Avoiding Business Conflicts

Keeping Your Computer Safe In Long-Term Storage

by Arthur Bates

If you're heading overseas for an extended period of time or just can't keep a perfectly good, large computer in your current home or office, self storage may be one of your only choices. Desktop computers and other electronics have a few sensitive areas even while turned off, so be sure to keep a few preparation and inspection points in mind before throwing everything into storage.

Humidity, Dust, And Infestation

Computers can handle a bit of dust, and since this article is being written in a more humid part of the South, a bit of humid air won't ruin everything. The problem is turning an inactive system on after weeks or months in dark, dank storage.

A running computer will have a fan that moves dust around a bit, and even if there's dust collecting on the motherboard, case, or other parts of the computer, there's still a chance that someone could clean away some of the dust. In a storage unit without regular access and cleaning, dust can collect and become a heating hazard once the computer starts.

Dust acts as an insulator no matter the amount, and allowing dust to pile up for weeks or months can be like putting a sweater on the computer. The computer will run hotter, and since components such as the processor can burst into flames without proper cooling, you're setting yourself up for poor performance at the least. Safety mechanisms can stop such emergencies, but small burns or sparks from dust across the motherboard can still render the computer inoperable. 

Humidity causes a bigger problem when combined with dust, as the dust will be more of a matted, staining layer that can be harder to clean off. You also run the risk of corrosion against the copper contacts if the humidity is consistent. Along with dust, infestation issues with roaches, ants, spiders, or other insects can lead to temperature issues as dead insects, nesting, webs, and waste collects inside the computer.

Inspections And Preparation Steps

Inspecting the storage facility is necessary, but you'll need to do more than look for dirt or cracks. Many areas allowing insect and humidity infiltration can be small enough to be missed even with a careful look, so be sure to inspect corners with your hand. Changes in air temperature or pressure in certain areas could betray a crack or hole, which the facility should patch.

If you can't find a storage facility with closed, humidity controlled (or at least air conditioned) units, your best plan would be to seal off the units in a box. Avoid cardboard boxes and look for something with a seal that can be snapped in place. The seal doesn't need to be certified airtight, but keeping dust, humidity, and insects out is the key.

Regardless of the box used, be sure to check on the system every month or so to confirm the box's security. Check for any excessive dust buildup or condensation, and if such problems exist, change the box to something more secure. A rubber seal that closes onto a snapping set of treads is a good choice.

Contact a self storage facility like Diaz Super Storage to discuss cleanliness levels, air quality control, and local issues that could change your storage plans.