Laptops have been with us since the 1990s and yet you won’t believe the amount of misleading laptop info are spreading around. We can blame it on Hollywood movies such as that scene in Independence Day where Jeff Goldblum’s character was able to transmit a virus using a 1995 MacBook with an 8MB hard drive without high-speed Wi-Fi to an alien computer which used a different language and which should have been advanced enough to at least have a basic firewall.
So whether they’re spread by inept newspaper reporters or by a misunderstanding of statistics, here are some of the more common misconceptions about laptops.
- You can use a magnet to erase your laptop data.
This belief was reinforced by an episode in Breaking Bad. But can it really happen?
The truth of the matter was that it used to be true for floppy disks, which is a form of magnetic media. But modern hard drives won’t be harmed by any magnet you can buy at a hardware store. You’d have to get a powerful laboratory-grade magnet, and then you’d still have to put it right next to the hard disk. Current laptops and hard disks offer some shielding that prevents these things from happening.
And you can forget about magnets when it’s a solid state drive, a USB flash drive, or an SD memory card. It’s true that you can still damage such devices with a truly powerful magnet. But you’ll have worse problems than a hard disk gone bad. Such a magnet would be powerful enough to suck the iron in your blood cells!
- Mac computers are inherently immune to viruses.
This isn’t true at all. Like biological viruses, a computer virus needs to spread. So to get this going it will need a very large group of hosts to infect. It’s why most virus makers code their viruses for Windows.
But a hacker can always design a virus for Apple computers. Just this year, it already happened. And now Mac computers all have built in malware detection and quarantine.
- Using a laptop on your lap will make you sterile if you’re a guy.
One reason for this misconception is that laptops are hot and an increase in temperature does affect sperm production. It’s a phenomenon that’s been noticed among hot tub users, runners, and cyclists. Virility can even be affected by winter or summer. But the truth of the matter is that such an effect is temporary, and if your laptop is ventilated there’s no real damage.
The other reason is supposedly due to Wi-Fi. In one study researchers placed a laptop with an active Wi-Fi over a container of active sperm, while a laptop without Wi-Fi was also used on another similar container with active sperm. After a time, the researchers found that the Wi-Fi sperm had greater DNA damage and less movement.
But according to fertility experts, this study didn’t account for the protective layer of the human body.
All these misconceptions are a bit like the superstitions you believe in simply because it “can’t hurt” to do so. But it doesn’t mean they’re true.