We all know that when cold weather hits, we need to bundle up. But you might not know that computers are affected by the temperature of their environment, too.

In fact, the ideal temperature for a computer to operate is at room temperature, which is about 72 degrees Fahrenheit (22 degrees Celsius), and it should not be stored in direct sunlight.

But now that temperatures are beginning to drop, be more aware of where you're storing your laptop or desktop computer. If it's on a desk by a window or door, for example, you could be exposing the computer to excess cool air and drafts. If you bring your laptop to work or school with you, don't leave it in an unheated area, such as your car or garage, overnight.

In extreme cases (like forgetting and leaving your laptop outside in your car during a snowstorm), lengthy exposure to cold can lead to serious damages and costly computer repair. If when you attempt to open the laptop, you hear any cracking noises, do not open it. The hinges have probably frozen, and you must wait for them to thaw before proceeding.

In addition, the keyboard may start to bend from the temperature, and touch activated sensors on the laptop may no longer work, either. In a situation like this, set your computer out in a warm room – but not too warm, you shouldn't place it too close to a heater, either – and wait approximately 20 to 30 minute for the computer to thaw. If there's any frost or condensation developing, wipe down the computer thoroughly, especially before powering it on.

If the computer still isn't turning on, or you have other questions about the effects of cold on your computer, contact a local Maryland computer repair service.