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Storage Computer to use in cold conditions?

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by Picky88, 8 Jan 2013.

  1. Picky88

    Picky88 What's a Dremel?

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    Hi People,

    I have been leaving an old laptop in the garage, as I am doing some work in there and its handy to have the computer, but there is no heating and the garage is nott even attached to the house so it can get very cold, and then the computer wont boot unless I take in the house for an hour or so. Then it works fine. Im looking to get a basic dell tower off ebay and leave it in the garage, but im worried it will struggle like the laptop does. What part of a computer doesnt like the cold? is it the hard drive? If I got a small SSD do you think the computer would cope with -5C or so?
     
  2. MSHunter

    MSHunter Minimodder

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    condensation is the biggest issue. Panasonic tough book would due probably, get a used one off ebay. not cheap though.
     
  3. Picarro

    Picarro What's a Dremel?

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    small SSD + air heater in front of the air intake would probably fix it up just fine.
     
  4. mm vr

    mm vr The cheesecake is a lie

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    Very odd that the laptop doesn't work in -5°C. I can't think of anything that could fail. How exactly doesn't it work? Where does it get stuck or error out?
     
  5. Picky88

    Picky88 What's a Dremel?

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    When you press the power button the LEDs light and the cpu fan comes on, and after 5 seconds or less it powers off as though unplugged. Nothing ever appears on the screen. It will do it again if you press the power button again. take it inside to warm up for an hour and then it boots fine. Sometimes I have to take the bios battery out though before it will boot after being in the garage. I guess I could look at the power settings and set them all low and the screen off and just leave it running 24/7. It never has a problem once it has successfully booted.
     
  6. wolfticket

    wolfticket Downwind from the bloodhounds

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    A quick look around would suggest the hard drive is the problem, especially since it will boot once it warms up.
    I read most HDD are rated down to around freezing point. It makes sense that they should be one of the components most sensitive to temperature, since it is one of the few low tolerance mechanical devices on a modern PC.

    An SSD should have a much larger operating range, and assuming condensation isn't a problem the laptop may well work fine.
     
  7. aramil

    aramil One does not simply upgrade Forums

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    The issue is condensation. I killed a laptop by leaving it in the car boot on a really cold night and then turning it on to soon...... fffzzzzzztttt.....

    Sent on my CM10 JB powered i9100 by TapaTalk 2
     
  8. mm vr

    mm vr The cheesecake is a lie

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    But it should at least POST fine even if the hard drive doesn't work.
     
  9. wolfticket

    wolfticket Downwind from the bloodhounds

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    Ah yes, true dat :)
     
  10. Picky88

    Picky88 What's a Dremel?

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    Well given that i could still have an issue with condensation I think the only reasonable solution is to leave it on all the time. I tried leaving the laptop on standby and plugged in, but that didnt keep it warm enough.

    Next step is ethernet in the garage, wifi range is right on the edge!
     
  11. Picarro

    Picarro What's a Dremel?

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    hmm, you said that you need to remove the battery. Thos small C2030 batteries are quite vulnerable to cold weather. If it is an old laptop you could try replacing the BIOS battery with a brand new one.
     
  12. Margo Baggins

    Margo Baggins I'm good at Soldering Super Moderator

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    hmm I think some of you need to read up about condensation...

    Running a cold laptop in a cold room is not going to give you condensation - taking a cold laptop and running it in a warm room is potentially going to give you condensation (likewise taking a cold laptop out of a cold car boot and into a warm room might)

    Condensation happens when the moist air is 12 - 13 degrees warmer than the surface temperature. the cold surface cools the air causing it to release moisture to the surface.

    Which is why subzero cooling gives you condensation build up in and around the areas you are cooling, as you are making all the surfaces much cooler than the ambient temperatures. then the condensation freezes and you collect more and more condensation.

    Running a cold laptop, in a cold garage, isn't going to net you condensation.
     
    mm vr likes this.
  13. Picky88

    Picky88 What's a Dremel?

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    I think Margo has a good point here! Maybe condensation is not very likely.

    I have just tried booting the laptop (in the warm) with no bios battery, and it loads ok, so I dont think the bios battery level being low in the cold would prevent it from booting.

    It is a hp compaq 2510p, a few years old, with a 1.8" hard drive. The hard drive specs list 5 degrees C as the minimum operating temperature.

    With it being a 1.8" zif hard drive, SSD drives that would suit are more expensive than a 2.5" drive. I think I will get a desktop PC and either leave it going all the time or get a small ssd. I wonder how much electricity a desktop uses if all the power settings are on minimum?
     
  14. Mechh69

    Mechh69 I think we can make that fit

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    I was at work with one of my co-workers he took his laptop out of his car after leaving it in there all night in 20 degree F weather all night, when he hit the power button and the hard drive begun to spin up it shattered. So my guess would be the HDD. Aside from that you are correct that it shouldn't prevent it from booting and running the bios check, so that sounds like a power issue.
     
  15. Picarro

    Picarro What's a Dremel?

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    You could boot something like Linux of a 16gb USB drive? Should be decent for speed.
     
  16. Xir

    Xir Modder

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    The processor itself might not function right as well.
    Turning on well frozen processors may break them (as they tend to heat up enevenly)
    Leaving it on 24/7 should cure that though. Once functioning the chips can endure subzero (surface) temperatures
     
  17. RichCreedy

    RichCreedy Hey What Who

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    I've seen faulty hard drives prevent a machine from running up to a bios check
     

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