Apps on your phone you don’t remember downloading
- Lagging or overall slow performance
- Your phone is hot to the touch even when you’re not using it
If you have an iPhone, there are several steps you can take to wipe out malicious software. Sometimes deleting an offending app is enough. You may have to wipe your phone entirely.
Be sure you backup your contacts, photos, videos and all the rest before you do. Tap or click for steps to remove viruses from your iPhone or iPad.
If you have a Samsung phone, scan it using the pre-installed Smart Manager. This app lets you check your battery usage, storage, and memory. It can also scan your phone for malicious software and block phishing attacks and malicious websites. To use it, open Smart Manager from the apps screen, tap Device security, then SCAN DEVICE.
Your best bet to avoid any attempts to plant malicious software: Keep your phone updated.
2. How is your battery health?
Bad habits die hard, and you might leave your phone plugged in constantly or find yourself always on 1% battery.
If you’re that person who always has a dying or dead battery, it’s important to make sure it’s just bad charging habits and not something worse.
On your iPhone, go to Settings > Battery > Battery Health. This screen will show you your phone’s maximum battery capacity and peak performance capacity. If your phone is older, your capacity will be below 100%. You will get a notification if your battery health has significantly degraded.
For even more details, check out an app I like, coconutBattery. Tap or click for a link to download and more iPhone battery tips.
You should also turn on Optimized Battery Charging. Go to Settings > Battery > Battery Health > Optimized Battery Charging and make sure it is enabled. This will reduce the time your battery spends fully charged. It also takes your charging habits into account and won’t charge past 80% unless you need it.
Page through the settings on your Android phone to find a similar report, or you can use a third-party app. Tap or click for a direct link to my pick, AccuBattery.
Then make sure you have the proper settings enabled to keep your battery healthy.
If you have a Samsung phone, go to Settings > Device Care > Optimize Now > Battery. On Google Pixel phones, go to Settings > Battery and turn on Adaptive Battery.
A few charging rules of thumb:
- Don’t keep your phone under your blanket or pillow at night.
- Avoid super cheap charging cables. At best, they won’t last long. At worst, they are a fire hazard.
- If you wake up in the night and see your phone is fully charged, unplug it. It won’t make a huge difference, but it certainly won’t hurt.
3. Diagnose phone hardware issues
If malware isn’t to blame and your battery is just fine, try running a diagnostic test to rule out any other smartphone issues.
For iPhones, you’ll need a third-party app. TestM is a popular diagnostic app that performs more than 20 tests on your phone, including checking its cameras, touch screen, speakers, gyroscope, accelerometer, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, cellular, light sensor, charger and more.
Most tests require you to take an action, like drawing on the screen or testing your microphone. After you’re done, you’ll get a full report listing the health of your phone’s various hardware components.
You can get TestM from the Google Play Store for your Android phone, too. Phone Check and Test is another option. It runs diagnostics on your Android phone’s cellular, Wi-Fi, display, touchscreen, GPS, audio, camera, sensors, storage, memory, CPU, and battery — similar to TestM.
4. Analyze your laptop battery
Like your phone’s battery, the one in your laptop needs proper care to last for years.
On a Windows laptop, this requires a few steps. Stick with me. First, you need to create the report.
- Search for PowerShell in the lower-left search box in Windows.
- On the menu that opens, you will see Windows PowerShell. Right-click and choose Run as administrator. You will need to authorize PowerShell to make changes to your PC.
- Once it’s open, copy or type in the following command: powercfg /batteryreport /output “C:\battery-report.html” then hit Enter.
- You will see a message in PowerShell with the location where the report was saved. In most cases, it will be the C drive.
Next, take these steps to view the report:
- Type Windows File Explorer into the search box in the bottom left of Windows to access the C drive.
- You should see a file labeled battery-report.html. Double-click the file to open it.
- The report outlines your laptop battery’s health and how much longer it might last.
If you have a MacBook, follow these simple steps:
- Hold down the Option key and click on the Apple menu.
- Select on System Information.
- Scroll down to Hardware > Power > Cycle Count.
- The closer you are to 1,000 cycles, the lower your battery performance will be.
For even more info on your MacBook battery, try out coconutBattery, linked above in step 2.
Need a new laptop? We can help. My tech team built a smart quiz that takes 60 seconds to find you your perfect match. Tap or click here to take the quiz.
5. Check your computer’s hardware, too
Luckily, running diagnostics on your Mac and PC is more straightforward than doing it on your smartphone. Computers come with built-in tools that are easy to use.
Windows 10 has the Performance Monitor app, which can find and diagnose issues on your PC.
- Click the Start menu and search for Performance Monitor. Give it some time to gather the data.
- On the left-hand side, click Reports > System > System Diagnostics > [Computer Name] to check out your system hardware.
The Windows Memory Diagnostic runs a memory test on your RAM. If your computer is crashing or slow, this could be the culprit. Press Windows + R to get the Run window, type mdsched.exe and hit Enter to test your RAM. You will need to restart your computer to do this.
Apple Diagnostics checks your Mac for hardware issues. The tool offers suggestions for fixes and can put you in touch with tech support, too.
First, shut down your Mac, then disconnect all external devices except for the keyboard, mouse, display, Ethernet connection (if you have one), and power connection.
If your Mac is fairly new, it may have an Apple silicon processor rather than one from Intel. Use About This Mac to determine which one you have.
If you have an Apple silicon chip:
- Turn on your Mac and press and hold the power button as your Mac boots up.
- Release the button when you see the startup options window.
- Press Command-D on your keyboard.
For Intel-based Macs:
- Turn on your Mac then press and hold the D key as your Mac boots up.
- Release the button when you see a progress bar or when you’re asked to choose a language.
Wait for the test to complete, then view the results.
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Learn about all the latest technology on The Kim Komando Show, the nation’s largest weekend radio talk show. Kim takes calls and dispenses advice on today’s digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacks. For her daily tips, free newsletters, and more, visit her website at Komando.com.