Computers, like people, last longer with some care and common sense. Some tips:
It’s August, and that means it’s hot. Computers like heat even less than you do and become even flakier when there’s too much of it. That’s why the little muffin fan hums away. But if the air the computer is drawing is itself too hot, it’s set for problems. Common mistake: the computer is in an upstairs bedroom and the owner leaves for work, leaving the computer on, the windows closed, but turning the air conditioner off. Turn the computer off, too.
If you have a dog or cat, take special care to keep the critters away from the machine during shedding season. That fur worms its way into the darndest places inside a PC case, and it’s a jim-dandy insulator.
If pet fur does get inside the case, do not try to blow it out with the output of some industrial vacuum cleaner -- too much force. Use something gentler. Although cans of compressed air are sold at photo stores and such, a soda straw and some lung power will also do the trick. Naturally, you turn the computer off and disconnect the power supply before you open the case, right?
Heat waves in some parts of the country turn on more air conditioning equipment than the power companies can feed. That results in brownouts and blackouts, and the machine doesn’t like either -- or the surge that sometimes pops up the line when power is retored. A small UPS (uninterruptable power system) that will smooth out the juice and provide 15 minutes of battery backup for an orderly shutdown is less than $100.
Bear in mind that water and electricity don’t mix, so keep that cold drink somewhere else while you’re surfing the net, or get prepared to buy a new keyboard. And for those who park a drink atop the monitor, where high voltage lurks just beneath the vent holes -- well, natural selection will take care of the problem eventually.
Unless you use the machine wearing white gloves, both mouse and keyboard will become grungy. Spray household cleaner (glass cleaner is fine) on a paper towel, not on the widget. I’ve also found the pre-moistened towelettes used on baby bottoms just fine for getting keycaps white again. Of course, do all this when the machine is off.
Finally, don’t forget the peripherals, printers, scanners and such. They also like to be cool, clean and safe. On a flatbed scanner, take care to clean the surface using only a very soft, moist cloth, not a paper towel. Any scratches added will be part of your scans.