Sunday, March 13, 2011

Whens the Last Time You cleaned Your Computer?

Now, I am not talking about uninstalling old programs or defragmenting your hard drive, I am talking about cleaning the physical computer (dust, dirt, and grime).  Most people that own a computer find out that nothing collects dust like a computer; the reason for this is primarily the fact that your computer has fans that pull the air through the components to cool them.
This is an issue that I have come across quite often and is something that affects your computer’s life and performance in a bad way (keep reading for a list of problems that not cleaning your computer can cause!).  Usually it starts out by the customer wondering why is their computer screaming bloody murder; it used to be silent?  My follow up question is usually: “When is the last time you cleaned it out?”  Answers such as “never” or “I vacuum around it” or “I dust the top of it” are common, not that cleaning out around it or dusting it off are bad.  You also need to clean inside the computer!  Now, I should note that it is common for a computer to become louder if the computer is working hard, but once it has cooled off it should return back to normal sound levels.
So what happens when you do not clean your computer?  Well, I have already mentioned one, your computer starts screaming, which is caused by the fact that the fans are running at a higher RPM in an attempt to cool components.  As for a few more:
  • Overheated computer – fans, grills, cooling fins all become covered in dust resulting in poor heat transfer, as a result the computer runs the fans at a higher RPM in order move more air over the components.
  • Lockups, Blue Screens, or Mysterious crashes – generally caused by dust short circuiting components or overheated components
  • Poor performance – usually caused by overheated components, if this continues components may fail and “burn out.”
  • Smoking computer – do I need to say what caused this or what is happening?
When it comes to computers; heat kills!  By the way, this applies to laptops as well as desktops.  I am not going cover how to actually clean the computer, I will save that for a later post.
So, how often should you clean your computer?  That depends greatly on the environment, how often you use your computer, and the type of case.  In general I would say every 6 months for a desktop and about every 3 months for a laptop.  Now if your computer is a dirty environment or is just a natural dust magnet you may need to clean it every 2-3 months.  And, on the other hand, if your computer does not get that dusty you may be able to get away with every year or more.
Now, there are a few things you can do to help keep the computer clean:
  • Location – the floor is a bad place!  If possible place it up on the desk.  And the bed is really bad for a laptop, so is the lap, but oh well!
  • Vacuum and dust – regularly dust and vacuum the outside of the computer, also try to get any vents or “crevices” where dust collects.
  • Use a dust cover – I do not recommend this unless the computer is in a really dirty environment.  Just make sure you clean the cover often as it does block airflow and any dust on the cover will block air flow even more!
  • Computer case – this is quite technical so I am not going to say much, but a positive airflow case (Fan CFM is greater than Fan CFM out) well help keep dust out especially if you can place dust protectors on the fans.  If you would like to know more about this let me know and maybe I can do a post on this as well.

No comments:

Post a Comment