You're in the middle of writing a document, drafting an email or simply watching Netflix and up comes a message letting you know there's an update available for your device. Many of us will always click 'later' which can lead to security vulnerabilities being exploited and performance issues affecting usage. Others of us will instantly click 'update' without a second thought which can also lead to problems such as compatibility with both software and hardware.
It's been a busy month, with the release of iOS 9, OS X El Capitan and Android Marshmallow which are all major updates to their respective operating systems, (such as iOS 8.4.1 to iOS 9 or OS X Yosemite to OS X El Capitan).
It's always good to be cautious when installing major updates and to contact either the Help Desk in the Library or your IT Supporter prior to updating, as these are the sorts of updates that can have an impact on the software or hardware that you use.
El Capitan for example requires updated printer drivers which can be found here in order to be compatible with the University's Managed Print Service and Microsoft Office doesn't get along with it very well at the moment either. They usually take a significant amount of time to install too, so these are the sorts of updates you might want to install at a time that you don't need to use your device.
Minor updates (iOS 8.4 to 8.4.1 for example) are smaller updates (but just as important!) and are not as likely to introduce complications as they are often comprised of security patches and performance enhancements. They will usually take less time to install too! However, if the device is business-critical then we would still suggest to check with us prior to updating. We'll probably tell you it's absolutely fine, but always good to make sure, especially if it's a University-owned device.
In light on the recent reports on the retina screens on Apple's laptops and tablets staining, our Mac and Mobile specialist Peter Lewis has come up with a useful guide about caring for your laptop or tablet.
Even the best quality laptop computers are inherently more fragile than desktop computers and for this reason care must be taken to ensure reliable and continued operation. Below are a few hints and tips which can help to keep your laptop in good working order.
Although manufacturers have moved to using Lithium Polymer batteries, which don't suffer from the memory effect that previous generations of batteries did, they still don't enjoy too much of one thing. The following may reduce the life of your battery:
- Leaving charged for extended periods
- Leaving discharged for extended periods
- Charging and discharging constantly
The best way to treat a Lithium Polymer battery is quite simply to use it. Charge it whenever you like, leave it on charge for while you want to but just make sure that you don’t leave it on charge for extended periods and that you allow it to fully-discharge around once per month. Modern laptop batteries generally have a lifespan of around 1000 charge cycles. A charge cycle is 100% to 0%, so discharging from 100% to 50% twice will count as one cycle
Besides the hard disk drive, one of the most vulnerable parts of a laptop (and tablets) is the display. They usually comprise of an LCD panel covered by glass, both of which are fragile. Care must be taken to avoid impact to the display. Likewise, many manufacturers now coat the display with an anti-reflective coating. Although permanent, this coating can rub away through excessive abrasion or chemicals. Always make sure to clean your display with a clean, microfiber cloth and never use any cleaning solutions unless you are sure that they won't damage this coating. Even if the label says “screen cleaning spray" it doesn't mean it won't cause damage to this coating so unless you are sure that the spray you’re using won’t harm the coating, simply breathing on the glass and wiping away with a clean microfiber cloth should suffice.
It is also worth bearing in mind that the tolerances between the keyboard and the screen on modern laptops can be very small. Should moderate external pressure be applied to the machine whilst it is closed then it is possible for screen damage to occur through the keys coming into contact with the glass panel. Pressure to the screen can also damage the backlight causing pressure marks (or “mura spots”) to occur which manifest as a small bright area within the backlight. Such pressure can occur if the laptop is squished into a rucksack or overfilled laptop bag.
Although many manufacturers are moving to using solid state drives (SSDs) across their range of devices (such as Apple), many laptops (including some older Apple portables) still use hard disk drives for storage. Unlike an SSD, which has no moving parts, a hard drive is similar in its design to a record player but on a much smaller scale. It usually spins at a minimum of 5400rpm, with the read/write head floating approximately 3 nanometers (0.000000003m) above the platter. This makes them extremely sensitive to movement. If your laptop has a hard drive inside then you should avoid moving your laptop unless it is turned off or in sleep mode and remember that even when off or asleep, sudden movements and impacts could easily cause damage to the drive.