Ahh, my humble laptop. Without it, or the internet, the modern world would not function nearly as well. Many of us rely on professional travel bloggers to on-site construction workers.
However, one of the best things about a travel laptop, the portability, also opens it up to the biggest chance of damage.
As computer users, we are all so tuned into password-protected devices, antivirus software for the operating system, and online security that it is often easy to overlook the real simple stuff, such as how to protect your brand new laptop from physical damage. Especially while traveling, it can expose your computer to many risks.
But don’t worry, I’m here to help. In this post, I’ll be sharing 7 top tips to protect your laptop from damage.
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1. Invest in a good quality anti-theft backpack
Thieves and pickpockets are common problems in all major cities around the world. You should always pay extra attention wherever you go to protect your laptop and other personal belongings from thieves.
A quality bag for your laptop is one of the most important accessories you can invest in.
Good anti-theft laptop bags have a slightly different design from an ordinary backpack with many specialist security features to protect your device and laptop accessories, but the key ones they need are:
- An anti-theft lock
- A secure laptop compartment
- Zippers and hidden pockets
- Slash proof or cut-resistant material
- Locking cables for if you place it on the floor
When compared to a standard laptop backpack, anti-theft models tend to be more expensive. However, in recent years demand has increased significantly so there are more options than ever and the price has come down considerably.
Also, it’s worth remembering replacing a stolen laptop will always be more expensive than a decent bag!
Another thing to often overlooked when choosing a laptop bag is that it will be able to protect your laptop from physical damage. Be sure to choose a bag with padding, especially on the bottom as bumps and shocks can damage the hard drive.
How to keep a laptop safe in a backpack
Even though you have your backpack, it is still important to pay attention to a few final thoughts:
- Make sure you shut your computer down to protect it from overheating.
- Before you close the lid, check there is nothing on the keyboard that may come in contact with the screen.
- Unplug all of your cables. I’m a little guilty of this when I’m in a rush, but leaving the power cable in runs the risk of breaking the charging port and you won’t be able to get power to your laptop. Damage can also occur to USB devices too, so be sure to check for any errant dongles.
- Place your laptop in a sleeve or laptop case for extra padded protection.
- Don’t overpack your bag. This is how I lost my first (of many) iPad screens. It was sat in a full bag and when I attached it to my bike the twisting force applied by the straps cracked the screen.
- Be sure to zip up completely. It is easy for a laptop to slide out of an open bag and fall on the floor, so pay attention.
- Be careful when putting your bag on the floor. Again, speaking from experience, the solid thud that you get when you put your bag on the floor and the first bit to hit the concrete is the corner of your laptop is not a pleasant sound.
Most of these points are common sense, but a refresher is always good.
2. Get a laptop sleeve for extra protection
As a laptop is such a significant investment, you will certainly want some extra protection for it. As mentioned already above, taking your computer on the road can expose it to bumps and bangs. For this reason, a laptop sleeve is a good idea to provide an extra layer of protection.
A laptop sleeve is a padded case that fits snugly around your laptop, providing an extra layer of protection against bumps and drops. They are usually made from durable materials like neoprene or polyester. Just make sure the case is well padded to prevent the paint/laptop surface from being scratched and provide you with an extra cushion to keep your laptop screen protected.
Many sleeves also have a water-resistant outer layer, which can help to protect against spills and other liquid damage. And because they’re so lightweight and portable, sleeves make it easy to take your laptop with you wherever you go. So if you’re looking for an easy way to keep your laptop safe, a sleeve is definitely worth considering.
3. Clean your laptop regularly
We all know that it’s important to keep our laptops clean. But let’s be honest: when was the last time you actually gave your laptop a good clean?
Anyone who’s ever seen a computer covered in dust knows it’s not a good look. Not only is it unsightly, but all that dust can actually damage your computer. Dust can clog up the fans, and cause overheating when you need to keep your laptop cool.
For those reasons, it’s important to keep your laptop clean. The best way to clean your laptop is with compressed air. You can use canned air or an air compressor, but make sure you hold the can upright so that the dust doesn’t get blown back into the computer.
