Overheating is usually the main thought when discussing the negative effects of temperature on a computer, but protecting your electronics from the cold is also an important factor over winter.
Cold temperatures can cause components to contract, and so when powered on the electricity running though the circuits will rapidly warm the parts, causing them to expand quickly. This can distort the components, and as they bend or break, the circuits will become interrupted. Therefore, it is best to keep offices warm overnight to avoid daily fluctuations in temperature which may affect computers, especially over winter.
If the machine is not currently in regular use, it should be stored in an area with a constant temperature throughout the day and year. Therefore, places like garages, attics and outhouses should be particularly avoided as they can get warm during the day but very cold at night. At the bottom of a cupboard is an ideal place as the room temperature should be fairly constant, but still keeps the machine stored safely.
Humidity is also a cause for concern in winter. Water on the circuits of a computer can cause short circuiting, which has the potential to lead to serious damage of the device’s components. If the computer is in regular use, the heat generated from the processes and the fans should keep the machine safe from a build-up of moisture.
However, if the device is not in regular use, improper storage may lead to water damage. Again, storage in an attic or outhouse is not advisable as these are the places that there is likely to be high humidity. It is best to keep unused machines stored in a dry, dark room where windows are not regularly opened.
Silica gel packets are perfect for protecting electronic devices from humidity. A laptop with the battery removed can be safely and easily stored in a sealable bag with a couple of silica gel sachets. Similarly, a desktop computer can house silica gel bags inside the casing when not in use. Remember to remove them before starting the device though as this can be a fire risk.
Where possible, the battery of a laptop should always be removed when it is stored for an extended period of time. Storing it with a 50% charge is ideal and will extend the battery life dramatically. If a battery is stored without charge it can lose its charging capacity, and one stored with a full charge is likely to lose effectiveness. Keep batteries stored in a cool, dry place. If a battery gets too warm in storage it can expand and lose efficiency.