The Effects of Heat & Humidity on Personal Computers

Your personal computer is delicate. To keep it running smoothly, there is a lot of regular maintenance to do. While you may spend hundreds of dollars on antivirus and antispyware programs, your precautions could mean nothing if you do not monitor the temperature and humidity levels in your computer room. Like the human body, computers prefer temperatures between 50 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit, and the ideal humidity index is between 30 to 50 percent. If the room where you keep your computer exceeds these levels, you could be doing irreparable damage without realizing it.

  1. Corrosion

    • If the humidity in your computer room is too high, water will condense inside your computer, interacting with and degrading its delicate internal components. Craig Borysowich, who has served as a technical consultant and advisor to numerous companies since 1992, notes in his Toolbox for IT.com blog that thermal conductivity and electrical resistance are critical to a computer's performance. Condensation from humidity can interfere with these processes. In extreme cases, your computer could short circuit and erase your precious data.

    Frequent Crashes

    • As technology continues to explode, PCs are getting faster, and their internal components are getting hotter--hot enough to burn human skin if touched. That hum you often hear inside your hard drive is the sound of fans keeping things as cool as possible--but, if the ambient temperature does not provide cool air to circulate, the fans will do no good. And, if the hum is too loud and too frequent, your hard drive may be getting too hot to handle.

      While virtually all PCs are designed to reboot or shut themselves down if the central processing unit (CPU) reaches a certain temperature, you may still do permanent damage if you continuously operate your computer in excessively hot conditions. In addition to moderating the room temperature, make sure you keep your computer's fans free of dust and grime. Also, most manufacturers suggest you keep the hard drive free from obstructions, with at least a foot of space on all sides, to allow proper ventilation.

    Static

    • Too much humidity is bad--but too little humidity can also be ruinous to your PC. If there is not enough moisture in the air, static electricity builds up. Everyone has felt the "zap" of static electricity on the skin; that same zap can wipe out your motherboard if it happens while you are inserting a sound card or making any other modifications to your hard drive. Do not drench your computer in condensation, but make sure there is enough humidity in the air to protect it.

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