We’ve all been there, from students to professionals to gamers. Our software becomes more demanding, we need more storage space, or we’re just ready for something new. Every few years, the time rolls around to get a new laptop.
You may still love your old laptop and don’t quite want to put it to rest. Maybe you’ll have a use for it later, and yes, many of us do find uses for our older systems. Maybe you have a niece or nephew and you’d like to pass your old laptop to them. Maybe you’d like to install an alternative OS, like Linux or FreeBSD, on your old laptop, but don’t know when you’ll have the time.
So, you need to store your laptop awhile. Here’s how to keep it as safe as possible until you need it again.
Think of your laptop as coming with two basic parts. The first is the computer itself, including the internal workings, the keyboard, the touchpad, and the monitor. The second is the battery. Let’s start with that.
It’s best to remove the battery from the laptop during storage. First, though, you don’t want to store the battery with no charge. So, keep it in the laptop and charge it fully. If stored empty, the battery can get depleted over time, and if it goes past empty, this can ruin it.
Next, remove the battery from the laptop and clean it with a soft, dry cloth. Seal it in a Ziploc bag with a desiccant.
What’s a desiccants? If you’ve ever unpacked a new computer or hard drive, you’ve seen these. Desiccants are those little packets that often come with electronics. Filled with tiny silica gel beads, they remove excess moisture from packaging, keeping electronic parts safe and dry. Purchase a package of them online before preparing your laptop for storage.
Wipe your laptop down with the dry cloth. Next, take a microfiber cloth and a 50/50 solution of water and vinegar and gently clean the screen. Alternatively, you can purchase a screen cleaner specifically made for delicate laptop monitors.
Once the screen dries, place the laptop in a large Ziplock back with a desiccant.
At this point, you can put the battery and laptop in a box or store them as-is. However, there are a few more important things to note.
When renting a storage unit for your laptop, choose one with climate control. Units with this feature rent for between 25% and 30% more than standard units, but climate control makes a huge difference to the safety of your belongings. Now, if you’re lucky enough to live in an area where the weather is moderate year-round, never getting too cold or to hot, and never getting too humid or too dry, then you can do without climate control. If you live anywhere else, however, your laptop, electronics, and other stored possessions will last much longer in a climate controlled unit, which keeps the temperature and humidity at safe levels year-round.
What sort of damage can weather fluctuations do to a laptop? First, shifts between heat and cold will cause laptop parts, which are made of a variety of materials from metals, to plastics, to fiberglass, to expand and contract in a way that can cause damage. This is especially harmful to the motherboard, where circuits and soldering can break. Humidity can short out circuits, cause rust, and so on.
While these procedures should keep your laptop safe while in long-term storage, we suggest you give your data extra protection. These days, cloud storage is cheap, and you can easily save all your important files on a secure server for less than $15 a month.
Check out services like Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, or Dropbox. These generally provide a small amount of storage for free, and additional storage at affordable prices. How affordable? You can get one terabyte of storage on Microsoft OneDrive and full use of Microsoft Office with Office 365 for $6.95 per month. For $12.50 per month, you can get two terabytes of Dropbox storage for up to three users. For $10 per month, Google Drive allows you one terabyte per user for up to four users.
Now, you’re all set to safely store your laptop. May it serve you well in the years to come.