Are you doing everything possible to maintain the quality of your gaming equipment? Whether you are still playing that retro console or buying the newest Xbox, proper care and attention are needed to make sure that these prized systems last the test of time. After all, why would you spend hundreds of dollars just to let your favorite toy go to waste?

These days, caring for your gaming machines is more important than ever, as advancing technology creates more vulnerabilities. So, whether it is keeping your PlayStation dust-free or fighting off cybercrime, follow these tips and maintain the integrity of your favorite console.

Be Proactive

While there are plenty of new threats that can negatively affect our gaming equipment as technology continues to advance, you first want to ensure that you are proactive in keeping your systems in tip-top shape. If you do not perform the basics, then you don’t stand a chance down the road. Start by keeping your equipment in a dry and ventilated area because, like with other electronics, if your equipment gets wet, then it could mess with the circuits.

Also, keep your console on a shelf and your gaming computer on a desk in order to keep them off the carpet for several reasons. One is that carpet can absorb heat quite quickly, and you do not want to start a fire. Even more probable is that carpet fibers and dust could rise up and clog the vents, which could also lead to overheating and malfunction. If you do notice dust clogs, then use a can of compressed air to carefully remove the blockage.

When cleaning system screens, avoid using glass and window cleaners and instead use a microfiber cloth and lightly clean the screen in a circular motion. Keeping any electronic device clean is paramount, so also avoid eating and dropping crumbs in your gaming keyboard, or you could damage the internals. Finally, prevent scratches by carrying your gaming equipment in a proper case. The Nintendo Switch is famous for getting scratched when you lift the main system out of the dock, so use a perfectly vertical motion to remove and replace it.

Fix Common Hardware Issues

We never knew how good we had it back in the day when all we had to do was blow in the end of an NES cartridge to dust it out. Now, with advanced technology and many new moving parts, there are more opportunities for system issues. If you know how to fix them, then your system will last longer, and you can save money on repairs.

Gaming computers can often fail to boot or display videos, so troubleshooting may be necessary. Start by ensuring that all cables are secure, then try resetting the RAM or the video card. If that doesn’t work, then go to a computer expert to avoid further unnecessary damage.

The Xbox One X is an incredible gaming machine, but even it is not without issues every now and then. Some of the most common errors associated with the Xbox include controllers that will not sync or games that frequently freeze. In both of these scenarios, make sure that you have installed all recent software updates, including controller firmware. If your Xbox shuts down unexpectedly, verify that it is not overheating. If it is, turn it off.

The Nintendo Switch is continuing to take the world by storm, but small complications may be inevitable. A typical issue is that the system will freeze or not turn on at all. When that happens, the potential solution is to do a hard reset by holding down the power button for 12-20 seconds. The same solution has been found to work for a Switch that won’t connect to the internet or recognize cartridges. These should not be recurring issues, but sometimes these systems just need a second to recharge and then start from scratch.

When in doubt, refer to the user guide for your particular system.

Avoid Security Risks

Earlier this year, the gaming industry was hit with the harsh reality that they are no longer immune to the risk of cybercrime. A major public breach occurred when a hacker gained access to the account of gamer PewDiePie and printed some of his marketing material on over 50,000 printers across the government and public sector. The event was particularly alarming because it proved that if a hacker is able to print any information on someone else’s computer, imagine how easy it would be for them to spread other gamer’s private info like phone and social security numbers.

The point is that the advancement of technology and the continuous data that flows through our systems could lead to viruses, theft, or any other number of cybercrimes, so additional protection is needed. A virus can be fed into your system by just about any electronic pathway, from game installers and cheat files to shady game emulators. The malware injected into your system can be used to steal information, disrupt your networks, or break down your system altogether.

So how do you protect your gaming equipment from these new threats? Make sure your firmware is always updated as new versions will have patches and resolutions for old threats. When you are playing in a public forum or with a chat room, refrain from sharing private information. Also, keep your gaming account secure by using complicated passwords that involve letters, numbers, and special characters. On that same note, when you dispose of your consoles entirely, do so through the proper means so there’s no chance someone could pry out the internal computer and steal any lingering information. Finally, beware of phishing emails that look like authentic messages but instead include a link or attachment that can create a doorway for hackers when clicked or opened. It only takes one misstep for a savvy hacker to crack your system.

Every year, video games evolve to a new level never thought possible, and with advanced technology comes great responsibility. Treat your gaming machines as the high-dollar gems that they are, and you’ll have a system that lasts forever.

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