Pet-Proof Your Computer

Marcel BrownThe Tech Spot will have a booth at the Metro East Humane Society’s Wag-n-Walk, September 14th, 2008.
Of all the things in a household that can bring disaster upon computer equipment, pets are probably the most likely to do so. Let’s face it, no matter how smart you think your pet is, they just can’t understand how sensitive and fragile computer equipment can be, not to mention how valuable the data stored on your computer is. Most people can’t keep their pets completely away from their computers, so I offer the following tips as a way to keep your computer safe from your pet’s potentially harmful actions.

Cables that have been chewed or clawed are probably the most common form of computer pet damage. Cats, dogs, ferrets, and even rabbits just seem to be drawn to those dangling, swaying temptations. When possible, reducing the number of exposed cables is ideal. Replacing wired keyboards and mice with wireless versions obviously eliminates the problem at the source. Choosing all-in-one machines such as an iMac or even a laptop also reduces the number of cables required to operate a computer. But if reducing the number of cables isn’t practical, the next best thing is to organize them so they are either hidden or not as tempting to your pets. The first way to accomplish this is to route them along your desk so they are as hidden as possible. The next thing to do is organize them so they aren’t tangled up in a “rat’s nest”. Cats especially seem attracted to messy wires. If you can bundle and tie them together, this also provides a less tantalizing target. Finally, sleeves and tubing are available for you to conceal and protect your cables from gnawing little teeth.

Another fairly common danger pets pose is their bad habit of knocking down things such as speakers, printers, or even monitors. The first step is to take care of the cable temptations as described above. If they aren’t playing with cables, it’s harder for pets to pull things down. Second, in a household with pets (especially cats), it is not a good idea to have things placed in places they can easily be knocked down. If you have your printer on a shelf, don’t be surprised if you come home one day to find it not-so-neatly disassembled on your floor. The same thing applies to monitors and speakers on a desk. Don’t place in them on the edge of a desk where they have nothing to prevent them from being knocked off. Cats also have a habit of swatting at things with pretty blinking lights such as Internet modems and routers. If you can shelter these things so they aren’t such easy targets, then you may help save them from pet-induced death.

Speaking of pets knocking things over, DO NOT leave liquids or other potentially computer-damanging things around your computer equipment. While you may be careful enough to not knock over a cup of coffee onto your laptop (you are, aren’t you?), your pets certainly are not. Have you ever had a glass of water cost you over one thousand dollars? I know clients that have.

Finally, as many of you may be familiar with, pet hair can get everywhere in a home. But it seems that pet hair’s favorite home is inside your computer. Simply put, pet hair is very, very bad for your computer. First, it acts as an insulator, trapping heat in your computer. Second, it clogs fans, reducing the ability of your computer to keep cool. All that heat trapped in your computer can lead to component failure, in the worst cases leading to data loss. The first step is to keep the area around your computer as free as possible of pet hair. If possible, discourage your pets from hanging around or sleeping near your computer. Regardless, make sure you vacuum the area around your computer regularly, especially if you have long-haired pets. Finally, make sure you have the inside of your computer cleaned out every few months. We perform this service as part of our Computer Tune-Up, which we can do in-store at The Tech Spot or at your location as well.

Hair can also get inside your keyboard. The simple solution to keep your keyboard free of pet hair (as well as dirt, crumbs, and other nasty things) is a silicone keyboard cover, such as those made by KB Covers ( Very simple in design, keyboard covers simply lay over your keyboard, keeping out those nasty things that can cause keyboards to malfunction or fail prematurely, yet allow you to type without interference. We carry KB Covers at The Tech Spot, if you would like to see them in action.

By following these tips, you should help keep your computer safe from your pets, as well as keeping your pets safe from harming themselves.

Contact Marcel if you have any technology questions.