How to know when it's time to get a new keyboard

Jack Wallen offers up a bit of truth about that keyboard you use on a daily basis.

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Image: iStockphoto/anyaberkut

I write words for a living. That means I have a rather special relationship with all of the keyboards I use. I clean them regularly and know when it's time to give them some much-needed love, or when it's time for a replacement. 

Fortunately, because I do take good care of that hardware, the need for replacement is rare. I keep my keyboards clean and don't abuse them with overly aggressive typing, but that's not everyone. The average user abuses their keyboards and doesn't realize when it's time to replace that well-used piece of hardware. 

SEE: Hardware inventory policy (TechRepublic Premium)

How do you know when it's time to get a new keyboard? The answer to that question probably won't surprise you, but you might need the nudge to take the plunge. Here's my best advice to know if your trusty keyboard is in need of replacing. 

Said advice comes in the form of these questions:

  • Do you have broken key caps? 
  • Do you have certain keys that either don't work or only work when you press them a certain way? 
  • Have you accidentally spilled liquid over your keys, causing some of them to stick? 
  • If you look down between your keys, do you see a mass of hair, crumbs, and other nasties? 
  • Did you answer "yes" to any of those questions? 
  • If you did answer yes, are you willing to pop off those keys and give the keyboard the cleaning it requires--while replacing those broken keys? 

If you answered "no" to that final question, it's time to replace that aging, disgusting keyboard. 

If, on the other hand, you are willing to do a bit of maintenance, you'll most likely get considerable more life out of your favorite keyboard. I know, I know...you don't want to. Shouldn't a keyboard last a lifetime? No. Unless you have a keyboard that allows you to easily replace both keycaps and keys, you should expect about two years of usage out of that hardware. 

After all, you pound those keys daily and they collect untold amounts of gunk in the tiniest of spaces. If you aren't willing to go the extra mile and care for that keyboard, expect to replace it every two years.  

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