Hello everyone. I really didn't have anything this month that would qualify as a "Frequently Asked Question" so I decided that I would give you a little chore"
It's time to clean your computer. I'm sure that every once in a while you dust off your monitor, but just think of all those cute little dust bunnies that have taken up residence within the case of your computer. Is that really a problem? I can hear some of you asking...well, yes it can be, and here is why.
In a single word, the answer is heat. Inside your computer there are a couple of fans that move air in and out of your case to keep things running at a cool temperature. When dust builds up inside your machine it can act as an insulator making it hard to cool the machine down. If you leave your machine running all the time, this can eventually lead to memory, processor, motherboard and power supply failures. So it's a good idea to keep your computer clean. This is especially important if you have pets, as the shedding hair tends to be attracted to the small confines of the computer case.
For some of you, the thought of opening your computer can seem challenging. For those of you that are scared to death of what might be inside there, or just worried that you'll never get it hooked back up and working again, the help of a teenager might come in handy. Grandmas and Grandpas, get your grand kids. They'll think it's great that they get to help you out. (Well, I would anyway).
Here is a list of things you will need:
- Phillips head screwdriver
- A can of compressed air, or an electric leaf blower (I found on eBay a very small leaf blower for only a penny plus shipping. $18.01 total shipped to my door, and it's perfect for this)
- A dry day or a garage to work in
- Half an ounce of courage (optional)
Okay, so you have everything you need. I know that some of you got a chuckle when thinking about working on your computer with a leaf blower, but let me tell you something about that. A can of compressed air will only supply you with air flow for a short time before the propellant gets so cold that it won't compress any longer. Then you have to wait for the can to warm up to use it again. An electric leaf blower will supply you with all the forced air you need, at a flow rate that is not going to damage the inside of your computer, but will move the dust out. About the leaf blower I ordered. It is about 18" long, 7" wide and puts out about 600cfm of air. Like I said, perfect.
The first thing you'll want to do is turn the computer off. Pull the case out a bit from where it was, and see if you can label where things go with a piece of masking tape or something similar, then unplug everything from the back of it and take it outside (if it's dry out) or into the garage. Some place where you won't mind a bunch of dust blowing around.
Most cases have one or two screws on the side of the computer opposite of where everything plugs in. Remove those screws and slide the side case off. Turn it so you have the most light to see what you're doing and be careful not to touch anything inside the machine (Pretty nasty, isn't it?)
Okay, now take your air source and blow in the back of the power supply (on the back of the computer, usually towards the top, where you unplugged the big black power cable). This will blow all the dust from inside the power supply into the case. Once there is no more dust blowing in, you can use the air to blow the dust bunnies out of hiding.
A couple of notes here: First of all, some of you may have that urge to reach in and start grabbing the dust bunnies if they're big enough. Please fight off this urge. The combination of your feet, the carpet or floor, static in the air, your cloths and the dust build up will inevitably cause static discharge, and that is just the type of thing we are trying very hard to avoid. Static can harm the components inside your computer. If you don't reach in, you should be fine.
Also, if you are using a can of compressed air, make sure you always keep it level and upright. If you tilt it, the propellant inside will come out in a liquid form Electronic devices are like little boys. They don't like baths.
Okay, so we can continue. Once the fog of dust dies down, blow things out until you get the dust out of the case. It's not a bad idea to blow out the front of the machine as well, as dust will build up in your floppy drive and CD drive.
Now, just replace the case on the side of the computer, put the screws back in, plug it back in and give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done. If you recruited a helper for this process, pat them on the back instead. As a kid, chocolate chip cookies always helped me get through a tough job (just a suggestion).
The outside of the case can be wiped down with a static free cloth to get the dust off. I usually use a micro-fiber cloth as they don't leave lint behind either. (They also work perfectly for detailing the inside of your car, but that's another lesson we may tackle down the road.)
That about does it for the physical cleaning of your computer. Feel free to send me suggestions on questions you may have. No question is too simple. I will use them in a future column. Just send any suggestions you may have to firstname.lastname@example.org or you can even include them in a little note with your payment when you send it in.
Until next time, have a wonderful day, and get out there and enjoy the spring time!