problem

presenters or people with laptops take note!

the problem some people face is their computer has been exposed to a humid, dewy morning, or cold temperatures. This causes weirdness, bluescreens, startup problems, and who knows what else - the system will be in a strange state if you boot in this condition. This happens if the computer has been left in a car on a cold dewy morning overnight - like when you have been at a conference or a [youth] camp.

without acclimating, the computer can temporarily go nuts. if there is disk damage it is either a soft error due to not acclimating (which is fixable with an OS Repair), or a bad block fixable by replacing the hard disk and reinstalling windows.

cold

I used to think that computers liked it really cold, until I just realized that data centers are run at 60°F. this is cold, but it is not as cold as it gets OUTSIDE during fall or winter.

some computer parts like hard drives don't like extreme cold temps like refrigerators, causes condensation (nasty). these temps can happen outside during winter. so it is possible the hard drive is damaged if exposed for any period of time. if it has gotten this cold, you can maybe try salvaging the drive by acclimating INSIDE for 2 weeks to a month since the water has nowhere to go except through the tiny vent holes, before starting the computer up. People who live in Wisconsin are probably better experts at this than I am since temps out there are really cold...

I have always wondered "how can the condensation evaporate when it's inside a practically-enclosed space (the drive), with the exception of a couple of teeny filtered vent-holes?". then I also realize "when it heats up, it had that same water content in the air in the first place." I have not done any science experiments with condensation lately using a freezer, but it would be interesting to see how long it takes condensation in an enclosed space to disappear if raised to room temp, using a test tube or something bigger, and for how long. I should order a test tube and stopper sometime...

  1. let the computer acclimate for at least 2 weeks. it could be as little as 24 hours, but I personally don't feel safe unless it is at least 2 weeks, at least for the hard drive.
  2. try starting the computer again.
  3. if it fails, do an OS Repair.
  4. if that fails, the drive is bad. replace the drive and reinstall windows (format) using recovery media.

here is a page where I list places to get recovery media.

dewy morning/dewpoint

one thing I learned after being in a cold, humid/dewy morning (or cold) youth camp was, ALWAYS let your computer acclimate INSIDE for 12-24 hours (1/2 day to a day) for dewy mornings before powering it up. this is probably a temporary problem. let the computer sufficiently dry out inside!

leaving outside in the weather for long

  • the outside weather causes corrosion. rainwater isn't always pure (acid rain?) - even in our "green" city (and I thought the rainwater was pretty good), I have seen equipment which has been left outside get corroded.
  • pollen can get inside the computer equipment outside in the weather. it sticks to and gets inside everything - big mess. this may not be the case in the garage, at least I hope not. you can pretty much throw away any equipment left outside for any length of time. pollen doesn't come off easy sometimes, but it cam come off.
  • if this equipment is ON, it had better be outdoor-rated and protected appropriately (hoods/covers in place, etc). no wires should be leading down into the equipment but instead should be hanging in a J fashion from the bottom. this way, the wire does not act like a siphon leading the water into the equipment, shorting things out. water doesn't usually run uphill unless you have some sort of extreme weather.

Mason jar and metal Simpson Strong Tie experiments (simulate hard drive, computer case?)

glass Mason jar with a metal lid. Glass has not the same properties as metal, metal gets colder faster and thus condensates (water droplets) more I think. Hard disks have metal platters inside and pretty much everything of the hard disk is made of metal. but like I said, the Mason jar is glass. metal is basically a heat sink - it always tends to be cold, so it's easier to condensate than glass.

open jar, freezer

simulate:

circuit boards, computer case, winter (don't do it, I hear it destroys hard drives)

conditions:

open jar, freezer.

results:

put in freezer on 2011-12-27T00:06:33.000 for 0 days 00:47:02.407 and opened freezer on 2011-12-27T00:53:35.000, jar was spottedly frosted at 24°F.frosted/fogged quickly.

brought into 70.8°F 38% room, condensation started at 2 minutes as it warms up @36&def;F. full condensation and thaw at 5 minutes @ 42.5°F - got double-pinhead-size droplets.

cleared after 0 days 00:25:59.781 on 2011-12-27T01:19:36.000 @65.6°F.

hypothesis:

taking a computer from freezing temperatures to a warm room causes immediate frosting/fogging, then after it has defrosted, condentation, then it dries out. note that this applies to circuits as well...

closed jar, freezer

simulate:

hard disk, winter (don't do it, I hear it destroys hard drives)

conditions:

in freezer 0 days 03:06:50.469 from 2011-12-26T11:36:38.000 to 2011-12-26T14:43:28.000

results:

well, I took the jar out of the freezer and looked at the jar. there were ice crystals (frost). it is inside and outside the jar. this is not the same as fog.

in 0 days 00:04:37.000 it had melted to water droplets. from original start time 2011-12-26T14:44:10.000 after I took out of freezer 0 days 00:25:25.265 later on 2011-12-26T15:09:35.000 it was cleared up of ice and 1/2 to full pinhead-sized droplets in a 70.2°F room at 40% humidity.

