It’s time to clean up your computer!
This time, I’m not talking about cleaning our computers from adware, spyware, viruses, deleting old files we no longer need (You buy a bigger hard drive so you can store more, right? I do!). I’m talking about real cleaning.
PC’s get dirty in their insides, too. We use cooling fans to blow air through our computers. Most computers have heatsinks with cooling fans on the CPU. Some even have heat sinks with fans on the video cards, too. The hot new video cards are not only "hot" from a demand point of view, they are hot temperature-wise also.
Depending on your PC’s design, you might have only a power supply fan that blows out of the case, where the case is designed to bring the cooling air in from the front. Or, you might have fans blowing in and fans blowing out, in order to increase the air flow.
You might have some of the newer 120mm fans, which spin more slowly to reduce noise while moving the same amount of air as 80mm fans.
However you system is designed, it pulls in air for cooling and then blows it out.
And, along with that air comes dust. Even in a clean house, you have dust that will enter your computer and interfere with its cooling. If your computer is in a dusty environment, you’ll get even more dust into it.
For our cleaning process, we have two major steps:
- Unplug the case and open it up
- Using a can of compressed air (available at your local computer shop or office supply store), blow out the dust.
Pay close attention to the heat sink on the CPU. The heatsink often has a fan to push air through it. That also does a great of packing the dust into the gaps in the heat since through which the air is supposed to flow. It has a tendency to actually plug with dust.
You might find that out the hard way. Today’s computers watch the CPU’s temperature and have thermal cutoffs — if the CPU gets too hot, the computer will shut down without warning!
While this may protect the expensive CPU from permanent damage, it does little for your blood pressure as you lose your work (or the game you were playing!).
Don’t forget to blow the dust out of the power supply, too. You might even want to take the computer outside to blow it out — sometimes the computers have a lot of dust buildup.
Do not use cloth, vacuum cleaners or brushes, though. Just use a can of compressed air. Electronic components on the motherboard and cards, including but not limited to memory and the CPU, can be damaged by static electricity if you use brushes, dusting rags, or even vacuum cleaners.