How to Protect Your Electronics On The Road

With today’s technology, we have the flexibility to work from anywhere. We’re working from our tablets on the train and our laptops on the plane. We’re using our smartphones to stay connected at all times – checking email on the beach, monitoring social media channels at the park, or wherever else we happen to be.

tablet on beachThis means it is even more important that we take special care of our electronics. Small businesses often do not have an IT team to turn to when their laptop gets overheated from sitting in the car, or their smartphone gets dropped in the lake.

Bright Blue Wave interviewed computer technician Luke Ottaway to find out everything you need to know about safeguarding your technology on the road this summer.

Electronics Don’t Do Well in Sunlight

“The most common thing I’ve seen in my experience working in electronics repair is people coming in after leaving their computers in their car in direct sunlight,” Ottaway says. “LEDs are very sensitive to heat, so when your laptop or tablet gets overheated, your screen can crack – a spider-like crack, similar to a crack in your windshield.”

When you get a crack in the screen, there isn’t really anything you can do but take it in for a screen replacement, which can be costly. Though in terms of loss, it could be a lot worse – the sunlight or heat will not damage your hard drive, meaning all of your data can easily be backed up or transferred upon repair.

Tip: Bring your laptop or tablet with you wherever you go, rather than leaving it in the car. Or at the very least, park your car in the shade and leave your electronics in the trunk.

Water Damage Is The Worst Kind of Damage

“Water is the most destructive thing you can do to an electronic device, because it gets everywhere,” says Ottaway.

Keep all of your electronic devices away from water. “If somehow your device does end up in water and it’s still powered on, don’t turn it off,” Ottaway advises, explaining that if you turn it off, you likely won’t be able to turn it back on again. Keep it powered on and immediately try to save your information by backing it up.

Tip: If the water damage isn’t too bad, sometimes putting it in rice can save a cellphone. The rice absorbs the liquid. Still, if you know you’re gong to be near water, plan ahead. Purchase a protective case or sealable, waterproof bag.

Sand Leaves Scars

“Sand you need to be very careful with. It’s very abrasive,” says Ottaway. “If you get sand on your device, don’t try to wipe it away – it ends up having a sandpaper effect, scratching the screen or surface.”

You’re better off trying to blow the sand away with can of compressed air. And we don’t mean the air compressor in your garage – it’s too powerful. Get a cheap can of air from your local electronics store.

If the compressed air doesn’t work, Ottaway suggests using something with a soft brush – like a toothbrush or a shaving brush. And if that still doesn’t help, take it in somewhere to get cleaned.

Tip:One thing you never want to do is try to plug something into the socket that has sand in it. If there’s a memory chip or anything like that, you’ll force the sand to scratch it and end up ruining it,” says Ottaway. “And whatever you do, don’t open up the device yourself or you’ll void any warranty you may have.”

Pack Your Luggage Wisely

“If you’re bringing electronics on an airplane, always pack them in your carry-on,” Ottaway says. “Not just for security reasons; but if you put [your laptop] in checked luggage on a plane, it’s going to get cold down there, and LEDs are even more sensitive to cold than they are to heat. It could freeze and crack the screen.”

Not to mention, when you pack your electronics in checked luggage, you’re putting them at risk of physical damage. Instead, store your device in the proper baggage that is intended for a laptop or tablet, and put that in your carry-on.

Tip: Make sure your laptop is turned off when putting it in your carry-on. “You can do serious damage to the hard drive if it’s turned on when you’re moving it around,” says Ottaway. “Though solid-state hard drives don’t run this risk, most hard drives today are non-solid-state drives, meaning they have a spinning disk inside. Any kind of spinning disk can get dislodged or fail if it’s moving around, and if that happens you could end up losing all of your data.”


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