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Old 14-07-2013, 19:52   #1
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Laptops Aboard and Corrosion

I was just curious if anyone has any opinions on non-marine electronics such as laptops and corrosion due to the marine enviroment- particulary from the salt. Has this been an issue for anybody, or does a laptop probably not last long enough onboard a sailing vessel to start to worry about salt corrosion?

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Old 14-07-2013, 20:00   #2
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Re: Laptops aboard and corrosoin

Laptops on my boat last about two years.
That's a good life and I go buy another one.

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Old 14-07-2013, 20:14   #3
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Re: Laptops aboard and corrosoin

a quick google search found me this
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Old 14-07-2013, 20:45   #4
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Re: Laptops aboard and corrosoin

My wife is still - STILL - using the Toshiba she had when we bought/moved aboard our boat in Dec, 2004. And that was after a year of using it in Thailand. She insists that it's because of her strict "his and hers" dual computer policy. (Methinks I would lose a hand if I even touched her 'puter.)

My rigs don't fare so well: about two years seems an average. Maybe because they get used underway for WXR fax and drug ashore for internet (where no WiFi is available out on the hook), they seem to get a bit beat up.

Anyway - the hard discs seem to fail on mine and sometimes just buying a new unit is more efficient than repairing the old.

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Old 14-07-2013, 21:01   #5
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Re: Laptops aboard and corrosoin

Connies Viao(spl) but its a Sony is about 5+ yrs old and going strong! I think it's because our boats have all been Air Conditioned! much less humidity tat way ! and down the bayou where we live , its HUMID ! So all our electronics are in dryer conditions then a lot of boats, she only brings hers to the pilot house once in a while! mostly she keeps it in the Nav center! But all our electronics are either in the pilot house, and or in the nav center! It seems that because we don't have any on deck they just last longer! But then we don't have any of the new fancy stuff! no big plotters, just her puter and my hand held gps, radar and ssb and vhf and such a matter! but the ac helps
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Old 14-07-2013, 22:35   #6
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2 things I would postulate..

Older laptops are non Rohos and the lead in the solder is better in the marine environment

However I think most laptops die of motion sickness before that.
All that movement is a nightmare for hard drives and connectors and electronics in general.
Around my marina 2 years seems to be about normal.

Since my work laptop... That never goes on the boat.. Only lasts 2 years I pretty much think it is not the marine environment.

Oh and 20 years of designing electronics for challenging environments tells me I'm right.

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Old 14-07-2013, 23:13   #7
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Re: Laptops aboard and corrosoin

If it is HD then the options of solid state drives seems good for bouncy maritime life. My home PC has (2) SSD and that sure speeds things up. Still have a spinning HD for file storage.
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Old 14-07-2013, 23:32   #8
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Re: Laptops aboard and corrosoin

Mine only last about two years which is about when a "gotta have" new model comes on the market. Living in a developing country means there are plenty of happy recipients for my old machine.
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Old 15-07-2013, 00:03   #9
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Re: Laptops aboard and corrosoin

I have a 10 year old Dell and a 6 year old Compaq aboard. They've survived 4 years, full time, and over 25,000nm aboard. Signs of minor corrosion on the USB ports but other than that, as good as new. I definitely would not consider buying anything 'marine' specific
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Old 15-07-2013, 04:12   #10
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Re: Laptops aboard and corrosoin

Since sailors seem to be fairly self reliant and the hard drive seems to be the common failure, why not buy a USB powered external hard drive / keep it in a baggie (moisture) / bring it out occasionally to back up your laptop, then return it to your baggie. In the meantime, go to or and purchase a spare hard drive for your laptop. They are not that expensive and easy to install (plug in). Remember that a back up only backs up your data, but not your programs. It will be necessary to have the original media to reload them or, with some, simply go online to re-install them, but keep a list of what you have installed so that you can replicate it.
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Old 15-07-2013, 04:18   #11
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Re: Laptops aboard and corrosoin

my compaq was rendered useless by corrosion but i got it in 2008......
my acer got agua salina inside after only 3 months...that hurt...and my ...
i buy new little cheapo netbooook every prolly 2 yrs, as that is all they last....even the name brands kept in pelican cases die in 2 yrs....
my samsung chrome book is still alive and kicking .....i use that on eon shore with wifi...this cheapo elektra netbook i have with bandaancha when i can...also does the wifi in this marina, where the chrome book doesnt recognise it....
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Old 15-07-2013, 04:55   #12
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Re: Laptops aboard and corrosoin

I'm still using a cheapo HP I bought and took with me on my year long cruise back in 2010-2011. It still works great (even though I really didn't even expect it to last the entire cruise).

We took a wave one day with the hatches open that soaked the interior. I just wiped the laptop off (which was luckily closed and off when it happened) and made a point not to cut it on for a couple of days.

My daughter just had a brand new Mac laptop completely die from spilling a glass of water on it. I really think it's more luck than anything.
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Old 15-07-2013, 05:05   #13
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Re: Laptops aboard and corrosoin

I think they last longer if you put them away or cover them while still warm, when not using, so that the dew doesn't condense inside the cases.
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Old 15-07-2013, 05:35   #14
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Re: Laptops aboard and corrosoin

I use a cheapo panasonic toughbook i got off ebay for $150 it sure is tough i have had it for about 2 years now.
My boat has old sails but all i need is a $20 chart and I'm free
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Old 15-07-2013, 05:37   #15
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As a liveaboard, full time telecommuting software engineer, I have numerous laptops/computers aboard. My laptops get drug around with me, are exposed to salt air, spray, heat, humidity, vibration, etc. I've been doing this for thirteen years and here is what I have learned:

1) Salt spray corrodes external connections quickly ( usb ports, serial, video). Keep the systems out of spray zones.

2) Heat kills hard drives more than movement. Once the ambient temperature rises above 85F, systems need secondary cooling. Any attempt to waterproof the system just excerbates the heat issue.

3) A system sliding off a counter/table will definitely break it. I have velcro pads that hold all my systems in their 'home' location. This has held them in place through all conditions.

Typically my systems last until the hard drive fails, but I get years of service out of them.


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