Friday, March 25, 2011

Cleaning a Desktop Computer

To start with you will need a few items:

  • Screwdriver – depends on your case.
  • Damp cloth
  • Compressed Air
  • Vacuum (make sure you have plastic end!)

Before getting started make sure the computer is off and unplug the power to the computer.  You can leave the rest of the cables plugged in.

front of desktop with dustOnce you have everything you need, start by vacuuming off all visible dust on the outside of the case as well as around any vents.  If desired you can also use the damp cloth to wipe down the outside of the computer.  A couple of places dust loves to collect are between optical drives and floppy drives.  Compressed air can be used to blow out any dust between drives that cannot be vacuumed out.  All cases vary but with the picture on right of a Dell, dust loves to collect around the bottom vents which are covered and around the floppy drive.  Vacuuming and cleaning around the outside of the case will help to minimize the amount of dust that enters the computer.

back of desktopsOnce the outside of the computer has been cleaned, it is time to clean the inside of the computer.  To do this you will need to open the case, if you are not sure how to open the case, refer to manual (unless of course threw it away, its most likely in Chinese anyway!).  Regular cases usually have two to three screws that hold the side panel on, which is what the computer in the picture on the left has.  Simply remove the screws and depending the panel either hinge it open or slide the panel to the rear of the computer and pull off.  OEM computer cases such as Dell often have special cases which are arguably easier to open.  In the picture, the Dell computer has a button on the top and bottom which you simply press and the entire computer hinges open.

inside desktop

Dust in CPU Cooling FinsOnce open (be sure to check out all the cool gizmos inside!) use the vacuum to gently suck up as much dust as possible, make sure to get in all the corners, between wires, cooling fins and around fans.  Just to note with the vacuum, make sure you use a vacuum that has a plastic or at least non-metal end; also a brush attachment comes in handy.  You may have to remove covers or wires to get to all locations.  For example with the Dell computer, the CPU has a green shroud that hinges up; or can be removed completely.  You can use the damp cloth to wipe dust off any of the case’s surfaces, just make sure you do not drip any water or get any electronics wet!  Once the majority of the dust has been removed use the compressed air to remove any remaining dust that cannot be reached.  One major area to note is the CPU cooler, CPU coolers generally contain a large number of fins packed closely together, which as you may be able to guess collect dust (pictured to the right above, the other CPU cooler pictured above does not have fins that are quite as close together)!  Use the compressed air to blow any dust out from between the fins; by placing the vacuum on the opposite side you can vacuum up most of the dust that is blown out.

Some of you may be wondering why I recommend using a vacuum rather than the compressed air to remove dust.  The reason is quite simple, what happens when you blow out a computer full of dust?

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