A computer in desperate need of cleaning

Learn how to clean up a computer and increase the lifespan of internal components.


Clean is Cool

A clean computer helps increase the life-span of internal components. Heat is the enemy of computers. A High temperature inside a computer, increases the wear on the components, resulting in shorter life spans. To keep the temperature down, a computer has a cooling system, traditionally consisting of fans and heat sinks. A modern alternative to a CPU heat sink and fan is water cooling. The problem in any computer is that dust builds up inside the case and interferes with the cooling system causing the temperature to rise. This is why it’s important to know how to clean up a computer. I suggest you do this annually to increase the lifespan of your computer.


Blow the Dust Out with Compressed Air

I do this once a year during the summer. I would take the computer outside and use a can of compressed air to blow the dust out of the computer. When doing this, extra attention needs to be paid to the fans and heat sinks to ensure they are as dust free as possible. Before you begin you need to ensure that none of the fans (case fans, CPU fan, GPU fan) can spin. Otherwise, the compressed air will force the fans to over-rotate and damage the bearings. For each fan, either tape one of the fan blades to the case / rest of the fan or put something in between the blades. This is the traditional method of cleaning a computer. Cans of compressed air can be bought at computer parts retailers.


Computer Vacuums

Another way to get rid of dust is to use a machine that blows air. This is faster and more effective than using cans of compressed air. Today, there are also small computer vacuums. Vacuuming a computer might be effective but probably not as effective as blowing the dust out. However, some computer vacuums can be set to blow air. I believe these are the best option and I plan to buy one in the near future. Since I live in a cold climate, remaining inside and vacuuming my computer, when necessary, will work fine until summer arrives, at which point I will take it outside for a more thorough cleaning.


Magnetic Dust Filters

You can also use dust filters to prevent dust from entering the computer. I use 3 magnetic dust filters with my current computer. Since they are magnetic they stick to any metal part of the case. In my computer, one filter covers the grill on the floor of the case, another covers an opening under the external drive bays (where you put DVD drives) and the third covers the grill on the left panel. Together they prevent a lot of dust from entering the computer. To clean them I just rinse them and let them air dry. Dust filters can be bought at computer parts retailers. Some dust still collects on the fans and heat sinks but much less than in past computers so cleaning my computer takes much less time than it used to.


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2 Responses

  1. Melinda

    These are great tips. I had never thought about my computer overheating before. I think I will go home and make a schedule to maintain my computer and keep it clean!

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