Compared to delicate antiques or family photos, electronic equipment might seem too robust to need special care during storage. While it’s true that computers, gaming consoles and televisions have rugged plastic cases to protect them from everyday wear, heat, cold, humidity and dust can wreak havoc on sensitive electronic components. When it’s time to upgrade to a new model or store spare electronics, keep everything in good working order with careful storage.
Preparing for a Move
Before you move or store any electronics, remove any batteries in remotes or accessories. Battery corrosion can wreck electronic components. Check the unit for any removable media such as DVDs, game cartridges or tapes. Over time, older media can deform if left in a machine. Detach all peripherals from your computer when storing it. It may seem like a time-saver to leave accessories connected, but prolonged metal-to-metal contact can cause problems, especially in storage with no climate control.
Be sure to back up important data before putting computer equipment in storage. Although your system is unlikely to suffer damage if it’s properly protected in a safe storage facility, all it takes is one drop during transport to turn your computer into a costly paperweight.
Packing Electronics for Storage
Electronics experts recommend saving the original packaging for electronic devices whenever possible. Original boxes contain pre-shaped foam pieces and custom inserts to keep items from shifting during shipping, so they’re ideal for packing and storage. The experts at Apartment Therapy also note that boxes can help resale value, an important consideration if you’re storing potentially collectible items. One expert asserts that, “almost all tech in its original box will sell for a higher price than without the box.”
For storage in climate-controlled environments, humidity isn’t much of a factor. For storage areas that are susceptible to dampness, add packages of silica gel to any storage container, including original packaging. Silica absorbs excess moisture before it can collect on metal components and cause corrosion.
If you no longer have the original boxes for your electronics, use boxes large enough to hold the item with plenty of Styrofoam packing peanuts on all sides. Starch-based peanuts and popcorn are eco-friendly choices for short moves, but for long-term storage, organic materials lack the longevity of synthetics. Wrap computer monitors and TVs with a protective layer of bubble wrap or towels and tape paper over fans and vents to prevent particles from finding their way into electronic items’ cases.
Since massive flat-screen televisions don’t fit in standard moving boxes, you can cover these items well with padded moving blankets and store them against a wall to provide support. Never store them flat or stack anything on the screen as pressure can permanently damage some types of screens.
Storage and Climate Control
Electronic equipment is highly sensitive to temperature extremes and is safest when stored in climate-controlled conditions. Cold causes metal parts to contract, weakening soldered components. Liquid crystal displays, or LCDs, can even freeze during a harsh cold snap. Electronics expert and author Dave Taylor spoke to data storage and recovery specialists DriveSavers about how cold weather affects electronics. Both agreed that, “expensive presents with built-in hard drives like new game systems, personal computers and MP3 music players require extra protection from the cold.”
Heat damages electronics in two ways. As metal parts expand in hot weather, they place undue stress on soldered connections. Warm air also holds more moisture, and high humidity is lethal to electronics.
Storing Electronic Media
When you build a big game library or upgrade from VCR technology to a Blu-ray player, you need a place to store media clutter. HGTV clutter specialist Cynthia Townley Ewer notes that, “digital media is delicate and easily ruined,” and recommends storing media in original packaging when possible. If you’ve lost the items’ original cases, invest in a specialized storage container designed for the medium. Like the machines that use them, storage media prefer moderate temperatures and humidity.
Once you’ve figured out a plan to pack and move electronics, a climate controlled storage unit can be a handy spot to store anything that’s leftover.