You should also use a lint-free cloth or specialized towelettes to wipe down the keyboard and other surfaces. By taking a few minutes to clean your laptop regularly, you can help keep it in good condition and avoid any costly repairs.
4. Guard your laptop exteriors with covers or skins
Laptops are not exactly known for their ruggedness. They’re delicate machines, and the slightest bump can leave a nasty dent or scratch. That’s why it’s important to guard your laptop’s exterior with a cover or skin and screen protectors. A good cover or skin will not only protect your laptop from bumps and avoid scratches but also help keep it clean. Dust and dirt can damage a laptop, and a cover or skin can help keep these elements at bay.
In addition, a cover or laptop skin can also add a bit of personality to your laptop. Choose a design that fits your style, whether it’s sleek and professional or fun and funky. Covers and skins can also help protect your laptop from scratches and scuffs. They’re easy to apply and remove, so you can change your look whenever possible. Plus, they’re relatively inexpensive, so you can afford to change your mind often.
5. Avoid consuming at the same time as working on laptop
You’re working on your laptop, and you’re thirsty. So, you reach for a drink, only to spill it all over your keyboard. Sound familiar? If you’ve ever experienced this, you know just how frustrating it can be. Not only do you have to deal with the mess, but you also have to worry about damaging your laptop.
Spilled drinks are one of the most common ways that laptops get damaged. When liquids come into contact with electronic components, they can short circuit the system and cause serious problems. In some cases, a spilled drink can even render a laptop unusable.
But it’s not just drinks. Do you ever find yourself snacking while working on your laptop? You’re not alone – plenty of people do it! However, you should know a couple of things before you take your next bite.
First of all, crumbs can easily fall into the keyboard and cause havoc. Not only can this damage the keys, but crunchy food can also cause dust in the vents of laptops, which can get sucked into the machine via the cooling system and possibly damage the laptop’s hard drive. In addition, food residue dropping between your keys can encourage bacteria to grow, blurgggh, gross.
So, if you want to avoid damaging your laptop, it’s important to avoid consuming anything while you’re working on it.
6. Protect your laptop in rainy days
The weather is very unpredictable. If you travel outdoors or by bicycle during the rainy season, you should protect your laptop from the rain. Once it gets wet, your laptop is very likely to get damaged.
There are several ways to protect your laptop on a rainy day:
- Use a waterproof laptop backpack (and zip it up properly)
- If your backpack is not waterproof, invest in a rain cover. They can be scrunched up really small and stowed ready for when you are caught out by the weather.
- If you don’t have a waterproof sleeve, put your laptop in a plastic bag before storing it in your backpack.
- The most obvious is to use an umbrella
Make sure your laptop is turned off when you travel in the rainy season.
7. Do not twist the cords
Generally, we think that the power cord and other cables can twist and bend and they are often the last thing to be shoved in a bag. However, cables are often more delicate than you may think.
The joins where the cable connects with the charging port can easily get worn and striped, quickly becoming dangerous to use. One of the most frustrating things, when you are relying on your computer for working while you are out of the hours, is a malfunctioning power cable.
A good idea is to wrap wires around something to bring them together. This also means they won’t be folded so tightly. However, be sure that whatever you are doing this with has no sharp point or edges that could also damage the cable.
One of my all-time favorite purchases is my humble cable organizer. Cheap and does an amazing job.
Final thoughts on how to protect your laptop from physical damage
I hope you found something useful in this little post of tips on how to protect your laptop from physical damage. As I mentioned in the intro, it is something I am often guilty of overlooking and have that chill when I hear the thud of my bag hitting the ground too hard.
Something else to bear in mind, always think about store the laptop when you are not using it. Try not to leave it on seats where you can sit on it, especially in a car when the sun could also cook it. Also, try not to leave it on the ground where someone may step on it.
As mentioned way back at the top of this post, it is basically common sense, but every now and again we can do with a refresher.
What about you, do you have any tips to add to this list? Maybe a story of how you once damaged your laptop, please share, let us know in the comments so we can learn from it, or just have a little giggle.