Using Your Air-Duster
As the summer months get rolling here in the UK, there is something we all should do for our computers - clean them.!
Your computer is cooled by anywhere from one to three fans, and they pick up all sorts of lint (place your
hands over the air holes - you should feel the fans running). Your computer will be much happier with a small amount of
preventive maintenance. A can of compressed air (available at air-busters eBay shop) is the tool for the job.
First, unplug all the wires from the back - write down or remember where they go - then pull your computer out from
under your desk and go outside. Most computers open by the plastic front popping off and the side either sliding or
lifting open. Standing upwind, take the can of compressedair and blow the dust out of your computer. Make a special
effort to blow the fans on your chips clean. You will be amazed, and a little shocked, by the amount of gunk in
there. This should be repeated every five months in an office environment. While you are at it, you should also
take the time to blow out your keyboard and vacuum your monitor!
Dust balls can dramatically impede the airflow inside your PC, raising case temperature to dangerous levels, but a nest of cables can also have the same effect. (They also simply get in the way, making it difficult to quickly replace and install components.)
In most computer enclosures, the prime space-wasting culprits are big, flat IDE ribbon cables. To keep things neat and orderly inside your PC, consider replacing these old-style cables with modern, round ones. Selling for about £6, round IDE cables help increase airflow and reduce cable clutter.
With your computer off and its main AC power cord disconnected, simply unplug your current IDE cables and replace them with the new ones. Before replacing the case cover, power up the machine to make sure the cables are connected properly and everything works.
If you'd rather not splurge on new cables, you can still improve airflow by reorganizing the old ones. For instance, fold up any excess cable and fasten it with rubber bands. Just make sure you leave a little slack so that the connectors don't become unseated easily.
Perhaps the most serious dirt-related threat to your PC is dust in the fans. Dust constantly gets sucked inside the case. Over time, it clogs both power-supply and cooling fans.
As more and more dust accumulates on the blades and in the motors, the fans have to work harder. If the buildup goes unchecked, the fans may significantly slow down or fail completely. This can lead to serious overheating inside the case, which can cause component failure and, ultimately, data loss.
Once again, you'll need your trusty can of compressed air. Start by powering down your PC, removing the case lid, and locating the various fans. Starting with the power supply, blow through the internal slits from inside the chassis, aiming so dust will exit the back.
Next, blow into the intake fan (if there is one) to push more dust out the back. Finally, blow the blades of the rear exhaust fan clean. If possible, aim just beneath the center, where the motor meets the fan assembly, and blast again. Repeat the process for each fan, keeping the can upright at all times.
Now restart your PC, and while the fans are spinning, spray them once more--very briefly--to really send the dust flying.
Don't forget to run air over the vents on your case lid, too. If they're encrusted with dust, the fans won't be as effective expelling warm air.
While you've got the case open, you'll undoubtedly notice dust in other places--quite possibly a lot of it. We've seen computer interiors absolutely caked from top to bottom.
If yours is, you might be tempted to stick a vacuum-cleaner hose inside and suck out the dust. Don't. Vacuums create static electricity, which is deadly to sensitive electronic components.
On that same note, don't be tempted to reverse the flow of your vacuum and blow the dust out of the computer. The dust inside a household vacuum can be harmful to your health, and you'll be spreading it all over your PC. Also, you risk blowing out sizable particles, which could physically damage internal components, especially if you're using a workshop vacuum. The beauty of compressed air is that it's clean and particle-free.
Before you start blasting, unplug your computer and take it outside--or at least to your garage. Now, working from the top down, blow out all that dust. (Put on a dust mask, unless you want a face full of grime.) As with the fans, be sure to spray air in short bursts, keeping the can upright and the tube at least a couple of inches from the hardware.
Check all the cables and plugs inside your PC. Make sure they're fastened securely and that you haven't knocked anything loose during cleaning.
A dusty, smudgy monitor may not harbor dangerous bacteria, but it's none too attractive just the same. In fact, a screen seriously caked with grime is unnecessarily hard on your eyes.
The fix, unsurprisingly, lies in giving your CRT or LCD a good cleaning, but don't just wipe it with any cleaner you have under the sink. Monitors are delicate equipment and must be cleaned accordingly.
While Windex is suitable for the glass on standard CRTs, never spray it directly on the screen--the liquid could seep under the edges of the monitor bezel and damage the circuitry within. Instead, lightly squirt some Windex on a folded piece of soft cloth or a paper towel, then use that to wipe the glass.
Another option is Staples' Lint-Free Wipes, which promise nonabrasive cleaning. Whichever method you use, your monitor should be turned off (better to see the dust and smudges you're trying to remove), and you shouldn't turn it on again until the screen is dry.
For LCD screens, steer clear of ammonia-based cleaners. Instead, use a soft cloth dampened with plain water. Just make sure the cloth isn't too wet, otherwise droplets could seep under the bezel and cause damage.