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How to Keep Your Laptop or Smartphone Safe in Hot Weather

Tips to prevent your laptop or cell phone from overheating

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Heat is one of the worst enemies of all gadgets, including laptops and smartphones. Batteries age more quickly when they're hot for a long period of time, and overheating can destroy other hardware parts, causing system freezing and worse problems. Follow these tips to protect your laptop or smartphone from hot weather and overheating.

1. Know whether your laptop or smartphone is at the right temperature

iPhone Temperate Zone
Melanie Pinola/Apple

Although it's perfectly normal for computers and smartphones to get warm--thanks to the battery heating up--there is, of course, a limit to how hot these devices can get before they start overheating. The general guideline for laptops is to keep your laptop running below 50 degrees Celsius or 122 degrees Fahrenheit, with some more leeway for newer processors. If your laptop feels like it's running too hot and has started showing performance issues, now's the time to install a use a free temperature monitoring program to help you see if your laptop is in danger of overheating. You'll know if your laptop is overheating if you see these telltale signs.

Some smartphones, like the HTC Evo 4G, offer built-in temperature sensors that can tell you if the phone or battery is getting too hot, and many smartphones will automatically shut down if the phone gets too hot. Apple recommends an ideal iPhone temperature zone of 32 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit, and stored unused between -4 to 113 degrees Fahreinheit. (The iPhone uses a lithium-ion battery, just like other smartphones today including Android phones and Windows Phones, so these recommendations should be appropriate for other smartphone users.)

An even easier rule of thumb: Keep your room at a comfortable temperature for you, and your laptop or smartphone as close to room temperature as possible. Apple recommends the ideal room temperature as 72 degrees Fahrenheit or 22 degrees Celsius.

2. Keep your laptop or smartphone out of direct sunlight and hot cars

In direct sunlight or in a hot car, your laptop or smartphone will start baking. Any area that gets hot very quickly--too hot for people or animals to be in--is dangerous for tech devices. Make sure your laptop or cell phone are turned off in those burning areas and try to only use your devices in the cooler shade.

3. Wait to use your hot laptop or smartphone

When moving from a hot area to a more temperate one, wait until your laptop or smartphone has cooled off a bit (returned to normal room temperature) before turning it back on. This also applies when taking your laptop out of its case, where your laptop may have been trapped in heat.

4. Turn off the most battery-intensive applications

Turn off the most battery-hungry apps and features. Not only do features like GPS and 3G/4G or the highest screen brightness tax your laptop or smartphone battery life, they make your battery run hotter.

Similarly, use your device on its battery-saving (e.g., "power saver") setting to automatically use less battery and reduce battery heat.

5. Use a cooling stand

A laptop cooling stand is a great investment. These stands not only draw heat away from your laptop, they position your laptop ergonomically.

6. Shut down your laptop or smartphone when not in use

When it's really, really hot, perhaps the best thing you can do is turn off your device, reserving the power for when you actually need to use it.
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