Protect your tech: Summer scorcher edition

by Elizabeth Jenike, IT Services

Things are heating up in the Midwest. Extreme temperatures at either end of the thermometer are dangerous for technology, as we explored in a post earlier this winter, but heat can be especially dicey. Computers are vulnerable to overheating, which can lead to slowdowns or even hardware malfunction.

The bottom line is: Heat is bad for your devices. But as temperatures climb upwards of 90 degrees Fahrenheit and heat indexes soar even higher, how do you keep computers, phones, and tablets cool enough to calculate

Here are some tried-and-true methods to guard your gadgets from summer temps:

Airflow is important

Make sure to give computers enough breathing room. Air moving in and out of a system is a necessary process for cooling, and if a machine is trapped behind cabinet doors or too close to objects on your desk, you could be in for some trouble. Locate the fan on your laptop and ensure nothing blocks it, and if you do keep your desktop computer inside your desk, leave the door open so air can flow into and out of the space.

Fans, fans, fans

CPU fan

Ensure your machine’s fan is working properly by performing routine checks. A good way to determine fan health is to keep your ears open: A working fan will make noise (even the newer, quieter models will have some sound), but an overworked fan may make too much noise. Unusually loud sounds or abnormal noises may indicate something is amiss.

It may also be a good idea to add more fans where appropriate. If you’re a power user (someone running a lot of complicated programs and software), your desktop machine may get hotter than others. Computer tower cases often have room for additional fans.

Be cognizant of where you’re leaving devices

While it may not be the end of the world to leave technology in a cold car during the winter months, doing the same during the summer could end in nothing but regret. Smartphone cases and laptop bags provide some protection from direct sunlight, but they can’t defend against hot air. When devices are exposed to heat for extended periods of time, this can result in hardware failure.

Bust out the cleaning supplies

Dust and dirt can get into the crevices of your machine and quite literally gum up the works. Dust can prohibit air flow, leading to overheating. Thus, it’s essential to clean your devices regularly, using compressed air-filled canisters and regular dusting cloths.

Laptop computer with a red screen

Hibernate when not in use

Selecting the ‘Hibernate’ function when you’re taking a break from using your machine not only saves electricity, it will give the computer an opportunity to cool down. You can configure the computer to activate the hibernation mode automatically when you are away for a set period of time.

Beat the humidity

Dry environments can cause static electricity in computing machines, but higher levels of humidity can lead to corroded parts and internal damage. Humidity is created by the amount of water in the air, and water in turn creates issues for technology.

There are ways to combat high humidity and keep tech free of corrosion. First: Install a dehumidifier. This will help remove moisture from the air. In addition, it’s good practice to place computers in a climate-controlled area to minimize the opportunity for humidity to gather, and try not to change environments too quickly (such as carrying laptops from cold air-conditioned spaces to the sizzling outdoors), as drastic temperature changes can cause buildup.

Stay cool and dry, tech friends!