Over the long weekend, we got the chance to wake up like they do in the movies: Out of bed late and straight to the balcony with a coffee and laptop in hand. Despite the lovely scenery, we didn't last long out there—it was nearly 100° outside. And if we couldn't stand the heat, we can't imagine how our laptop must have felt. To keep your laptop safe and happy in warm weather, read on for a few tips we learned about working in the sun and humidity and storing your laptop inside warm cars.
1. Know the "safe range" for temperatures.
Most laptops are good to go in temperatures of 50° to 95° Fahrenheit or 10° to 35° Celsius. Anything warmer than this is asking for trouble. Laptop batteries are notoriously not heat-friendly (even just a few exposures can make your battery life suffer) and the components of your delicate hard drive might expand—sometimes causing permanent damage and hard drive failure.
2. Give your laptop a chance to adjust.
Don't walk and work with your laptop open. If you're moving from the cool A/C to sweltering heat, or from outside to indoors, shut your laptop down. Let it adjust to the new temperature before starting it up again. Condensation can build up inside your machine just like on your glasses.
3. Know how to keep your laptop safe in a hot car.
Treat your machine like a baby and don't ever leave it in a warm car—not even in the trunk. The temperatures in your car on a warm day are almost always going to reach outside the laptop safe range. If you must leave your laptop in a car, make sure it's been turned off completely.
4. Stay out of direct sun, if you can.
Yes, heat usually comes with lots of direct sunlight. We've heard all the urban legends about your laptop's screen becoming damaged from sun exposure, but we can't find anything to support it. Either way, it's better to be safe (and cool!) than sorry. But if you have to work in direct sun, make it easy on your eyes. Go for a dorky-looking laptop hood or attach an anti-glare screen cover.
5. Beware of high humidity.
Before you plan a mobile office day, check the weather reports for humidity. Anything above 80 percent should make you cautious, although your device may have its own humidity specifications. Really humid weather can escalate that condensation effect we mentioned before, shorting out your circuits. But even if it doesn't do damage, excess moisture in and around your machine can trigger the built-in water damage sensor, sometimes voiding your warranty.
6. Back it up.
Always a good idea, you should back up your data if you anticipate wanting to work outdoors. We'll say it again: Heat can do permanent damage to your hard drive. Use an external drive like this one.
7. Be ready for sudden storms.
Depending on your geography, you might be privy to random summer showers. It's one thing to get caught without an umbrella on your coffee run, but it's quite another to have all of your expensive equipment with you. Bring an umbrella and keep your water-proof cases and sleeves very nearby.
8. Use a heat-dissipating laptop stand.
You know how warm your laptop can get in your lap on the sofa, so be careful of where you set it outdoors. At the very least, use a laptop pad or stand. But for an A+ effort, grab a self-cooling stand, like this one from Belkin.
9. Wrap it up safely.
The same advice you use in the bedroom will help you stay safe outdoors. To protect against sudden storms and help temper the effect of moving from cool to warm air, make sure your laptop cases and sleeves are rated for "moisture, shock and scratch protection."