Now, a days many of the electronic devices have become an integral part of our lifestyles. Since, the addiction of using them has grown so much that some of us can’t even let them apart even when we travel to the remote regions of Ladakh or some high altitude terrains. We tend to carry Laptops, IPods etc to such desolate places either to avoid any boredom or to copy pictures, songs, backup etc to empty memories of our phones, IPods, cameras etc. Generally, at most of the places these devices operate without much concern BUT if you are traveling to high altitude regions such as Ladakh with these electronic devices then you need to take the precautions mentioned below in order to keep them safe and running.
Guidelines for carrying a Laptop to Ladakh or High Altitudes
Carry Waterproof Bags / Pouches
The electronic devices are not waterproof so carry a good quality waterproof bag or pouch to keep these electronic devices. This will protect them from either rainfall or snowfall.
Do Not Switch ON at Altitude above 10-11K
Generally Laptops have a non – specialized Hard Disk Drive (HDD) in them which are not designed to work above 3000 Meters i.e. 10,000 feet generally or as mentioned in their manual/guidelines sticked on them. Hence, there are chances of HDD Failure at these high altitude regions Specially manufactured, sealed and pressurized disks are needed for reliable high-altitude operation, above 3,000 m (10,000 feet) as mentioned at WIKI here. So, it is best NOT TO switch ON these devices at high mountain passes like Khardung La, Taglang La or high altitude regions like Pangong Tso, Tso Moriri, Tangste, Batal, Hanle etc which are quite above 10,000 feet mark.
To understand better, these hard drives have a head which flies between the rotating disks/platters. When the air pressure is too low, then there is not enough lift for the flying head, so the head gets too close to the disk, and there is a risk of head crashes and data loss. The laptops with Solid State Drives (SSD) you will not face a drive crash though.
Keep them out in environment before switching ON
Before you switch ON the device, keep it out in the environment for sometime so that the device adapt to temperature difference which might be present. Sudden temperature difference may cause condensation which may result in blown out electronic circuits.
Common example being: You have your IPod deep into some warmly dressed pocket, suddenly you take it out into freezing cold temperature where snow is around and switch it ON. This may cause temperature difference which may result in blown out circuit. So, in such situation best bet is to place the device in outside environment for 5-10 minutes and then switch it ON, just to be on much safer side.
Always Shutdown or Switch off Laptops
Always shutdown or switch off the electronic device when you travel. If you keep them on stand by or hibernate etc modes, especially laptop then a sudden shock or jerk may jeopardize the whole circuit or HDDs in a faulty device or HDD. In shutdown conditions these devices can withstand shock to a much greater extent.
Protect them from Cold Conditions
In some cold conditions especially with temperature around or below freezing point, the battery exhaust pretty fast and getting a power source at camp site of some high altitude lake or region will surely be a challenge. So, if you really want to have longer battery life try to keep your batteries or devices in some warm clothes or padding.
Take care of your own belongings
In the end, generally, a sticker pasted everywhere but yes you should be responsible for taking care of your belongings from human theft or careless misplacement by yourself. Most likely in the remote places such as Ladakh or other high altitude terrains, you will find pretty honest people but there is no guarantee of this fact with modernization needs crippling the honest of the honest persons 😉
Though there is no harm in taking the laptops, IPods, IPads etc for music, movies, backup etc while you travel but I personally avoid taking them just and enjoy the nature and culture of the region more than enjoying myself alone. Since, now the flash memory is getting cheaper and cheaper you can definitely get one or two extra memory cards for your camera and remove the reasoning of carrying the laptop just for backup sake.
Having said that, it is a personal choice weather to carry these devices especially laptops or not with you. But, my concern was if you are taking any of these devices do take care of the precautions mentioned in the article above.
I would really appreciate and look forwards to your inputs or suggestions or comments on carrying the laptops and other electronic devices while you travel. Any other precaution you can think off? It will be great if you can share it with us too.