By Scott@Smalldog.com

With the new school year upon us the MacBooks and MacBook Pros have been selling like hot cakes (apparently hot cakes are quite popular.) These computers go everywhere their owner goes – classes, the dorm rooms, libraries and quite possibly most important of all… the cafés!

Downtown Burlington, VT has, appropriately as any college town should, numerous coffee shops and cafés. Each one has its own individual ambiance. Some have Wi-Fi, some don’t. None the less, come night time, college students migrate from the universities to these coffee shops with their books, papers and their computers. In my opinion, caffeine and computers go together like peas and carrots, or beer and nuts.

The above listed combination of caffeine and computers however presents one of the greatest risks to the life of your computer! No, it’s not about getting over caffeinated and taking out your frustrations over your workload on your computer. It’s the fact that although you may enjoy consuming a caffeinated beverage, your computer will not!

Unfortunately, over the past month I have seen 3 computers come through the service department that were victims of liquid spills. One of the greatest risks (and most common mistakes) a user can subject their computer to, is leaving a drink too close. Apple’s warranty covers failures that are not related to physical damage. Apple rates a liquid spill in the highest category of physical damage that can be done to a machine. An out of warranty physical damage repair performed by Apple can sometimes cost more than the value of the machine! One of these machines that passed through our service department here at Small Dog was a brand new MacBook. It had lemonade spilled in it about a month after it’s original purchase. Fortunately, the customer had insurance on their purchase provided by their credit card. After data recovery and dispatch to Apple where nearly 3/4 of the computer parts were replaced, the final bill totaled just under $1000!

As I am advising all of you reading to take extreme caution with liquids around your computer, I will also give you a few simple steps to follow should you spill liquid into your computer to attempt to minimize or potentially avoid damage.

Should you spill liquid into your computer:

-Remove All Power Immediately!: Hard power down your machine and remove the battery and power cord. If you are working on a project do not attempt to save it, unless your project is of greater value than the computer its self.

-Drain the liquid away from the internal components: Keep in mind that the more sensitive and expensive components of your computer are the logic board and the internal components. This means if you have a portable machine open the display to a 90 degree angle and place it upside down. You are better off having the liquid settle in the keyboard or track pad than the logic board. A keyboard may cost around $85 but a logic board will cost about $800 to replace.

-Let The Unit Drain: Keep your machine in the draining position in a well ventilated area. Make sure it is left in a place where it does not risk getting knocked over or broken. It is probably best that you do not use a hair dryer as you may be so inclined. Hair dryers create a large amount of static electricity and could potentially cause an electrical discharge onto a computer component.

-Inspect Before Using: After you have left your computer to drain for a couple days I suggest taking your computer to your local Apple repair agency to have it inspected for standing liquids before attempting to power it on. The battery voltage and PMU should be checked prior to the first boot.

-Hope For The Best: Though sever damage can occur within a computer, following the above steps can potentially help to minimize the damage. There are repairs that can be performed by a local service provider cheaper than Apple’s flat rate damage repair should the situation come to that.

With all that in mind, when I take my MacBook Pro out for coffee, the MacBook Pro stays on the tabletop, the coffee stays on the floor in my sealed mug.

By Scott@Smalldog.com

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