Can Cold Weather Ruin a Laptop?

A laptop is a significant investment that deserves good care. Laptops are generally known to do well in cold environments. The main reason for performing well in such temperatures is because they naturally produce a lot of heat when they are in operation.

However, it’s not true for all cases. Frigid environments would certainly do harm. Though laptops are designed to operate within a wide safe temperature range, they can crack when subjected to extremely cold conditions.

When laptops are exposed to cold weather, they can get damaged in multiple ways. From corrupting your hard drive to destroying your screen, exposing it to cold temperatures can cause problems. Learn how cold weather affects your laptop and the steps you may take to ensure that your laptop is not at risk.

How Cold Weather Can Ruin Your Laptop

When the temperatures are cool, laptops tend to operate better than when it is hot. However, harsh winter conditions may be as harmful as hot temperatures. Some parts of the laptop may take it well, while it’s the opposite for others. Here’s how different components would be affected.


For one, extremely low temperatures may compromise the functionality of your battery. You will find that your battery will struggle to charge in chilly temperatures.

It will also reduce the battery’s life span. While most are easily replaceable, new ones can be costly. To get the most out of the money you invested in your laptop, optimize its longevity.


The acronym stands for “liquid crystal display.” As the name suggests, the laptop’s LCD screen contains fluid housed between two layers of glass. As the temperature drops, the solution begins to freeze.

This results in a slower response rate. You’ll notice when the letters and numbers are changing on the screen and lagging transitions from one image to the next.

Disk Drives

Your laptop’s disk drives may also be affected by extremely low temperatures. Modern laptops typically use Fluid Dynamic Bearings (FDB) in their disk drives instead of the traditional ball bearings. The advantage is they produce less noise and rotate at a higher velocity.

However, the fluid in these FDB drives may thicken in extremely low temperatures below 10 degrees Fahrenheit. This may result in slower rotation of the platter. Hence, causing boot failure, which may cause further extensive damage to your laptop.

Other Possible Effects

Condensation is another serious effect of low temperatures, which would damage your laptop. It’s the same phenomenon when your sunglasses develop some fog as you enter into your warm living room after sitting outside for long periods on a cold evening.

The same may happen to the internal mechanism of your laptop once you take your frozen or chilled laptop to a warm indoor environment. Condensation in the hard drive surface or the motherboard circuits may result in short-circuiting once you turn on the laptop power.

To avoid condensation, you can allow the laptop to stay at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes before moving it to a warm location.

Tips to ensure safety of your laptop during cold weather

Whether you put on some warm gloves or brew a cup of hot coffee, you always take certain precautions to protect yourself from freezing temperatures. Why shouldn’t you do the same for your laptop? Here are some fantastic tips that will ensure your laptop is protected when in cold environments.

Ensure proper storage

Even with the best laptop casing, you cannot afford to leave your laptop in the trunk of your car when it is freezing outside. Chances are that your laptop will suffer from temperature damage if you store it improperly. You might end up with a frozen screen, lower quality pixels, and even irretrievably lost data.

Warm-up before use

You should give your laptop at least 20 – 25 minutes to adjust to the change after transferring it from a cold environment to a warmer one before using it. This will provide the laptop with ample time to reach room temperature. Also, do not warm the laptop unnaturally.

You may be tempted to use a heating pad or a mug warmer, but that is not the best idea. These devices are not designed to warm delicate pieces of machinery. It may lead to overheating your laptop or heating the wrong parts, which may cause more damage.

Provide air circulation

Sometimes, you may want to use your laptop while in the laptop bag to keep it warm. This is not advisable since heat can build up and cause more damage. Instead of using it while it is in the bag, you can get an improvised laptop box.

The box ensures that there is enough air circulation, which prevents cold air from mixing up with hot air. This will make the laptop warm up from internally generated heat while releasing excess heat, preventing it from accumulating.

Be cautious

Traveling with your laptop means carrying it around with you. Make sure to always put it inside a quality and well-insulated laptop case. This will protect your laptop from the cold and also make sure it doesn’t wear out.

However, you should remember that your laptop can still be exposed to other elements such as moisture, even in the laptop case. Ensure that your laptop, and the case, are away from humid and damp areas at all times.

Change power settings

Your laptop may also generate warmth while it’s running. How can you take advantage of this heat? Begin by adjusting the power settings from power save mode to high performance.

In this mode, a lot of heat is generated as a result of increased power performance. As a result, the laptop will keep itself warm. Resist the urge to keep it hibernating most of the time but avoid having it on at all hours, too, as it would wear out faster with increased use.

Turn it off completely

Instead of putting it on “sleep” or “hibernate” modes, shutting down your laptop eliminates the risk of losing data or damaging your laptop completely. Your laptop continues to run when on sleep mode, which will damage it in the long run. It’s better to keep it off when not using it.

There are times when it can’t be helped, and a laptop ends up in an especially frosty environment. In case you need to use it later, give the laptop some time to thaw to get rid of possible ice particles before switching on the power.

Take good care of your laptop

Like most assets, a laptop comes with responsibilities. Understanding the effects of cold temperatures on your laptop, you’ll be better equipped to ensure it stays safe and lasts longer.

Even then, you might still forget a few things, like accidentally leave it in the car overnight in the cold. If it does happen, keep calm and review the steps in this post on what to do. When it seems beyond your skills, entrust the repairs to a professional.

Written By Callum Wright

With a background as a business owner for a company wokring with 3D animation and Visual Effects, Callum is just the person you need when you need help regarding laptops for professional use like graphics designing, photo editing, and general business administration.