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How to Keep Your Gadgets Cool in Hot Weather

Prevent damage from overheating

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Laptops, tablets, and smartphones can all naturally run warm, thanks to batteries stuffed into ever-shrinking cases. When temperatures climb, it gets even worse: Your gadgets might feel like they're going to burn you or start a fire, performance can drop (e.g., your laptop slows down or your phone keeps restarting), or your devices can give up altogether and refuse to work at all. Here's how to protect your devices from damage when it gets hot and make sure they continue to work well.

Basic Hot Weather Tips

Heat is bad for all kinds of tech, so some guidelines are the same no matter what kind of gadget you're using, whether we're talking about the smartphone that's burning a hole in your pocket or your laptop as you desperately try to get work done on the road. Some tips:

  1. Don't leave gadgets in your car. As this site's previous Guide, Catherine Roseberry, wrote in 8 Tips for Using Laptops in Hot & Warm Weather, you shouldn't leave your devices in a closed, hot car; it can be just as fatal as leaving a pet or people in that oven-like environment.
  2. Use your devices in the shade. The heat from direct sunlight can also damage laptops and other devices. If you have a laptop, try a glare screen or a hood to keep the hot sun off. For any kind of device, head to a shadier area, which will not only be cooler but also make reading the screen easier.
  3. When going from a hot room to one with a lower temperature, let your device cool down before using. Going from an extreme temperature to a normal one rapidly can damage your device. Let it come down to room temperature before you turn it on.

Hot Laptop Tips

Overheating laptops are an issue no matter what season it is or what the temperature. Laptops are prone to overheating, and the faster processors in ever-shrinking cases don't help much.

There are, however, things you can do if you see signs your laptop is overheating or just to keep it cool in general:

  • Adjust the power settings to use less power
  • Clean the vents
  • Use a laptop cooling pad
  • Shut down the laptop when not in use

Read more about these steps here and how to check your laptop's internal temperature.

To prevent heat damage to your laptop, also remove the laptop battery when you're using it plugged in. Not all laptops support this, but if yours lets you plug in your laptop without the battery, you should take the laptop battery out and store it in a cool, dry place so you can prolong its battery life.

Hot Tablet and Smartphone Tips

Tablets and smartphones are also subject to heat damage and performance issues. Because they can naturally run hot (even burning, can't-even-hold-this hot), it's hard to tell what's a normally warm or hot device and one that's overheating.

The warning signs of your cell phone or tablet overheating are actually very similar to the laptop overheating signs. The device can't do basic tasks (e.g., opening an app), freezes, or abruptly shuts down.

When that happens, you'll need to power down your tablet or smartphone and let it cool down before attempting to use it again.

Some other mobile gadget tips include:

  • Turn off battery-draining features and apps. The harder your phone or tablet works, the more heat it generates. You can make your cell phone battery lasst longer and also keep it cooler with these tips.
  • Give it some air. A protective case might be a must when you're exposing your smartphone or tablet to the elements (water, sand, kids, etc.), but if it's overheating, take it out of the case to give it some breathing room. Similarly, if your phone is jammed in your coat pocket or pocketbook, take it out to let it cool down.

Generally speaking, you want to keep your laptop or smartphone temperature between 50° to 95° Fahrenheit (or 10° to 35° Celsius). And, of course, cool enough not to burn you.

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