Photo by renezeros
Weekend before last, I spent Sunday morning on the porch scheduling blog posts for the week. It was a lovely morning — until I headed back inside.
As I tried to wrangle my laptop with a nearly empty cup of coffee while opening the door, an accident caused a small amount of coffee to spill into the side of my computer. It shut down.
I panicked. My laptop is the second most expensive thing I own after my car, which is insured with a $500 deductible so technically my laptop would be more expensive to replace than my car.
But that wasn’t the scariest part. I hadn’t thought about it until that moment, but everything is on my laptop. Five years of photos, writing, and many important documents. I’ve half heartedly backed things up before using CDs, but those backups aren’t organized in any way. I don’t even know if I’d be able to find all of them.
We dismantled it to let any coffee that had dripped in dry, and I frantically searched on my husband’s computer for information on what it would cost to fix it. As you can imagine, liquid laptop accidents are fairly common, and if my computer was dead the likely culprit was a fried logic board (the Mac equivalent of a motherboard).
If this ever happens to you, you must immediately shut down your computer, remove all power sources, and do not try to turn it back on until you’re sure it’s completely dry. The longer you wait to turn it on, the better, but wait at least three days. If you try to turn it back on before it’s dry, it will fry.
The price tag for a new logic board is around $700 with labor. Yikes. We paid $900 for my computer when it was new over a year ago, and an updated version of my computer would cost about that now, so servicing it wouldn’t really make sense. I crossed my fingers and hoped that once it dried out it would be okay. If it wasn’t, I hoped we’d at least be able to salvage my hard drive.
I brought it into work, where the IT department dismantled it further to clean it out and make sure it was completely dry. They put it back together and it turned on. It appears to be working fine now.
There’s still a chance that it’s not okay, though. Many people who’ve experienced laptop spills were able to turn it on and use it for several days before it stopped working. I wanted to get my hard drive backed up immediately to salvage my files just in case my computer was on its death bed.
We invested $60 in a 160GB external hard drive. We both backed up all of our important documents — photos, files, and other information that we couldn’t replace.
As of right now, my computer is working for the most part. My CD drive isn’t ejecting properly, which may be because it was dismantled. At one point it went to sleep when I was in the middle of typing, which may mean it’s on its way out. :( We’ll see if it continues to work. If it doesn’t, at least I know all of my most important documents are safe.
Here’s what I learned from the experience:
- Accidental damage insurance may be a worthwhile investment. I found a company called Safeware, and after a little research it seems like a trustworthy company (does anyone have personal experience to share?). They insure laptops and other electronics for everything that a warranty doesn’t cover (accidental damage, theft, spills, natural disasters, etc.) My renters insurance covers all of these things except for accidental damage due to drops or spills. The premium is about $75 a year for up to 3 years paid in full at time of purchase. We’re considering investing in it now, at least for my husband’s laptop, if it’s not too late. Paying $75 a year to protect a $1,000 investment doesn’t seem like a bad deal.
- Insure your files and important information with a backup system — and use it. There’s no excuse for not backing up files frequently.
- An ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure. Keep liquids away from valuable electronic equipment.
I’m really curious if anyone has any experience with Safeware or other electronics insurance companies. Please let me know!