Looking after your phone, tablet or PC…

By | April 3, 2017
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I’ve mentioned a few tips about keeping the battery in your phone, tablet or laptop in good condition lately – and what to do if it starts playing up.

But it occurred to me I haven’t said much about how to keep the rest of your device in good condition. After all, these things aren’t cheap, so you want to look after them.

So here’s my top tips for how to look after your device, whether you have a PC, a tablet or a phone (or even all three!)

First, if you have a tablet or a phone, I’d recommend getting a case and keeping it in it all the time. It doesn’t matter so much whether you have the hard plastic type that clip onto the back or the leather/fake leather type that close around it like a wallet, though the second type also protect the screen while it’s not in use. They tend to be slightly bulkier, though, so it’s up to you. The main thing is that any case protects the body of the phone from shattering if dropped (as long as you don’t drop it too far – chuck it off the top of the Eiffel Tower and you might find it’s not in very good shape!)

By the way, some cases, particularly the folding ones, can double as stands, which can be useful if you ever watch TV or videos on it.

Laptops – if you take it outside the house, I’d get a proper case to carry it in as well, rather than just using a bag. They have padding in the right places to protect it and laptops don’t take kindly to any knocks or things being dropped on them, so a case is a good idea.

Laptop cases and tablet or phone cases can be really cheap, so it’s not expensive to protect it.

Unless you have a waterproof model, one of the most important things is to keep it dry. Water getting into a phone or tablet can ruin it… and if you have it plugged into the main at the time, it can be downright dangerous.

If you do drop your phone or tablet into water or known a drink over it or over a PC, here’s what to do to give it the best chance of surviving.

First, turn it off. If it’s plugged into the mains turn it off at the wall first, so you can’t electrocute yourself (important!) but then turn the phone or tablet off – completely off, not just in sleep mode so the screen goes black.

Next take off any case and unplug any other bits and pieces you have plugged in and wipe the outside of the device dry with a soft towel or kitchen roll.

Now you want to try to get any water that’s in it out. Don’t use a hair drier as some people will recommend – the air can push water deeper into the device. You can use a vacuum cleaner instead to try to suck the water out of the phone, but the main thing I’d recommend is to put it on something that tends to absorb water.

You can just put it between two soft towels (make sure it’s not somewhere anyone will sit on them!) but what I’d recommend if you can is to either put it on a layer of (uncooked) rice or of the kind of shredded paper you get as packaging or that you might have if you’ve shredded old bank statements lately. They’re very good at absorbing moisture and will gradually pull some of the water out of the device. Leave it there for a while – if you notice the rice or paper or towels getting damp, change them for dry ones.

I’d leave it for a full 24 hours and make sure it feels completely dry before trying turning it on again – and when you do turn it on, I’d do it without plugging into the wall for the first time, just in case.

If it won’t turn on or it turns itself off again shortly afterwards, give it another 24 hours to dry out further.

Phew – so that’s what to do if it gets wet. But as I say, try not to let it get wet!

What next – protecting the screen. Some people like to use a screen protector – a thin layer of plastic you put on. On the other hand some people find they make the touchscreen not work as well so I wouldn’t recommend one for everyone. The screens are pretty hard now, so I personally don’t use one. More importantly to protect the screen, if you use a stylus, if the squidgy bit on the end starts to come loose or break, then get a new stylus – don’t use one where the hard plastic of the stylus could come into contact with the screen.

If the screen gets dirty or has smeared fingerprints on it, you may be able to clean it just with a dry tissue. But if not, the best thing is to use an alcohol based wipe. If you don’t have one, I wouldn’t really recommend a water based wipe, like a baby wipe as they’re just a bit too wet. I’d use a tissue that was only slightly damp – that way there’s less chance of water getting into the device. And make sure the moisture only goes on the screen, not near any of the buttons or sockets.

One more thing on looking after your device – with tablets and phones you’ll sometimes hear people say there’s this great app you can get but you have to “jailbreak” your device to let it work. It doesn’t make any difference, they might say, it just lets more apps run. That’s true in a way – but it also makes it possible for more viruses and other malware to run on it, too, so I’d avoid it. For the same reason I’d avoid setting an Android device to allow it to get apps from all sorts of different places rather than just the official app store.

If you don’t know what on earth that last paragraph meant, that’s fine. It’s not the kind of thing you’re likely to do by accident. But if anyone offers to jailbreak your device for you to let you run some app, my advice is to say no thanks.

When it all goes wrong…

Of course, the problem with all this clever kit is that it’s all very well when it works, but when it goes wrong or doesn’t do what you expect, it can be really frustrating. That’s why I wrote Smartphones help is at hand and why if you have a smartphone, I’d recommend having a read of this.

Incidentally, I’m not sure I mentioned before but the books are already in stock, so if you order know you should have your copy in a day or two – we aim to send out all orders the same day we get them, though if you order after about 4pm ish it might not go until the following day. Either way, you should get it pretty quickly!

So if you don’t like to wait long for something you’ve ordered, don’t worry, you won’t have to. Why not have a read of the full information here.

6 thoughts on “Looking after your phone, tablet or PC…

  1. Jeanne M. Turner

    Hi Tim, If I need more than just a dry tissue to clean the screen on my tablet (Hudl2) I use a HI Tech Lens Cleaning Cloth – available from Opticians, not expensive and last for a very long time. I don’t have a Smartphone but I should think they would work for these too and perhaps also for Laptops.

    1. Tim Post author

      Thanks – that’s a good tip. Lens cleaning cloths for glasses will be designed to be not too aggressive so should be ideal and should dry without smears.

  2. Alan Thorpe

    I would also suggest if using a spray never spray onto the screen directly. Always spray a cloth and wipe the screen with the cloth. I have a MacBook with a screen that is damaged. It is not the pixels. It is like a grey cloud that has spread from one corner. I believe it is moisture that is behind the screen and it from using cleaning sprays.

    1. Tim Post author

      Another good tip – yes, to avoid too much moisture, spray the cloth not the screen. A grey background could be exactly that (it’s just possible it could be the layers of screen coming apart – but that itself could be due to moisture. Gently pushing it back might help, but to be honest it’s likely to come away again).

  3. Jan Donnelly

    I find Kodak microfibre cleaning cloths, available from opticians, are excellent for phones and tablets. They are not wet, so no problems with moisture, but remove all fingerprints and other marks.

    1. Mike – The Helpful Book Company

      Hi Jan

      Thanks for the tip! That is exactly how I clean my phone.

      (Tim is away this week so I’m picking up messages on here for him)



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