Top Cold-Weather Tips for Laptops

Regular laptops have been designed to work within a safe temperature range —normally 50 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit (10 to 35 degrees Celsius). This range refers both to optimal usage temperature of the outside environment and the temperature the laptop should be warmed to before using. Your laptop is a significant investment, so protecting it from cold temperatures is a crucial but often overlooked strategy for maximizing its return.

01
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Buy a Ruggedized Laptop

Rugged laptop
Amazon

If you'll be using your laptop outside in cold temperatures for extended periods, consider purchasing or leasing a ruggedized laptop if your budget allows. Ruggedized laptops have been designed to work under extreme weather conditions; most undergo testing according to MIL-STD-810F standards.

02
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Store Your Laptop Carefully

Laptop in car
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Never leave a laptop, even in a well-padded and insulated case, in the trunk of your vehicle in cold weather. The laptop could freeze, and you could lose all the data and programs on it.

03
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Let It Warm Up

Woman on laptop outside
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Once you bring a laptop in from the cold, allow it to warm up to room temperature before you boot it up. The same is true when you go outdoors: Allow the laptop to acclimatize to the outside temperature before you start it.

04
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Beware Incorrect Warming Methods

Hugging laptop
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Do not use devices such as mug warmers or pocket warmers to heat or keep a laptop warm. They are not designed for this purpose and can create problems. For instance, they could heat the wrong parts of a laptop or generate enough heat to damage or melt internal components.

05
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Try a Laptop Warmer

Cat on laptop
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Laptop warmers are designed specifically for the purpose of keeping a laptop warm without causing damage. Research the one you choose to make sure it's been tested adequately.

06
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Avoid Excessive Heat Buildup

Laptop on floor in sun
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Regardless of how cold the temperature is outside, do not use your laptop while it's still inside a laptop bag. Without room for air to circulate, heat can build up and cause damage.

07
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Protect Your Display

Laptop on table
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Don't use heating pads or other external sources of heat to warm up or thaw a laptop display. Allow the display to warm on its own, and don't boot up a laptop if you suspect the display has frozen.

08
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Stay Out of the Cold

Frozen laptop
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The best advice is the simplest: Whenever possible, stay out of direct exposure to cold weather conditions with your laptop. Stay in a heated vehicle or inside a building or other shelter. Protecting your laptop not only from cold but also from excessive dampness from snow will keep your keyboard from freezing and other problems from developing.

09
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Change the Power Settings

Power button
photo by tedfoo/Getty Images

Change your power settings to prevent the hard drive from shutting down. The longer the laptop can be kept running, the warmer it will stay as it generates its own heat.