Proper Computer Clean-up
Is your computer making noises or humming? Is dust collecting visibly on the external fan surface? Have you gone more than two months without cleaning the inside properly? Dust inside your computer can lead to component failure, fan failure, and slow performance. Keep your machine running smoothly and safely by taking the time to dust the interior. Don't wait until a fan dies and your machine overheats!
- Retrieve necessary tools. You will need to have a can of compressed air or a small air compressor, plus a screwdriver if you must remove screws to open your machine. A small vacuum might come in handy for cleaning up the mess you make around the computer, but should never be used inside it. Wearing a dust mask is optional, but can save you a bit of sneezing if your machine is over due for cleaning.
- Shut down your machine. Turn off your computer and any surge protectors or alternate power sources it may be connected to. Most computers also have a "master power switch" on the back. Although the majority of users simply leave this switch on, flip it to the off position for extra safety.
- Disconnect all peripherals. After your machine is shut down, unplug all cables connecting it to external components and power sources. Do not leave any cables connected to your computer while cleaning it, especially the power cord and the monitor cable.
- Move to a suitable work area. If you have not cleaned your computer in a while (or ever), it would be a good idea to move to a suitable workspace. While you can clean your computer where it sits, this usually isn't ideal. Despite what you might assume, the job can be very messy and you'll want to work somewhere where you can adequately ventilate dust.
- Open your machine. Once you have a suitable workplace, open your computer. This will vary greatly depending on your machine. If you have a user's manual, consulting it would be a good idea. Most machines have screws holding a side panel down. After removing these, you can then slip the side off your machine.
- Prepare to clean. After opening the computer, get your can of compressed air, or ready your air compressor. Additionally, you might want to wear a dusk mask. Never touch the inside of your computer unless it is absolutely necessary. You may discharge a static shock to vital internal components and damage them. If you must touch the inside of your machine, discharge any static by tapping your finger to the computers metal case before unplugging it.
- Begin dusting. Use your compressed air to blow out the inside of the your machine. It is usually a good idea to start on the upper region of the computer, then work your way down. In this manner you can sweep out all the dust that settles on lower components in one run. Do not worry if you cause the blades of internal fans to spin. This is expected and it is important to keep these components clean. Be thorough, but do not press on cords or components. Also keep your air source a moderate distance from the component you're working on.
- Make sure the Heat Sink fan is clean. The heat sink sits over the Processor, and it is a collection of metal ridges that stick up away from the Motherboard. If this fan does not function properly, the processor will overheat and possibly be ruined.
- Look around the entire inside and outside for any dust you may have missed. Once you are sure it is cleaned thoroughly, carefully replace the sides. Do not try to force them into place.
- Clean up your work space. The initial run will churn up a lot of particulates. Depending on your workspace, you may need to get a small vacuum and clean the area around the computer. Do not use a vacuum on the inside of the computer. You might want to consider leaving your machine open while you do this. Airborne dust inside the computer will begin to settle and you can make your effort exceptionally productive if you make a second run.
- Close your machine. After you've finished dusting, replace the side of your machine and any screws. Once the machine is tightly shut, return it to its usual spot and reattach the power cord and other cables. (You might consider cleaning this entire area to remove excess materials that can contribute to dust intake.) If you flipped the master power switch on the back of your machine off, be sure to turn it on again or your machine will not start. A clean computer will run significantly cooler and last much longer than a computer clogged up with dust and debris.