Five Rules: Handy Tips For Microchips

Today's hot little gadget could be tomorrow's clunker if you don't follow these handy tips for microchips.

1. More Power To You
If the battery in your new laptop, cell phone, or digital camera seems to be gone before you blink, try checking a few key settings to get the most juice. On your laptop, make sure you utilize the power options built into all modern operating systems (Windows, Mac, Linux, etc.) -- setting these can mean a huge difference in standard battery life. In addition, limit your high-drain use while on battery power; things like spinning the CD tray will eat away at the battery life. Your cell could benefit from a quick tweak, too. Try turning off Bluetooth whenever you're not using a headset and think about setting your e-mail options to check less frequently on the smart phone.

2. Keep it Clean
Even the shiniest new toys lose their luster unless you keep them clean. When the grime and gunk starts building up, grab the softest cloth you've got -- those special cloths used for your glasses are perfect -- and just a touch of moisture to get the surface clean.

3. Back That Thing Up

Few things are worse than the realization your term papers and all the photos from that trip to Cancun have been erased by a hard drive crash. Invest in a backup system -- either an external hard drive or disc based backups will do -- and make sure you keep a schedule. Make sure to back up those photos from your various digital camera memory cards, too.

4. Best Case Scenario
Ding and scratches are not a threat if you've got the right cover. Hard shell cases can protect your iPod from a plummet off an office desk, and screen protectors for a smart phone can keep the touchscreen in prime condition, even after 9,000 Tweets. Beyond protection, a good carrying case for your camera or laptop will also give you storage and a more comfortable way to carry your digital friends.

5. The Latest and Greatest
Nowadays, even your DVD player might need an update to get the most features. Make sure all your devices are up to date with the latest and greatest drivers or firmware updates to keep everything in tip top shape. It's usually a good idea to run the update functions every few months, especially if you've heard of other device owners having problems.

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