Where Should a Laptop Sit?

Laptop computers, sometimes called notebook computers, got their name because they are so small and lightweight that they can be used while balanced on the owner’s lap. Many people use their notebook computers most while they are comfortably seated on the couch. That’s fine for short periods, but a laptop computer will give better service and have a longer life if it is used with more care.

Laptop computers should be placed in an area with good air circulation. Overheating is a real problem for such small computers, and it can cause serious short term and long term damage. Be sure none of the air vents are blocked. Vents are usually located on the sides and back of the unit, but some models have air vents on the bottom as well. These units function best if they are placed on a raised, slatted surface so that air can reach the vents. Clean the vents monthly with a small vacuum for optimal performance. Dust impedes the flow of air and leads to overheating.

Never store a laptop when it is in suspended or sleeping mode; make sure it is turned off completely. Be especially careful about this if you use a foam screen protector, because they retain heat. Don’t place the laptop in direct sunlight. A table directly over a furnace duct is also a poor choice. A hot environment can easily cause a notebook computer to overheat. Make sure to store notebook computers at room temperature. If your laptop is accidentally exposed to extremely hot or cold temperatures, give it plenty of time to return to room temperature before starting it.

A laptop should sit on a stable surface. Even small bumps and short drops can damage a computer. Dropping items onto a closed laptop can also cause damage. If you tend to drop your mail on a table when coming into the room, place your laptop somewhere else. Don’t place any computer near an appliance that generates an electrical field. Avoid magnetic fields as well. Exposure can cause data loss. Position the laptop so that the power cord is not kinked or twisted in any way. Don’t let anything sit on top of the power cord. Keep it out of the room’s traffic pattern, because tripping over a power cord can easily jerk a laptop off the table. Be sure the AC adapter in the power cord gets good air circulation, because it can overheat. When storing the cord, it’s best to gather it into accordion-like folds and hold it in place with a Velcro wrap.

Position the laptop so that the screen will not get bumped or poked with objects. These screens are made of plastic over liquid crystals, and they are quite fragile. Don’t touch the screen with fingers, pencils, or pens. Only use a laptop in a clean, dry environment. Any moisture can damage the computer. Keep drinks away from the laptop, and don’t use water to clean it, either.

Laptops are sturdy computers, but they will perform even better with careful placement and handling.