One of the elements most frequently overlooked when it comes to computer maintenance is inside the box.
Two of the most damaging elements to a computer are heat and moisture. Heat accelerates the deterioration of the heat-sink compound and delicate circuits in your systems. The most common causes of overheating are dirt and dust.
If your computer resides in a somewhat clean, climate controlled environment, you can probably get away with an annual cleaning. If your computer resides in a less desirable location, like a shop floor or a warehouse, you may need to arrange a cleaning every few months.
You will need the following supplies:
- Screwdriver to open the case
- Lint-free cloth and electronic cleaning solution, or wipes designed specifically for contact with electronic components
- Small soft brush
- Can of compressed air
- Grounding strap
Before opening the case, be sure to turn off the power, unplug the computer and ground yourself.
The case: Never apply any solutions directly to any electronic components…ever! Spray or pour the solution on to a lint-free cloth or use electronic specific wipes to wipe the interior and exterior of the case. Pay special attention to remove dust and dirt build-up from any vents. The soft brush can be used to free difficult dust or dirt from hard to reach areas where the dust or dirt has become caked-on. The compressed air can be used to blow out the dust once free.
Inside the case: Paying close attention to the power-supply, case and CPU fans, spray these components with a blast of compressed air. In the event you have accumulated significant amounts of dust, you can use the small soft brush.
Closing up: Once the case and inside the case has been cleaned and you have reassembled the cover, it’s a good idea to vacuum any mess created. Many computer professionals recommend that you not vacuum inside your computer.
Placement: Now that everything is “spick-and-span” take a look at the area in which your computer resides. Be sure there is adequate ventilation. Note: Cold air is drawn in from the front and blown out the rear. Keep your computer away from direct sunlight and other equipment or appliances that generate heat. A standard I’ve always tried to follow has been to leave at least 6 inches on each side and at the rear to provide proper ventilation.