My mother has a jar that has traces of olive oil in it and it has been in the freezer for a year. it is more severely frosty-looking or cloudy inside and outside.

hypothesis:

closed jar, fridge

simulate:

hard disk, cold dry weather

conditions:

modern fridge for 1-2 hours with I think no humidity(no humidity is a problem for the kind of test I want).

results of test:

I took the jar out of the fridge and looked at the jar. it was clear and stayed clear.

hypothesis:

cold dry weather can still cause thermal stress on components, so let it acclimate.

close mason jar, freeze 2 hours, open and let warm air in to cause condensation for 1 minute, close lid and see if dries

simulate:

hard disk with its ventilation holes (probably eggagerating), winter

conditions:

close mason jar, freeze 2 hours, open and let warm air in to cause condensation for 1 minute in room at 68°F,38% humidity, close lid and see if dries in room at 68°F,38% humidity

results:

there were ice crystals. frost inside, clear after approximately 20 minutes in room at 68°F,38% humidity.

hypothesis:

metal will take longer since metal is colder.

open jar, breath with droplets inside

simulate:

computer case in rainforest/camp/retreat

conditions:

breathed into jar in room at 68°F,38% humidity a lot until droplets formed and drops were running down and left it open.

results:

approximately 0 days 04:17:06.078 later, the last drop was gone.

hypothesis:

since people's room temperature and humidity level may vary, your specific results will vary since there are several variables:

  • room temperature that you are bringing the equipment into
  • room humidity that you are bringing the equipment into
  • whether or not the item in question is sealed or not, such as a hard disk. hard disks do not like to be frozen, apparently it shortens their lifespan.

open jar, breath with droplets inside, close jar (worst case)

simulate:

computer case in rainforest/camp/retreat

conditions:

breathed into open jar a lot until droplets formed and drops were running down and left it open at 68°F,38% humidity.

results:

the dropets did not go away in a reasonable amount of time.

hypothesis:

don't add humidity to a sealed box. bad idea. standing water stagnates. have you ever heard of the Dead Sea?

open jar, outside in dewy grass overnight

simulate:

conditions:

open jar overnight outside in the grass.

results:

hypothesis:

closed jar in the grass long time in dew, like overnight, bring in and wipe off to check condentation inside.

simulate:

hard drive

conditions: the least condensation, max humidity

closed jar overnight outside in the grass. bring in and wipe off to check condentation inside

results:

hypothesis:

olive oil on coaster cd, freezer for 2 hours

simulate:

hard disk lubicating oil, computer fans

conditions:

freezer for 2 hours, as frozan as I can get

results:

olive oil doesn't freeze very well, just clouds up. clears in 3 minutes.

hypothesis:

oils return to normal operating conditions much faster than water evaporates.

don't worry about the fans. (well, maybe the circuit boards and chips in the fans).

lubricating oil on coaster cd, freezer for 7 hours

simulate:

hard disk lubicating oil, computer fans

conditions:

put oil in freezer 0 days 07:11:35.125 from 2011-12-26T14:29:08.000 to 2011-12-26T21:40:43.000 but since I cannot see the oil, I cannot check its condition except by opening freezer periodically, which lowers temp of freezer. I know it takes more than 1 hour.

results:

started with a half-drop at 2011-12-26T14:29:08.000 and left in for 0 days 07:11:35.125. pulled out at 2011-12-26T21:40:43.000 as cloudy and flat, spreads widely. took about 2 minutes to return to semi-normal, has cloudy looking edges (air?).

0 days 03:23:18.078 after start at 2011-12-26T21:41:35.000 when I came back at 2011-12-27T01:04:53.000, it looked completely clear (but looked like it had dust in it or it needed rolling).

hypothesis:

oils return to normal operating conditions much faster than water evaporates.

don't worry about the fans. (well, maybe the circuit boards and chips in the fans).

water on metal (Simson Strong Tie), freezer until frozen (15-20 minutes)

simulate:
  • computer case, freezing weather
  • computer case, dewy morning in car
conditions:

water on metal, 1cm droplets, freezer until water frozen (15-20 minutes), in 68°F room at 38% humidity to dry

results:

formed ice. melted in 5-7 minutes. evaporated in approximately 4 hours 37 minutes. because it was tap water, it left residue.

hypothesis:

if you are in an area with acid rain or live in a city with some amount of smog (you can tell by interestingly colored sunsets), dewing your PC overnight can cause corrosion/oxidation. it takes just as long with metal as with glass to evaporate water at 60° 30% humidity.

freeze metal (Simson Strong Tie), freezer until frozen (15-20 minutes)

simulate:

computer case, freezing weather

conditions:

in freezer for 0 days 1:05:45.000 (that long wasn't necessary, only 15-20 minutes) until metal frozen, bring into in 70.4°F room at 38% humidity.

results:

took out of freezer at 2011-12-26T23:31:42.000 and it came out at about 48°F, after 2 minutes, very very slight condensation started to form at 61°F, appears fog-like wet on outside. back to dry (but still cold) in 0 days 00:07:43.797 at 2011-12-26T23:39:26.000, back to reasonably normal temperature after about 0 days 00:38:30.375 on 2011-12-27T00:10:13.000

hypothesis:

conclusion:

for metal, you should wait longer than you would wait for glass. I would have to do a search for metal to do metal tests. try for 6 hours?

since people's room temperature and humidity level may vary, your specific results will vary since there are some variables to take into account for computer acclimation:

  • plastic - plastic warms up faster since it is an oil-based product
  • room temperature that you are bringing the equipment into
  • room humidity that you are bringing the equipment into
  • whether or not the item in question is sealed or not, such as a hard disk. hard disks do not like to be frozen, apparently it shortens their lifespan.

hard disks don't survive well in freezing temperatures. so avoid that. and remember that metal gets much colder than the air.

don't worry about the fans. (well, maybe the circuit boards and chips in the fans).

if you are in an area with acid rain or live in a city with some amount of smog (you can tell by interestingly colored sunsets), dewing your PC overnight can cause corrosion/oxidation.

it takes just as long with metal as with glass to evaporate water at 60° 30% humidity. take 38 minutes for open metal to de-fog, but if it has condensation (it's wet), take at least 4:37:00.000 to let it dry.

taking a computer from freezing temperatures to a warm room causes immediate frosting/fogging, then after it has defrosted, condentation, then it dries out. note that this applies to circuits as well...