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Friday, November 06, 2009

Cleaning your computer

Overview

This is only for desktops. Laptops will be covered later. Your computer gathers dust/hair/dirt particles constantly and can cause heat build up which can cause early processor failure. These items will find there way into your processor fan, auxiliary fans, power supply, floppy drives, CD-roms,etc. These items can build up in a power supply and basically overheat it until it fails. Having pets will contribute to this even further.

Your computer should be in a well ventilated area. Alot of computer desks have places made for them and some even have a door that you close to cover them. This does help to keep out dust , but also makes the computer work hard to dispel heat. You should clean you computer out every couple of months and outside of the purchase of compressed air it only takes a few items and a few minutes.

You will need a can of compressed air which you can get at any retail store, some lint free rags or paper towels, some plastic wire ties. A vacuum with a nozzle would be nice to use also when you are done using the compressed air.

At first you will want to leave the computer running. Take the side off the computer. On most computers this is the left side. There are usually a couple of screws on the back that you take off and the side panel will slide off. Some may have a lever you push down instead of screws. There are so many types I cannot describe them all here and you may have to look in your manual to figure out how to get access to the inside of your computer.

Step 1
Off we go


Once you have the computer open you need to identify the power supply. They are usually at the top of the back of the computer. One way to find it is to look at the back of the computer where the power cable goes in. Before you do anything and with the computer running make sure you do not touch the board or any devices in the computer. Cables are ok since the only thing with 110v is the actual power supply. All the cords inside are low voltage and will not shock you, nor will anything else. Also,-+ there is static in the computer and you don't want to short anything out. Once you identify the power supply, touch a metal part of the case to ground you to the computer, take your can of compressed air and spray into the vents on the back of the power supply from the inside of the case. You will see dust flying our the back of the power supply. Do this until you see no more dust.

Step 2
Dust be gone


Look for any auxiliary fans in the computer. Some are installed in the front of the computer or in the back or both. Repeat the same process and blow from the inside of the case out. When done and if you have a floppy drive on the front of the computer open the little door where disk goes and spray the air inside of it and it will blow out the back of the drive. When you have done this you can shut down the computer and power it off.

Step 3
Air it out

With the computer off and with the computer standing upright, take your air and start blowing from the top down, be sure to do the corners first. when you get to your motherboard find your processor. You will usually be able to identify as it will be the biggest device mounted to the board. It probably has a fan on top of it or a aluminum heat sink. Blow it out from all sides, but try not to touch it. make sure you hand is on a metal part of the case also. Make sure you spray the air well in the front and rear of the case. If you know how to take off the front panel of the case I would do this also due to alot of dust can gather here. Depends on the case, some are easy, some are impossible. Just do the best you can. If you clean your computer on a schedule this is not a big deal anyway as you will eventually get all the dust. When you have blown everything to the bottom of the case you can take a vacuum and get the rest out or you can take a paper towel/lint free rag and spray a little cleaner on the rag or just dampen it. Make sure you squeeze out any liquids. You only want it slightly damp to pick up the dust. Take the rag and wipe the bottom of the case where the dust gathered and remove it.

Step 4
Inside wiring


Now would be a good time to make sure your wires are managed together. Most wires are setup correctly from the factory. If your computer was custom made or is a non branded model this is more of an issue. Also adding devices to the computer over time can create a mess. You want to try to keep all the cables together as much as possible. You also want to keep them away from the processor fan.  Be sure when you are doing this that you do not pull any cables out of their connection or you could have a whole other problem. Be careful. Just look for loose cables or any cables near the processor or fans and secure them together. Pretty basic and use common sense.

Step 5
Outer case and cables


At this point the inside is pretty well done and you can close the case. You will now want to direct your compressed air to the back of the case where everything plugs into it. Use the air and blow around all the connections. You can also elect to use the wire ties and put all your outer cables together if they are a mess. I would do this all the way to where they plug into a surge protector which you should have, if not get one they are cheap. Having the cables organized under you desk is as important as all the other cable management. You want to keep them away from your feet getting to them and away from getting tangled up.

Step 6
Keyboards,case,and mice oh my!


Next you can clean off your case if you like. Doesn't really have any effect, but I like a clean case. Take paper towels, lint free rags, get them damp with some type of cleaner (Windex,409,etc) and wipe everything down on the case. Keyboards and mice are a little trickier. Turn your mouse over. See a light? If so take your air and blow out where the light is. Take a damp cloth again with cleaner (preferably anti-bacteria cleaner) and wire down the mouse all over.

If you don't see a light then you have a mouse with ball in it. Flip it over and you will see a cover over the ball. You can twist the cover off and remove the ball. You will see a wheel and two rollers on opposite sides. You should be able to see dirt buildup on all of them. I usually scrape the dirt off with my fingers, but you should probably clean it with rubbing alcohol and and q-tips. When you get all the rollers clean take your air and blow the dirt our and reassemble the mouse.

Keyboards are little bit harder and you can never get them 100% clean. Blow it out and take a damp cloth and wipe the keys down is about the best you can do. If it is really old and dirty keyboards are cheap and is probably best replaced.

Step 7
Computer Screens


There are basically two types of screens. The old CRT glass screens and the new LCD flat screens. Cleaning a CRT glass screen is easy. Take a damp cloth with window cleaner and wipe it down. Never take the monitor apart. No need to clean the inside and trying to do so will make you die. Just clean the glass and front part of the monitor shell and base.

LCD screens are different technology and need special cleaner. Do not use Windex or anything with alcohol unless you want a washed out flat screen. Pledge makes a good LCD screen cleaner. You should also you a soft cloth. They make special cloths for LCD's. Don't use paper towels, old rags, washcloths, towels, tissue. They can and will scratch the screen.

Summary
Happy PC


Well, if you have read and performed the previous blog about optimizing your computer along with cleaning the unit you now have a very happy computer that will be good to use for at least a month or so or until you click on that "win 1 Million dollars" pop-up and you fill your computer with spy-ware that it no longer runs. If this happens call me my labor rates are reasonable!


Saving the world one computer at a time
Michael

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