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How to Protect Your Electronics in the Cold Weather

Winter is here, so it’s time to bundle up in layers, sip hot chocolate and enjoy the frosty views. But while we can stack jumpers, coats and more to stay warm outside, our electronic devices aren’t so lucky. Cold weather can seriously impact your gadgets, leading to sluggish performance, unexpected shutdowns and even permanent damage. To help keep your devices healthy throughout the winter, the team of experts at DriveSavers have shared their top tips for protecting your electronics from the cold.

Understand the effects of cold weather 

Imagine you’re out on a cold winter day and start to feel stiffer or begin to shiver. Well, electronics are similar. Being out in icy conditions for an extended period can affect their performance, causing issues such as lag and erratic behaviour. 

In 2022, a study published in Pervasive and Mobile Computing evaluated the effects of varying levels of cold temperatures on smartphones. They found that cold weather can cause faster battery drainage and even crashes at extremely low temperatures. So, keeping your gadgets warm while out in the cold is the best way to ensure they operate in top condition for as long as possible.

Avoid abrupt temperature changes 

If you have been outside with your device for a long time, be cautious when you finally return to the warmth indoors. Resist the temptation to rush inside and immediately plug your device into a charge. Sudden temperature changes can create a stark contrast that affects your device’s internal components. Just as you wouldn’t subject yourself to extreme temperature changes abruptly, it’s essential to extend the same courtesy to your gadgets. 

The reason for this precaution is relatively simple. Rapid temperature changes can lead to condensation forming inside your device — just as glasses tend to fog up when stepping into a cold room from the outside — leading to a build-up of moisture inside your device, potentially causing short-circuits and permanent damage,

Keep devices warm

Ideally, just as you wrap yourself in a cosy scarf, you should try to insulate your electronics while outside. While you might not need a miniature sweater, a padded case or a soft cloth can provide some insulation from the cold. 

Consider this insulation as a protective shield for your gadgets. In the same way, you wouldn’t venture out in freezing weather without your warm coat; your devices also benefit from this layer of protection. The frigid air can be harsh on electronic components, potentially affecting their performance.

A padded case or soft cloth is a practical layer of defence against the cold. It helps to shield your devices from the elements, preventing the cold from impacting their functionality. By providing this layer of insulation, you’re ensuring your gadgets remain in good working condition, even in chilly weather.

Mind the battery

In cold temperatures, batteries tend to lose their efficiency, much like how you might feel less energetic when exposed to chilly weather. Just as your body needs more energy to stay warm, your device’s battery has to work harder in the cold, leading to quicker depletion. To counteract this, make sure your devices are fully charged before heading out into the cold. Having a portable charger on hand acts as a backup plan, ensuring your devices stay powered up and responsive even in frosty conditions. 

Power off when not in use

When you find yourself in situations where you won’t be actively using your device for an extended period, consider the power-off strategy. It’s a simple yet effective way to shield your gadget from the potential pitfalls of cold temperatures.

When your device is powered down, it enters a state of rest, where it becomes less susceptible to temperature-related challenges. The internal components are no longer active and generating heat, meaning there’s less risk of damage.

Avoid direct contact with snow and moisture

Be mindful of how and where you place your devices while outdoors. The reason is simple: moisture, in any form, can significantly threaten your device’s well-being. To safeguard your electronics, make it a habit to keep them well above any potentially damp or snowy surfaces. 

It’s worth mentioning that moisture damage may not always be immediately apparent. It can sneakily corrode internal components over time, leading to performance issues or even irreparable damage. So, always err on the side of caution when it comes to moisture exposure.

Maintain software updates

In the ever-evolving realm of technology, your device’s software is its digital heartbeat, constantly fine-tuning and enhancing its capabilities. So, your device’s software should be regularly updated to stay at its best. This practice becomes particularly crucial in the context of cold weather.

Software updates may often include tweaks to battery management algorithms, helping your device cope with the increased demands imposed by cold temperatures. These updates can enhance your device’s ability to conserve power when it’s chilly outside, ultimately prolonging its battery life.

What’s more, manufacturers may address issues related to screen responsiveness in the cold. Cold fingers and touchscreens don’t always cooperate seamlessly, but software updates can fine-tune the touch sensitivity to ensure your device remains responsive even when your hands are bundled up in gloves.

Seek professional help when needed

Despite all of your best efforts, sometimes your gadget may succumb to the icy grasp of winter. That’s when you should consider professional intervention. If your device is sadly beyond repair, all is not lost — data recovery experts like DriveSavers specialise in recovering files for all sorts of devices and have a team of experts who understand the intricacies of electronic components and can often salvage previous data from the most frozen gadgets.